July 23, 2014

fashion Designers designing hotels

I love art that is creative and artists that can transcend and move into various fields, however I am not sure I love the concept of fashion designers trying to do interior design. While some do achieve success, most are a failure and waste of time and effort.

The marketing trend in which name brand fashion designers try to expand their brand or that a hotel piggybacks on the noteriety of a fashion brand by designing hotel rooms or entire hotels is questionable to me.   Some designers actually own their properties  and make them part of their brand  while others simple collaborate and design one specialty room, like a VIP or marketing room.

I like the Armani hotel, Bulgari Hotel and the Diane Von Fustenburg suite at Claridges Hotel in London best of the bunch. But some of these designs are atrocious and actually dilute the brand. In my opinion, the crossover is not always good as in the cases of  the Missoni hotel, Versace Palace Hotel and the Oscar de la Renta Puntacana Hotel. And of course the over the top Karl Lagerfeld chocolate suite at Schlosstel in Grunewald is just plain odd.

So I'm not quite sold on "designer" suites and hotels yet.  I might own a few Missoni pieces of clothing, but translating the style to a hotel does not always work for me.






July 21, 2014

Sabire Susuz

Every now and then you find an artist by accident. I was killing time in Istanbul and walked over to the Istanbul Modern Museum. I gravitated towards a painting of a shark and as I walked up closer to it I noticed it was not painted, it was created out of clothing tags. Amazing!!

Such detailed work with perfect shadows and such intense colors.  It was hard to believe it was all done with designer (and some not so designer) tags.  It was a collage of colors, perfectly placed according to their shade to create the image.  I am sure it was hugely time consuming, but more than that it was so interesting to look at when close up.  Cool stuff.

Turkish artist Sabire Susuz has found a unique way to express herself.  She studied biology for a short time and she feels the labels are like cells and each one is nothing alone. Just as thousands of cells create an organism, thousands of labels create her work.



Photo 1

Photo 2




July 18, 2014

Bjarke Ingels

I have an architectural crush on Bjarke Ingels!

The 39 year old, Danish architect is so creative and so full of great ideas that it's almost impossible not to love him. It doesn't hurt that he is cute, funny and super smart. He has been referred to as the Scandinavian Leo DeCaprio. And it's astounding that he has come so far and done so much at such a young age.

Bjarke has a reputation for challenging traditional ideas and for coming up with ingenious solutions. I think he is one of  the most inspiring architects practicing today and has unique and fresh views on design.  He believes in shaping life vs letting life shape our surroundings, by creating the world of our dreams. And his work is truly inspiring!

He now lives in NYC where he runs B.I.G. (Bjarke Ingels Group) and it seems every time I turn around I am hearing of a new project he is starting on.  From projects in Vancouver, Toronto, NYC and Denmark. This star-chitect is taking the architectural world by storm!


Bjarke Ingels




July 14, 2014

Turkish textiles

Turkey is a large exporter of all kinds of fabrics and textiles. They manufacture most of the world's best quality towels as well as massive amounts of commercial and residential fabrics.

But my favorites are still the unique, tribal, handmade fabrics that have a bit of tradition to them. They are getting harder and harder to find because they are being duplicated by machine and the newer textiles just don't have the same feel. The newer generation does not want to sew by hand and it becomes more difficult to find the genuine artisans and talent of embroidery in these regions. But on the Eastern side of Turkey towards the Anatolian part of the country, there are still great weavers making suzani's  and flat weaves out of cotton, silk and wool.  And there are a few dealers in Istanbul where they can also be bought.

For me, the hunt for fabulous textiles is just as much fun as the purchase!







July 11, 2014

Turkish Pillow Designer

I love finding special and unique items when I travel, and while visiting Istanbul Turkey recently, I found the best Turkish pillow shop ever, Yastik.

Yastik means pillows in Turkish, and at this small, but perfectly curated boutique, you will find the best textiles and fabrics made into luxurious residential throw pillows.  These are not your avarage market or bazaar pillows, but high-end, well-made, large scale pieces created by Rifat Ozbeck.

Rifat was a fashion designer and now lives in London. His concept for Yastik was to create a small home luxury (a pillow) and spoil you with the best possible textiles. Each design is made in limited quantities, making them truly unique and special. Rifat travels Turkey and Central Asia for the most sumptuous new and antique fabrics and embroideries and provides a wonderfully sumptuous product.

A must have! Great stop if you are in Istanbul.




Rifat ozbek



Rifat Ozbek


July 10, 2014

Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

 If you are in Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar is a must stop.

The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world and currently has over 3,000 shop stalls. Construction started in 1455 and it is nothing like it was back in the 16th, 17th  or  18th centuries. Back then only men tended the shelf-style stalls and they sat in front on wooden benches to sell their wares.  They offered buyers tea or Turkish coffee and chatted them up before showing their best items. Back then silk, armor, crystal and jewelry were the main trades that happened in the Bazaar. Shoes were also highly coveted from the old Bazaar and were all unique and hand made.

Today the stands are modernized and it looks like a mall in an old building. It mainly contains lots of tourist souvenirs, rugs, pashminas, pillows and light fixures. There are hundreds of baklava and candy vendors and so many little side streets and off shoots to keep you busy all day.  Jewelry, leather, fabric- it's all here.  If you are looking for the best treasure in the city, this is not your stop, but it is still fun to go and enjoy the hustle and bustle and experience the Grand Bazaar in all of it's glory.



sandra espinet





July 09, 2014

Turkish Rugs

The bottom line: Turkish law must say, "No tourist can leave the country without buying a rug!". Every corner of every street has a famous rug vendor (or the brother of one).  And if you actually need a rug it can be quite fun to shop for one in Istanbul.  So, of course, as the consummate shopper ... I did find myself needing one. The massive inventory in the city makes it so easy to find a rug of any shape, size, style or color readily available. Any price or bargain is considered.  

Most handmade rugs are not made in Turkey anymore because of labor costs. Unfortunately the reality is that today handmade rugs are produced in India, Nepal and China, so it is very hard to find authentic Turkish rugs of good quality.  But you can still find some vintage rugs and lots of Kilims.  Expect to pay high prices for the more contemporary rugs since they are not produced in Turkey.  Yet because of the proximity to the neighboring manufacturing countries, there are huge amounts of inventory and choices to be found through the country.

So if you travel to Turkey, hunker down in a comfy rug shop, drink some tea and shop for the perfect rug!


sandra espinet




sandra espinet



July 08, 2014

Ottoman Style Ceilings

In Turkish style, you can not forget the ceiling! Ceilings are an important part of the wow factor and are treated with much intricacy.  They are tiled, painted and glazed over to really make you look up and feel the opulence.  

Because the religion of Islam forbids the painting of the human figure, the designs are scrolls or geometric, arabesque patterns. Every mosque, temple, palace or castle you enter in Turkey has amazing ceiling designs.  Lots of effort and thought was put into these ceilings and although they are a bit much for most of today's interiors, they are quite spectacular in their proper settings and really inspire with their beauty.

 And before I fell asleep in my room at the 4 Season's Bosporus, I looked up and saw that even my ceiling was painted!







July 07, 2014

Iznik Turkish Tile

Turkish tile is very distinct. It is lovely to look at and I can totally appreciate the design and style of the Iznik style (named after the town in which it was originally made). It is no longer in Vogue and can appear a bit garish to the untrained eye.

Turkish tile reached it's height in popularity between the 15th and 17th centuries. It has since become too busy and distracting for most modern esthetics.  It is very bright and colorful and requires a lot of skill to create the ornamentation. Iznik combines Ottoman arabesque patterns and Chinese designs and used bright cobalt blue, lead glaze and turquoise.  Islam forbids the depicting of humans or the like, so like most Muslim art, these tiles only have geometric and nature-inspired patterns.

The Topkapi Palace in Istanbul is filled with Iznik tile and can best be appreciated in the concubine quarters where almost every room is covered in it.


sandra espinet

sandra espinet turkish tile

sandra espinet turkey


sandra espinet


July 04, 2014

Decorating with Our Flag

How much more American can you get?  Try decorating a room with a huge American flag and enjoy the freshness of red, white and blue.

I love these images I found online. Hope you have great plans to celebrate the 4th tomorrow.






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