Easy to wear and yet impossibly chic, the pared-back, knitwear-focused silhouettes of Barbara Casasola’s eponymous label are a perfect fit for the Brazilian-Italian designer, who travels continuously around Italy meeting craftsmen and makers. The brand debuted in London in 2013, and this year the designer relocated to a new studio in Florence, housed in the 13th-century Palazzo Guicciardini. Her new base allows her more direct contact with her manufacturers, and also to spend more time at the Tuscan agriturismo Villa Lena, where she sits on the hotel and artist residency’s advisory board. When travelling, Casasola values ‘breaking out of routine’ and ‘unexpected encounters’. She frequently returns to her home country, choosing Oscar Niemeyer’s family home and Lina Bo Bardi’s Casa de Vidro as locations for Casasola photo shoots.
As the managing director of Kukje Gallery in Seoul, Bo Young Song spends her days promoting contemporary Korean art while driving the translation and digitisation of Korean historical manuscripts for the gallery’s archival programme. It’s a complex juggling act, but the efforts are paying off, with the gallery representing tent-pole talents such as Jenny Holzer and multimedia artist Suki Seokyeong Kang. Currently on Song’s to-do list is the renovation of Kukje Gallery’s K1 space into a cultural complex-cum-commercial gallery that will feature, when it opens this winter, a text-based concept store designed by Scandinavian artists Elmgreen & Dragset, a wellness centre and a restaurant. Not surprisingly, travel looms large in the diary. ‘In order to visualise ideas in refreshing and innovative ways, you have to broaden your horizons – meaning you have to travel, see a lot of things, and build relationships,’ she says. Ever time-pressed, Song looks for a hotel that ‘isn’t just about the visual aesthetic, but also captures the context of the city’ – qualities exemplified, she says, by the likes of Paris’ Hôtel Costes and Tokyo's Hoshinoya.
Once an advocate of law, Johannesburg-based collector Pulane Kingston is now an advocate of the African art scene and, among other posts, sits on the board of Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town and is a member of the Africa Acquisitions Committee at London’s Tate. Kingston lived across the African continent during her formative years and developed a voracious appetite for travel. Although she typically gravitates towards boutique hotels (particularly those with exceptional art collections), the Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus ranks among her favourite stays – ‘the architecture, views, positioning, service and more are almost unparalleled’. Kingston’s travels are largely guided by the global art calendar – fairs, biennials, exhibitions – but she travels plenty for pleasure, whether it’s a pilgrimage to India or visiting her California-based son. ‘Travel is one of the greatest joys of my life, a privilege that is the best gift I could possibly have.’
Founder of Niche Arabia, Saudi Arabia’s first luxury consultancy helping global brands penetrate the peninsula, Marriam Mossalli is the only Saudi woman on the Business of Fashion 500 list and was a New Wave Creative at the 2018 British Fashion Awards. She has made it her mission to help disseminate information about the Arab world, but through creative industries such as fashion, film, art and design. When she’s not in Jeddah, she’s directing campaigns for high-flying clients, among them Piaget, Burberry, Prada and Givenchy. Her latest project, Neo Nomad, is a joint venture bringing large-scale international entertainment events to Saudi millennials. Her favourite hotels include the Nomo Soho in New York and Rome’s JK Place, but she’s equally passionate about membership-only chains such as Soho House, which she values for its sense of community and entertainment options. For Mossalli, what truly makes a hotel is its concierge service. ‘Coming from the Middle East, where it’s all about wasta (“who you know”), I like a hotel that can call the most exclusive restaurant and get me a reservation that day.’
Since establishing her eponymous practice in 2002, the architect Fernanda Canales has become as recognised for her academic output as her built work, which includes residences, installations and cultural institutions, mostly in her native Mexico. Regardless of their purpose, Canales’ designs often propose the creation of elegant, minimalistic volumes that still address the geographic concerns of the specific site, yielding dynamic and memorable results. This year, she has found herself frequent-flying to Connecticut as a visiting faculty member at Yale University, as well as to London. When choosing her hotel, Canales typically looks for a quiet environment with an excellent concierge. ‘I usually don’t like modern hotels,’ she laughs. ‘I like the old-fashioned, classic hotels. The new, cool places can lack the knowledge and tradition of service. So I go backwards in the sense of what’s fashionable. I really like to have a very secluded experience. I care about high ceilings, good light, a good view, but less about stylish, modern furnishings.’ One favourite is the Hotel Sanders in Copenhagen. ‘It has the looks, the drinks and the restaurant,’ Canales explains, ‘but it also has the feeling of a small house, in the sense of its quiet, its comfort and there being not a lot of people going in and out. It feels homey and that’s difficult to find.’