In Lagos, the 1% Takes Stock

A burgeoning wealthy class is settling into one of Africas fastest-growing cities, attracting designers, world-class architects and a growing creative community that seeks to preserve its culture through art and fashion.Guests sashayed through the tent doors into a scene of surreal opulence. At the far end of the tent, engulfed by servants, courtiers, national politicians and guards with wires in their ears, the celebrant perched beside his wife on a throne covered with white faux fur, his every move broadcast on flat-screens arrayed around the tent walls.

From the throne, the founder of the First City Monument Bank (F.C.M.

B.) could survey his 1,000 guests, acres of floral arrangements and goldfish ponds brought in for the occasion, and the legion of waiters ferrying Taittinger and Veuve Clicquot and steaming trays of traditional Nigerian stews and rice. Bands and dancers performed in succession, a professional actress emceed and business and blood royalty mingled with state governors and the archbishop of Lagos.

Massive cakes, one a replica of Baloguns columned white house, and one designed to match his white Rolls-Royce, were stationed in front of the head table.Governors began their speeches by acknowledging the celebrant and other honored guests whom they referred to as your royal majesties. The archbishop gave a benediction calling on Gods blessings.

Another elderly gentleman, a childhood friend of Balogun, croaked out a rendition of Happy Birthday. In their formality and vocabulary, the speeches came from another era, Victorian perhaps. If a speaker could find a three-syllable word to replace a one-syllable word, he chose it.

But nobody paid any attention at all. The younger guests were too busy networking, exchanging business cards and tapping numbers into their phones. Nigerians, I was told, often look like they are partying, but they never stop doing business.

The world may still associate Nigeria with the legendary Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti and online credit card scams, but the nation is now home to one of the wealthiest microcommunities in the world. These global super-elites educate their young in Swiss boarding schools and at Oxford or Princeton, pay cash for luxury homes and cars, and hold major London and New York real estate parcels in their portfolios.As of last year, Nigeria was the 11th largest oil-producing nation in the world.

Otunba Balogun and the men of his generation amassed giant fortunes because they were in the right place and knew the right people when Nigeria began nationalizing its oil in 1971. Home to great petro-fortunes, Lagos is Dallas minus the glittery malls and pedicured blondes although the shops are starting to come in. It is a city of mind-boggling extremes.

The average life expectancy in Nigeria is about 53 years, and citizens rich and poor struggle with hourly power outages and obtain their own potable water, which the poor often carry home on their heads. A small elite live in walled enclaves where palms and bougainvillea shield Porsche collections, new palaces and swimming pools. According to a recent study by New World Wealth, the number of Nigerian millionaires is expected to reach 23,000 by 2017.

As in oil-rush Texas, crazy rags to riches stories abound. More than two decades ago, the oil billionaire Folorunsho Alakija, reputedly the second-richest woman in Africa, was a fashion designer with a high-end clientele that included the then-presidents wife, Maryam Babangida. The story goes that her connection to Babangida led her to be dashed, or gifted in Nigerian pidgin English, with a license to explore a deep offshore oil block, which was then thought to be too expensive to drill.

Today it spews up to 250,000 barrels daily.The four generations of guests at Baloguns 80th were all as tied to London as to Lagos, but the younger generations have almost no links to the provincial and traditional Nigeria of Baloguns generation. While the chiefs as some of the rich old guys are known, based on Yoruba tradition still speak Yoruba or one of the many other tribal languages, their kids and grandkids have childhood memories involving blancmange or Yorkshire pudding, not dried plantains.

The old chiefs sent their children abroad to be schooled and educated. Now those children are adults and are coming home, lured by business returns and fortunes beyond Wall Streets wildest dreams. The returnees, as they are known, are familiar with the comforts of Western cities, but dont mind generating their own electricity and paying for private water for their homes.

They have a toughness their softer counterparts in the global 1 percent lack. One of the returnees who showed up at Baloguns party, Kene Mkparu, 47, earned two advanced degrees in London before coming to Lagos with his wife and small children a few years ago. He co-founded Filmhouse Cinemas, which plans to build 25 theaters in Nigeria in the next six years.

His kids dont even notice when the lights flick off. They just keep on playing, he said. Its frustrating here, because there isnt a lot of logical thinking.

But we are kind of like the Europeans who came here hundreds of years ago. They didnt let the mosquitoes bother them because they were focused on the gold.Younger Nigerians see uncharted marketing territory and opportunities to link Africa to the West and vice versa.

The publicist Ngozi Omambala moved to Lagos in 2007 after working in the music industry in London. Clients she has worked with include the rapper Ice Prince, who won the 2013 BET Award for Best International Act: Africa, and the Nollywood and Hollywood movie star Hakeem Kae-Kazim. The energy and openness of the Nigerian music scene drew her home after years in London.

I kept coming back here on vacations, she said. And I would go home to London, and began to feel that the music lacked a certain vitality. I found that here.

One day I just realized that this is where I belong.Chinedu Okeke, 29, was born in London and started British boarding school at age 7 (his Nigerian father is a legal advisor for the British government in Abuja). Okeke earned a British law degree and worked in New York, Beijing and Shanghai before moving to Lagos and starting his own branding and production company.

Young producers like Okeke and Omambala have joined the artist and gallery owner Nike Davies Okundaye as part of a small but growing group promoting Nigerian culture within Nigeria. Okundaye, who goes by her first name, Nike, was one of the wives of a polygamous villager when she was discovered by a curator from the American Museum of Natural History for her indigo-batik skills. She eventually left her husband, and has traveled to the United States many times over the years.

In 2009, she opened the Nike Centre for Art and Culture on the edge of Lagos, near the sea. Nigerian art covers four stories of walls in the space. She says returnee Nigerians are more likely to collect, filling their offices with indigenous works.

Most Nigerians wont buy art, she said. Theyd rather have a religious icon in their home.That inclination against art and culture and toward tradition and religion challenges the young, Western-educated returnees, but doesnt deter them all.

I spent most of my life outside and its not the best place to live, for many reasons, but its never going to change if you are not willing to do your own part to create change, Okeke said. I dont think politics is my thing but Id rather be involved than complain and be part of the problem. He conceded that the way business is done in Lagos, especially the closed circle of wealth and the official corruption, is discouraging.

Some of the more spectacular incidents of apparent corruption include the late military President Sani Abachas embezzlement, to the tune of more than $3 billion. He died in 1998, but only in March the United States froze more than $458 million in accounts linked to him. Earlier this year, the Nigerian government said it would audit its petroleum agency after the head of the central bank, who has since been fired, claimed that as much as $20 billion could be missing.

Its not as easy to come back as people think it is, and its not for everybody. I have had friends come back who havent been able to stick it out, theres lots of stress and things dont work the way they should, Okeke said. He recently traveled around Europe and the United States trying to sell a documentary about a Nigerian music festival he produced.

For him and some of the younger returnee generation, the lavish spectacles of the old guard are starting to chafe. The power in Nigeria has remained within the same generation for 40 years. Its not trickling down.

Anybody younger who seems to have power is only there because a chief or a general, one of the set, is behind them. We need a lot of development in Nigeria, infrastructure. Nigeria should be feeding itself.

But all the technical know-how and the funding needed is international. And those within the continent that have the money dont understand how to develop it.Still, there are plenty of young people who guiltlessly enjoy the wealth.

The chiefs and their wives and children are icons of conspicuous consumption. Nigerian peasants bend on one knee before them. Lagoss billionaires and multimillionaires spend up to $50 million on long-range jets, and Nigeria has one of the fastest-growing markets for private aircraft in the world.

Their childrens wild pool parties, drinking binges and $250,000 weekend parties in London are local legend. Precious few from this set would think of walking the streets of Lagos; they cruise through in air-conditioned, locked luxury S.U.

V.s, sometimes driven by officers wearing the elephant and red eagle insignia of the national police, who divert traffic if necessary to speed their bosses through snarled traffic. And if Lagos gets too hot, or they cant find a store carrying the Prada bag they want, they fly to Dubai or Cape Town for the weekend.

Luxury companies like Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss and Porsche, noticing this trend, have been opening up shop in Lagos. Since 2008, the Nigerian luxury concept store Temple Muse has sold a variety of African and foreign fashion, home and gift brands, including Givenchy, Emilio Pucci, Saint Laurent, Baccarat and Assouline. The Nigerian designer Reni Folawiyo is soon opening a concept store called Alara, designed by the London-based architect David Adjaye, in a three-story red-pigmented building that encloses a series of suspended platforms and staircases.

Alara will showcase Nigerian designers as well as European houses.Lagos has always been an important hub in Africa and the world but it is now emerging as one of the worlds foremost metropolitan cities, Adjaye wrote in an email. The fact that it can sustain a project like Alara, and others like it, is evidence of its growing wealth, recently improved infrastructure and sense of confidence.

We are very much looking forward to the project completing and have been doing some feasibility work on other sites in the city. My hope is that we will continue to work there for years to come. Indigenous fashion designers are attracting the same crowd.

The growing fashion sector, like Nollywood, is indicative of a nation on the cusp of wider prosperity, explains Omoyemi Akerele, the founder of Style House Files, which organizes Lagos Fashion & Design Week. Retail is key here, she said. We need to create opportunities for people to shop.

People have nothing. People are returning here, because they see opportunities.The designer Deola Sagoe has been working in Lagos for more than 20 years.

Sagoe, dressed in a royal blue silk wrap blouse and black velvet leggings with a giant aquamarine on one hand, met me in her store, a two-story sleek glass building located in bustling Victoria Island. Even though the district is one of the wealthier areas, many of the streets are rutted and the sidewalks cracked if they are there at all. She consults with clients in a room with French velvet-upholstered chairs, and then leads them back into her studio, with walls of fabric she designs and has handmade in Nigerian villages on 11th-century looms.

The traditional fabrics share wall space with newer pieces she designs, like deep blue indigo-dyed silks, that she uses to create garments with an Afro-Asian-Italian aesthetic.Sagoe, the daughter of a major Nigerian industrialist, grew up traveling frequently to Italy and Japan and went to college in the United States. She took up fashion against the wishes of her father, who like all Nigerian parents, she said wanted his children to go into business and make money.

Until quite recently, she noted, fashion was looked down upon as a career in her set. Wealthy Nigerian women only went to Nigerian designers for traditional gowns and headdresses needed for formal affairs.Sagoe and other Nigerian designers whove come after her are changing that culture.

People used to go to Paris and buy, but not buy it here, Sagoe said. If they did, they would haggle about the price, because there wasnt a tradition of fashion, but of tailors. She employs hand-weavers and dyers in remote villages, but she cant produce clothes on a larger scale inside Nigeria, because the substandard power grid cant support factories.

Nonetheless, she brought her three daughters into the business, and is expanding. Africa is my foundation, she said. Nigerians are expressive and proud.

Looking good is good business.The designer Amaka Osakwe, 28, caught the attention of the judges of the inaugural LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize this year with her sleek silhouettes that merge traditional symbols and craftsmanship with modern looks. Each piece has a meaning, she wrote in an email about her line, called Maki Oh, which placed in the competitions semifinals.

Traditionally, the colors, embellishments, motifs, etc. of garments were used to pass messages. For example, a piece of Adire cloth with the traditional Adire motif called Mat (which features hand-drawn lines which to the untrained eye may resemble a checkered pattern) was often presented as a wedding gift.

The pattern, she continued, symbolized the hope that the couple may be blessed with children shortly after they lay on a mat/bed in their home. This notion of passing messages through garments is what we consider when we decide the length of a skirt, the motif, the color of an embellishment. This is why research is key.

Maki Oh, Deola Sagoe and Folake Folarin-Coker, the designer behind Nigerias thriving Tiffany Amber brand, exist to serve the wives, daughters and girlfriends of the business titans and wealthy returnees like the 49-year-old television talk-show host Mo Abudu, a former oil company human resources executive now known as the Oprah of Africa. Abudu, who was born in London and educated in Britain, moved to Lagos a few years after she got married. She started her talk show in 2006, and has interviewed the likes of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, but shes chiefly an unabashed Africa-promoter.

She recently launched a pan-African television network, EbonyLife TV.When we met for lunch, Abudu, who calls herself an Afro-politan media entrepreneur, was accessorized in Saint Laurent platforms and a Birkin bag.Abudu said shes living in Lagos because its Africas time now.

Westerners are more interested in war, genocide, rape and H.I.V.

, she said. You would think if you listened to Western media that every other person in Africa has H.I.

V. For me, thats boring. And theres a business angle.

African brands must recognize that if you want to be global, your environment must be considered with respect.Everything in Africa is so virgin right now. There is so much interest.

Big media are all putting together their Africa strategy. We love American movies, but want to see our stories. Their approach to Africa is like, we want to go to the moon.

Dont make us look shallow and all about the money. Theres a lot of hard work going on.Abudu and other Nigerian returnees know their countrys reputation isnt getting any better.

Polio remains endemic in the northern states, where several vaccination workers were killed in attacks last February that were thought to have been carried out by the extremist sect Boko Haram. The group, whose name means Western education is forbidden, also claimed responsibility for a bus station bombing that killed dozens last week in the capital city of Abuja, and is suspected in the kidnapping of about 200 schoolgirls from a northeastern town a day later.This country has the biggest G.

D.P. in Africa, one oil industry expat said at the Lagos Yacht Club, a hangout where British and Nigerian sailors sip gin and tonics.

But no 24-hour power. Where is it? The scale and quantity of what has happened here is tragic.

The people are fundamentally peaceful. They just want the basics water and power.One young investment banker educated in the United States who had worked on Wall Street traded in his suit for the traditional linen gown and trousers, and now works in his familys investment firm in Lagos.

He pointed out that some of Nigerias problems stem from the newness and insecurity of the private fortunes. This level of wealth is a generation deep, he said. You have a Lamborghini.

Where do you drive it? The roads are terrible. You take it out on Sundays and carefully drive it to a hotel for lunch, then bring it home.

The culture of philanthropy is growing among Nigerians and the great chiefs do return some of their fortunes to the people. Banker Balogun donated one of the largest pediatric hospitals in Africa to the medical school of the Universtiy of Ibadan. Africas wealthiest businessman, the billionaire cement mogul Aliko Dangote, has donated significant sums to programs to build Nigerian small businesses, and he gave millions to help Nigerian flood victims.

I asked Balogun whether returning elites might portend improvements in Nigerian infrastructure and social welfare. He said the countrys problems stem from a postcolonial backlash against foreign involvement.Im 80, so I can give you my views without fear, he said.

The country needs a thorough transformation. After independence, we used to think the best thing was to get Nigerians into the commanding heights. We started with what I call a morbid dislike for foreign acquisition of what we believed was our own enterprise.

It would be good if we could move away from that and allow highly reputed, successful business entrepreneurs to partner with us in developing the whole place.Chief Sonny Iwedike Odogwu invited me in for an audience at his labyrinthine gated palace with hand-tooled Moroccan filigree ceilings, on the palm-lined but rutted Queens Drive. On the day we pulled up to the guard house, a water main was broken on the street, and we splashed through a foot of muddy water as we pulled up.

Like Balogun, Odogwu is also in his 80s, and made his fortune as the oil and gas industry developed. He founded one of the first Nigerian insurance brokerages (Dyson & Diket), and insured the oil sectors assets. On the day we met, he wore a spotless, starched white linen robe with gold threads, and was perched on a long couch in one of the grand sitting rooms in his mansion (a room in the basement seats 700), considering the pleas of a pair of women from the fashion council, who were proposing that he finance a Brazilian-Nigerian fashion expo they wanted to attend.

Odogwu, like many of the old guard, is a very religious man. He has donated millions to the Catholic Church and is particularly proud of photographs of him and his wife in the Vatican earlier this year, renewing their marriage vows in front of Pope Francis. He believes they are the first African couple to have the Pope officiate at a marriage renewal ceremony.

I asked him whether he thought the vast fortunes he and his friends control would or should trickle down to develop Nigeria. Odogwu suggested that religion not politics was the answer to problems with Nigerias wealth distribution issues. There are lots of religious organizations here, he said.

They do a lot and we give them a lot of money. Instead of telling people what they dont have, they help them out of their frustration, and make them believe that their way of life is better than in the west. Spiritual balm for the masses, he said, was one good reason for him and his fellow elites to pile the collection plate high on Sundays.

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No matter how clean the room, bed bugs sometimes infest hotels and motels around the world. The small, flattened bodies of bed bugs fit easily into small spaces and the folds of linens, carpet and upholstered chairs, making them difficult to detect, and most people are unaware of an infestation until waking up with small, irritating bites all over their bodies. However, avoiding hotel and motel rooms with bed bugs is easy to do since bed bugs always leave signs of their presence that are easy to spot if you know where to look.Set your bags on a luggage rack inside the bathroom upon entering an unfamiliar hotel or motel room. Avoid placing your bags on the carpet, furniture or bed until after inspecting the room for bed bugs.Look around the baseboards along the bottom of the walls for signs of bed bugs. Look for black or rusty red smears on the wallpaper or plaster.Shine a small flashlight into the crevices between the baseboards and the wall to see if the insects are visible. Look for tiny, reddish-brown insects resembling ticks with a length no greater than 1/5 inch.Pull back the corners of the bed linens to reveal the mattress. Pay close attention to any brown, black or rusty-red splatter-like discolorations on the mattress, as well as the characteristic sweet, mildew-like scent of bed bugs' excrement.Look under the mattress for signs of bed bugs including the signature dark-brown or blacks spots, insect casings or living bugs. Pay attention to any sweet or musty smells emanating from the mattress.Lift the cushions on the chairs or look in the crevices of the fabric for spots or live bugs. Shine a small flashlight into the crevices since the light will prompt the bed bugs to emerge from hiding and scatter.Samantha McMullen began writing professionally in 2001. Her nearly 20 years of experience in horticulture informs her work, which has appeared in publications such as Mother Earth News.
Libya's Gaddafi Survives Air Strikes, Son Killed
TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi survived a NATO air strike on a Tripoli house that killed his youngest son and three grandchildren, a government spokesman said on Saturday. What we have now is the law of the jungle, government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told a news conference. We think now it is clear to everyone that what is happening in Libya has nothing to do with the protection of civilians. Gaddafi, who seized power in a 1969 coup, is fighting an uprising by rebels who have seized much of the eastern part of the country. British and French-led NATO forces are permitted under a United Nations resolution to mount air attacks on Gaddafi forces to protect civilians. There was no immediate NATO reaction or any independent confirmation of the deaths. Gaddafi had appeared on television in the early hours of Saturday and said he would never step down. He offered talks to the rebels, who rejected the proposal as hollow and treacherous. Libyas government took journalists to the house, which had been hit by at least three missiles. The roof had completely caved in in some areas, leaving mangled rods of reinforcing steel hanging down among chunks of concrete. A table football machine stood outside in the garden of the house, in a wealthy residential area of Tripoli. Glass and debris covered the lawns and what appeared to be an unexploded missile lay in one corner. Inside one part of the villa, a beige corner sofa was virtually untouched, but debris had caved in on other striped upholstered chairs. The blasts had been heard across the city late on Saturday. Rifle fire and car horns rang out in the rebels eastern capital of Benghazi as news of the attack spread. The leader himself is in good health. He wasnt harmed, Ibrahim said. His wife is also in good health. This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country. This is not permitted by international law. It is not permitted by any moral code or principle. He said Gaddafis youngest son, Saif Al-Arab, had been killed in the attack. Saif al-Arab, 29, is one of Gaddafis less prominent sons, with a limited role in the power structure. Ibrahim described him as a student who had studied in Germany. We will fight and fight if we have to, Ibrahim said. The leader offered peace to NATO yesterday and NATO rejected it. Fighting in Libyas civil war, which grew from protests for greater political freedom that have spread across the Arab world, has reached stalemate in recent weeks with neither side capable of achieving a decisive blow. Libyan forces had reached the gates of Benghazi last month when Gaddafi appeared on television declaring he would crush the rebellion, showing no pity, no mercy. Days later the United Nations passed its resolution allowing the air strikes and saving the rebels from defeat.
Unity in Seton Offers Balanced Tones Across Open-concept ...
Its easy to connect with others in an open concept living space, to hold conversations from kitchen to living room.But the design conversation of such a space is equally important.A standout example of a stylish, well-planned open concept is the main living floor of a townhome show home in Unity in Seton, by Trico Homes. Unity is a collection of 107 two- and three-bedroom townhomes. Each comes with a two-car garage, patio, private balcony and access to a pet-friendly green space. Homes start in the low $300,000s, including home, lot and GST.Trico Homes Alexandra Scott, design studio consultant, created the look. Here, she talks about her design concepts.OVERALL CONCEPTI started with the overall concept of a Rustic Industrial look for the show home. When I was choosing items for the home, I tried to stick with wood, concrete, brick, distressed leather, anything with a warm natural look. Natural tan colours are added throughout the house to bring warmth and balance to all the hard natural elements. Artwork was all chosen to reflect old factories with rough brick and metal. I absolutely love how it turned out!KITCHENI thought the dark cabinets and granite countertops helped contrast the lighter wood floor and backsplash tile. The chevron mosaic picks up from the lighter tones in the granite and is also brought upstairs to the wallpaper in the master bedroom giving the house a cohesive look.BRICK WALLPAPER FEATUREAgain, I wanted that rustic industrial loft feeling so the wallpaper mimics the exposed brick wall. It brings a lot of character and warmth to the room.DINING AREAThe glass dining table is seated with upholstered chairs, and set with wood chargers. I went with the upholstered chairs to counterbalance some of the harder elements in the space. I tried finding something that had a linen natural fibre feel to stick with the theme, while softening the glass and wood table.SHOWCASE LOUNGE CHAIRThe taupe/sand leather chair in the living room really stands out. Peanut leather! I wanted to bring some warmth into a fairly monochromatic colour scheme without it feeling out of place.UNDERFOOTThis is a hand-scraped engineered hardwood on the main floor that gives a more weathered feel compared to a smooth shiny hardwood.
Adding Colour and Texture with an Area Rug | News24
DESIGNER Andreea Avram Rusu believes that a good rug can anchor the entire composition of a room. She says an area rug can provide either something unexpected or add a jolt of colour.Dont be afraid to use a bold colour or rich pattern. Set against a white floor, white walls and white upholstered chairs, a zebra-inspired rug adds a shock of colour and becomes the focal point in a room, she said.If you have a space thats filled with a warm range of metallic accents, go for an eclectic feel. Mix rare art deco pieces and contemporary art and designs, and tie them all together using a luxurious rug that incorporates all the metallic hues in the room.Contemporary designs come to life with just a touch of casual attitude. A chenille rug in pale hues will lighten a room and work wonderfully when paired with a stone-clad fireplace and dark-wood flooring. Rugs are ideal for separating spaces within a large, open-plan room.So, should furniture be placed on or off a rug? Thats entirely up to you and how the rug fits in the space. You can choose to place furniture halfway on a rug, or let furniture float on top of a rug. For example, a large graphic rug can be used to define a space and show the effectiveness of having all the furniture legs placed on the rug.Animal prints continue to feature in designer homes. A faux zebra rug is right at home in an eclectic combination of modern and contemporary furniture.A light-coloured rug, when combined with dark furniture and flooring, instantly lifts and lightens up a small space.Rugs are wonderful at introducing colour to a room, or bringing colours together for a balanced setting. Who needs wall art when you have a kaleidoscope of colour on the floor?If you need to add a feeling of warmth to a room, add a rug in warm tones such as yellow, orange or red. The colour in a living room can flow up from the floor onto the couch and continue up the walls if youve chosen the right area rug and dcor accessories. The rug is the centrepiece of the setting and anchors everything in place. - Property24.Mix rare art deco pieces and contemporary art and designs, and tie them all together using a luxurious rug that incorporates all the metallic hues in the room
Edward's Focal Points Add Punch
Project: Edward Where: King Edward Avenue and Yukon Street, Vancouver What: 55 homes in a four-storey building Developer: Mosaic Homes Residence sizes and prices: Two three bedrooms; 588 1,750 square feet, from the mid to high $800,000s Sales centre: 5710 Cambie Street Hours: noon 6 p.m., daily Likeany artist, Cristina Oberti brings anappreciation for the classics, an eye for shade and contrastand an understanding of the history of her craft to every new project. At the display suite atEdward, a new Cambie-area project from Mosaic Homes, these principles translate well inthe colour and shape of theliving room furnishings, the wallmillworkand the dramatic kitchen. In the living room, a deep blue sofa, round, rose-upholstered chairs topped with light wood hatching effect are true contemporary pieces with a mid-century modern flair. Oberti credits the visionary esthetic of early-modern designers for inspiring todays designs. The language of mid-century modern design communicates esthetic principles that are still present and relevant to contemporary culture, says Oberti, the principal behind Cristina Oberti Interior Design. Those early moderns set a foundation from which todays designers build and expand, she adds. The basic forms that make mid-century modern pieces so distinct in our minds nevertheless stick. The chairs are conversation pieces inthemselves,and appear in another room upholstered in blue. They were sourced by Mosaic Homes, and add a playfulness to the space. In the case of the armchairs, a classic mid-century modern shape is paired with contemporary textures and materials. The result is a design thats both familiar and fresh theyre almost personalities in their own right. Oberti Interior Design also used theopen-concept living space as a showcase for the potential of millwork,cabinetryand contrast. Custom millwork in the living room provides room for books and treasured items, and cleverly includes a space large enoughfor a piece of artwork. The millwork itself is white with a dramatic dark background, proving Obertis point that practicality can mergewith esthetics for maximum impact. Storage should be practical, but not necessarily boring. The variation in spaces and openings provides different options for storing objects, making something that has a purely functional purpose something creative and fun to look at. In the kitchen, the island provides ahuge swath of white a centrepiece that makes a dramatic contrast with dark wood cabinetry. In the open-concept space, each design element flows into the next; Oberti knows how to create a focal point in one space that doesnt distract from those in adjacent spaces. We wanted the kitchen to add to the living areas, not take away from them. The wood in the pantry, floors and cabinets links the kitchen to the surrounding areas, making the kitchen itself a sort of large furniture piece, she says. We carried the texture of the flooring into the cabinets, making the transition from living to dining space natural and seamless. Its a bold choice that ultimately connects the kitchen to the adjacent spaces.
Fay Maschler Reviews Wolfe
Earl Spencer (brother of the late Princess Diana) has recently voiced support for the custom of primogeniture, the right of the firstborn male child to inherit and manage a family estate. In the past, second sons might have gone into the church or military. Wolfe Conyngham, younger son of the 8th Marquess Conyngham, owner of Slane Castle in County Meath, has happily for us all opened a restaurant named after himself in All Saints Road, Notting Hill. Those uninterested in tradition and aristos or maybe just torchbearers for gender equality can look away now and maybe watch Wolfe on YouTube cooking a chicken pie from a recipe he contributed to Cook Like a Man, the official Movember cookbook. The moustache has gone by the time I meet him in his restaurant. Eating there last Friday evening (the day after the general election, remember?) was a blessed relief. For all I know Wolfe is a fervent Marxist but I was so glad to have discovered a completely new place through a tip-off from a friend living locally. There was no PR bumf, no competitive tweets at time of writing @wolfe_london has 32 followers nor insistent Instagrams, no frenzied media telling me what to think, no polls, just arriving at a comfortable, slightly whimsical neighbourhood restaurant that takes bookings enthusiastically and doesnt have a sound system to rival a jackhammer. Conyngham is indistinct about his cooking story but does disclose that he did a course at Leiths, a starting point for more skilled chefs than you might suppose. He is keen, but arent we all, on noble ingredients. I think maybe the Italian module at Leiths hit home the hardest. At the first dinner we share a Snack that extra course increasingly found on menus that could as easily be called Spend a Few More Quid of butternut and Gruyre arancini, where the threads of undulating melted cheese released by a bite make the Sicilian description suppli al telefono applicable. It is good wine-choosing food. There are ingenious ideas in Wolfes cooking such as rolling raw tuna in the sharp crunch of smashed wasabi peas before slicing into sashimi to serve with soy and sesame oil, and applying the principles of confit slowly, lowly cooking in fat to chicken thighs which gives the bird on the bone suavity and a skin to luxuriate in. Serving them with burnt onion pure, lightly glazed carrots and tenderstem broccoli makes an ace main course taken from culinary Hymns Ancient & Modern. Replacing the skin on a tranche of pearly cod with a sheet of crisped prosciutto is not a wholly novel concept but a sound one and the underlay of chubby mussels, Jersey potatoes, tomatoes concasss and herbs in a sort of aqua pazza (crazy water) works really well. Scallops with chorizo and pea pure is a bit of a join-the-dots on the plate but gathers together in a satisfying manner. My sister Beth, who is an exigent taster of food, praises highly the lamb rump with wild garlic, goats curd and peas. Studying the menus in front of me taken home from two suppers, the constituent items seem to have been tossed up like cards to land in different places. Assiduously peeled asparagus dressed with olive oil and lemon makes a better side dish than a starter; tabbouleh has scant tribal connection to anything else but is remarkably well put together. On both evenings desserts are spoken rather than written. A homely Tarte Tatin falling apart on the plate seems to have come out of a different kitchen to the chocolate mousse crowned with a spun sugar cage and a pattern of leaves piped from melted chocolate as extra decoration. Both do the job, just in different ways. A fine crme brle also deserves mention. Service veers between a chap who must surely be the understudy for intern Will Humphries in W1A No, I mean not. All right. Cool. Good idea. Say again? and a beautiful serene Swedish would-be actress called Salka Bachman, who introduces Ingmar Bergman on an optimistic day into the mix. Layers of detail in the interior design on both floors indicate a labour of love and on the ground floor there is a view to a verdant garden. Truly comfortable upholstered chairs issue a welcome challenge to the cultural hegemony of bare-filament light bulbs. All Saints Road long ago ceased to be a thoroughfare where angels feared to tread. Now Wolfe sits congenially next to the laudable Book & Kitchen, where children go to read and eat wherever their place in the family. Follow Going Out on Facebook and on Twitter @ESgoingout
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