A traditional restaurant in Astana by Ryan Koopmans
Qazaq Gourmet, 29 Mangilik El St, Astana
This restaurant is in the main business area, near the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation (designed by Norman Foster) and lots of political buildings, so it’s right at the heart of Astana life. Although it’s on the ground floor of a modern luxury complex, inside they try to showcase the best of traditional Kazak food and culture. The staff wear local costumes as well as little hats inspired by those worn by nomadic Mongol swordsmen. There are musicians playing beautiful old instruments and dancers who swirl about in a central space. Although it sounds touristy, it’s not at all. It’s really well done, and feels upscale and interesting rather than cheesy. Visitors get so into it, they sometimes dress up in costumes too. The best thing about this place, though, is the food. It serves mainly meat, because that’s what Kazak people enjoy: lamb, then beef shashlik, and lots of horse meat, which is a staple here. The food is often accompanied by camel’s milk, which is an acquired taste. I prefer the vodka, which comes in little ceramic flasks. People have a really good time here. It’s somewhere you forget all preconceptions, and listen to people playing their traditional instruments and look at beautiful local souvenirs and iconographic paintings of mountains and horses, and just... have fun. It’s a real celebration of Kazak life.
A museum in Mexico City by Roland Herlory
Museo Experimental El Eco, Sullivan 43 Col. San Rafael, Mexico City
I love Mexico City for so many things. Not just for its energy, its chaos, its people’s sweetness, the colors, flavors, incredible food and the mountains. I love it for its architecture, from colonial buildings to art deco beauties and innovative midcentury structures. There’s one building I particularly cherish: the Museo Experimental El Eco. Located in the heart of Colonia San Rafael, El Eco feels more like a living sculpture than a museum. The building was designed in the 1950s by Mathias Goeritz, who was a sculptor before he became an architect – and it’s typical of its time: simple, pure, geometric, ambitious and humanist; a jewel in the middle of the urban jungle. In the past, it’s been used as a restaurant, a club, all sorts of things. Today, it’s a space for spatial experimentation, showcasing a range of different exhibitions. I’m always surprised by the emotion I feel when I walk in. It’s like a sculpture you can step into. Once you’ve experienced it, you can then wander to the city’s canals and take a boat to the city, or to Frida Kahlo’s house. I think it’s the best secret in town.
A luxury concept store in New York by Suzanne Syz
The Webster, 29 Greene Street, SoHo, New York
This concept store just opened in SoHo in New York, and it’s already one of my favorite places. The owner, Laure Hériard Dubreuil, who was a merchandiser for Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga and Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent, opened her first store in Miami, then others in Bal Harbour and Houston. This one, though, is pretty unique because it’s in a six-story cast-iron house, in an area that was known for its artistic life. It feels cozy and homely, with light walls, pretty wallpaper and beautifully designed furniture, which you can buy. I like the boutique because you can get things here that you won’t find anywhere else: special-edition shoes by Gianvito Rossi and Louboutin, and pieces from labels like Prada and Miu Miu. Last time I went, I bought some of Dubreuil’s own-brand LHD pants and dresses – she does the best range of easy-to-wear clothes. It’s a place where you can wander from floor to floor and find new things: menswear on the third floor; jewelry; bags by Simon Miller or Loewe – pretty much everything a girl needs to be happy.
A contemporary art space in Miami by Thaddaeus Ropac
Institute of Contemporary Art, 61 NE 41st Street, Miami
I’ve been going to Miami regularly for about ten years now for the Miami Beach Art Basel art fair – which is, after the original Art Basel in Switzerland, probably the most important art fair in the world, especially for the American market. And while fun is maybe the wrong word to describe something so intense, it’s a great event. What’s crucial about Miami Beach Art Basel is that everyone from the art world is there – the artists, the collectors, the other gallerists and curators. So if you’re working on a big upcoming exhibition, for example, Miami is a great opportunity to network. It’s a party town, of course – and there was a moment when we were afraid the parties would take over – but the quality is still there. This year I had a wonderful surprise, which was discovering the new Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. It’s a great space for contemporary art right in the heart of the Design District, where there’s lots of activity, lots of shops, nightlife and restaurants and so on. These wonderful collectors, Irma and Norman Braman, decided to put their money and energy into the project. It’s not huge. It couldn’t rival the big museums in New York or London or Paris. But it doesn’t matter. It demonstrates the great role that contemporary art can play in a city like Miami – and it’s a wonderful place to visit.