A California Boutique Brings the Art of Hospitality to Wine Shopping

Plus, chawan tea bowls with Peter Shire’s flavor, Sasha Bikoff brings Sicilian exuberance to a West Village hotspot, and more of the best things we saw this week.

Photography by Sean Hazen

A California Boutique Brings the Art of Hospitality to Wine Shopping

Tucked into the quiet L.A. neighborhood of Brentwood, Thatcher’s isn’t your typical wine store. Local studio Preen applied nearly two decades of award-winning restaurant design experience to create a relaxed storefront complete with a hi-fi sound system, tasting room, and lounge suited to hosting guests for weekly tastings. In the main shop, hundreds of bottles sit on furrowed white oak cabinets, ready for discovery by eager oenophiles. A private back room counters the main floor’s light-filled ambiance with umber walls, low lighting, and a leather tasting table suited to complement the rare vintages inside. —Jenna Adrian-Diaz


Photography by Ari Marcopolous

At SFMOMA, Kara Walker Cautiously Embraces Robotics

Like many of us, the year 2020 saddled Kara Walker—the celebrated American artist who examines power dynamics and racial exploitation—with quarantine-induced inertia and contemplations of death and dying. Yet it also provided well-deserved stasis after having completed a series of major commissions, the most recent at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. After being moved by the New-York Historical Society’s 2022 show about dolls made by enslaved women, she revisited her own childhood doll and crystallized the concept for her latest feat, “Fortuna and the Immortality Garden (Machine),” which was unveiled this week in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s street-level gallery.

“Fortuna” sees Walker jettison her signature cut-paper silhouettes and monumental sculptures to experiment with mechanized robots whose spasmodic movements (think Herbie Hancock’s video “Rockit”), somber Victorian gowns, and hand-modeled clay faces embody the collective trauma wrought by an unpredictable decade. To bring them to life, Walker “went down a little sci-fi rabbit hole” that involved revisiting Octavia E. Butler’s post-apocalyptic opus Parable of the Sower (1993), studying Bunraku puppetry, and reading essays by Donna Harraway and Jessica Riskin about cyborgs and automatons. Set in a field of obsidian rocks, the figures dispense aphorisms about liberation and Afro-pessimism that Walker tried to enlist ChatGPT to write, but she spearheaded when she realized that machines lack that human touch. —Ryan Waddoups

Photography by Dario Garofalo

Art Deco Influences Abound in This Venetian Hotel

Venice’s five-star Londra Palace Venezia hotel has an illustrious history: since it was built in 1853, it’s hosted creative talents ranging from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to Jules Verne. The latest isn’t a guest, but local studio Ruberti Cutillo, which has transformed the fixture of Venetian hospitality into an Art Deco dream with a sweeping renovation of the hotel’s common areas. The studio blended influences ranging from Venetian modernism to the city’s architectural legacy of splendid palazzos in its refit of the hotel’s restaurant, bar, lounge, lobby, and tea room. Perhaps nowhere on the property is more exemplary of the firm’s approach than the L.P.V. Ristorante, which features touches like Murano chandeliers and Rubelli tapestries. —J.A.D.

Image courtesy of Rocky’s Matcha

Chawan Tea Bowls With Peter Shire’s Flavor

Throughout his five-decade career, Memphis Group mastermind Peter Shire’s subversive touch has lent whimsy to ceramics, furniture, toys, interiors, and sculptures, parodying genre while unafraid to have fun and break free of its confines. Now, thanks to a partnership with Rocky’s Matcha, the rule-breaker and founder of Los Angeles studio Echo Park Pottery is tackling an entirely new medium: a series of chawans, or tea bowls typically used for East Asian tea ceremonies. Each uniquely hand-crafted piece is painted in chaotically chromatic splatters that evoke the paintings of Sam Francis and ceramics of Adrian Saxe, injecting some bite into a ritual that otherwise soothes the nerves. From $250.—R.W.


Photography by Tory Williams

Sasha Bikoff Channels 1970s Sicilian Exuberance at Il Totano

At Il Totano, a new West Village hotspot in the making, interior designer Sasha Bikoff seems to have taken a page out of the vibrant menu. From the spicy passion fruit colatura at play in the dry-aged Kona kampachi to the grilled royal red shrimp’s Sicilian lemon, the famously expressive designer has created a bridge between the color-rich courses and the restaurant’s deliciously flamboyant décor. A palette of coastal blues nod to summertime on the Amalfi coast, while striations of “​terracotta, tangerine, and mustard” serve as an homage to fashion label Marni’s knack for expert color-blocking. Nautilus sconces and chrome mushroom lamps in turn evoke a beach club discothèque, rounding out the restaurant’s exultant, more-is-more vibe.—J.A.D.


Photography by Stefano Ceccarelli, courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art

Venus Williams Trains Her Lens on the Environment

You know Venus Williams as one of the all-time greats of tennis, but the seven-time Grand Slam champion and founder of V Starr Interiors is also building her art-world credentials. Besides helping Pace Gallery buy Nina Simone’s childhood home for preservation and launching an AI design platform called Palazzo, she’s teamed up with Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art to host a podcast complementing their exhibition “Widening the Lens” that uncovers environmental history and change through the camera lens. In six episodes, Williams interviews historian Tyler Green, geologist Marcia Bjornerud, archaeologist Rachael Z. DeLue, and artists like Victoria Sambunaris and A.K. Burns. The conversations, Williams says, “prompt us to consider new and alternative ways of relating to our landscapes through photography.”—R.W.

Photography by Su Ping

Malaysia’s Bar Kar Plunges Visitors Into the Heart of a Woodfire

To some, meandering through the mirrored, wood-stacked entry hall of Bar Kar might evoke a primal image of walking through a tinderbox. Once past the threshold, interiors by Spacemen Studios keeps diners in the hot seat. Sunbaked, stucco-clad environs harken to traditional earth ovens and provide an evocative backdrop for the decadent cuisine. The menu comes on strong with starters like uni toast with a smoked egg yolk and fresh truffle—and continues the momentum with a plethora of dry-aged proteins such as short rib, wagyu, lamb, and truffle corn-fed chicken. Take it all in from the travertine-topped chef’s counter, and try not to get waylaid by the flamelike mesh sculptures that seem to dance from the ceiling. Top off the experience—and it is an experience to dine at Bar Kar—with a dessert course of sweet potato and clotted cream before calling it a night. —J.A.D.

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