Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer

TEFAF

Europe

Mar
14
2010

TEFAF

Maastricht, Holland

March 11-21, 2010

One of the many elegant stands at TEFAF
One of the many elegant stands at TEFAF

TEFAF (The European Art Fair) occurs annual in the charming, small city of Maastricht in southern Holland. Thousands upon thousands flock to the art fair eager to view the stupendous collections of paintings, antiques, jewelery and, new this year, prints on paper.  I was lucky enough to attend the opening day, March 11th and revel in the myriads of serious art collectors and wealthy buyers. (Not to mention the passed drinks and hor d’oeuvres)

Among the many highlights of this year’s fair, a few stood out to me in particular. The first is Marino Marini’s oil on canvas, Il Teatro delle Maschere at Landau Fine Arts. The asking price is $7.5million.

LandauMarini
The work has remained in private hands and out of public view for more than 3 decades

A second favorite is the remarkable Golden Fleece bracelet by Giovanni Corvaja. The bracelet is made of both 18 and 22 carat gold and took the artist 1,250 hours to make. The bracelet actually features 1,200,000 single gold wires (28km of wire) though is light as can be to the wearer.

GoldenFleeceBracelet
The asking price here is $200,000

With over 263 of the world’s most prestigious art and antiques dealers, hailing from 17 countries, TEFAF is a veritible wonder show of who’s who in the world of precious art. An admitted ignoramus when it comes to Art, I was a taken with the vastness of the collection and the elegance of the entire presentation. I enjoyed noting which galleries/dealers went to extra effort to decorate their stands and present their heralded collections in a welcoming and attractive environment. I was astounded by the accessibility, even for a novice like myself.

The tasteful setting at Tefaf
The tasteful setting at Tefaf

Among the many galleries, I found myself returning often to Dickinson Gallery out of London. Their collection of Pissaro, Renoir and Seurat beckoned me from one corner while the impressive Cavallino and Renaissance art called from another. I found I was hardly alone in my favortism towards the gallery.

The lovely Dickinson Gallery
The lovely Dickinson Gallery

Of course, TEFAF is also known for the remarkable antique jewelery dealers that show at the fair. From the big name brands (Graff, Bulgari, Chopard) to the heralded historic ones (Buccellati) to the entirely antique collections (S.J. Phillips Ltd), the offerings were enough to make two hours easily slip by. Amusingly, the main alley with the jewelery stands was named Madison Avenue.

Window shopping on Madison Avenue
Window shopping on Madison Avenue

My personal favorite is the italian jewelery, Andrea Buccellati. His handmade designs and silverware are among the very best in the world. Hi  silk fabric-walled stand and gilded mounted cases presented his collection in a rarefied setting.

The Buccellati showroom with Murano chandelier
The Buccellati showroom with Murano chandelier
I was particularly taken by the antiqued designs in the lefthand case.
I was particularly taken by the antiqued designs in the lefthand case.

The sheer magnitude of high-valued art in the fair is unbelievable but, what is even more impressive, is the amount of vetting that each piece is subjected to prior to entry. TEFAF’s board of ambassadors is one of the most prestigious boards in the world and their vetting system is among the strictest, if not the toughest. Every item is checked by one of 26 vetting committees made up of over 155 internationally respected experts. I was fortunate enough to tour around with the gracious, Michel Witmer, one of Tefaf’s Ambassadors and Board Members, who splits his time between France, NYC, Palm Beach, FL and Greenwich, CT.  Michel’s knowledge of not only the fair, but Fine Art in general made strolling the carpeted hallways of TEFAF a truly exceptional experience.

Michel Witmer and President of Tefaf, Willem Baron van Dedem
Michel Witmer and President of Tefaf, Willem Baron van Dedem

Michel was gracious enough to sit down with me and discuss the fair, namely its accessibility to first-timers, and the tremendous success it has as a buying fair, in general. It’s difficult to visit TEFAF and disregard the immense amount of personal wealth that flows through the halls and the tremendous, though discreet, consumerism that occurs throughout the fair. In the past, Michel has offered private tours of the fair and I can say, without a doubt, that he is the man to have with you when you make your visit to TEFAF.  His affable company and expertise enrich the visit tenfold. For more information on Michel and his tours, please contact me.

i witnessed the purchase of this DALI and then noted its absence from the wall the following day
I witnessed the purchase of this DALI and then noted its absence from the wall the following day

Most years, sales were denoted by small stickers alongside the art plaques, this time though, many galleries opted out of stickers and some pieces simply went home later that day. Depending upon the gallery, some work on consignment, the art is a set price. Nevertheless, hushed discussions appeared to be taking place in each stand’s corners.

I was asked which was my favorite piece at the fair and I can honestly say that I did not have one. (Okay, the Buccellati ring / bracelet was up there). My most memorable takeaway from the fair was not one individual element but rather the whole of the tremendous show. From appearances by Dutch Royalty, Princess Marilerie for the Rijksmuseum, to the elegant party (passed hor d’oeuvres and wine) on opening day to the myriads of  notable impressionistic paintings, I was sincerely taken with it all. I look forward to returning next year and hope to encourage as many other art enthusiasts to do so as well.

Posted in: Europe

Published by Meg, Sunday, March 14, 2010 No Comments

Holiday Cards – So many fun Choices!

Hotel Reviews, Shopping

Dec
02
2009

December 1st, 2009

Amsterdam (and really, my computer)

I recognize this posting is a bit of a divergence from my regular material but, given that I  have always had a deep love affair with paper goods/stationery and now live abroad- I can’t help but become a bit preoccupied with my holiday card selection.

Not only do I have to convey that we have indeed relocated to Amsterdam, but I must also showcase our happiness, my sophisticated taste and the appropriate holiday sentiments. As you can see, that’s a tall order for just one card. Luckily, my determination and love of research, not to mention friends and colleagues who make beautiful stationery, provide just the fodder for this pursuit.

Of course, some may find this all a bit trite, presuming my intense focus on my holiday card choice is really just evidence to my massive amount of free time. YET, I assure you – I have been like this every year and will continue to be so given the importance (okay, perhaps its a bit inflated) I attach to my annual holiday card.

As an editor at Town & Country Weddings I was in charge of the stationery stories we ran and nothing made me happier than sifting through the multitude of cards. There are so many wonderful designers out there these days, plus the internet has opened up incredible options, not to mention providing a forum for new, independent designers. What can I say? I absolutely adore the process and hope by putting down some of my contenders here, I can encourage you all to enjoy the annual pursuit as much as me!

A list of some of my favorite designers and their holiday designs:

1. HELLO LUCKY – one of my favorite card designers out of London and San Francisco for wonderfully colorful, graphic heavy, letterpress designs. Their fold over holiday cards are simply adorable plus customizable!

DECK THE HALLS is one of my favorites, especially for those living in a city. It translates the warmth of the holidays, the homeyness, yet also shows how its a wonderful time of year for people, neighbors even, to share and experience the spirit together.

If you follow the link on the name above you can custom design it

If you follow the link by clicking the image above you can custom design it on their site

VESPA GIRL is ideal for the single gal who’s always on the go or a cute personal one from you to your girlfriends. (It can also double as a Thank you card to someone who is busy but always remembers your birthday)

not the greatest image - please click on it for the website

not the greatest image - please click on it for the website

NUTCRACKERS is one of my top picks because I simply love them and feel they don’t get enough play from holiday designers. While I like the blue and brown colors of this card, I would prefer to see it in a red and brown or red and green motif instead Nevertheless, it’s still adorable.

click on photo for link

click on photo for link to website to order

2. SMOCK – For the eco-conscious sender, these letterpress designs done on Bamboo paper stock are 100% biodegradable and charming.  ORNAMENTS and the REINDEER designs are my two favorites. They both come as sets of 8 for $14 and are petite in size. They also make great gift cards – particularly for that “green” friend of yours.

I always love saying Merry Merry too!

I always love saying Merry Merry too!

Makes for a great gift card from or for a little one

Makes for a great gift card from or for a little one

3.  MINTED is a stationery site that displays the work of various featured artists. They consider themselves promoters of independent designers and some of the very best small shop designers out there. Their intent is to promote talent and showcase today’s “freshest designs” and I have to agree, they do it all quite sincerely, and successfully. I have ordered cards from them in the past and consider them one of my first stops for my stationery needs and to get a good look at who’s doing what these days. This year, they have two new products which stand out – particularly for families and bulk mailings.

The first is the wraparound skinny address label

clever and cute

clever and cute!

The second is their Minibook holiday card – ideal for a new baby, families with multiple children, or the indecisive since its the perfect way to include more than one photo. There is an array of design options and all can be customized. Below is my favorite.

The black and white photos with the burgundy color and chartreuse envelope are a sophisticate's color palette dream come true

The black and white photos with the burgundy color and chartreuse envelope are a sophisticate's color palette dream come true

That’s all I have so far but don’t worry…there’s more to come!

Posted in: Hotel Reviews, Shopping

Published by Meg, Wednesday, December 2, 2009 No Comments

October 26th, 2009

Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s annual PAN fair is a veritable who’s-who in the art world here, displaying the country’s finest art, antiques, silver and estate jewelery. I must admit, the sparkling and shiny items always commandeer the majority of my attention.

angles of PAN

angles of PAN

Attracting more than 35,000 visitors, PAN Amsterdam appeals to everyone from young to old, museum curators to private art enthusiasts, and especially, interior designers. The twenty-two year running PAN Amsterdam prides itself on quality, with every object vetted for authenticity, artistic quality and condition by more than eighty experts. This strict judging process allows buyers to purchase with unfettered confidence. Alas, it wasn’t enough to compel my husband towards a certain Tanzanite ring.

oh pretty, pretty ring

oh pretty, pretty ring

Last year, PAN Amsterdam introduced a design pavilion featuring 20th-century furniture and lamps by leading national and international designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Charlotte Perriand, Isamo Noguchi, Gerrit Rietveld, W.H. Gispen and Grete Jalk. This made PAN Amsterdam the first general art and antiques fair to give vintage design a permanent, prominent showcase.

With so much to see, ogle over and add to your wish list, its not surprising that PAN Amsterdam is also a bit of a social affair where colleagues can mingle, friends can peruse side by side and of course, students and budding collectors can learn a great deal. The Young Collectors night was last Thursday, and was like a mixer among fine art with a DJ, passed hors d’oevures and attractive, young Dutchies dressed in their finest.

Oh the Dutch boys

Oh the Dutch boys

One of the booths was run by my husband’s good friend, Bertwin’s lovely wife Anne-Marie Verbeek. Her family’s gorgeous antiques and fine art company, Verbeek-Schuttelaar Antiquair, was one of the more impressive displays (and I promise that’s not from personal bias – I’d never even met her before). I easily lingered while my husband chatted away, adoring all the beautiful jewelery and silver from the likes of Cartier, Boucheron, Tiffany and Van Cleef & Arpels. Anne-Marie specializes in 1940s jewelery and Art Deco and will even personalize modern designs. Many of her pieces were absolutely exquisite.  Her store is located right in Amsterdam in a charming canal house on the Keizersgracht – conveniently not far from where I live.

Some of her enviable silver

Some of her enviable silver

I highly recommend visiting PAN Amsterdam – though plead that you ask for directions to its location, the RAI, first. The warehouse style building is a bit out of the city and somewhat difficult to find. I declare the metro as the easiest way, not to mention the rare experience you’ll garner from having ridden the metro in Amsterdam!

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Posted in: Europe

Published by Meg, Tuesday, December 1, 2009 No Comments

about meg

About Meg

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Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.