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July 22, 2014

Fantasy Island: Tresco Abbey Garden

Journeying to a Sub-Tropical Hideaway in the Second Episode of Great Gardens

“Abbey is a bit Dr Seuss, it feels as though the plants have taken over,” says photographer and filmmaker Howard Sooley of the unlikely private oasis, situated on the island of Tresco, 28 miles off the coast of Land’s End in the Isles of Scilly, England. “It’s slightly shabby, and full of joyous colors and scents––but colors and scents you don’t encounter anywhere else.” Boasting a collection of 20,000 plants from over 80 countries, including Argentina, Burma and New Zealand, the 17-acre garden was created in the early 19th century by Augustus Smith within the grounds of the home he designed and built, and remains in the family. Today Abbey is owned by Robert Dorrien-Smith, landlord to Tresco’s 150 inhabitants, all of whom work for him. And because Augustus Smith took on the long lease for the Scilly Isles from the Duchy of Cornwall, Dorrien-Smith is himself technically Prince Charles’s tenant. “There are so many strange and beautiful plants,” Sooley adds. “You feel like your are exploring somewhere exotic, somewhere undiscovered.

Look out for the next episode of Great Gardens on Tuesday July 29.

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Just in Case

Piet Hein Eek Thinks Outside the Box for Ruinart Blanc de Blancs

Dutch artist Piet Hein Eek applies his playful side to Ruinart Blanc de Blancs’ distinctive golden bottle in this short film by Benoît Millot. Ruinart was the first Champagne house to make the change from shipping bottles in baskets to wooden crates in 1769, in a bid to protect their precious cargo. Since commissioning Alfonse Mucha to create a poster for the brand in 1895, and having become the official champagne partner for Art Basel and Art Basel Miami in 2010, Ruinart has developed strong links with the worlds of contemporary art, recently collaborating with individuals such as Maarten Baas and Gideon Rubin. Piet Hein Eek, who runs a studio with fellow designer Nob Ruijgrok in Eindhoven, has established a signature style creating one-off objects through old pieces of wood and has exhibited worldwide at venues including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Salone del Mobile in Milan. The unique trapezoid boxes were crafted with pale wood found and collected by Piet Hein Eek, and perfectly house the bottles while inspiring an abundance of ways the shape can be used to create other objects. One of these is a monumental, six-meter-wide arch that Piet Hein Eek revealed at this year’s Art Basel, made to house over 240 discretely illuminated bottles.

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In Residence: Rolf Sachs

The Renowned Designer and Artist Shows Us Around His St. Moritz Hideaway

Rolf Sachs hurtles down a toboggan run made from natural ice and invites us into his high art-bedecked Swiss mountain retreat in the first installment of our new film series, In Residence. Directed by Matthew Donaldson, today’s short tells the story of the building that was originally erected for the 1928 Winter Olympics, when officials and VIPs filled stands on the roof and a band played national anthems from the balcony. Sachs rescued the structure from dereliction, restored it to its former glory and brought in a period-relevant collection of design. “It is very clearly a Bauhaus building, a functional building. There are no decorative aspects,” says Sachs, who has paired the utilitarian architecture with pieces from Dutch furniture maker Gerrit Rietveld and the Suprematist movement. Sachs is at the heart of St. Moritz life. “I’m very involved with everything in town. The locals accept me as a local,” says the 57-year-old designer,  a committee member of many clubs, including the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club that maintains the town’s famous Cresta Run. His connection to the Engadine region was the subject of his recent exhibition Herzschuss in St. Moritz, in which he poetically reinterpreted some of the familiar motifs of the region. “Having been brought up here I understand all of the materials, the originality of this place,” he says. “One aspect that is especially fascinating is the light. It is crystal clear, making it look like the horizon has been cut out with scissors.”

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