Merci, Paris!

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I finally saw Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers’ Centre Pompidou – it’s always a fan-girl moment when I get to walk into a masterpiece that we studied in university. I saw a lot of other historic architecture, too, but the Pompidou was a major highlight. I would have loved to also see Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton, but it kept raining, and I had read at the Louis Vuitton store on Champs Elysee that you have to approach Gehry’s futuristic ‘ship’ from the gardens. Maybe Paris and I have a ‘next time’.

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What I really want to write about Paris, however, is…

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This line, spoken by Fanny Ardant’s character in the 1995 version of the movie Sabrina, has always spoken to me:

“Illusions are dangerous people. They have no flaws. I came here from Provence, alone and uneducated. For eight months — no, more than that: a year, I sat in a cafe, I drank my coffee and wrote nonsense in a journal. And then somehow it was not nonsense. I went for long walks and met myself in Paris.”

And so, as I restlessly wriggled in my aisle seat on the flight to Paris last month, I recited those words and thought of pretending to be that character, hoping to meet a renewed version of myself in Paris.

The moment I stepped out of Charles de Gaulle airport, however, a very different line from a very different movie (the animated Anastasia) washed over me:

“Forget where you’re from, you’re in France, children come! I’ll show you that French joie de vivre! Paris holds the key to your heart, and all of Paris plays a part.”

And so, while Paris had never been on the top of my to-do list, I walked into it with a fresh sense of adventure. And I overdosed on museums. And I walked a lot, a lot. And I learned to make croissants. And I walked some more. And I did meet a different me, a stronger me, while walking in Paris.

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To be chronological about photos, I’m using my instagram posts as reference:

My friend’s apartment was a 15-minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe, so after freshening up after landing, I was off to explore the Arc and Champs Elysee immediately.

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On my first full day, it was a pilgrimage to the Louvre…to see furniture, from Louis XV and XVI pieces to Napoleon’s rooms transplanted from Versailles. Yes, I did not make a beeline to see the Mona Lisa 🙂

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To end the day, a visit to Shakespeare & Company.

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The next day, I went to see the Pompidou (squee!).

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After the Pompidou, we took a river boat tour on the Seine.

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The day after Pompidou, we went to Versailles.

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I had to rent Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola the next day, because of the Versailles commentary about the rooms – I wanted to see how faithful the film sets were to the real thing!

It was raining the day after Versailles, so it was perfect to be inside Musee D’Orsay the entire day.

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Of course, I spent more time at the furniture exhibits.

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Because I bought the Musee D’Orsay and L’Orangerie ticket duo, and the following day was again raining, I made my way to L’Orangerie, carefully stomping around the Tuileries gardens.

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The day after my L’Orangerie adventure, I went to see the interior design feast that is Palais Garner, also known as the Paris Opera.

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We had a late lunch at Bouillon Chartier, where I had the most amazing duck confit.

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The following day, I had a croissant-making class scheduled in the afternoon. The sun was out, so we went to see the Eiffel Tower in the morning – how can you not, on your first trip to the City of Lights, visit the most-lit tower in the city?

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Our instructor was a charming English chef named Frances Madeleine, who laughingly narrated that her parents unwittingly named her to run away from home to be a pastry chef in France. She also showed us how utterly French a croissant is because its shape begins as the Eiffel Tower.

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On my last full day, it was again raining, but I had the most amazing coffee date with an old university friend who happened to fly into Paris that day. We hadn’t seen each other since graduation!

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(Before seeing her, went to see the Palais Royal)

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And that was Paris.

Afternoon delight

Not what you are thinking! And yes, unlike Miss Emma Pillsbury of Glee, I do know what the song is about. It just seems a post title that these two funny ladies I spent my lunch hour with would totally appreciate.

Say hello to my two ex-workspouses. Who both happened to be wearing stripes and black/white outfits today.

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The quickie escape started with lunch at Maison Ikkoku. Thank you for the treat, Bets!

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Then off we went to see Leyna’s new shop, Mondays Off, on Haji Lane.

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And a zip-in, zip-out stop at Shop Wonderland, which we agreed to meet at for tea soon, soon, soon.

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And then I was back at work for the rest of the afternoon!

Love letters from Saarinen & Eames

Not to each other, of course.

The Eero Saarinen “How do I love thee” list is to his wife Aline, posted by the Archives of American Art on their tumblr.

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This other one is a photo I shot of the actual archived letter from Charles to Ray Eames, exhibited at the Marina Bay Art Science Musuem by the Eames Foundation.

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Icons can’t spell. But they sure wrote amazing love letters, didn’t they?

The tarpaulin house

This post was way delayed, mostly because I was busy, and partly because I didn’t have the heart to blog so recently after Typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda) blew into the Philippines.

You see, the subject of the post was just too ironic: a bespoke installation by Hong Kong artist Stanley Wong on the third floor of Hermes, of a flat completely covered in tarp.

So much irony: When tarp is used as a disaster-response shelter material; when the Hong Kong government was showing the typhoon-stricken country its middle finger; when the exhibition was hosted by a luxury brand, and there have been Facebook word-wars about showing off luxury in the face of destruction and poverty.

And then I re-read the artist’s commentary on this installation: how it’s an ode to making do with what you have, and how this humble yet resilient material can be used in so many ways, from being the bag that refugees use to keep their dearest possessions in, to makeshift foldable beds, to decorative layered accents for a table.

And I thought — well then, never mind the ironic iterations by Jack Spade and Louis Vuitton.

So here it is: Stanley Wong’s Showflat 04, on exhibit at Third Floor – Hermes, (closed November 10).

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Brother and sister-in-law were visiting, and brother-in-law (who also lives in Singapore) couldn’t resist asking the gallery girl to shoot a family photo. He said the space made him dizzy.

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In Hong Kong, the red-white-blue tarp bag is called hung bak lam doi. We know them as biyahera bags. Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2007 version is the Street GM, while Jack Spade’s collection is called Canal Street. Apparently Porter also has its own series.

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Say it isn’t so

Say it isn't so

It’s Scribe & Brewer* all over again.

Happy (and excited) as I may be for Proof’s new and improved premises come December this year, it devastated me to see where they would be moving in. What will happen to that third place where you can browse through shelves and shelves of escapism while the aroma of coffee wafts over you, and then when you find your tome, to be able to sit surrounded by equally engrossed readers?

*Scribe & Brewer was my favorite bookstore-cafe at the Shangri-la Plaza mall.

Happy Independence Day, kabs*!

On June 12, 1898 General Emilio Aguinaldo led rebel-Filipinos in declaring the country’s independence from Spanish rule, from the balcony of a structure similar to this sketch.

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I sketched this bahay na bato (literal translation: stone house; actual translation: traditional architecture typology of a rich man’s house during the Spanish colonial period) from the cover of the book Lugar by Toti Villalon. There was one year in college that I thought I wanted to follow in the famed architecture historian’s footsteps, so I took up Spanish as an elective, in order to read the original drawings and documents made by our colonizers.

Anyway. One-hundred and fifteen years of independence later, we are now, as second Philippine president Manuel L. Quezon once boldly declared, “a country run like hell”.


Quezon’s full quote:
“I would rather have a country run like hell by Filipinos than a country run like heaven by the Americans, because however bad a Filipino government might be, we can always change it.”


*kabs = convent schoolgirl-speak for kabayan. What. I went to a convent school. And June 12 celebrates the end of the Philippines’ 300 years in the convent (and the beginning of its 50 years in Hollywood).

Perspective

My baby’s out on newsstands.
Even better, it’s selling on Zinio for $3.49 (print copy is $10) this Great Singapore Sale season.

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I finally get to call it mine, although N & I bore the labor pains its first two years, too. But this year, it got my name.
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Ironic. Because after closing this issue, I moved on to other things.

It’s not so hard leaving a magazine after nearly seven years, when you already have past experience leaving a dream. As a young writer languishing in the halls of the UP College of Architecture, and then later in the rooms of a design practice where everyone else (including me) dreamed of apprenticing, I found the dream courtesy of architect-turned-editor Tina Bonoan, via my professor Bronne Dytoc, who wrote for her. She created Bluprint magazine, and the worlds of writing and architecture didn’t seem so dissonant anymore. He pointed me in her direction. And so I worked at Bluprint from 2003-2005. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to work with Tina Bonoan; she’d left to pursue other things by then. I did get to work with Rachelle Medina, now editor of Real Living, from whom I learned most of what I know about putting together a design magazine.

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That’s the only cover of Bluprint I could find online, that I worked on.

In other news, can’t wait to get my hands on this iteration of Elle Decoration. Zinio-downloading as soon as I get to my ipad tonight!416266509_370.jpg