Monday, September 28, 2015

Creative Eye, Bold Images: A Fortunate Visit to Photographer Mario Testino’s Inspiring and Ultra-Personal New Photography Museum in Lima, Peru

The thrill of discovery.

That’s why I travel. I want to see things I’ve never seen before, see the world in a new way, grow more dendrites in my brain, and spark the neurons firing in my head. I want new ideas, a re-set and re-boot of creativity.

I recently traveled to Peru to conduct research on historic Andean Baroque architecture, to visit archaeological sites and museums, and to study the rich culture and arts in Peru. I started this visit on the west coast of Peru, in Lima. And in Barranco, a charming, bohemian-chic neighborhood of the city, I was incredibly lucky to have a private tour of the private MATE museum launched recently by noted Peruvian photographer, Mario Testino. Come with me for a fascinating visit and see his super-stylish large-scale works. 

It’s one of the great surprises from my recent research travels in Peru. (I’ll be publishing more exciting news from Peru, including Machu Picchu, in the coming weeks.)

Mario Testino has been photographing Kate Moss for over twenty years, so it’s not surprising that the first gallery a visitor sees at the museum is devoted to ultra-large-scale photographs of Kate. The museum is exciting because it’s devoted to one artist—and because it is the fervent and uncompromising dream of Mario Testino.

MATE – Museo Mario Testino, opened on April 12, 2014. Situated in a former seaside villa (and adjacent to the fantastic Pedro de Osma museum) it hosts the Permanent Collection, an ongoing display of seminal photographic works by its founder, Mario Testino. Many of them are Testino’s homage to the arts and traditions of Peru.

One of my favorite collections at MATE is of Testino’s superb and dramatic images of Peruvian groups in their highly colorful traditional costumes. Testino shot them in a very traditional style, very Irving Penn, in an open-air studio. He arrived as groups came to Cusco to celebrate a traditional holiday and were wearing their finest. And many people in Cusco, the high-altitude city in the Andres, still wear these elaborate costumes in their daily life.

Testino, now an international fashion photography and portrait star, grew up in Peru. He has made MATE the home of the pick of his photographic works. As the collection continues to grow, new selections will be curated in the galleries from every aspect of his practice. The Permanent Collection, which includes a room devoted to Princess Diana, the last sitting, will complement MATE’s continued cultural projects with temporary exhibitions by Peruvian and international artists. 

Established following Mario Testino’s wish to give back to his home country through culture, MATE — Museo Mario Testino — dedicates space to the permanent display of its founder’s iconic photographic works. It also houses historic rooms in the 19th-century Peruvian style, and galleries for special exhibits of Testino’s favorite photographers’ works.

The display, the Permanent Collection, complements MATE’s ongoing cultural program and temporary exhibitions and the only permanent exhibit of Testino’s works in the world.

The collection is divided into themed rooms, each exhibiting a specific aspect of Testino’s work lends itself to periodic changes. These include rooms on Testino’s muses Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen, music legend Madonna early in her career, Hollywood celebrities and his diverse group compositions taken for magazines such as US and British and French Vogue and brands such as Gucci and Versace. 

All About Mario:  MATE Founder, Mario Testino OBE

Mario Testino, who has been honored by the Queen with a medal of the Order of the British Empire, in recognition of his artistry and photography of significant milestones of the Royal Family, is one of the world’s most influential photographers. Born in Lima, Peru he moved to London in 1976 to pursue a career in photography. Testino’s ability to identity, portray and understand and interpret the cultural and commercial spirit of his age has made him a much sought-after creative partner in the fashion and beauty industries. 

He is known for his portraits of international icons including Brad Pitt and supermodels, and also Diana Princess of Wales, Gisele Bündchen, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. Testino has published images in magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and V Magazine for three decades.

He recently shot charmingly happy images of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their family.

Testino has had numerous exhibitions including the landmark Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London (2002), which broke attendance records at the time. Testino is one of the few living artists to have been invited to exhibit at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, showing Todo o Nada (2010). His work first reached China – at the Today Art Museum, Beijing (2012) and the Shanghai Art Museum (2012) with Private View and USA at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (2012) with In Your Face. 

Mario Testino is a generous philanthropist, driven by what he describes as “all the formative experiences in my life.” He is the President of World Monuments Fund Peru, which is dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered ancient and historic sites. Testino has also supported causes such as the Naked Heart Foundation founded by Russian
model Natalia Vodianova to create play parks for children in underprivileged areas in her native Russia, the Elton John Aids Foundation, Aid for Aids, CLIC Sargent Cancer Care, amfAR and Women to Women among others.

Mario Testino has received many awards internationally among other recognitions for his achievements, including the Medalha Tiradentes from the state of Rio de Janeiro and his native country’s highest honor in 2010, the Grand Cross Order of Merit, presented to him by the President of Peru. In 2013 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his services to photography and charity. 

About MATE

MATE is the only cultural institution in the world dedicated to the permanent exhibition of the work of prominent photographer Mario Testino. After 35 years living abroad, the artist wanted to bring his work back to his hometown and to contribute to the cultural heritage of Peru.

The museum promotes cultural exchange by presenting temporary exhibitions that feature the work of Peruvian and international artists. 


All portraits here by Mario Testino.

Images of MATE and its interiors courtesy MATE, Lima, Peru.

Exhibition Information:

Permanent Collection, The Photography of Mario Testino
MATE, Museo Mario Testino 
Av. Pedro de Osma 409, Barranco, Lima, Peru
Tel: + 511 251 77 55

Opening times:
Tuesday – Saturday 11:00am to 8:00pm Sundays 11:00am to 6:00pm

Monday, September 21, 2015

Introducing the Great Lauren Gurvich: An Insider Source for Interior Designers

Lauren is the ultimate expert and design wizard at finding and selecting superb 20th-century/vintage furniture, grand-scale art, rare artist-designed glass, and exquisite decorative objects from around the world.

She works with top designers and private clients—seeking the exquisite and rare and beautiful for interiors.

I was fortunate in London earlier this year to catch up with the stylish and highly talented Lauren, formerly from New Orleans, Los Angeles and New York and now based in London. Lauren is married to the great restaurateur (The Wolseley etc) and now hotelier (The Beaumont, Mayfair). I profiled Jeremy in an earlier post.

Lauren travels the world as a specialist 20th-century vintage dealer/vendor and sculpture curator sourcing antique and vintage decor, lighting, prints, sketches, and decorative objects and furniture, dazzling glass pieces, chandeliers and art for her clients.

Lauren Gurvich King and Jeremy King’s new house in Belgravia.

Come with me to meet Lauren Gurvich—and for a rendezvous with Jeremy King at The Beaumont.

You’ll learn her style secrets, and see her work in her new Belgravia residence. 

Lauren Gurvich King

Lauren, of course, sourced the art and the antiques and decorative objects—and she worked with the great Texas designer, Jan Showers, a longtime close friend.

“Lauren is of course from New Orleans and she is the perfect southern hostess,” said Jan. “Lauren knows how to have a great time anywhere and everywhere she goes. For two years I worked with her on the design/decoration of Jane Churchill’s old four-story townhouse in Belgravia that she and Jeremy moved into a few months after their wedding. We have had a wonderful time working on this project together.”

Lauren and Jeremy’s House: Georgian Architecture in Belgravia

In the sunny reception room, guests are greeted by a dramatic Andy Warhol print of Goethe and a vivid portrait by Lucian Freud. The house gains its character and personality with the taste of the Kings' art collection, which also includes works by Brit young artists along with Robert Longo and Damien Hirst. "Jeremy sat for Lucian for many years, and Lucian loved The Wolseley," says Lauren. “Jeremy’s portrait is in a private collection. One of the last pieces Lucian was working on before he died was an etching of Jeremy."

In Conversation with Lauren Gurvich King: Exclusive to THE STYLE SALONISTE

DDS: Lauren, it was so great to learn about your brilliant vintage furniture and décor company. You move to London almost six years ago from New York. Earlier you lived in Los Angeles. 
LGK: I began my business out of sheer necessity. I had just sold my house in LA and moved from my Greenwich Village apartment with a small number of my favorite pieces and family heirlooms. I quickly realized that decorating our new home in London with pieces from the expensive London dealers would be impossible. I was shocked by British prices. So I began investigating options. Using my research and negotiating skills from my previous corporate experiences, I started to acquire pieces. I’m a quick study and I gravitated toward classic 20th-century pieces with a focus on Art Deco, Modernist, and quintessentially seventies French and Italian pieces and designs. My husband took notice and asked me to begin sourcing a few pieces of art for his latest restaurant venture at the time, which was Delaunay, and then my work snowballed from there.

DDS: You have a fantastic eye. 

LGK: Thank you. I stick with what I know and love, in terms of tastes and styles and designers. I love things that have an interesting provenance and back-story. I decorated with family heirlooms, for our house, and included vintage pieces that had great energy and movement. Good vintage (think Gio Ponti) adds a lot of heart and soul to a space. A true sense of style, I think, offers a confident mix of pieces. I never do a ‘period’ room but aim for a fresh look. And I love the sense of timelessness that the team has created at The Beaumont. It’s a suggestion of a period, an era, rather than a line-for-line recreation. The hotel feels personal, private, and very welcoming for that reason.

Lauren travels to Paris and Brussels and Antwerp and Prague and remote corners of Europe—to find treasures for her clients. More of her finds can be seen in the Archive on her website,

DDS: Three years ago you married Jeremy King, a partner with Chris Corbin at Corbin+King, the hospitality company responsible for London dining destinations such as The Wolseley and the Delaunay. Corbin+King's portfolio now includes seven restaurants. You’ve worked closely with Jeremy on the décor of most of them. 
LGK: Jeremy and I have been together now for seven years and it is wonderful to see the company grow with new plans always evolving. I’ve watched the restaurant collection grow, from The Wolseley, which I adore, and now a stable of properties. Jeremy works closely on the hotel design with the wonderful Shayne Brady of Brady Williams. Shayne is an alumnus of the David Collins design firm. I work on adding vintage elements. Jeremy and I both agree that having a property with all-new pieces is not interesting. It can feel too shiny and new and soul-less. We add authentic vintage lighting and furniture and decorative art and photography and suddenly the character and personality starts to develop. Jeremy has of course been in the hospitality business, with great success, for over thirty-five years, so he’s the expert. He knows what works. We gravitate toward the same designs, the same look, more or less. Of course, I have to put my two cents in. And Jeremy has been a huge influence on me, just seeing his properties and observing him working. We travel together in search of great vintage pieces. He has a very discerning eye.

DDS: And now Jeremy and his partners have launched the fantastically successful hotel, The Beaumont in Mayfair. It was over six years in the creation—and I read that it’s a favorite of glittery guests like David and Victoria Beckham and singer Adele, and Jemima Goldsmith, the editor-at-large for Vanity Fair, and Hollywood stars who value privacy are guests. 

LGK: Well, yes, the social pages and Vogue and London papers like to photograph and write about celebrities arriving at the hotel. Paparazzi are hovering from a distance. You’ll never hear a word about guests or visitors from us. We never discuss guests and we don’t single out any names from such an array of wonderful guests. We are thrilled that North America seems to have taken The Beaumont to its heart and particularly the entertainment industry that talk of it being their London clubhouse. It has a buzz. We love it.

The Beaumont is a 73-room hotel—and yet it feels private and personal, like a grand Mayfair mansion. One way Lauren and Jeremy achieved this is with vintage furniture, fine antiques, exquisite Deco chandeliers. 

DDS: The collection of artworks throughout the hotel enhance and create mood, and emphasize the hotel's unique character. There are the twenties-style murals in the Colony Grill painted by California artist John Mattos, also oil paintings and photographs curated over a six-year period by Jeremy and you.

LGK: Jeremy was very keen that all the photos and paintings were predominantly portraits, as it would invoke the history of great names that might have passed through its doors. My particular favorite element of the photo was the Stork Club photos I found. I have an obsession with the historic Stork Club and I began a collection of their wonderful promotional items such as vases, dice, and ashtrays for Jeremy, which he proudly displays on the shelves of our library. I also sourced all of the paintings and portraits in the lobby and the private bar, The Cub Room (also after the Stork Club!). That was a great project. You will notice all of the elegant and glamorous faces peering back at you when you enter the lobby of The Beaumont.

DDS: The interior architects Richmond International took inspiration from a variety of Art Deco buildings in Paris and in London and New York. Most of the furniture and lighting was custom-made for the project, with a few vintage pieces. When you need twenty club chairs or a large table of a specific size, it’s usually necessary to custom-craft it. 

LGK: The particular inspiration came from Jeremy sending Richmond to see Eltham Palace in Richmond and its sublime Art Deco interiors. Practicality necessitated contemporary furniture reproductions in the rooms due to availability and durability but focal points were always vintage where ever possible.

“Lauren has an exceptional eye when it comes to antiques and vintage pieces—she always goes for the unexpected. Her energy is boundless and she will search until she has found exactly the perfect piece to add to her curated collection. Since I have an antiques business in Dallas, we often confer about our favorite spots to shop.” – Jan Showers, interior designer, design book author, furniture and lighting designer, antiquaire, Dallas, Texas

DDS: The Beaumont is designed for privacy and a residential feeling—with a series of intimate spaces and a small discreet lobby. Period lighting, rosewood paneling, and comfortable club chairs lend these areas a very welcoming air.

LGK: Hence why people liken it to a club. We worked to suggest a sense of glamour. But we kept the scale personal and private in feeling, so that it has a sense of familiarity. It’s incredibly cozy.

Jeremy King and Lauren Gurvich King in front of The Beaumont.
DDS: As in all of your work, there’s an extremely stylish feeling with the perfect balance of elegance, nostalgia and modern glamour to entertain the 21st-century traveler.
LGK: Jeremy’s Beaumont brief was to make it appear as if this was an original 1920’s hotel which had been refurbished, maintaining as much of the original fixtures and fittings. I enjoy a clear and vivid brief, which allows me to be creative in my sourcing of particular Deco items. The idea was a space that had evolved over time. I did sneak in a few Deco Revival pieces, along with more recent vintage treasure that have a feeling of the fifties and sixties.

DDS: You started working with your husband, Jeremy King, when he opened The Delaunay in 2012. He wanted a moody European decor that would suit the restaurant. 

LGK: I jumped into the project with great enthusiasm. After some hard work and travels all over Europe I found some very unknown sources. In particular I had to wire a lot of money to a vendor in Slovakia. I remember crossing my fingers and hoping. It was a remarkable and dramatic painting, and it was worth it in the end.

In New York recently, Lauren met her friends Ken Fulk, Carmen, and the fashion illustrator, David Downton, for drinks at Bemelman’s Bar.

DDS: You now have a fantastic online boutique, that is a showcase of fabulous vintage furniture.

LGK: I’m delighted you like it. I am very proud of it and have fun changing it all the time. I source from all over the world from a network I have worked very hard to find and build. I love finding the perfect designs for my clients although I must admit it’s sometimes hard to let go of certain pieces! When I find a piece that I love, I add it to my stock but my real specialization is in sourcing specific furniture, art and objects for private and trade clients. I think carefully about quality, craftsmanship, source, provenance and art—and I care enormously about longevity. I want pieces that are the best of the best, the finest examples. I look for pieces that you can enjoy for a lifetime and then pass along as family heirlooms.

DDS: One of your excellent observations is that a new interior—should not be all-new, as if it all arrived on a truck in one day. You said you want to take classic pieces, perhaps inherited, and mix them in. They are timeless and so important to create character in a room.

LGK: Yes, in the rush to open new hotels and businesses there is a lot of ‘all-new’ out there. Without personal collections and custom-crafted pieces and authentic vintage it can feel devoid of style and substance. I especially like to see a restaurant or a hotel or private residence that looks as if it had evolved over time. This means also having the confidence to include pieces with character and perhaps eccentricity. Nothing cookie-cutter.

Jeremy and I enjoy visiting local markets when we travel and I of course I do my research of where to go before we go to a city. That combined with the network I have built over the years offers my clients the ability to find what they need at the right prices. I maintain a low overhead so there is no need to mark things up needlessly. I’ve traveled into new territory—Eastern Europe and unknown dealers, or antique specialists with a great eye. It’s a treasure hunt. It’s seizing the moment. It often means venturing into dusty galleries, finding antiques in their raw state, and taking risks for the art that I uncover. The thrill of the hunt.

DDS: Your business, with interior designers and private clients, is sourcing. You are an expert at finding the rare and beautiful, and negotiating prices.

LGK: My TWO DECADES in sales and luxury marketing taught me how to negotiate and do my research. What really surprises people is the way I buy is still cheaper than expected because of my network and negotiating ability. I love finding the rare and unusual.

DDS: Lauren, you work in a range of styles and can source everything from Murano glass chandeliers to Gio Ponti or Art Deco and specific collections of paintings.

LGK: I grew up tagging along with my mother for years going to estate sales and antique shops throughout the south…it gave me a great appreciation of classic designs, quality and craftsmanship. My tastes have of course evolved over the years, as has my eye. I can spot value and investment very well. I keep my ear to the ground and hear what people are gravitating towards and adjust accordingly while still maintaining my own sense of style.

DDS: You grew up in New Orleans. How did that influence your style?

LGK: The South is a wonderful place and in particular, New Orleans is extremely special. Its deep roots in both Spanish and French culture lend themselves to a great appreciation of European furniture and style. You can’t help but be massively influenced by the historic French Quarter and Garden District-the architecture, art, ironworks, shops, restaurants and gardens are filled with history and style. If you haven’t been to New Orleans, I suggest you go right away…it’s the most unique city in the US.

DDS: And you lived in Los Angeles and New York and Rome and still visit often. What influence does travel have on your design and style?

LGK: Designers and homeowners will continue to refine the idea of mixing “old and new” as well as pieces from different cultures and countries for a layered, eclectic, storied look that has been developed over time. Magazines are full of rooms that show off the beautiful and interesting combination of vintage and modern pieces from all over the world. Designers are searching for distinctive items, and the craftsmanship and history of vintage pieces is a perfect answer to that search.

DDS: Lauren, thank you so much. It has been wonderful catching up, and especially hearing about your company and The Beaumont. I’m looking forward to seeing you in London soon. And you and Jeremy are coming for a visit to San Francisco. I can’t wait to see you.

“Lauren is the most amazing networker—she loves her friends and adores connecting people with similar interests who might enjoy working on projects together. She is a talented hostess—an invitation to a dinner party at Lauren and Jeremy's is always an invitation to a warm and delicious evening. I really don't know anyone who is more organized—when I was working with her on their London townhouse, she responded and got things done immediately—that is a very special trait I value—efficiency.” –Jan Showers, noted interior designer and antiquaire, book author, furniture and lighting designer, Dallas, Texas

All About The Beaumont

See my story on The Beaumont in an earlier post and learn about its style, its superb location in Mayfair, and in particular the fine collections of antiques and art and accessories found, traced, located, discovered and collected and curated by Lauren and Jeremy King, her husband, the co-founder of the hotel.

I recently caught up with The Beaumont hotelier Jeremy King and he told me the delicious and compelling back-story of The Beaumont. It was six years in its creation—from inception of concepts and location to its glamorous opening.

Jeremy has been a successful restaurateur for over thirty years, with Chris Corbin at Corbin+King. If you’ve enjoyed lunch at The Wolseley or Colbert or the Delaunay, you know their polished style.

The partners were recently honored by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth with OBE medals (Order of the British Empire) for their services to the hospitality industry and voluntary service to the arts and medical research.

As the design and architecture of the hotel were being finalized, Jeremy realized that he wanted to create a hotel that felt as if it had been open since the thirties. He wanted it to feel like a well-loved hotel, with character and personality, that had history, a life. And that it had recently been greatly refreshed.

Lauren and Jeremy spent years traveling around Europe and the UK to trace and select the collection that gives the rooms and the lobby and public rooms their warmth, charm, and style. On the way to the Spa, a guest will encounter a remarkable grouping of British army regimental portraits, handsome uniformed men, medals gleaming. Rare art gives the hotel a residential feeling.

In the lobby are large-scale portraits of gowned grandes dames, and society beauties of a certain era.

Suites in the hotel are enriched with collections of French still-life paintings, as well as handsome portraits. Collections of elegant lighting, decorative bronzes, landscape paintings, and beautifully displayed Art Deco vases and busts all welcome a guest, a private thrill.

The interior architecture of the hotel, with its polished marquetry and gleaming marble floors, makes the perfect setting for the singular decorative flourishes Jeremy and Lauren selected. 


Lauren Gurvich, who is based in London and often travels in Europe and the US, is a specialist at sourcing 20th-century collections, art, decorative objects, accessories, lighting, and antiques for interiors.

To contact Lauren regarding projects, vintage designs, and specialist collections:

Jan Showers, i
nterior designer, design book author, furniture and lighting designer, antiquaire
Dallas, Texas

The Beaumont
Brown Hart Gardens
London W1K 6TF

Telephone: +44 20 7499 1001

The Interiors:  The interior design takes its cue from the building, in this case, a Grade II Listed building by Wimperis & Simpson in a ‘stripped neo-classical style with quirky, exaggerated neo-classical mannerisms’, which was featured in the 1927 RIBA Exhibition of Modern Architecture.

The interiors of the hotel appear to have been restored to their former glory, retaining echoes from the different decades of The Beaumont’s life. They reflect a more European Art Deco aesthetic but with distinct, occasional references to North America.

Décor: The interior design of The Beaumont has been realized by Fiona Thompson and John Lewis of Richmond International, in close collaboration with Jeremy King. Many of the antiques and decorative pieces were sourced by Lauren Gurvich.

Architecture: The hotel has been designed by Reardon Smith Architects.

All images of The Beaumont interiors courtesy Corbin+King, The Beaumont, used with express permission. Photography by Nick Ingram.

All images of Lauren Gurvich antiques and interiors, courtesy Lauren Gurvich and photographer Kate Martin.