Dear readers,

Welcome to our November issue – our annual art special – which is dedicated to natural splendour. It is an enormous honour to welcome French conceptual artist Sophie Calle, who graces our limited-edition subscribers cover with a self-portrait of her camouflaged as a tree. The image is part of Sophie’s new project, A l’Affût (On the Hunt), which we are proud to present in an exclusive 20-page portfolio, translated into English for the first time.The project began when Paris’ Museum of Hunting and Nature invited her to exhibit. Combing through archival copies of the hunting magazine Le Chasseur Français, Sophie was drawn to its lonely hearts ads and soon discovered parallels between the hunt for game and the matrimonial chase. And so she went through 125 years of matrimonial ads, grouping them by decade and theme (my favourite being ‘1930-1940: Hard worker, mildly modern’), and juxtaposing them with her photographs of hunting watchtowers, symbolising predators, and highway surveillance images of animals at night, symbolising prey. Far from glorifying a contested sport, Sophie seems to suggest that, for all the trappings of civilisation, we’ve more in common with the natural world than we often recognise.

More than any other living artist, she discovers humour, wisdom and grace within humanity’s mundane moments. I first experienced Sophie’s work in person at her show ‘Double Game’ in 1999, at Camden Arts Centre in London. There are certain artists in your life that you have an attraction to – Sophie is one, and I was gripped. The show was a response to American author Paul Auster’s novel Leviathan, which features a character based on her. In a particularly memorable work, The Chromatic Diet, Sophie restricted herself to foods of a single colour each day of the week, shown in a series of photographs. There are so many shows, so many wonderful encounters with her work to mention. You just never forget them. The interplay between fact and fiction; intensity and playfulness; curiosity and bravado. Also within our art section, we preview Sarah Sze’s new exhibition for Fondation Cartier, which sees her translate moving images of nature and the elemental into AR for the first time; and Yayoi Kusama’s collaboration with Veuve Clicquot, ensconcing a magnum of La Grande Dame champagne in an exuberantly polka-dotted floral sculpture that comes with a message of hope.

We celebrate the green thumb of Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia, whose new headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City is wrapped in a barricade of vegetation: tropical ferns, pandan plants and other flora native to southern Vietnam. The building is not only a welcome beacon of greenery within a concrete jungle, but also a case study in leveraging plantlife for temperature regulation and ventilation, and a bold blueprint for cities that are more attuned to the environment. Meanwhile, tucked away in the rolling hills of Portugal’s Alentejo region, Manuel Aires Mateus’ Casa na Terra hotel offers outstanding views of the surrounding landscape.

In lieu of the annual office-themed Space story, we’ve brought the indoors out, dreaming up spaces for work, rest and rejuvenation among grassy meadows. Finally, our main fashion story imagines a horticultural hero at work in the greenhouses of McBean’s Orchids in East Sussex. Enjoy the issue, and may the power of nature sustain and inspire you.

Please enjoy the issue, which is available to download and read on screen below.

Sarah Douglas