Pop-Up Bar, Brussels

Last week we were in Brussels presenting trends to the lovely Sappi team, and on our last night in the city they treated us to a celebratory glass of champagne at a pop-up bar on Place Stephanie … what better way to end a successful business trip!

1476442_10152022221361066_721036575_nThe ‘Toast For A Cause’ Moet Chandon bar in aid of the ‘Make A Wish Foundation’ was only there from 5-7th December and we were lucky enough to see it on the opening day whilst it was all pristine.  The theme was ‘alpine lodge chic’ – wall mounted stag trophy heads; fur upholstered stools; hide rugs; stacked-up logs either side of a fireplace; oversized bare lightbulbs; wooden bench seats; golden champagne goblets; gold & black Moet Chandon Christmas baubles; and a long table full of glass domes!

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Although there was a power cut that stopped the DJ in his tracks, and torrential rain and gales made us fear the entire marquee was going to be lifted up and blown across Europe, are spirits were not dampened and we all enjoyed our pre-dinner drink before heading to Rouge Tomate.  Thank you to everyone at Sappi for a very enjoyable trip.

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Portland, Maine Photo Journal

Last week Phil & I headed out to Boston and onto Portland, Maine to present the latest Scarlet Opus trend forecast to our client team at SAPPI.  We loaded 3 months worth of work by the team onto a memory stick, packed a capsule wardrobe into a python print suitcase and made our way to Heathrow airport. This time we thankfully had a really good flight out to Boston with Virgin Atlantic:

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With a couple of days to spare before our meetings we took time out for sightseeing as well as to prepare for the trend presentation.  And where is the best place to prepare for a presentation?  Poolside of course!!!

pic2Sunday = shopping.  We went to the Commercial Street waterfront area as well as Downtown to take in the sights and sounds of Portland’s shopping district.  Check out the photo of the waterfront fence covered in padlocks put there by couples who are locked in love!  They started appearing on the fence next to Portland Lobster Company last Valentine’s Day and have been added to ever since (you can learn more about LoveLocks here - it might inspire you to start something similar in your area): pic3From Commerical Street we walked up Exchange Street and found several great shops: STA (Second Time Around) clothing & accessories store led to a fabulous gold knit jumper & jewelled thumb ring purchase; At 97 Exchange Street we saw a wonderful window display at the botanical perfumery 2 Note and were delighted to discover their signature fragrance is called OPUS I; We saw fantastic Crosley Cruiser Briefcase Turntables in Urban Outfitters on Middle Street and vowed to buy one next time we’re in America  (you can see Crosley’s full range of turntables here); We enjoyed wine, cheese & charcuterie platters whilst I read through my notes at a little French place called The Merry Table on Wharf Street:

pic4The last time we were in Portland the Regency Hotel & Spa on Milk Street was undergoing major renovation work.  Built in 1895 as an armory for Maine’s National Guard, it became a hotel in 1987 and the recent refurbishment was completed in time to mark the hotel’s 25th anniversary.  We went along to take a look and Phil really liked the Outdoor Retreat area where the full Armory Lounge and Twenty Milk St. restaurant menus are served outdoors - “To the rear and sides this building is nothing remarkable – a large red brick warehouse shape with the only point of interest being what appears to be apartments with balconies at the very top; these are of course the luxury hotel rooms. However, the front façade of the building is spectacular; it faces inland and therefore also a lovely, hidden surprise, whilst you travel up from the waterfront either side of the building. A lush garden grows up the face of the building, and either side of the entrance canopy growing wild, are two small gardens with large rocks in each. A wide, cobbled driveway sweeps across the front of the building where two, or three of the hotels own chauffeur driven cars are parked - they resemble CIA blacked out limos! Beyond the driveway is another very pleasant garden area scattered with tables, chairs and parasols where you can sit and enjoy drinks & meals, leaving you looking rather chic as you gaze upon, or politely ignore, the passers-by!”

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The Corner Room at 110 Exchange Street was a great find (recommended by Nicholas from Sappi).  We arrived just in time for Happy Hour (4-6pm) … you can’t argue with $3 a glass Prosecco and a selection of Free antipasti:

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Phil had a couple of little niggles but otherwise loved this Italian Kitchen & Bar - The Corner Room layout and décor was excellent with an industrial warehouse feel and wonderful open kitchen areas (there were three), you could even sit on stools at the serving bar watching the chef’s at work at two of them. The drink selection was very Italian - Desaronno, Limoncella and a beautiful Prosecco. The service was friendly but could have been more attentive and a little quicker – our Bruschetta order had clearly been forgotten. Happy hour was however stunning, with drinks at 1/3rd price and free food samples it quickly became busy. The menu food was very fresh, very authentic, very well presented and great value for money. If there is something to improve on the menu it is desserts; they are authentic in name only and not that well made. But, putting aside my two little criticisms, The Corner Room is one of the very best Italian restaurants I’ve been to and should be on your list of ‘places to go’ if ever you find yourself in Portland.”

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On our last evening in Portland we were treated to a truly memorable dining experience (beautifully organised by Katie at SAPPI – thank you x) at Diamond’s Edge Restaurant, Diamond Cove on Great Diamond Island.  I’ll let Phil describe the trip - “Take a ferry ride from the waterfront in Portland across the bay out to Diamond Cove and you’ll see some spectacular houses on a myriad of islands in the archipelago just offshore. You might glimpse (as we did) beautiful bald eagles in the trees, a few seals and maybe, just maybe a whale! The ride to Diamond Cove on Great Diamond Island takes around 40 minutes and there is plenty to see to keep you occupied on the way. When you arrive the setting for the restaurant (try to sit at an outside table between May & September) is fantastic, you sit looking at the neighbouring island where right on the beach is an intriguing house built underground into the cliff. This restaurant is all about location, location, location – and that is enough to demand that you go at least once during your visit.” 

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Hot Spot: Manchester: Northern Quarter

Today we’re pleased to welcome guest blogger Chris Balme - who better to show us around Manchester.  He’s lived in and around the city for 17 years and has never shied away from trying its more unusual and adventurous offerings:   

chrisOne of the World’s more eclectic cities, Manchester proudly boasts flagship luxury stores, such as Selfridges, whilst adopting the unofficial slogan: ‘It’s grim up North’. Like many Northern cities in the UK, Manchester has enjoyed a renaissance in terms of architecture as urban bubbles and splashes are being erected in the form of modern studios and apartments to sit alongside beautifully restored and imposing archaic buildings of the past 500 years.  This incredible juxtaposition is exemplified perfectly by England’s trendiest area outside of Camden Town: The Northern Quarter.

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NQ (as it is lovingly referred to by devotees) is built around a myriad of locally run bars, cafes, restaurants and shops dedicated to slightly off-kilter products, services and a desire to ‘do things the right way.’ Adjective-laden menus adorn the tables and walls of the properties promising culinary combinations only previously thought of by Gordon Ramsey returning to his fully-stocked studio at 2am after a lager-fuelled awards ceremony!

Almost Famous & Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn

js1600_almost_famousThese 2 sister restaurants in the Northern Quarter both popped up with limited fanfare in the last year but have gone on to build up a fervent and dedicated fanbase and have quickly become ‘must-visit’ locations for people visiting Manchester. With queues stretching out the doors and winding up the streets from about 6.30 every evening, there is a certain sense of exclusivity surround the burgers at Almost Famous and the burritos at Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn.

The former has recently closed its doors for an undisclosed period of time following a kitchen fire and the chefs have since been selling their burger wares from a small wagon across the centre of the city. Baring in mind that people will wait an hour during a cold February night in Manchester for an Almost Famous burger, the re-opening night will be pandemonium.

I am Pho

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Located underground in Manchester’s China Town (underneath one of the city’s most infamous strip clubs!) Vietnamese restaurant I am Pho has unfortunately often been overlooked. This changed somewhat earlier this year when a voucher scheme brought the restaurant to the attention of the city’s hundreds of thousands of young profession dwelling residents. Intrigued by the unique flavours on offer by the good Vietnamese folks, Mancunians approached en masse to try specialities such as the eponymous Pho and Bun Hue.

The interior may be slightly stark but the warm reception and light, delicious food soon makes you forget that you are sat under bright lights and a popular strip joint.

Nawaab

js1600_nawaab_montageIn a city that boasts a stretch of road known as ‘Curry Mile’ it may be surprising to find this amazing Indian restaurant located a few miles away. The instantly impressive Nawaab is based in the Manchester suburb of Levenshulme and packs a Bollywood-esque punch of grandeur and tangible excitement as soon as you walk through the front door. The large entrance is adorned with images of Bollywood movie stars and the ultimate symbol of extravagance – an illuminated indoor fountain. An internal balcony wraps the 1st floor of the foyer and only a central staircase is needed to replicate the majesties of Scarface’s humble home (pre-bloodshed).

Serving as both a traditional restaurant and a wedding venue; Nawaab offers a mystifyingly large selection of different starters, mains, sides, drinks and deserts. The open-style kitchen allows you to witness the large quantities of different curries being produced by the vast team of chefs and the buffet option allows you to try a little (or a lot) of everything!

Special thanks to Chris for today’s post. 

Thanks also to HungryHoss and Lauren at HungryTravelStyle for additional images used in our montages (created by our new Intern – Catherine).

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Visiting Vegas – A Designer’s Perspective

lucyHi, I’m Lucy, currently studying Graphic Design at the University of Huddersfield.

After hearing about all the exciting seminars Scarlet Opus presents each year over in Las Vegas, I was lucky enough to experience the vibrant and colourful city for myself on a recent trip.

So, where to start…

Las Vegas - a city full of atmosphere, colour, dazzling lights and sparkling surroundings is the self-proclaimed ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’.  But what happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay there - not for a design enthusiast anyway.  I came back with great inspiration taken from the fabulous surroundings!

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It wasn’t just the gambling, couture shopping or super-sized dining which kept me in awe of the city – it was also the Las Vegas landscape! 4.5 miles of dramatic architecture and distinctive sky-rises make it a breath-taking sight against the desert plains!

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Some of the world’s most desirable hotels can be found situated on the Las Vegas Strip, all uniquely designed to upstage the next!  My favourite would have to be the Bellagio where you will find the famous signature fountains and the beautiful landscaped Botanical Gardens.  The interior of the hotel reflected 1930s glamour, with bold geometric flourishes found on walls and ceilings, a rich colour choice of creams and golds, as well as Art Deco inspired signage to really make you feel as though you’re part of a 1930s film set!

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bellagio 2 aOne of my favourite features of the Bellagio, was the “Fiori di Como” an 18-foot glass sculpture by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.  The chandelier is made up of 2,000 hand blown glass blossoms.  The clusters of blue, reds and greens really create a fresh and stylized feature for the main entrance of the Bellagio and leads on to the Botanical Gardens.  As my visit was in Springtime the gardens theme was Dutch inspired and painted with tulips and daffodils.  The glass conservatory created a refreshing sense of space and relaxation in contrast to the hustle and bustle of the casinos:

botanical garden and glass ceiling aFor a more modern and stylish visit to Vegas, I found that the Cosmopolitan hotel oozes sophistication and glamour.  With sparkling chandeliers on entrance and around the cocktail bar, and modern-glam décor – the hotel is definitely a gem to the Vegas Strip.  I found great inspiration from this hotels interior design.  The mix between urban and sophistication appealed to me.  Here are a few of my favourite finds:

cosmoThere seems to be something to catch the eye everywhere in Vegas.  I loved the window decoration of the club Aria – montages of old graphic style posters, and the 50ft Butterflies hanging from the ceilings to really create a dramatic space!

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Special thanks to our Guest Blogger Lucy Kilcoyne for taking us on a tour of her favourite design features in Las Vegas hotels, and for sharing her photos.

The Scarlet Opus team will be back in Vegas next January, when once again we’ll be curating the Trends Hub, leading Trend Tours on Designer Day and presenting Trend Seminars at SURFACES 2014 (held in Mandalay Bay Convention Center 27th – 30th Jan).  We’ll post more news on our schedule of events for this exhibition soon.

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