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A Design-Focused Guest House in Athens
Athens is an unconventionally beautiful city with a rich history and a world-class art scene, but in the many summers I’ve passed through it en route to the Greek islands, I’ve always been reluctant to sacrifice beach time for a proper stay there. The scales have tipped for me, though, with the opening of Esperinos, a new vacation home in the Acropolis-adjacent Philopappos Hill neighborhood. Originally built in the 1930s, the property had sat empty for 30 years and was on the verge of collapse when its owners invited Stamos Michael — one of Greece’s most notable up-and-coming furniture and interior designers — to reimagine it as a one-bedroom rental. He created a space that cleverly merges past and present, pairing his own furniture and lighting with classic Cycladic-style architectural elements, as well as vintage Athenian clay tiles and windowsills salvaged from a monastery on the island of Tinos. Its color-blocked walls also feature a (shoppable) assortment of local contemporary art, which speaks to Esperinos’s larger aim: to let visitors experience Athens’s current cultural renaissance in a more immersive way, almost as though they were sleeping in a gallery. It’s much more interesting than the average design hotel, and is an accessible portal into a destination worth exploring in a real way. From $189 per night, available April through November; esperinos.com.
Le Monde Beryl Celebrates Two New Launches
Le Monde Beryl, the London-based shoe brand known for its handcrafted (and prodigiously comfortable) velvet and silk gondolier-style slippers, is launching a new jewelry collection this week. Founders Lily Atherton Hanbury and Katya Shyfrin, both trained gemologists, have created ear cuffs, chokers, bracelets and cross-shaped pendant drop earrings in the Georgian style, with oxidized silver and 18-karat gold set with precious and semiprecious stones such as amethysts, garnets, freshwater pearls and rose-cut diamonds — all crafted by artisans in London and India. There are also chain necklaces with dangling cross pendants made with a special blackened galvanized steel from Germany. “These pieces are made to last several lifetimes — something we certainly wanted to reflect in the quality of the jewelry but not the cost,” said Hanbury. The pair have also sourced a tiger-print velvet from the 145-year-old Venetian textile house Luigi Bevilacqua to adorn their original almond-toed Friulane slipper and mule, as well as a new Mary Jane flat and cross-body bag (which will be available starting next month). From $95; lemondeberyl.com.
The Pioneering Early Work of Lynda Benglis
It is perhaps odd to use the word “underrated” to describe an artist as celebrated as Lynda Benglis, whose work is in the collections of most major American museums, but it’s also not a bad epithet for her. Still best known for a series of ads she created in the pages of Artforum magazine in the 1970s — one of which famously included an image of the artist wearing nothing but white-rimmed sunglasses and brandishing an enormous dildo — Benglis is one of the more interesting and groundbreaking sculptors of the last 50 years. A new exhibition, with both Ortuzar Projects and Cheim & Read, looks at her early output, from 1967 to 1979, a time when her work in sculpture was no less radical and influential than what Jackson Pollock had done to painting some 20 years earlier. She expanded the basic definitions of her medium through impossible-seeming feats, as in “Bravo” (1973-74), which looks like the crunched metal of John Chamberlain but is in fact an aluminum wire structure, wrapped in gessoed canvas and sprayed with aerosolized metals, in this case a combination of zinc, bronze and copper, and hung on the wall like a painting. Her work took the almost philosophical interest that Minimalists like Robert Morris and Donald Judd had in traditional materials, but added bold color and texture to the mix. She was a Minimalist ready to disco, and I’d take her over Judd any day of the week. “Lynda Benglis: Early Work 1967-1979” is on view through Dec. 3 at Ortuzar Projects, 9 White Street, New York City; Cheim & Read, 23 East 67th Street, New York City; and Ortuzar Viewing Room, 23 East 67th Street, New York City; ortuzarprojects.com and cheimread.com.
Playful Furniture Inspired by Italian Pastries
The half-Italian sisters Victoria and Emily Ceraudo, who grew up in Cambridge, England, fondly recall trips to a nearby Italian deli with their nonna to buy pastries such as sfogliatelle, cannoli and bomboloni. Now based in London, the duo, who founded the interiors and antiques company Ceraudo in 2016, are paying tribute to those classic sweet treats with their irreverent new in-house fabric range. The two designs that comprise their Dolce collection — the playfully spotted Dolce Dots and the large-scale Cosmos Check — are available in hues lifted straight from the shelves of a traditional pasticceria, including Panna Cotta, a rich cream; Parma Violet, a sugary faded lilac; and the red-clay-toned Biscotti. The textiles appear on cushions, fabric and wallpaper, and can be chosen for Ceraudo’s range of customizable upholstered furniture, including cocktail chairs, footstools, armchairs and ottomans. For the sisters, who have backgrounds in fashion and architecture, there was no place more fitting to shoot the collection than Lina Stores Italian deli, a landmark of London’s Soho filled with hanging sausages, fresh mozzarella and, of course, sweets. “The cluttered shelves and fun colors — we’ve always loved it,” said Victoria. “It’s the kind of place you step into and stay for hours sipping on espresso and having a pastry, like they do in Italy all day long.” ceraudo.com.
Affordable Fine Jewelry That Pays Tribute to Cities
Several years ago, Noura Sakkijha, who hails from a family of jewelers, felt like something was missing when it came to buying jewelry for herself. Too many brands were still using the traditional marketing strategy of encouraging men to buy exorbitant baubles for women, rather than appealing to people interested in purchasing fine jewelry for themselves. In 2015, she launched the direct-to-consumer company Mejuri, which offers a range of rings, necklaces, bracelets and other items at more reasonable prices and releases new designs every week. That, along with the brand’s discreet packaging and use of ethically sourced diamonds, has made Mejuri a success with younger women and men alike. “It was very important to me to be ethical about our diamonds, I’m very proud of that,” Sakkijha, who is 35, told me recently over Zoom. This week, as part of a limited-edition series, Mejuri is launching a new ring — with stars cut into the thick gold band and embedded with small diamonds — inspired by both a popular style in the brand’s evergreen collection, the Dôme ring, as well as the city of Los Angeles. Last month saw the arrival of a Dôme ring that paid tribute to New York City’s Chrysler Building with a design of stacked scallops; more rings will be released in the coming months, each dedicated to a different American city. Tasteful and low-key, Mejuri’s jewelry feels designed for those of us looking to adorn ourselves thoughtfully but without too much fanfare. From $475; mejuri.com.
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#TBlackArtBlackLife: Garrett Bradley