Good-Bye to My Summer Provence (III)

Mons, Provence
Fayence, Provence

Fayence, Provence

Sketch for typical Provencal chimneys
Sketch for typical Provencal roofs

French Provencal Architecture
In Provence I liked to go outside and walk a bit, long enough to forget my worries in New York, long enough to exercise my eyes and mind as I explored in the French Provencal villages, fascinated by the old buildings with their tranquility and sense of timelessness.

To retain the best of the old French Provencal country lifestyle, Architect de France imposes an architectural guideline for rehabilitation and new construction in these historic villages like Flayosc, Tourtour, Mons, etc. The shape, color, height, width, materials and location of the architectural elements, such as chimneys, roofs, columns, windows, and doors, are intended to create a vibrant homogeneous Provencal village, with enough variation to allow individuality and expression of personal taste.

While the number of Beijing hutongs (北京胡同) has dropped dramatically as they are demolished to make way for new roads and buildings, I feel blessed to be able to enjoy the best-kept Provencal surroundings––the land painted by Paul Cezanne and Vincent Van Gogh.


Good-bye to My Summer Provence (II)

The Sun-kissed clothes
In Provence, any small village like Mouans-Sartoux, clothes hanging is a work of art. With the colorful walls as background, it can be associated with the vivid mobile art by the American artist Alexander Calder.
Clothes hanging takes on a life on its own. Towels flap and snap. Pants dance. Shirts shudder. And under the bright and cheerful sun, it is filled with the relaxing scent of slow and eco-friendly lifestyle.


Good-Bye to My Summer Provence 跟夏日的普羅旺斯說一聲再見

My summer memories of Provence (普羅旺斯), like the falling leave in the autumn air, flutter to my mind. I come to realize that a fallen leaf is nothing more than a summer waves good-bye.

I still remember––the sun-kissed Côte d'Azur (蔚藍海岸), the warm color palette of architecture, the fig trees, the Pastis and Rosé wine, the herbs, the scent of lavender in the air, the olive tree groves, the wine-fuelled meals, the pine-scented sun, and the occasional naps after reading few pages of a fat book by José Saragamo in a shady balcony...

My friends, please stay tuned for the episodes of my summer Provence.


Singing the Blue Under the Mediterranean Sun 在地中海陽光底下吟唱藍調

In this day and age, blue has been one of the most popular colors 
in design. So I'm not surprised when I read the article from Osmoz.com, a fragrance education website by the perfume house Firmenich, suggesting that blue again is the main color for fragrance bottles in fall-winter 2010.  

As blue is often considered pleasant and can suggest cleanliness, it is widely used by many designers, such as yours truly, for the design of fashion, beauty, industry and brand identity. Although blue is not as obtrusive as colors like red, it is an ideal color for me to interpret the breathtaking beauty of nature, and the attitude to life, culture, art, and spirituality.

There are various shades of blue in my color palette, and my most favorite one is azur (蔚藍). Azur, a bright hue sits between blue and cyan, is an enchanting and soothing color. It often brings back my last memories of brightly shinning summer days at Provence Côte d'Azur (普羅旺斯的蔚海岸), which is bathed in azure––the blue color of sky and sea under the Mediterranean Sun.


Elegant Things 優雅情事

Translucent purple petals lit from the late afternoon light.

The unique patterns and textures on quail eggs.

The elongated sculptures by the Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966).

The sound of corks popping out from bottles of Burgundy wine.

An encounter with long-lost friends at museums.

An old grandma's innocent smile of tranquillity and happiness.

A pretty fragrance lingering in the fall evening air.


Like the Mischievous Smile of Stan March 像Stan March的頑皮笑容

It was around 2:30 am.

My hurrying footsteps were echoing around the empty platform, as I was making my way out of the subway station at SoHo stop. The air smelled like the breath of a drunkard–––sour, humid, and bitter. The unpleasant odor alerted me, and all of sudden I felt a bit uneasy. After all, the New York City subway is often naked in its danger, bewilderment, agitation.

The sound of my soles was absorbed by my increasing fear until I climbed up the stairs and saw the green subway lamp on Prince Street. Like Stan March in the cartoon South Park, it gave me a bright mischievous smile, and made me surprise into laugher. 

At the instant moment, the fear was gone with the fresh, cool autumn breeze...


Things That Arouse a Fond Memory of the Past 喚起我美好回憶的事物

The fragrant blotter cards.
My old Moleskine sketchbooks.
The moon in a clear night.
The tofu cuisine in Kyoto.
The yellow ginko leave that have been pressed in the pages of a book.
The photo of a little red farm storage shed in Norwegian Lapland.


The Raindrops 雨滴

Rain poured down on the entire day, only in the late afternoon it decided to take a break. I left my Mac and books behind a closed door and went for a walk to the garden in the East Village.

I remember my last visit here when the late spring sun bore through the gorgeous clouds. The pink sakura petals were falling...And now all the colors were being carried away by the fall wind.

On the bamboo fences and criss-cross hedges I saw tatters of spider webs; and where the threads were broken the raindrops hung on them like strings of white pearls. I was also delighted by watching the raindrops rolling down of their own accord from the plants where they had lain so heavily. 

There was something so enchanting in the sound and smell of the raindrops–––an invisible beauty with the lingering scent of true nature. What most impressed me was that they were not at all impressed.


Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

My Mac tells me that it'll be sunny tomorrow, and I tell my Mac that I'm going to make the best out of it.

I'll whistle the song Always look on the bright side of life by Monty Pythonwhile smelling the sunlight from leafy vegetables and plants in the Union Square farmer's market.


The Kaleidoscopic Smell on Number Six Train 六號地下鐵的氣味萬花筒

The late morning ride, on number Six train in Manhattan, is often in silence; except for the occasional chatter amongst a few riders. In a rainy day, when the air smells of wet, I like grouping passengers into olfactory categories; there are the incense, the floral, the citrus, the vanilla, the patchouli, the sandalwood, the aqua, and occasionally, the homeless.


Smelling Khublai Khan in New York 聞出忽必烈, 在紐約。

Portrait of Khublai 忽必烈 by Chinese court artist Liu Guandao(刘贯道), c. 1280

Painting of Kublai Khan on a hunting expedition, by Chinese court artist Liu Guandao(刘贯道)
The hunter in red hat and white fur robe on a black horse is Kublai Khan

I wondered for a while in the night, without knowing where I was. I listened to the wind, and felt the grass on my feet. Here and there, I smelled of a herbaceous scent, and realized that I was on a green prairie.

Suddenly I heard a thundering sound. The area I stood was swirling in wind so intense that it hid the stars from view. Before me it was a Mongolian horseman, with a peregrine falcon perched on his left shoulder, sitting astride an enormous black horse.

He wore a white fur robe and his familiar round face exuded a powerful yet friendly manner. His smile, glittered in the soft light of the stars, mingled with the scent of prairie... And all of sudden I recognized him––Khublai, the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire (1260-1294) and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

Of course my sensory encounter with Khublai is just a dream. It reflects my personal experiences of the images, sounds, scents, and emotion from my visit to The World of Khublai Khan忽必烈的時代 at Metropolitan Museum of Art last night. If you happen to be in New York, don't miss out the opportunity to create your own sensory experience with the art during the great time of Khublai Khan.


KyotEau: Bottled Memories by Mix Magazine

"...Would the fragrance smell the same if it wasn't for the narrative?" –– Mix Magazine

It's nice to see KyotEau: Bottled Memories got a great coverage by Mix Magazine, a tasteful British publication about color, trend, and design.

I hope you enjoy reading it.


The Festive Smell of Little Italy, New York 紐約小義大利區的節慶風味

In Little Italy the air is warm and rich with the festive scent of San Genarro. The festival comes in the wake of September wind, and it smells of amusement park; of tourists; of grilled meats and steamed seafood and frying batter.

At this moment, I'm at home with the silence of a book, and with the sound of traffic and music, interminable, outside.


Tender is the Helsinki Summer Night 赫爾新基的溫柔夏夜

10:15 P.M.
10:45 P.M.
11:35 P.M.
1:10 A.M.

In Helsinki summer, the sun starts moving out of the back door around 10:30 P.M. and waiting at the front around 3:30 A.M. The night sky is often quintessential, a mutable blue between easy-moving clouds, and a breeze blowing in street corners.

On a tender night like this, I like to take a stroll on the streets, feeling the breeze in my hair, smelling the sap and ozone and birch, seeing the streetlights shinning serenely on Fredrikinkatu. I'd keep walking until my hair and shoulders are furred with droplets from the mist, on a tender night like this.


My Summer Porvoo, Finland 我在芬蘭普佛的夏天

In summer Porvoo, the colorful painted wooden walls are the main attraction to me. I like to stroll down the cobblestoned alleys, capturing the tangible scent of history from the cracked and washed-out paintwork on the walls. And when the river breeze blows into the town, I could even smell something tantalizing, which might be grilled salmons topped with fresh dills...

I'm at home in New York, and I still can smell the idyllic scent of Porvoo coming in the September wind. Who knows, maybe I'll visit it again even though I've been there three times this year already.


My Visionary Noises of "Fashion's Night Out" in SoHo

It was the night for the "Fashion's Night Out" shopping event in New York. A cool September wind laded with the scents of cologne and parfum and cigar smoke and alcohol and cupcakes and hotdogs and powdery-sweet peanuts cooked on the hotplate by the sidewalks in SoHo. 

I was walking carefully through the beautiful, exhilarating crowds which were lining up to get into the fashion and beauty boutiques. For the moment, the febrile excitement in the crowds enhanced my sense of vision: I saw, I saw the noises.



My Eight Wonders in Goms, Switzerland–––The Suicidal Yodels in Ernen #7 / 瑞士Goms的八大驚奇–––恩能音樂村的自殺式嶽得爾歌 #7

The Suicidal Yodels in Ernen

Suicidal Yodels?

I wasn't sure what to expect from it, but I had in my mind's eye a vision of some Yodeling singers singing the folk ballads in a manner that suggested eccentric, whimsical, and fun. So I went to the concert, with a little wave of curiosity.

The singer Erika Stucky's voice was as clear as air in the Alps, a vibrant, strong, and untrained soprano. But her stage performance, interspersed with multi-media effects such as video, stand-up comedy, and acting, wasn't flattering her vocal chords. After all, the title suicidal yodels is referred as "music concert", not "musical show".

In fact, Stucky's voice is anything but suicidal. I look forward to seeing her purely vocal performance in Ernen, the music village in Wallis, known for its impressive architecture and finest music.


My Eight Wonders in Goms, Switzerland–––The Raccards #6 / 瑞士Goms的八大驚奇–––瑞士穀倉 #6

The Raccards
These traditional granaries, laden with the moist scent of old wood, threshed grains, and rustic farm tools, add a fairy vignette to the landscape of the Swiss Alps.

The circular stone slabs, intercalated between the stilts and the granary, is a creative design solution for the local farmers to keep the stored food from the desperately hungry mice.


My Eight Wonders in Goms, Switzerland–––The Walliser Platte #4 / 瑞士Goms的八大驚奇–––阿爾卑斯山的瑞士冷盤 #4

The Walliser Platte
After a seven-hour exhausting hike from Eggishorn to Flestch,
a platter of a Swiss local dish *Walliser Platte is as good as a course of Kyoto Shojin Ryori, whether in its visual presentation or its taste of satisfaction.

*An assortment of very thinly sliced cold cuts, bergkäse, locally produced country cheese, pickles, pickled onions, a pat of butter and crusty bread.


My Eight Wonders in Goms, Switzerland–––The Walliser Candyfloss #3 / 瑞士Goms的八大驚奇–––阿爾卑斯山的棉花糖 #3

The Walliser Candyfloss
The fur of the Walliser Blacknose 
is like a candyfloss 
tangle in the wind.

My Eight Wonders in Goms, Switzerland–––The Floral Inspiration #2 / 瑞士Goms的八大驚奇–––阿爾卑斯山的花漾靈感 #2

The Floral Inspiration
On the botanical trails in Simplonthere was always something startling in flower, 
regardless of–––

its texture, 

its shape, 

its smell, 

its color.