Luxury magazine: February 2019

Fashion and theatre in Tokyo; Alain Ducasse’s recipe for success; the top watch trends from Geneva; and Serena Williams on self-belief

'The greatest luxury is often the ability to step away from it all'

The days when the word luxury meant expensive things – fast cars, superyachts, designer handbags and couture clothing – are long gone. Today, when we ask people for their definition of luxury, more often than not it is the intangibles that matter most. “Time,” is the answer that actress Liv Tyler gives, when asked about life’s greatest luxury. And her favourite part of the day? “Evenings with my children. Home together. Dinner, bath, stories, snuggles.”

In an age of rapid urbanisation, overreliance on technology and the ‘glorification of busy’, the greatest luxury is often the ability to step away from it all. Which is one reason that waterfront homes are so in demand. As we detail in our story, a recent report by Knight Frank has revealed that you can expect to pay a premium of up to 90 per cent if you want to live by the sea, or a lake, creek, river or stream. In Dubai, waterfront homes come with a premium of up to 50 per cent, with villas on The Palm reigning supreme in this much-coveted category.

Being in or near water has proven scientific benefits, both physiological and psychological. So much so that a pan-European research initiative, dubbed BlueHealth, has been set up to specifically explore how water-based environments in towns and cities can impact health and well-being.

Our research also led us to Wallace J Nichols’s book, Blue Mind, the definitive guide to how water positively affects both our bodies and our brains. Nichols describes Blue Mind as “a mildly meditative state characterised by calm, peacefulness, unity and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment”. If they can facilitate this, while also providing a place to moor your yacht and indulge in your favourite watersports, it’s little wonder that the million-dirham properties that we look at in our feature, On the Waterfront, are so in demand.

Also sure to be in demand are the timepieces highlighted in our feature. Alex Doak and Laura McCreddie-Doak report from the hallowed halls of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), where Richemont brands gather each year to unveil their latest novelties in what is surely the most extravagant and exclusive trade show in the world. Exuberant colours, grand complications, new-age materials and some serious sparkle were among the key trends that emerged at the show this year. In our story, we present some standout launches in each category.

If these masterfully crafted timepieces are not enough to inspire you, perhaps our conversation with sporting superstar Serena Williams will. Williams speaks openly about her relationship with her sister, Venus, how she handles the pressure that comes with being a world-class athlete, the responsibilities of being a role model and the importance of self belief. “Pressure is never easy,” Williams says, but for her, that pressure is also a luxury.

Selina Denman, editor

Serena Williams: 'Pressure is never easy, but I have learned throughout my career that it is a privilege'

Sarah Maisey speaks to Serena Williams about self-belief, sibling rivalry and being a role model

“She is my role model and sister and best friend all rolled up in one,” Serena Williams says of her older sister, Venus.

The two sporting legends went head-to-head in Abu Dhabi in December, in a thrilling exhibition match that was one of the major draws of the Mubadala World Tennis Championships. But, after more than 20 years playing tennis at the highest professional levels, often against each other, there is no animosity between the siblings, Serena insists.

“As I’ve said before, she really brings out the best in me. It is never easy playing your best friend, but she really knows my game inside out, and has been so successful over me so many times. I could not be more fortunate to have her as my sister.”

Serena Williams, right, and Venus Williams. Getty

Serena Williams, right, and Venus Williams. Getty

Serena has dominated women’s tennis since 1999, when she beat Martina Hingis to win the US Open at the age of 18. Since then, she has gone on to secure an astonishing 23 Grand Slam titles, a feat only bettered by Australia’s Margaret Court in the 1970s. Serena was voted 2018 WTA Comeback Player of the Year, and is only the second athlete to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once.

A notoriously gruelling sport, tennis tests a player’s strength both physically and mentally, with women’s matches regularly lasting two hours and players having to contend with serving speeds in excess of 125kph. All under the watchful eye of the world’s press. “ Pressure is never easy,” Serena maintains. “But I have learned throughout my career that it is a privilege , and I would much rather have the pressure that comes along with the privilege than not have any pressure at all. Just keeping a strong sense of self-confidence and self-belief is the best coping mechanism for me.”

Last year was a tumultuous one for the sporting superstar. Having taken 14 months off to have her daughter, Alexis Olympia, in 2017, with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Serena found herself unseeded when she returned to the French Open in May 2018. In addition, the all-black catsuit she chose to wear for the tournament (which she said made her feel like a “superhero” and was actually worn for medical reasons, to prevent blood clots) drew the ire of the French Tennis Federation. It promptly banned it, declaring it “a step too far”. There was further controversy during the finals of the US Open, when Serena accused Portuguese chair umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism.

Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams.

Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams.

Nonetheless, she maintains that there is far greater equality in the sport these days. “There is still a way to go, but so many pioneers before me have been able to make a lot of changes and pave the way for players like me. I hope I am doing a good job in following in the footsteps of Billie Jean King and more.”

She must have felt vindicated, then, in December, when the World Tennis Association announced that its new 2019 rule book would introduce a new special seeding rule for players returning from maternity leave. “It is amazing to know that by speaking out, I can use my voice to help others. I am so happy that the WTA created this new rule. Women should be able to have families and still work, not only in tennis, but everywhere. My work in this is just the beginning. Being able to have a family and work full time is such a blessing and I hope to continue the conversation and work hard so that other mums in other fields can experience the same benefits.

“I feel so fortunate to have a platform that allows me to help others both in the sport and away from the sport. I am honestly honoured that I can be a role model and I embrace that.”

The new WTA rules also include modernised regulations surrounding attire – a response, no doubt, to the furore surrounding Serena’s French Open outfit. She has become increasingly known for her daring fashion choices on court, and for wilfully pushing the stuffy boundaries of tennis etiquette, stepping out in tutus, leopard print, lace bustiers and even denim mini-skirts.

This fashion-forward approach resulted in a collaboration last year with Off/White designer Virgil Abloh on a bespoke wardrobe for her appearance at the US Open. “I had some ideas for the dress, but Virgil really took the ideas and brought it to the next level. He made it so fabulous. The shoes were all Virgil – he is truly the best.”

Nike x Virgil Abloh for Serena Williams.

Nike x Virgil Abloh for Serena Williams.

Serena went on to launch an eponymous online fashion range early last year, which is intended to appeal to a broad spectrum of women. “Being inclusive is something that is always at the forefront of my mind when I’m designing,” she says. “We started the line offering XS to XL sizes with the intent to release more sizes later in the year, and now I’m so excited to share that we currently offer sizes XS-3XL. It’s so important to me to be able to represent all sizes and shapes and colours and backgrounds in my designs, and I really hope that shows.”

Serena is a much-needed contemporary role model – a formidable sportswoman who fearlessly challenges racism and inequality, and who has endured years of body-shaming and misogyny; but also a mother who has been very vocal about the traumatic, life-threatening birth of her daughter, her post-partum depression and the difficulties of returning to work after having a child.

So what’s the most important lesson that she would like to pass on to her daughter? Williams’s answer is swift and simple. “Love herself. If she does not, no one will know how to love her.”

M1, Oliveraie, Royal Palm Marrakech, Morocco

Sue Ryan explores a new collection of fully serviced villas on the grounds of the famed Royal Palm Marrakech with an asking price of Dh10.5 million

The Royal Palm is a 15-minute drive – and a world away – from Marrakech’s busy city centre. Surrounded by hundreds of acres of olive groves, it is the perfect spot for a second home. Luckily, there are an additional 39 properties currently being built on the site, to add to the 90 properties built in the first phase of development.

Large picture windows and French doors drench the living space with sunlight.

Large picture windows and French doors drench the living space with sunlight.

These new villas have the advantage of being tied in with Fairmont, the hotel management company that took over the site 18 months ago. It gives owners of the villas the best of both worlds: your own private sanctuary, with touch-button access to all the services that the five-star hotel provides – housekeeping, babysitting, gardening, pool maintenance and in-villa dining are all taken care of, on request. Then there is the added bonus of the hotel’s facilities, which include a kids’ club, tennis courts, a large spa, several restaurants, a golf club and a farm that will keep little ones entertained.

M1 is one of nine villas on the south-facing Oliveraie site, with views of both the Atlas Mountains and the golf course. The designer, Studio KO, which has just completed the impressive Yves Saint Laurent Museum in town, has created a home that is flooded with natural light, thanks to an interior plant-filled patio that connects the living room and dining area with an exterior gazebo. Large picture windows and French doors face out towards the landscaped gardens.

The one-story villa offers a contemporary take on traditional Berber architecture and design.

The one-story villa offers a contemporary take on traditional Berber architecture and design.

The one-story villa offers a contemporary take on traditional Berber architecture and design. The walls are constructed with traditional plaster, using cement, earth, straw and lime, and are decorated in warm, earthy apricot tones. All the finishes are in stone, marble, terracotta, lime and plaster.   

The interior doors and wardrobes are finished in natural oak, and the external doors and windows come fitted with aluminium frames and double glazing for heat and sound insulation. There is also under-floor heating throughout.

The main room opens up on to a large patio.

The main room opens up on to a large patio.

The four en-suite bedrooms have their own private terraces and two look out on to the infinity pool. The master bedroom and sitting room feature statement fireplaces. The kitchen is very much a working room, with adequate space to cook but with no real views or seating area, suggesting that the owners are likely to leave much of the cooking to others.

There are electric gates into the parking area and a separate rosemary bush-lined path to the front door. This is a villa where the occupiers are expected to spend as much time outside as in. The main room opens up on to a large patio, shaded dining area at the front and a poolside terrace to the side. At the other end of the pool is a pretty gazebo. The pool itself is heated with a motorised cover to keep the heat in and ensure safety. Energy at the property includes solar and other eco-friendly heating and cooling systems.

The exterior gazebo.

The exterior gazebo.

House prices in Marrakech have been going up recently, but this offers a lot of house and garden for the basic €2.5 million (Dh10.5m) price tag. You can also add extras. For an additional €1m (Dh4.2m), you can do what the neighbours, a French couple with 15 grandchildren, have done. They got the developers to include a second pool (so adults need not share with children), a tennis court, a fifth bedroom (with eight inbuilt bunk beds) a playroom and staff quarters. They also opted for a separate two-bedroom guest annexe, and a spa and hammam.

And if you really want a hassle-free move, you don’t even have to buy your own furniture and furnishings. Fairmont will kit it out (something that is compulsory if you want to rent the property out through them). Which means that the day you move in, you need only bring a suitcase of clothes, and dial the hotel to get them to bring you your dinner.

Luxury launches: All you need is love

Renee Lewis

Whatever your feelings about Valentine’s Day, the double-bowed line of a heart shape is still pleasingly romantic. This one-off Renee Lewis blue sapphire necklace, crafted from conflict-free stones set in 18-karat gold, is entirely handmade in New York. 

Dh32,665, matches-fashion.com

Dh32,665, matches-fashion.com

Dolce & Gabbana

The duo looked to a heart-cut ruby as inspiration for this  Perspex bag with a gold chain strap. Radiant in translucent red, it glows like the precious stone  it is modelled on.  

On request, dolcegabbana.com

On request, dolcegabbana.com

Paule Ka

The duo looked to a heart-cut ruby as inspiration for this Perspex bag with a gold chain strap. Radiant in translucent red, it glows like the precious stone it is modelled on.

Dh1,220, pauleka.com

Dh1,220, pauleka.com

Carolina Herrera

This simple, craftsy beaded pendant is striped with the colours of the rainbow. Its jaunty tones are a nod to traditional Kenyan beadwork.  

Dh3,207, carolinaherrera.com

Dh3,207, carolinaherrera.com

Moynat

The leather atelier has created two demi-heart coin purses in contrasting tones. Reminiscent of friendship rings of old, the shape is only revealed when the pair are reunited.

Dh1,218, moynat.com

Dh1,218, moynat.com

Making sense of scents

The Spinning Tops are the latest scents from the French perfumer, which launched a boutique in The Dubai Mall last year, writes Panna Munyal

It takes a good few years for an Henry Jacques perfume to make the journey from conception to crystal bottle. For the first scents in the perfumer’s Les Toupie, or Spinning Tops, line of fragrances, the curved-crystal flacons alone took three years to develop.

Named Mr H and Mrs Y, the two fragrances are personified as a couple who represent the idea that no matter what you’re faced with in life, a certain grace  must persist. The former is composed of cedar, geranium, sandalwood, tobacco, amber and patchouli, and is priced at Dh30,500 for 50ml; while at Dh21,600 for 35ml, Mrs Y has notes of ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, tonka bean and iris.

For all the creative mixing that went into the two formulations, however, Henry Jacques chief executive Anne-Lise Cremona believes in the unisexuality of perfumes. “More and more we see everybody mixing scents. Some perfumes that were traditionally created for women are also very beautiful when worn by men. It’s not a question of being feminine or masculine; it’s a question of personality,” says the daughter of perfumer Henry Cremona, who launched the company in France nearly 50 years ago.

The Henry Jacques boutique in The Dubai Mall. Courtesy The Dubai Mall

The Henry Jacques boutique in The Dubai Mall. Courtesy The Dubai Mall

Anne-Lise likens the brand to an haute couture house, given that until seven years ago, Henry Jacques only created bespoke perfumes for its clients. “It’s a blessing, this patrimony we have, but it takes immense work to upkeep that. For example, some of our perfumes are composed of 250 components, and all are created in our laboratory where we still do everything by hand,” she says.

After working with commercial perfume houses for a decade, Anne-Lise returned to the family business to try to grow the brand organically, without compromising the integrity of the scents, or the know-how of the noses who are trained in the Provence laboratory.

Inspired by an 18th-century French castle, the brand’s new boutique in The Dubai Mall is full of little nooks adorned with antique stones, opulent woodwork and panels that spring open to reveal the 50 bottled essences from the brand’s Les Classiques de HJ collection. Hiding behind the main lounge is a private chamber for seekers of bespoke fragrances.

“There are no traditional displays here; the idea is you spend some time with yourself because that’s what perfume is about – you and your notions. It’s about trying to catch a memory,” Anne-Lise explains.

CEO Anne-Lise Cremona.

CEO Anne-Lise Cremona.

Bespoke clients, meanwhile, sit down for a private consultation, where they are presented with trays full of aroma notes to help them navigate their way. A committee of perfumers then works to create sample scents until the client is happy, resulting in what Anne-Lise calls “a long-term relationship”.   

She is also a believer in curating one’s own perfume wardrobe. “I have five or six favourites, and what I wear depends on my mood, maybe the weather, the time of day and the occasion. Changing your perfume is part of the Henry Jacques concept, and with each composition you pick out for your perfume wardrobe, you acknowledge your emotions, and go back to or create your own memories.”

www.parfums-henry-jacques.com

The Bang & Olufsen speakers that double as modern art

Unsightly tech that clutters up your home is a thing of the past – electronics must now either blend seamlessly into an interior, or act as design features in themselves. Leading the charge in the latter category is Bang & Olufsen, with its ever-growing collection of speakers that double as modern-day sculptures. The latest addition to the Danish brand’s line-up is the Beosound Edge, a wireless speaker that can either be set on the floor to create a centrepiece, or hung up on the wall like a contemporary work of art.     

Created in collaboration with globally acclaimed lighting designer Michael Anastassiades, the speaker stands 50.2 centimetres tall and consists of a perfectly smooth, circular outer aluminium frame. It features proximity sensors on its interface, so will immediately light up when you get close. You can start, stop and skip tracks with a simple tap on the speaker’s touch-sensitive surface.

The sound is adjusted by gently rolling the 13-kilogram speaker backwards and forwards; it will respond to the force of your touch – gentle movements will change the volume slightly, while a stronger force will change it more dramatically. Let go and the speaker will roll back to its original position.

“It is a monolithic object without any controls, without any visual disturbance,” explains Anastassiades. “The controls light up when you use them, and when you don’t use them, there’s nothing really to see, and to me that is magic. I wanted to hide everything that could suggest technology. Had the cable not been there, you wouldn’t even know that it’s an electronic product.”

Aesthetics aside, the Beosound Edge delivers three directional sound settings. Music can be played through either side of the speaker for a more directional, intimate listening experience, or you can opt for True360 omnidirectional mode, which will fill the entire room with sound. There are two tweeters, two mid-range drivers and a slim woofer, as well as an Active Bass Port. This Bang & Olufsen technology allows Beosound Edge to deliver potent bass when played at a loud volume, but still offer total clarity at lower volumes.

Retailing at Dh14,530, the Beosound Edge is one of a select number of Bang & Olufsen’s most popular multi-room products that are now available in a range of new metallic hues, as part of the company’s limited-edition Bronze Collection. The range takes its inspiration from architectural and interior trends, using warm colours and contrasting materials to reimagine the Beoplay A9 floor speaker, the Beoplay M5, Beosound 1 and Beosound 2.

“People are drawn to spaces and objects, where contrasts and details enhance each other. For the Bronze Collection speakers, we combined the earthy aluminium bronze tone, the epitome of warmth and timeless elegance, with bespoke multi coloured wool yarn from Kvadrat and premium walnut wood.

“The bronze tone stays neutral from day to night, season to season and year to year – maintaining its elegance and splendour regardless of trends and changing fashions,” say Bang & Olufsen architects and designers Anna Mee Dybbroe Andersen and Anna-Sophia Brune.

www.bang-olufsen.com

Alexander McQueen's stunning new store concept

Emma Bartley meets Smiljan Radic, the Chilean architect tasked with reimagining Alexander McQueen stores around the world

Approach Alexander McQueen’s new flagship store in London and the first thing you’ll see is a vast curtain embroidered with colourful, glittering insects.

Running across the double-storey glass windows, this fishnet veil is a reference to Sarah Burton’s celebrated “bug dress” – and a rare gesture of modesty on Old Bond Street, where most of the neighbours use their brightly lit windows to thrust profitable bags, shoes and jewellery under shoppers’ noses. But it suits the unassuming Burton, who became creative director of the brand following her friend Lee McQueen’s death in 2010, and who is only now redefining its stores.

Alexander McQueen’s London flagship on Old Bond Street.

Alexander McQueen’s London flagship on Old Bond Street.

“In the studio, I could see that Sarah is always playing. I told her, if you want to show your work, start with a curtain like the window of a house – but the window is huge,” says Smiljan Radic, the architect responsible for bringing the new store concept to life. “That has been my great experience with Alexander McQueen and with Sarah, especially, because we could play a game together.”

Continuity is an important theme in the design concept, and translates in the floors, walls and ceilings, which are all clad in continuous light oak and dark walnut wood. Menswear and womenswear mingle in the layout, with jewelled satchels and four-ring clutch bags set on enormous blocks of quartz sculpted by Radic’s wife, Marcella Corea.

Large glass cylinders punch through the three levels, and are used to house staircases and dressing rooms encased in heavy handwoven tapestries covered in the brand’s signature prints. Highly unusual wood sculptures, also by Corea, give the appearance of long, spindly roots growing through the space. “We wanted to do more than exhibit the product. The architecture by me and the works by Sarah have to be communicating in the same space,” Radic says.

Chilean architect Smiljan Radic.

Chilean architect Smiljan Radic.

What will fascinate fashion followers is the continuity that the London store represents between Burton and her predecessor. In another shockingly uncommercial decision for this prime piece of real estate, the second floor is given over to an archive of classic pieces by Burton and McQueen. “On the ground floor you have the season history, with mannequins changing every season, and you could have students on the top just seeing the clothes,” Radic says with some satisfaction.

He reveals that Burton called him after seeing a house that he had created in Chile in a book. “At the beginning, there was no real brief,” he says. “It was a conversation about her work and what she thinks about my work, and the ambience that was coming from that house. The best way is to talk about things, not to talk about ideas in the abstract.”

Radic’s authentic approach seems to have suited Burton, and together they have come up with a strong and experimental store concept that will be rolled out around the world. The second Alexander McQueen store to adopt the new design concept is in The Dubai Mall’s Fashion Avenue extension – a 2,600 square foot, high-ceilinged space that offers menswear, womenswear and accessories.

Alexander McQueen’s new Dubai Mall store.

Alexander McQueen’s new Dubai Mall store.

An eight-metre-high shopfront sets the tone for a space that feels organic and inviting. There is the same interplay of light and dark woods found in the London flagship, and the same glass cylinders housing dressing rooms sheathed in colourful handwoven tapestries. There are 18 mannequins dotted through the store, so it almost feels like you are witnessing an Alexander McQueen runway show. An addition for the Dubai store is a VIP changing area.

“The clothes of Sarah have a happiness inside,” says Radic. “You can feel she enjoyed creating them, and if you go to the older stores it’s still a little bit serious. That is not the ‘alma’”… (he checks the translation with a Spanish-speaking publicist. The core, she says, or the soul)… “the soul that I saw in Sarah. It’s the key of the work to mix materials and to use new shapes and to experiment; that comes from the history of McQueen. But inside this space, I hope that you will feel something more free and more special, and with this idea of happiness.”

www.alexandermcqueen.com

The trend: Eau de Nil makes a comeback

Valentino

valentino.com

valentino.com

The greenish-blue hue pops in this pretty panel dress, where sequins shift from shimmering silver to pale lagoon.

Dolce & Gabbana

dolcegabbana.com

dolcegabbana.com

This net dress is flamboyant but curiously demure. Why? The shifting parchment and grey-green leaves us guessing.

Hermes

hermes.com

hermes.com

The combined effect of a laser-cut leather skirt with utilitarian elements gives this romantic shade a tougher edge.

Burberry

burberry.com

burberry.com

Burberry offers a deceptively simple dress in a milky pistachio. With a dropped waist defined by a belt bag, it is ideal for the urban sophisticate.

Masterchef Alain Ducasse shares his recipe for success 

Alain Ducasse currently holds more Michelin stars than any other chef in the world. But for his latest Dubai venture, the focus is as much on the venue as it is on the food, he tells Hayley Skirka

“There are already many fantastic places to eat in Dubai. No one was sitting around waiting for me,” says Alain Ducasse, Michelin’s second-most decorated chef of all time. “That’s why we’ve imagined a different space, a place that will create experiences, rather than simply opening a named restaurant.”

Given his universally recognised status, the Monégasque chef could have been forgiven for riding on his culinary coat-tails when it came to his Dubai eatery. But that, he says, isn’t what the three-level Mix by Alain Ducasse is all about.  
“We’ve created something new here,” he explains, gesturing to the gleaming white expanse that is the restaurant’s main dining area.

“The idea is really for each person to find whatever it is that they like, in one destination. It’s about a mix of events, different experiences, different spaces, different culinary experiences – Middle Eastern, Asian, South American, combined with my French DNA,” he continues.

Alain Ducasse. Courtesy Alain Ducasse

Alain Ducasse. Courtesy Alain Ducasse

That DNA can be traced back to the southwest of France, where a young Ducasse grew up on a farm. There, influenced by the flavours of his grandmother’s cooking, he gained an appreciation of natural ingredients. “Living on that farm gave me a chance to be outside, go fishing and collect seasonal ingredients in the garden. In spring, the garden was full of colour and was one of the best seasons for fresh vegetables,” the chef has said in the past.

Imprinted with an understanding of nature’s importance in the cooking process, Ducasse started a culinary apprenticeship at the age of 16. Upon completion, he secured a place training under Michel Guérard, the culinary master often referred to as the founder of nouvelle cuisine.

Head chef positions soon followed for Ducasse, but it was a posting at the famed Le Louis XV restaurant in Paris that would cement his reputation in the world of gastronomy. Under his watch, the eatery became the first to be awarded three Michelin stars. A series of fruitful restaurants and culinary accolades followed – but the French chef attributes this success to an almost artless formula.

“The key to success is desperately simple: to work more, better and faster than the others. I may also add a key ingredient. To be detail-obsessed – here lies the difference between good and exceptional,” the culinary legend maintains.

Decades after he first set out, having opened 30 outlets across the globe, sent his food into space, launched an all-electric dinner cruise on Paris’s River Seine and created his own bean-to-bar chocolate, Ducasse is the most starred chef in the world (only Joël Robuchon, who died in August, has earned more of the Michelin accolades than him). And yet, at Mix, the focus is more on the venue as an experimental destination, than on his culinary brilliance.

“It’s design orientated. We can host a celebration or private dining – the Mix bar and lounge is perfect for entertaining. It’s one whole. Different experiences that complement each other,” Ducasse says.

Set on the top floor of the grandiose Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai, on the Palm Jumeirah, Mix spans almost 3,200 square metres, across three levels of “entertainment”. The 360-degree views take in scenic ocean vistas from sunrise to sunset, but the main focal point of the space is a 20-metre-tall Fabergé egg, cleverly integrated into the restaurant’s architecture.

Mix by Alain Ducasse is the renowned chef’s first venture in Dubai .

Mix by Alain Ducasse is the renowned chef’s first venture in Dubai .

“The designer Manuel Clavel and I decided we wanted to connect the whole space with one strong element, something that visually explodes,” explains Ducasse. “We came up with the idea of a Fabergé egg; it’s the connection between the floors and the heart of the space, but at the same times gives it that wow factor,” he reveals.

Four years in the making, the Fabergé egg was manufactured in Spain and then transported, piece by piece, to Dubai, where the delicate sections were painstakingly reassembled. Inside, the egg features layer upon layer of gold, which initially feels like an assault on the eyes. After a few minutes, the senses settle, allowing details like the Muqarna-inspired ceiling elements to shine. The entire cavern conveys a strong sense of drama.

Higher still, the venue’s crown is home to a chef’s table with seating for up to 12 diners. Accessible via a private elevator, a technical kitchen and 350-kilogram central dining table render this space one of Dubai’s most exclusive dining spots. The devil here is in the detail, with every single element – down to the teaspoon you stir your coffee with – especially commissioned by Ducasse. The menu is fully customisable and the culinary team will guide guests in terms of ingredients, taste and seasonality.

In the main restaurant, the menu does two things very well. First, it satiates Dubai’s craving for luxury, with premium ingredients such as black truffle, sea scallops, Wagyu prime beef and gold caviar all making an appearance. Secondly, it runs like a curated collection of dishes that serve to reflect Dubai’s melting pot of cultures. From a Russian-inspired salmon coulibiac and Oriental croquettes to a Moroccan-motivated lablabi broth, it presents a truly global vision.

The shrimp toast consists of delicious, thick-cut slices of triangular bread stuffed with fresh prawns and toasted to a tinged caramel. The signature Ducasse cookpot is a pleasing medley of lobster-topped grains that come beautifully plated.

The dessert menu shines. A serious hit of citrus refreshment comes courtesy of the Mix iced composition. This is complemented perfectly with a serving of Mix candy bar – a satisfying plate of richly indulgent chocolate “bars” that point to the chef’s foray into the world of cocoa bean mastery.

Mix has a menu that draws inspiration from a range of cuisines.

Mix has a menu that draws inspiration from a range of cuisines.

But there are also elements on Ducasse’s menu that are underwhelming. While the aubergine caviar is delicious –­ slightly peppery with a pleasing consistency – it is indiscernible from a standard serving of baba ganoush, a local staple in these parts. Similarly, the mrouzia-style lamb shoulder is cooked to perfection, but boasts flavours that are all too common in the region.

I ask Ducasse what his favourite dish on the menu is. He rolls the question around for a few moments as I anticipate a tale of creativity or an anecdote about how a local spice or herb transformed a Ducasse classic. “The Middle Eastern-influenced meze, the cold appetiser,” comes the play-it-safe response after a few moments. 
In the bar and lounge opposite the main restaurant, creative drinks and a distinct bar-food menu of tapas-sized dishes are paired with metallic, almost moody interiors. Live DJs and an outdoor terrace with awe-inspiring views look set to fortify this as a big player in Dubai’s nightlife scene.

For Ducasse, who has countless global commitments, it’s almost time to hand the day-to-day operations of his new venue over to chef de cuisine Hugues Gerard, who has been in his culinary fold for years. “I’ve given Hugues a toolbox and from that he’ll be able to deliver and integrate. I define the direction, but he gives the interpretation,” Ducasse concludes.

The latest watch trends and launches

Alex Doak and Laura McCreddie-Doak bring you the finest watches and key trends from Geneva’s SIHH, the annual showcase of all things haute and horological

Outwardly, the Palexpo complex near Geneva Airport couldn’t look less suited to hosting the rarest treasures of luxury watchmaking, let alone the A-list brand ambassadors flown in for the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie’s glitzy soirées. However, things rapidly change once you’ve turned your back on the E62 motorway thundering below and the Easyjet Airbuses roaring overhead, and set foot on SIHH’s plush carpets.

With every one of luxury group Richemont’s watch brands setting up at neighbouring pavilions in a tasteful shade of cream, it’s as if London’s Bond Street has had a ceiling installed and its cars removed, and been given a lick of magnolia. With bar upon bar serving bottomless beverages and succulent sushi. 

SIHH, now into its second quarter-century, is nothing less than the most extravagant and exclusive trade show in the world. After a tentative few years (as tentative as anything showcasing wristwatches that cost roughly the same as a new family car can be), we can safely report that the haute in its name is most certainly back for good, with a welcome smattering of highfalutin grand complications. There were exuberant colours to rival a Dulux swatch book, space-age materials beamed straight from the Enterprise and a welcome return to unabashed, ultra-glam femininity.

Here are the five key trends – and their highlight timepieces – that will be hitting the vitrines of your friendly local jeweller soon.

Fun times

The past decade has been a strange one for Swiss watchmaking. After a run of breathless expansion and soaring profits stretching back to the 1990s, the wheels predictably wobbled – but never came off, mind – with the financial crash of 2008. With things soon back on track, the crucial Chinese market clamped down on its culture of gifting, and in 2015, the Swiss franc’s value against the euro was uncapped, sending the cost of exporting goods spiralling.

All of this has meant the (perhaps necessary) demise of high-octane über-complications and extreme proportions, but also one very essential ingredient: fun. After all, we’re talking irrational, emotion-led indulgences here – if the luxury-car and art worlds can enjoy themselves, why can’t the world of watches?

Well, thankfully, we might be seeing the return of something more than just safe vintage revivals and pared-back silver dials, most notably over at Richard Mille, where high-tech, tuned-up “racing machines for the wrist” are enjoying a dessert course this year. The liquorice whirls, marshmallow flumps and candied fruit adorning the dials of pieces in its Bonbon collection are equal part Willy Wonka flight of fancy and technical genius.

Roger Dubuis can always be relied on for amped-up virility, so it was particularly fun to see it burning rubber with another no-compromise practitioner of “voracious hedonism” (their expression) – Lamborghini. The new tribute to the Huracàn Performante hypercar picks out the quirky dashboard dial in flashes of acid-house yellow, while the strap comes upholstered in race-ready Alcantara.
But maximum fun points go to Romain Jerome. A boutique outfit that exhibited in SIHH’s lower-ceilinged Horlogers cul-de-sac, the luxury brand has added to its portfolio of Pac-Man and Super Mario Bros tributes with the ultimate nostalgia trip: an official tie-in with DC Comics.

First up is its Joker chronograph and half-skeletonised Two-Face model, complete with spinning-coin seconds dial.

A material world

The all-important research and development departments of Switzerland’s finest have seemingly been burning the midnight oil. Any brand worth its eggshell-fronted place along the revered halls of SIHH had a whizzy new material to brag about, and rightly so. Materials science has a frontier role at the bleeding edge of luxury watchmaking, bringing genuine innovation to a mode of timekeeping for which mechanical principles have barely changed in 200 years.

Panerai has taken the highly relevant planet-friendly route, with a particular type of titanium made from aeronautical scraps, reducing CO2 emissions by a factor of four during the case-making process. Also picking bits up off the aviation industry’s floor is Ulysse Nardin, with its futuristic, carousel-based carbonium used in the Freak X, and coating titanium waste with scratch-proof carbon, in the process, reducing its environmental impact over comparable materials by 40 per cent.

Meanwhile, IWC has given its new Double Chronograph Top Gun the high-tech treatment by making the case in ceratanium. It is created by machining a high-purity titanium alloy into its case or component shapes, then baking it in a furnace to diffuse oxygen into the material, which causes the surface of the metal to transform into ceramic.

But the show wasn’t all high-tech alloys with sci-fi names. Over at Speake-Marin, Montblanc and again IWC, that good old salty seadog, copper with a hint of tin (aka bronze), was taking pride of place. With exposure to body oils and moisture, bronze patinates and forms a protective oxidised crust unique to every wearer. For Montblanc, this patina will particularly complement its three new khaki-green-dialled 1858 models – which are as ruggedly handsome as the sort of man they are targeting.

Fifty Shades of Blue

From salmon to acid green via fire-engine red, there was a rainbow of colours arching over this year’s SIHH. But whether midnight, cobalt, petrol or even diesel, blue continued to be watchmaking’s favourite shade outside of monochrome this year.

So hats off to Vacheron Constantin for taking the colour more seriously than most, finding the most perfect blue possible. Its new “retro-contemporary” FiftySix collection has been updated with a mesmerising petrol blue in contrasting opaline and sunray textures.

Next door, Jaeger-LeCoultre unveiled a trio of Ultra-Thin Masters, all sunray-engraved using antique guilloche machines and coated in a shimmering blue enamel. Appropriately for a brand that first found fame by kitting out the Italian Navy’s elite frogmen, Panerai was all about water this year, focusing solely on its Submersible diving range. So it was no surprise to see blue throughout its launches, too. The dazzling number of shades, however, was enough to give you the bends.

There was cerulean-blue luminescence on the dial of the Submersible Carbotech PAM 01616; the Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition PAM 00982 had an almost royal-blue ceramic bezel; while the limited-edition PAM 00983 has an aquamarineaccented dial that graduates from black to blue to mimic the waters of Moorea, where one of 15 lucky purchasers will get to learn to freedive with the titular Mr Néry himself.

Over at Girard-Perregaux, every single release from the venerable manufacturer was – you guessed it – blue, all the way from the G-P super-butch Laureato Absolute chronograph to the demure and dainty Cat’s Eye Celestial, with its twinkling midnight dial of aventurine glass.

Bovet, meanwhile, presented the Virtuoso IX, a blue-dialled, double time zone, 10-day power reserve, big date flying tourbillon. A new movement has been placed in a Fleurier Amadéo convertible case, which can be transformed from a wristwatch into a reversible timepiece, a pocket watch or table clock.

Serious sparkle

Last year’s vogue for mid-size, gender-neutral designs found some brands twitching, then outwardly rebelling, with full-on feminine maximalism, and more diamonds than you can shake a pickaxe at.

It was Piaget’s ultra-thin and renowned Altiplano that got the stone treatment – diamonds setting the entire dial of a particularly ritzy one-off, with baguettes on the bezel (all totalling a rather impressive 6.5 carats). Also adhering to the view that you can never have enough diamonds was Parisian grande maison Cartier, which swapped the tiny gold balls in last year’s Révélation d’Une Panthère for 1,000 of the precious stones.

They glide down the crystal dial to form the face of a panther, which holds for a brief magical moment before trickling to the bottom. It’s a dramatic trick, the precise mechanics of which Cartier is remaining very tight-lipped about.

Similar wizardry with secrets hiding in plain sight could be found at HYT – a high-concept atelier occupying SIHH’s Carré des Horlogers sideshow of indie auteurs. A circular tube of liquid is HYT’s signature feature, telling the hours where two differently coloured immiscible fluids meet, sucked and squeezed by miniature bellows.

This year, the mechanical biochemistry of “HO Red Fluid” got the particularly contrasting treatment of 1,206 diamonds, with the most gnomic but pleasing reasoning why: “We have been trained to spot sparkles so we could find water by the reflection of the sun,” explains creative director François Nuñez. That’s good enough for us.

If all this seemed excessive, Jaeger-LeCoultre was on hand to offer something a bit more restrained. Its new Rendez-Vous features two rows of diamonds beautifully claw-set to allow in plenty of light, setting the stones on fire. The timepiece also comes on a leather strap for what the brand has deemed a more everyday approach. Diamonds aren’t just for after dark any more.

In perpetuity

Running through SIHH like the writing in a stick of Brighton rock, there was one horological complication to be found everywhere last month: the perpetual calendar.

Telling the correct date every day of every month, even on leap years (except 2100, when we skip a leap, so to speak), it’s one of horology’s most prestigious added functions, but also one of the hardest to pull off without cluttering up the dial.

So it’s frankly extraordinary that Jaeger-LeCoultre has managed to almost nonchalantly throw a calendar into the mix, when that mix – dubbed (deep breath) Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel – already boasts a mesmeric, spherical tourbillon cage tumbling in space at six o’clock, framed in blue by four musically tuned gongs.

On demand, the precise time – down to the hours, quarters and minutes – is chimed to the tune of Big Ben’s melody. Yours for €800,000 (Dh3.35 million), excluding taxes. To keep things economical, Jaeger has opted for three small window displays for the day, year and month, but when a perpetual calendar takes centre stage, the classical arrangement is three subdials, plus a moonphase indication, balancing out the dial with pleasing cross-shaped symmetry.

Look no further than Baume & Mercier’s Clifton Baumatic QP, or for a masterclass in pared-back élan, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, which reduces the internal mechanics to a wafer-like 4.05-millimetre thickness.

Then there’s grandmeister A. Lange & Söhne – the brand that single-handedly established Saxony’s tiny village of Glashütte as the epicentre of fine German watchmaking back in the 19th century. The now-Swiss-owned, but still Glashütte-made, brand is celebrating 25 years since its post-Berlin-Wall revival, and the gorgeous salmon-pink-gold Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon couldn’t be finer proof of its Patek Philippe-rivalling prestige.

Rarely has someone found fault with a single Lange watch in its entire history, which is more than can be said for Audemars Piguet this year, whose brand-new Code 11.59 collection was the talking point of SIHH. It brings round watches back to a brand that has leaned almost entirely on its octagonal Royal Oak, but not without incorporating an eight-sided case band sandwiched between circles, hugging your wrist with open-worked lugs.

Luckily, everyone could agree that it was the perpetual calendar version of Code 11.59 that worked above all others. The traditional subdials float in a night sky of aventurine glass, offering a sublime and romantic allusion to our Gregorian calendar’s astronomical origins.

Fashion shoot: Curtain call

In a traditional theatre in the centre of Tokyo, drama unfolds

Dress, Dh8,500, Salvatore Ferragamo. Gloves, Dh1,600, Gucci. Fan, stylist’s own .

Dress, Dh8,500, Salvatore Ferragamo. Gloves, Dh1,600, Gucci. Fan, stylist’s own .

Dress, Dh40,260, Valentino. Lace boots, Dh3,685, Dolce & Gabbana. Earrings, Dh2,210, Louis Vuitton .

Dress, Dh40,260, Valentino. Lace boots, Dh3,685, Dolce & Gabbana. Earrings, Dh2,210, Louis Vuitton .

Dress, Dh12,896, Givenchy. Tabi socks and fan, stylist’s own.

Dress, Dh12,896, Givenchy. Tabi socks and fan, stylist’s own.

Dress, Dh5,327, Dolce & Gabbana.

Dress, Dh5,327, Dolce & Gabbana.

Dress, Dh18,100, Gucci. Boots, as before.

Dress, Dh18,100, Gucci. Boots, as before.

Opposite page, belted jacket, Dh12,099; shorts, Dh2,278, both from Roberto Cavalli. Top (worn underneath), price on request, Hermès. Boots, Dh510, Tommy Hilfiger.

Opposite page, belted jacket, Dh12,099; shorts, Dh2,278, both from Roberto Cavalli. Top (worn underneath), price on request, Hermès. Boots, Dh510, Tommy Hilfiger.

Jacket, Dh6,734; blouse, Dh2,922, both from Chloé.

Jacket, Dh6,734; blouse, Dh2,922, both from Chloé.

Photography: Hideyuki Hayashi
Fashion director: Sarah Maisey

Liv Tyler.

Liv Tyler.

My luxury life: Liv Tyler

Liv Tyler.

The 41-year-old daughter of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler is a model, actress and activist, famed for roles in films such as ‘Stealing Beauty’, ‘Armageddon’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. Last year, she produced and starred in the fantasy drama ‘Wildling’, and collaborated on a capsule collection for lingerie brand Triumph. The former Unicef goodwill ambassador and mother of three lives in London with her partner David Gardner

If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you be?
Right where I am. I’m visiting this beautiful place in Austria on a lake by a mountain. It’s one of the most stunning places I have ever been to in my life. It’s like a Disney movie.

You are sitting down to the perfect meal. Where are you, who are you with, and what are you eating?
I would like to be in Italy having dinner with Bernardo Bertolucci, who directed me in Stealing Beauty when I was just 18. He passed away recently, and I am thinking of him a lot, and wish I had more time with him. We could be eating amazing pasta.

What is your most treasured possession?
I’m not sure. I have quite a few strange little things that mean the world to me that I have picked up along the way. They would mean nothing to anyone else, but mean everything to me.

What is life’s greatest luxury?
Time.

What is your favourite time of day?
Evenings with my children. Home together. Dinner, bath, stories, snuggles.

What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
A black feathered cape made for me by my friend Lee McQueen. It’s incredible.

What is your go-to beauty product?
A Givenchy lipstick called Perfect Pink.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?
I love travelling and going on new adventures. There is always something amazing to discover. This year my favourites have been The Mayr clinic in Austria, Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and New Orleans.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Oh, that’s hard. There are so many good ones that I have picked up from so many great people. My grandmother has some amazing ones. She always says: ‘Everyone has a song in their heart, but you have to sing it and get it out.’ I think it means don’t let too much time go by without living your true dream in your heart. You will regret it if you don’t do it.

And what advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Go to university. Take those few years when you are young to cram in as much knowledge and learning as you can.

Sarah Maisey

A look at the allure of a waterfront homes

Our desire to settle next to seas, lakes, rivers and streams can be traced back to the dawn of civilisation – but these days, you can expect to pay a premium of up to 90 per cent for the privilege. Selina Denman looks at the allure of waterfront living

Water has shaped patterns of human settlement since the dawn of civilisation. For our earliest ancestors, access to water meant sustenance, the ability to develop irrigation systems and settle in one place, and opportunities for navigation and trade, not just of products but also ideas, languages and customs.

From the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, to the banks of the Nile, Tiber and Yellow River, the world’s greatest civilisations were able to flourish because of their proximity to water.

And our desire to settle near water has not waned since then, it seems. A recent report from property consultant Knight Frank has revealed that waterfront addresses are the most coveted in the world, and that prices for prime waterfront estates are, on average, 40 per cent higher than comparable properties inland. The Knight Frank Global Waterfront Monitor found that waterfront homes in cities such as Sydney, Hong Kong, Paris, London and Dubai are particularly attractive. 

In Dubai, you can expect to pay up to 50 per cent more for a water view – a figure only surpassed in the Knight Frank study by Sydney, where the uplift is 89.3 per cent, the Gold Coast, where you would pay a premium of up to 64.1 per cent, and Perth, where a sea view would set you back up to 53.2 per cent.

A private villa on the Palm Jumeirah, which offers spectacular views of the Dubai skyline from its Jacuzzi on the roof terrace.

A private villa on the Palm Jumeirah, which offers spectacular views of the Dubai skyline from its Jacuzzi on the roof terrace.

When it comes to waterfront addresses in Dubai, The Palm still reigns supreme. “Palm Jumeirah, overlooking the Arabian Gulf, is Dubai’s most desirable waterfront location. The scarcity of the product, along with the fact that waterfront properties are usually best-in-class in terms of specification and amenities, has insulated values over the last decade,” says Taimur Khan, Knight Frank’s research manager in Dubai.

James Hatton, senior global property consultant of Gulf Sotheby’s International Realty, concurs, but points to a couple of newcomers that might start giving The Palm a run for its money. “Palm Jumeirah is the most in demand, with the likes of Port De La Mer and Jumeirah Bay Island starting to attract a bit of that interest,” he says.

A villa on Palm Jumeirah currently being listed by Sotheby’s for Dh39.9 million highlights the appeal of Dubai’s much-coveted man-made island. The three-floor, 12,330-square-foot property is located in the Viceroy Beach Villas, and features four double bedrooms, marble-clad en-suite bathrooms, walk-in wardrobes, and a dedicated entertainment room that leads onto a roof terrace kitted out with a Jacuzzi. This is one of only six villas located on the grounds of the luxury hotel property. 

A private villa on the Palm Jumeirah, which offers spectacular views of the Dubai skyline from its living room,

A private villa on the Palm Jumeirah, which offers spectacular views of the Dubai skyline from its living room,

When it comes to waterfront real estate in Europe, Paris, London, Berlin, Lake Geneva and Monaco are among the most attractive spots, while in Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore are the destinations that command the highest premiums for this category. A view of Hong Kong’s bustling waterways comes with an uplift of up to 39.9 per cent.

Perhaps unexpectedly, harbour views are more appealing than sea views, the Knight Frank report reveals. Analysis also shows that there is some correlation between the volume of water and the premium generated. Where water is in abundance – in island destinations such as Hong Kong and Singapore, for example – the premium is smaller. In the German capital, meanwhile, the current uplift of 28 per cent is set to increase as availability of land along the River Spree lessens. 

Till Brühöfener McCourt, head of research at Ziegert Immobilien, Knight Frank’s partner in Germany says: “With fewer new-build opportunities available and a finite number of properties, values are rising, particularly those in the city centre close to Charlottenburg, Mitte-Mitte and Friedrichshain.”

Villa Tarka in the Bahamas, a grand 20,000 square foot property, equipped with resort style amenities.

Villa Tarka in the Bahamas, a grand 20,000 square foot property, equipped with resort style amenities.

Concerns about global warming and rising sea levels are not yet proving to be a deterrent when it comes to purchasing waterfront properties, confirms Lana Rademaker, chief sales officer and managing broker at Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty in the Bahamas.

“It’s not a common concern for most buyers we deal with. It’s not that it’s not on their radar or perhaps in their mind, but it’s not something that is an obstacle to purchasing.”

It is easy to see why, when faced with the prospect of living somewhere like 14 Ocean Drive in Nassau. The beachfront property belonging to country music star Shania Twain is currently on the market for a guide price of $10.95 million (Dh40.22m), and is set on a 7,000-square-foot beachfront plot in the Old Fort Bay gated community. Its five bedrooms all offer expansive sea views, while a large media room is on hand should you ever tire of the vistas.

The appeal of waterfront living is manifold, experts suggest. A property by an ocean, river, lake or creek affords a certain lifestyle and amenities – from a place to moor your private yacht, to jetties, quays and access to various watersports facilities. It also offers an ever-changing panorama.

The dining room of Shania Twain’s five bedroom house in Nassau, which boasts expansive sea views and a large outdoor pool.

The dining room of Shania Twain’s five bedroom house in Nassau, which boasts expansive sea views and a large outdoor pool.

Demand for waterfront properties around the world is led by buyers from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Australia and, in eighth place, the UAE. Proximity to water can also be a key driver for Chinese buyers, because of positive feng shui connotations. 

“The word feng shui literally means wind and water,” explains Shivani Adalja, a feng shui practitioner from Dubai. “Feng shui is the Chinese science of energy management that is based on the interaction of the five elements: water, wood, fire, earth and metal. The water element is particularly important as it represents prosperity and movement. Water also depicts wealth and growth.

“Waterfront properties are sought after as they are considered to be lucky and likely to have good feng shui. More and more Chinese and Indian buyers contact me on regular basis to check feng shui for waterfront properties. These properties have an active pool of energy due to their proximity to water. Having said that, not all waterfront properties are feng shui friendly but, overall, Asians tend to prefer to buy or rent homes by the water to be able to tap into that energy,” Adalja adds.

Even for those who don’t subscribe to the principles of feng shui, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests that living near water has positive psychological and physiological effects. This is not a new idea, of course – doctors were prescribing trips to the seashore as early as the 18th century, and most of Albert Einstein’s greatest theories were developed while he was sailing out at sea. 

But more and more attention is being paid to the role that water can play in uplifting our communities – BlueHealth, a pan-European research initiative investigating the links between environment, climate and health, has been set up to specifically explore how water-based environments in towns and cities can affect health and well-being. It brings together experts from nine institutions and is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme.

A large outdoor pool in Nassau.

A large outdoor pool in Nassau.

Water is believed to reduce stress levels, and is considered an antidote to “red mind” – a state of anxiety caused by overstimulation, increased urbanisation and a growing reliance on technology. The antithesis, Blue Mind, a sense of water-induced calm, is analysed by scientist and author Wallace J Nichols in his book of the same name, published in 2014. Nichols describes Blue Mind as “a mildly meditative state characterised by calm, peacefulness, unity and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment”.

In his book, Nichols highlights a 2010 research study at the University of Plymouth, where a group of adults were asked to rate more than a hundred pictures of different urban and natural environments. Respondents gave higher ratings for positive mood, preference and perceived restorativeness to any picture containing water, whether it was in a natural landscape or an urban setting.

“We are inspired by water – hearing it, smelling in the air, playing in it, walking next to it, painting it, surfing, swimming or fishing in it, writing about it, photographing it, and creating lasting memories along its edge,” Nichols writes.
And if you can admire it from a hot tub on the terrace of your private residence overlooking the Indian Ocean, all the better.

Brewing new technology

These coffee machines will do more than just wake you up in the morning, writes Sophie Prideaux

Fancy Brew

Most coffee makers will simply sit on a worktop, blending in with your other unassuming appliances. But if it’s design you’re looking for, this might be the most elaborate espresso machine in the world. Featuring 18K white gold ring enhancements, diamonds, royal purple amethysts, and with thermoses made from gold lead carbon fibre, the Espresso Veloce Royale 01 is really something. Designed to resemble a Formula One engine and engineered using aerospace-grade materials, the limited-edition coffee maker is sold by Super Veloce as a collector’s item. It dispenses aromatic, Italian-style coffee from one of six exhaust pipe valves. Only 500 will be manufactured, making it the ultimate investment for coffee and racing fans. The machine comes with four complimentary cylinder-designed espresso cups, with gold handles encrusted with diamonds. Dh627,000, www.superveloce.co

Time to experiment

It might look like a piece of lab equipment, but the Gina is a coffee maker like no other. It is another concept made possible thanks to Kickstarter, although the founders managed to raise more than 10 times their initial target of US$50,000 (Dh183,625). The reason caffeine fans are so excited is Gina’s experimental element. Its adjustable valve allows coffee to be made one of three ways – keep the valve closed for an immersive brew, open for pour-over coffee, or set it halfway for cold drip. The smart element of the machine is its custom-made app, although unlike other smart coffee gadgets, it doesn’t allow you to control brewing. Instead, it saves the data from your brewing so you can remember what you liked, and share your discoveries with other coffee fans. Dh899, www.goat-story.com

Made to measure

If your family has varying preferences when it comes to how they like their coffee, the Miele CM 6350 is the next best thing to having your own barista. The countertop coffee machine offers a definitive experience with its range of features, including the built-in “personalised barista” setting, allowing you to customise size, strength, brewing temperature, grinder settings and froth. You can choose between favourites such as cappuccino, espresso, caffè latte, long coffee and ristretto. With up to four individual coffee profiles, the machine uses the saved data for each person to blend their perfect cup, complemented by the heated cup rack system, which pre-warms all cups. And its OneTouch for Two feature makes two speciality coffees simultaneously. Dh6,200, www.miele.ae

Fresh take

If, for you, coffee is all about freshness, the Bonaverde Berlin is the machine you need. The coffee maker is the result of a Kickstarter campaign from 2013, which saw more than 2,200 people raise US$681,000 (Dh2.5 million). The Bonaverde Berlin is more than just a coffee maker; it will actually roast and grind the coffee beans before it gets started on brewing. The concept was designed to allow farmers to be able to sell their green coffee beans directly to consumers. But the machine also has a built-in smart element. It works exclusively alongside its own branded coffee pods, which come with smart barcodes telling the machine how the coffee should be roasted. The Bonaverde Berlin can also be linked to Facebook Messenger, allowing you to schedule the start of your next roast via the Bonaverde Coffee Concierge. Dh3,669, www.bonaverde.com

Smart solution

For the times you wish you could come home to a freshly brewed pot of coffee ready and waiting for you, there’s Smarter Coffee. This machine works through Wi-Fi and can be controlled using your voice, an app or a fitness tracker. It can be linked to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to answer your verbal requests for a coffee, but even more impressive is the machine’s ability to detect when you arrive home and start brewing before you even say a word. The machine also features modes that allow you to link with other smart home appliances, enabling you to command it to start brewing, say, when the kitchen lights come on. The co-ordinating app allows you to always know how many cups of coffee you have left in your machine, while giving you control over the strength of your coffee. Dh1,549, www.smarter.am

A diamond-encrusted knife worth Dh550,875

Two years in the making, the Platinum Mamba represents the concerted effort of 50 highly skilled artisans, including jewellers, metallurgists, craftsmen and designers. The team created countless sketches and prototypes, and performed numerous tests, before this final creation came into being. “The Platinum Mamba is a one-off, one-of-a-kind object, never to be produced again,” says Rob Bianchin, the American director of Sandrin Knives.

The curved, concave handle of the Platinum Mamba was shaped from 11.5 ounces of platinum, inset with rare Wyoming black jade and decorated with 320 colourless F, GIA-grade diamonds. Metallurgists worked with polyhedral tungsten carbide to create a blade that is harder than that of any steel knife in existence.

Tungsten carbide is an engineered material that starts as a mix of powdered chemical compounds, primarily tungsten, carbide and cobalt. After sintering in specialised ovens for 20 hours, this forms a material so hard that it can only be shaped using diamond grinding wheels.

Sandrin Knives prides itself on “exceeding carbide technology” and is the first company to use the material in the production of knives. Another jewel in the company’s crown is the Big Bang knife. The handle of this $10,000 (Dh36,725) collector’s item is made from a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite.

For those looking for a more affordable option, the Italian blade maker offers a selection of “standard” knives, including the Explorer, Venom, Venor and Initium. Each blade can be matched with a handle of choice, depending on whether your tastes veer towards mammoth tusk, abalone, carbon fibre or micarta. Each knife comes delivered in a special box, with a certificate of authenticity. Prices start at Dh1,500.

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