Sometimes restaurant design isn’t about what you can add — it’s about what’s already there. To give coastal Italian newcomer Corvo Bianco its atrium-like main dining area, architect Maruicio Zermeno Bessonart removed the wood that was covering up the skylight when Cuban restaurant Calle Ocho occupied the upper West Side space, filling the grand room with natural light.
“It’s an outdoor space with the comforts of the inside,” Bessonart says. “I imagine people in here wearing their sunglasses during brunch.” The skylight was originally constructed in the 1890s, when the space served as the Hotel Endicott. Now a landmarked building, the team was limited in the changes it could make to the space’s historic wrought-iron columns and a tile fireplace.
Blending the new and the old became the key the restaurant’s design, says Bessonart. A bar holds court in the charming entryway, welcoming patrons with exposed wood beams and white brick walls. Manzanita branches hang from the ceiling and a wall of reclaimed wood, giving the space a rustic vibe.
Inspired by the osterias and terraces in the Italian countryside, Bessonart used giant metal grids holding planters add to the sense of a garden courtyard. When snow falls, Bessonart says that the accumulation on the glass atrium will make diners feel like they are in an igloo.
Chef Elizabeth Falkner says the space matches her cuisine, which she describes as subtle with clean flavors. “You really don’t see how special the space is from the outside,” Falkner says. “But you walk through the hallway and it really opens up.”
Inside Sean Parker’s Wedding: The Planning Details, the Menu, the Decor, and the Favors
For the wedding of Sean Parker and Alexandra Lenas, the couple wanted to highlight their love of nature—particularly “old-growth forests,” writes David Kirkpatrick, who covered the wedding exclusively for Vanity Fair. Writing in detail for the first time about the Tolkien-esque costumes (364 in all), the food, the flowers, and the late-night reveling guests, Kirkpatrick reveals new information about the event’s planning, such as Parker’s borrowing invitation inspiration from the Queen of England’s 1953 coronation announcement.
By David Kirkpatrick
For the first dance, the groom serenaded the bride with a song from The Little Mermaid: “Look at this trove, treasures untold / How many wonders can one cavern hold?” Sean Parker, the billionaire Internet wizard who helped create Napster and Facebook, knew the lyrics by heart. It was an endearing, corny, and over-the-top moment at an event most noteworthy, perhaps, for how it has been vilified as a symbol of the excesses of tech-industry wealth.
The lavish ceremony and reception this past June—shown here, in detail, for the first time—took place not in a cavern, however, but in Big Sur, California, under towering 500-year-old redwoods. Yet treasures and wonders were much in evidence. As the flaxen-haired bride, singer-songwriter Alexandra Lenas, floated down the aisle trailing acres of silk, Parker’s chum Sean Lennon eagerly recorded the scene, standing on his pew to get a bird’s-eye view. At dinner Jack Dorsey sat with Sting, trying unsuccessfully to persuade him to use Twitter, which Dorsey invented. Also on hand: actress Emma Watson, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, California power brokers Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris, MTV founder Bob Pittman, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, Zynga’s Mark Pincus, Charity Water’s Scott Harrison, Seagram’s scion Ben Bronfman, comedian Olivia Munn, and Facebook co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. (Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, though invited, sent regrets.)
Parker, 33, is best known for how he was portrayed, if inaccurately, by Justin Timberlake in the movie The Social Network (as the slick, scheming president of Facebook). One thing the film got right was Parker’s hyperactive—and hyperbole-prone—personality. Friends say Parker has been somewhat becalmed by Lenas, 24, and by the couple’s daughter, Winter, born in January, who joined them at the altar.
Parker says the wedding was meant to be “a performance-art project” set in a modern-day enchanted forest. Granted, it was an expensive one. Press accounts pegged the affair’s price tag at $10 million—a figure Parker insists is “made up,” while conceding that preparing the site alone came to $4.5 million. Parker himself oversaw all aspects of the event, from décor to lighting, to conceiving a leather-bound keepsake volume for attendees (relating the “fairy tale” of the couple’s romance) and selecting its design, in part, to evoke the invitation to the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Each guest was custom-fitted in Tolkien-esque garb by Ngila Dickson, the costume designer who won an Academy Award for The Lord of the Rings. “How many times do you get to dress up 364 guests in crazy costumes?” Parker asks. (Men wore silk-brocade vests and jackets. Women arrived in silk and velvet.)
San Francisco design eminence Ken Fulk was put in charge of the setting’s visual elements. Everyone entered through a 20-foot-high gate, with the couple’s initials intertwined in wrought iron, before descending a path lined with imported evergreens. People literally gasped as they emerged into a glade in which planted flowers and hanging garlands conferred a riot of color and a sense of undulation. (Event maestro Preston Bailey handled most of the logistics and floral treatments, creating an immersive atmosphere.) Set designers had constructed faux bridges, a ruined stone castle, a 10-foot Celtic cross, and two broken Roman columns that straddled the altar, beneath the largest tree in the grove. A pen of bunnies was nearby for anyone who needed a cuddle. Says Fulk (who is drawing up plans for a private club that Parker hopes to open soon in L.A.): “It was Citizen Kane meets Gatsby–like in its scale—but beautiful, not gross or overwhelming.”
As guests sat on split-log benches (carted in for the occasion), cameramen operated video booms, and traditional Irish balladeer Loreena McKennitt performed with a seven-piece band on a 50-foot stage. The presiding Unitarian Universalist minister shed a few tears. Somebody dropped the ring that Lenas had intended for Parker’s finger, and it got lost amid the carpet of strewn white rose petals. Her quick-witted father pulled his off, as a replacement.
The newlyweds dined on salmon with beets and Napa cabbage (entrée choices: porchetta, chicken, or venison) while perched upon a 10-foot sofa-throne, their feet nestled in a bearskin rug. After dark, lights illuminated the hillsides. Sting erupted a cappella in an impromptu version of his song “I Was Brought to My Senses.” Celtic musicians played on. Then the P.A. boomed disco and rock until dawn. At five A.M. guests guzzled leftover bottles of $500-plus wine from Napa Valley’s Harlan Estate. (The following night, stragglers gathered around an inflatable outdoor screen to watch the bloody “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones.)
Parker and Lenas intended the nuptials to celebrate their love of nature, specifically old-growth forests. To that end, Save the Redwoods League—to which the pair gave a substantial donation—helped them pick a location in a closed campground adjacent to the tony Ventana Inn & Spa. The couple brought in biologists and botanists as advisers. Nonetheless, the California Coastal Commission ordered the event shut down 20 days before the wedding. Ventana, it turned out, had been cited for illegally closing the campground in 2007 after water-quality violations came to light. Finally, two days before the ceremony, Parker settled with the commission so the festivities could proceed, agreeing to pay $1 million on behalf of the hotel and chipping in another $1.5 million, voluntarily, to facilitate future access to regional forests.
While the affair received plenty of unflattering press beforehand, the blogosphere began to hyperventilate once word got out about the alleged violations. In the end, the couple canceled their honeymoon to do damage control—though Parker further stirred the waters with a 9,500-word screed on TechCrunch.com, in which he excoriated the voluminous wedding coverage, proclaiming that the many inaccuracies demonstrated a dangerous decline in journalistic practices (a decline facilitated, he averred, by the very social media he had helped to create).
From the start, Parker and Lenas had sought to avoid the spotlight, requesting that guests leave cameras and cell phones behind. Scores brought them anyway, and indulged in bedazzled documentation. Yet almost nobody in this consummately wired crowd posted those photos online. For all the sensational coverage and criticism, those in attendance saw the whole thing mostly as just a very well-heeled couple’s way of saying how much they loved each other—albeit with large doses of Disney, Peter Jackson, and Rachel Carson.
Church forced to protect baptismal font with iron gates after it was used as a BATH
A church has been forced to erect gates around its baptismal font after people were discovered bathing in it. The Roman Catholic Church near Marble Arch, central London, has allegedly spent £1,200 on the wrought iron gates, preventing anyone from getting near the font.
People were spotted washing themselves in the holy font of Our Lady of the Rosary, which stands on the main side of the building. ‘Fonts are special. It is a total disrespect of the church and holy property.’
Fonts are sacred to the Church. They are used to baptise people in a ritual which involves blessed water being poured over a person’s head to symbolise they will be a disciple of Jesus.
Fonts are typically situated at or near the entrance to a church’s nave to remind believers of their baptism, which is how they were introduced to Christianity.
Roman Catholic fonts are usually placed in an accessible space for worshippers and the clergy and be able to cope with flowing water. According to common law, every parish church must have a baptismal font. It is not the first time people have been so desperate for basic amenities they have been forced to wash in public.
In 2012, a group of jobless migrants set up a tent ‘village’ next to a busy roundabout in Northampton. A canvas covered eating area was erected with a ‘table’ made from bits of wood gathered from rubbish dumps. The central ‘dormitory’ was essentially a large clearing in the wooded area where the migrants sleep under the cover of the trees.
A nearby lake is understood to provide the group with fish which is cooked over an open fire. The parish priest was unavailable for comment.
The Tube – the best-looking transport system on earth
by Harry Mount
Congratulations to the lucky devil who ends up living in the old Brompton Road tube station, expected to fetch £20m. As well as getting 28,000 square feet of prime west London real estate, they’ll also own one of the great pieces of urban transport design.
Edwardian Tube stations – like Brompton Road, built in 1906 – are a good example of the British taste for a confident, varied collision of styles. The Tube’s coloured tiles – like the ones here on the front of Brompton Road – were borrowed from the New York subway, but we advanced and beautified the concept.
The American who built, electrified and designed London’s Edwardian tube lines, was Charles Yerkes (1837-1905). He financed the Chicago trams and railways, and was living in New York when its inspirational subway, opened in 1904, was built. It was Yerkes who approached the London firm of WB Simpson and Sons, and Maw and Co of Shropshire, to manufacture those familiar 9″ by 3″ coloured tiles.
The architectural bones of the Tube style were Edwardian Wrenaissance – you might call it Empire Classical, with oxblood Doric pilasters on the outside, as pictured, and further Doric arches framing “Way Out” and “No Exit signs” at platform level. The classical style was mixed with the art nouveau, twirly-whirly lines of the Parisian Metro – particularly in the wrought iron entrance gates to early stations such as Regent’s Park.
All in all, it made for a busy, eclectic, and thoroughly British approach to design – New York meets ancient Rome meets Victorian Paris meets Edwardian London. You couldn’t get any more stylish.
Opulent Simi Valley resort-style home is a showplace throughout the year
by Wendy Dager
A bonus is when the residence is in the Wild Horse Canyon neighborhood of Simi Valley, which is one of the most geographically desirable locales in this safe and scenic city. Freeway close to Los Angeles and Ventura counties for commuters, it also is a convenient and lovely setting for those who enjoy biking and walking for exercise, with spectacular hillside views.
Listed for sale in Wild Horse Canyon in the portion of the development known as The Crest, there is a 3,460 square-foot home at 4417 Presidio Drive. Built in 2004, the original owners have added an abundance of upgrades in order to create a showplace, which includes a resplendent backyard that has an additional 650 square feet of living space in the backyard pool house.
Styled in a fashion reminiscent of a Tuscan villa, this five-bedroom, four-and-one-half bathroom, two-story residence on an enormous, 0.43-acre lot evokes the opulence of a five-star vacation resort.
The architecture is stunning, with stacked flagstone to complement the tile roof and arched doors and windows, along with wrought iron gates that enhance the RV access area and porte cochere with walkway above.
The front yard also has a specially widened driveway entrance for recreational vehicle, boat or automobiles, beautifully manicured lawn and decorative fountain.
The interior is breathtaking, with tumbled travertine tile flooring throughout, a bold mosaic floor medallion in the entryway and warm, inviting paint tones on the walls.
Downstairs is a cozy front bedroom with bathroom, suitable for nanny, in-laws or guests. There also is a powder room, formal living room with fireplace and plantation shutters, and a formal dining room that looks out onto the fabulous sideyard koi pond.
The kitchen is an entertainer’s dream, with gorgeous granite countertops and stainless-steel Kitchen Aid appliances including a Sub-Zero refrigerator, six-burner range, and double convection oven. Adding to the beauty and convenience of the kitchen are upgraded white-painted cabinets, island with sink and stone tile backsplash with painted fruit basket center motif.
Next to the kitchen is the carpeted family room, with French doors, surround sound and built-in media center with rear panel access.
The best way to complement a spectacular interior is with an equally incredible backyard. When one walks outside, the first thing experienced is the dramatic outdoor living area, which is like no other. Styled just like an indoor living room, but with a wide-open view of the expansive, resortlike backyard, it has a granite wet bar with wine cooler, fireplace with raised hearth and granite face, beamed ceiling, heaters, ceiling fan and nearby half-bathroom.
The yard’s centerpiece is the 11-foot-deep pool with a 28-foot slide built into the adjacent hillside. There are umbrella pool holders set into the pool, fiber-optic jets and a cascade waterfall. A separate, circular-shaped tiered spa also is a dramatic backyard feature, and there is a whimsical jumping water area that’s perfect for the kids to cool off on those hot summer days.
The backyard also has a putting green, rock waterfall, storage sheds and strategically hidden pool equipment. A thoughtfully crafted built-in barbecue has a sink, refrigerator, stove burner and granite countertop, and there is a beautiful outdoor gas fireplace.
The pool house is another brilliant feature, with a full bathroom, sauna, ceiling fans and play area that will hold a variety of gaming tables, arcade machines, or whatever the new homeowner desires.
The entire backyard and its surrounding hillside can be viewed from the 1,000-square foot veranda attached to the upstairs master bedroom, just above the downstairs outdoor living room. The veranda has a gas fireplace, spa and more than ample lounging area. The master bedroom itself is a retreat, with fireplace, sitting area, his-and-her walk-in closets and spa-sized master bathroom, which has a vanity, oval-jetted tub, dual sinks, separate shower, separate room for the commode, wiring for TV and heated floors.
The luxury continues with the other bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs, plus an area that can be used as an office, den or playroom. An added bonus is that it’s just a short walk across the balcony above the porte cochere to the residence’s home theatre, which has soundproof walls, theatre chairs, overhead projector and separate heating and air conditioning.
Other amenities include a water softener, recirculating heated water, central vacuum system, alarm system, motion sensors inside and outside, and upstairs laundry room.