Behind the Design with K-Studio’s Dimitris Karampatakis

My love for K-Studio’s Dexamenes project is no secret.  From the first time that I saw pictures of it I was hooked, and it remains one of my favourite hotel projects to date.  So when K-Studios co-founder and creative director Dimitris Karampatakis agreed to be a part of my Behind the Design series, I was thrilled.  It was clear from the beginning of our conversation that Dimitris is just as cool as the projects that his studio designs.  His outlook and approach to design is thoughtful and exciting and I can’t wait to see what wonderful projects K-Studio develop in the future.  Here is my interview with K-Studio’s Dimitris Karampatakis:

Has architecture and design always been your passion?

Yes, my dad is an architect and as we were growing up he would take my brother and I with him to visit the construction sites.  It was very exciting to be exposed to the ethos of making things, different materials and construction techniques.

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How would you design your design aesthetic?

We have an contextural approach to design.  We feel a responsibility to understand the place where we are designing, to use local technologies and echo local culture so that we are respecting where we are designing.

Where do you find your design inspiration?

The starting point is the location and then we figure out how we can best meet the needs and aspirations of the project

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What has been your most challenging project to date?  Why?

Any project that involves different typologies – the more complex the typologies are the needs of the project become more complex.

You have designed an airport, restaurants, hotels and private residences, do you have a favourite type of project to work on?

I like complex projects that combine different uses.  We recently designed a marina in Crete that combines many different leisure activities and includes a hotel and boutiques.  

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Do you have a favourite project that you have worked on?

We have worked on 200 projects over the past 15 years and it is difficult to pick a favourite.  We tend to reflect back on certain projects such as the Plane house, Alemagou in Mykonos, Dexamenes and Burboni beach restaurant in the Costa Navarino part of the Dunes hotel resort.

How long does it normally take for you to complete a project?

It depends on the project.  A 500 square metres villa could take one year for design and two years for construction.  Our recent airport project though was fast tracked as the airport was still in use as construction was being done, so it was two years from start to finish.

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Any favourite travel destinations that you like to escape to?

My house because I travel so much for work.  We have a holiday home in Mykonos that I like to escape to as well.  I also enjoy travelling to London, Salzburg Mountains and my favourite destination is Tokyo.

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What wellness practices have you incorporated into your life to help you to deliver such wonderful projects?

My daughter helps to balance me out.  I really enjoy cooking as a way to understand how to design and to coordinate things in design. With cooking you have control over the process.  I also enjoy running and meditation.

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Any words of wisdom for someone just starting out their design career?

Design is a vast workplace so don’t limit yourself.  Don’t worry what type of designer you are

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You can see more of K-Studio’s project at http://www.k-studio.gr or on Instagram @k_studio_gr. Special thanks to Dimitris Karampatakis for taking the time to speak with me and Joanna Burtenshaw for arranging this interview.  All images courtesy of K-Studios and http://www.k-studio.gr

I hope that you have a beautiful day!  XXS

 

Five Faves

Hi Everyone!

How is your fall going so far?  With the leaves changing, stunning sunsets (like the one above that I captured yesterday) and fabulous fall fashion, I am loving the new season so far!  Here are my five favourite faves for the month:

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With the cooler temps I am craving warming foods and getting creative in the kitchen every chance that I get.  This grilled zucchini with stracciatella looks simple enough to make yet delicious enough to want to enjoy on a regular basis as a health side dish.

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I recently ordered this coffee table book and I am loving it!  As you know travelling and decor are two things that I love so the combination that this book provides is perfect for me. I find myself escaping into it whenever I get the chance, love it!

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Fall fashion is always my favourite and this season is no exception.  I am especially loving pairing blazers with everything from a full suit to jeans, leggings or even a dress.  Here are three outfits that I am currently pulling inspiration from and my causal version for days when I am rushing but still want to look put together.

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I often find myself feeling really stressed out and it’s often difficult to change the way I think about stress.  I found the above image on Instagram (via @mindbodygreen) and I have decided to change my narrative.  Here’s hoping that I birth something great due to my narrative shift!

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I am overwhelmed with decorating decision for my condo which means that I have done very little.  I found this image for a bedroom recently in my home design file (via @coveteur) and it perfectly captures the vibe that I was hoping for in my new place.  It is now front and centre on my vision board as I move forward with my home decor project – wish me luck!

I hope that you are having a wonderful October so far, let me know what you are currently loving in the comments below.  I hope that you have wonderful day!  XXS

 

 

Five Faves

Happy September Everyone!

I cannot believe that the summer is over! Truth be told though, I have every intention of keeping the warm weather attitude alive as long as I can.  So that means, that while I will soon be bundled up in boots and coats and cozy cardigans, the happy light weight attitude of summer will remain for as long as I am able to hold on to it.  How are you celebrating the new season (yes I realize that the calendar still gives us a couple of weeks until this actually happens – work with a girl please!)? Let me know in the comments below!

Here are five things that I am currently loving:

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It’s nothing new, but I am seriously loving the pairing of sporty clothing with something more sexy. I am especially into outfits like this one that pairs basic sweatshirts with a cute mini skirt and some fabulous heels. Until I need to seriously cover up and put on some boots I will happily be rocking this trend.

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I am currently on vacation in Madrid where I recently tried this dish – sautéed shrimp with mango and avocado and it was delicious! It is so good and simple to make that I will be recreating it once I get back to Montreal in an effort to keep the summer spark alive!

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I am completely hooked on Money Heist aka La Casa de Papel. I found the first couple of episodes a little challenging to get into, but ever since I am a woman obsessed. I am currently watching season three for the second time and I cannot wait until season four drops (any ideas on when that will be???). If you are looking for a phenomenal show on Netflix to watch (and you are okay with Subtitles unless you are fluent in Spanish), Money Heist is worthwhile checking out.

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Fall is the season for leather, and while I will happily be incorporating a bit of leather into my outfits I am especially loving the idea of accenting my home with it. This chair in particular matched with a jute rug has me on the hunt for a similar version. Love, love, love!

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I came across this on Instagram today felt the need to share. I loved this post because it reminded me that I do have control over somethings, and that I owe it to myself to put effort into them in order to show up as my best self. Therefore, once I am back from vacation I will be putting in the effort in all of these areas of my life in order to be the best version of myself, I owe myself that much as do you!

Thank you for tuning into todays post and I hope that you have a fabulous day! XXS

photo credit: @mrsrodial, @soreiya, http://www.fotograma.com, @happilygreyhome, @thelawofattraction

Stylishly Solo – Seville Travel Guide

I am going to be completely honest with you – before I planned my trip to Seville I knew very little about this famous Spanish city.  I chose to stop in Seville because I had heard that it was popular and I figured that it would be fun to check out.  The more that I planned my trip though, I began to get really excited because Seville sounded like a really cool city.  Widely known as the birthplace of flamenco, Seville has a lot to offer.  Like other Spanish cities that I have visited, the food is delicious, the people are kind, the buildings are charming and there are a lot of things to see.  So if you are only planning a quick stop in this beautiful city, try to plan ahead so that you can make the most of your time there.

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Seville is the capital of the Andalusian region of Spain, and while it is well known as the birthplace of flamenco, it is also home to an incredible gothic cathedral and for Game of Thrones fans the Royal Alcazar palace.  Unfortunately while I was there all of the flamenco shows that I wanted to watch were fully booked so I had to settle for watching the flamenco street performers (in all honesty, they are really talented so it is worth stopping and watching while you are out and about).  Seville is also a great base to plan a few day trips from.  I took a day trip to Cordoba while in Seville as La Mezquita is something that I have been wanting to see in person for many years (but I will save that travel guide for another day).

How to Get There

I love to travel by train when in Europe, and this trip to Spain was no exception.  I pre-booked all of my train tickets online before I leave for my trip (although you always have the option to purchase once you are there).   The rail system in Spain is really efficient and while Spain is the fourth largest country in Europe you are able to get from city to city in a matter of hours.  It’s an affordable option, and if you are fortunate enough to book first class (if it’s available), the food and drinks that are served are fabulous!

Stay

I knew that I would be spending a very busy couple of days in Seville so my criteria for a hotel was somewhere reasonably priced, safe, clean and comfortable.  I managed to find just the right hotel and happily it also had a rooftop pool.  I was able to find a good deal at Hotel Becquer and it was the perfect hotel to stay during my visit.  It is well located in the old town of Seville and it is only a five minute walk to the cathedral and the Royal Alcazar palace.  The staff is friendly and helpful and make the effort to ensure that you have a comfortable stay.  While I normally prefer staying at more modern hotels when travelling, Hotel Becquer is charming, clean and safe and if I were to go back to Seville I would happily stay there again.  My favourite part was definitely the pool.  After a long day sightseeing in the sun, going back to the hotel to relax on the rooftop with a cool drink and a quick dip in the pool was heavenly.  The views from the rooftop are also breathtaking making it easy to see why Hotel Becquer is such a popular choice.

Visit

As I only had a day and a half to see everything that I wanted to see in Seville, I did a lot of research and planning.  My top three things to see in Seville are Plaza de Espana, Royal Alcazar Palace and the cathedral.

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Plaza de Espana – This was the first place that I wanted to see in Seville.  This historical city square is a popular attraction for people visiting Seville.  Naturally I got lost on my way there and ended up taking an hour detour.  Thankfully the residents of Seville are really nice and kindly pointed me in the right direction multiple times until  I finally reached this site.  Plaza de Espana is a photographer’s dream as this landmark is filled with gorgeous architecture, bridges, fountains and canals where you can even rent a row boat.  The gardens surrounding the square are beautiful which is why it’s understandable that the walking tours here are so highly recommended.  Plaza de Espana is a great place to spend an afternoon enjoying the beautiful location, the stunning architecture and maybe even boat ride if you are up for it.

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All of the cathedrals that I have visited in Europe so far have been breathtaking so I was looking forward to seeing Saville’s famous cathedral.  Prior to my trip, I was scrolling on Pinterest and found a blog post about the cathedral.  They blogger recommend the cathedral roof tour.  Needless to say, my interest was peaked.  A quick Google search enabled me to pre-book the tour online before I left for my trip.  This tour was great as it enabled me to see the cathedral from a new perspective.  The architecture is breathtaking, the tour guide was very well informed and I spent a wonderful morning learning more about architecture and Seville’s history.  I would recommend this tour to everyone but it’s important to note that you must be able to climb many flights of stairs and you definitely can’t have a fear of heights (unless you are trying to conquer it) if you plan to take this tour.

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The Royal Alcazar is a royal palace that was built for the Christian king Peter of Castile.  It was built on the site of an Abbadid Muslim residential fortress that was destroyed after the conquest of Seville by the Christians.  The Real Alcazar is one of the oldest palaces in the world that is still in use.  It’s intricate history is evident throughout the palace thru its design.  The palace is absolutely breathtaking, with a predominately Moorish design, intricate details including stunning tile work and ornate features throughout.  I also took the room tour while visiting the Real Alcazar – it provided really great insight to the history of the palace and the people that have lived there.  The only thing is that you are not allowed to take any pictures (you have to lock your camera and phone in a locker before the start of the tour).  So if you want to see what the rooms look like you will have to take the tour yourself.

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It’s easy to get lost in the Royal Alcazar for hours, there is so much to see!  The gardens are vast and magical, the fountains are breathtaking and the tile work is absolutely gorgeous.  It’s easy to see why this palace has been used as the backdrop for such popular films and shows such as Lawrence of Arabia and more recently Game of Thrones.  This is definitely a great spot to spend a few hours (if not more).  I would suggest purchasing your tickets online as the lines are really long.  I purchased my tickets for the room tour online – this includes access to the rest of the palace so you are free to wander around once the tour is done (and it allows you to skip the line!).  A trip to the Royal Alcazar is a must when visiting Seville.

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Dining

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Dining solo was the one part about my trip to Seville that I found really challenging.  When I first arrived I stopped by a restaurant nearby my hotel for lunch and it was delicious so I made a reservation for that night as well.  I had a great evening with good food and really good service.  Unfortunately things went downhill from there.  Every meal after that evening was a challenge (with the exception of breakfast that I would have at a nearby cafe).  I even returned to the first restaurant that I tried, only to be forgotten about and ignored.  People at tables all around me arrived after me, ate between two to three leisurely courses and left while I was still waiting for my appetizer – so not a great experience.  Therefore I am not comfortable providing any restaurant recommendations for Seville but I truly hope that my solo dining experiences don’t deter you from visiting this amazing city. The food itself is quite good, I enjoyed a lot of tapas – anchovies, patatas bravas, olives, etc and I was not disappointed. As I have mentioned before, solo dining can be challenging at times but it is still worth the effort.

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I hope that you enjoyed my travel guide to Seville!  Have you ever been?  What was your favourite part?  Let me know in the comments.

I hope that you have a beautiful day!  XX

Stylishly Solo – A Guide to Dining Solo

One of my favourite parts about travelling is the opportunity to try new foods and to learn about new cultures through food.  One glance at my Instagram and you know that I love to eat, so it should come as no surprise that dining is an integral part of my travel adventure.  While planning my first solo trip, I really didn’t give much thought to how dining solo would be.  I just assumed that it would be similar to every other dining out experience that I had previously had.  Clearly I was naive.  But because I never thought to just stay in and order room service, I strongly believe that my naivety helped me figure out how to happily dine solo. It takes practice and I don’t think that I will always get it right, especially as dining experiences vary from city to city and country to country.  But, there are a few things that I have learned that help to make the experience more pleasant.  Here are my top five tips for having a great solo dining experience:

  1. Get uncomfortable.  Normally while travelling, I like to stick to the a dining format that works for me – a light breakfast normally at a cafe where I can people watch.  Lunch is not normally a huge meal – just some place that looks decent and not too touristy, a place to rest and refresh during my sight seeing adventures.  I like to make dinner an event – I look for fun restaurants to try, I like to get a little dressed up and I take my time and enjoy my evening.  Whenever I speak with people about my solo travels, dining solo especially going out for a nice meal is what tends to surprise people the most.  The most common response that I get is “I could never do that!  I would be so uncomfortable!”  Dining solo especially at a proper restaurant requires a bit of gumption (so to speak) and it is a great way to get out of your comfort zone. The first thing to do is to really think about why it is that you don’t feel that dining solo is for you. Yes, some people might stare at you, you may get a not so great table as the better ones are left for groups larger then one person and the waiter or waitress may not give you as much attention (or forget about you altogether) as they tend to the other diners in their area. All of these things (and so much more) have occurred to me while dining solo.  I survived and I learned – like anything in life, you have to be your own advocate.  This doesn’t mean causing a scene or berating the staff.  It just means that you need to figure out how to clearly communicate when you need to and to not take the other stuff so personally (which is much harder said then done at times).  Even if your first (or second or third) solo dining experience is not the greatest, take some time to figure out what it was that you didn’t enjoy.  Was it the food?  Try another restaurant.  Was it the service?  If so, what was it about the service that you didn’t enjoy?  Did they ignore you or treat you badly?  Did they rush you or was service incredibly slow?  When I was in Madrid last year, I was really excited to try a particular restaurant where I had heard that the risotto was spectacular.  I arrived practically jumping with excitement only to be rushed thru my meal (two courses was over and done with in under 40 minutes).  While the risotto was spectacular I was a little sad that the experience was over so quickly (just to be clear – this was not a fast food place and my fellow diners were enjoying leisurely meals).  Rather then get upset and vow to never go back despite the fact that the risotto was some of the best that I had ever had, I decided to try a different approach.  I made another reservation for the next day and when I arrived I was greeted by the same server as the day before.  I explained to him that I loved the risotto and that I wanted to enjoy my meal at a leisurely pace.  He happily agreed and I had an incredible meal that I really enjoyed.  I even ended up going back again when I returned to Madrid to catch my flight home a few weeks later (yes the risotto was THAT good).  What I learned was this – since solo dining is still quite rare in many parts of the world it can sometimes be seen as something to be embarrassed about.  Hence why they thought that I wanted to rush thru my meal and get out.  The restaurant had good intentions but initially we just were not on the same page – speaking up got us on the same page and enabled me to enjoy the type of meal that I had been looking for, in a gorgeous setting with incredible food.  That is what I call a win! IMG_3730
  2. Do your research.  The majority of us have the internet at our finger tips and are frequently on social media, so there is no excuse not to do a bit of research beforehand.  Research the type of food that the region that you visiting specializes in, suggestions where you can have an authentic local dining experience, is they take reservations and the location as you want to make sure that you can get to and from the restaurant safely.  Doing a bit of research will help you to get more comfortable with the solo dining experience.  It will also get you excited about the food that you are about to eat and the environment that you will be experiencing.  This helps to make solo dining an adventure rather then just any boring forgettable meal, and it will also help you to avoid the tourist traps for a more authentic dining experience.
  3. Enlist help.  Just because you are travelling solo, it doesn’t meant that you have to figure out and do everything yourself.  Asking your hotel for help and suggestions can save you a lot of stress in the long run.  Some restaurants are inclined to give you better service if your hotel makes the reservation for you as they don’t want you go back to your hotel and complain – word of mouth counts for a lot.  Hotels are less likely to recommend a restaurant where their clients are not being treated well.  There is no harm in using this to your advantage to help to ensure that you enjoy a pleasant meal with good service.  It is also a great way to discover new restaurants that you may not have found otherwise.  While in Naples, Italy a few years ago I asked the woman at the front desk for a restaurant recommendation for dinner.  Luckily she was very honest and told me that most people enjoy a popular restaurant nearby the hotel but her favourite was another one a little further away. I decided to take her recommendation and I ended up at a little eight table restaurant where I had one of the best meals of my life!  While the hotel recommendations are not always the greatest, more often then not in my experience they have been really good.  For this reason, I am always willing to ask my hotel for help – they may just steer you to one of the best meals you will ever have!
  4. Eat at the bar.  If you feel that other diners will stare at you with pity while sitting at a table dining solo, ask to sit at the bar.  I always try to make a reservation for dinner but, when I arrive at the restaurant I don’t feel like being isolated at a table alone I ask if it would be ok to just sit at the bar.  More often then not the restaurant has no issue with this especially as it frees up a table for walk ins.  Eating at the bar can feel more social as bartenders tend to make conversation and there are always a ton of people around who you can converse with.IMG_2932
  5. Look up.  It’s really easy to just bring a book or a magazine with you or to play on your phone the entire evening but you will be missing out!  I have had some great conversations with people while solo dining.  If your nose is buried in a book or your phone you are instantly less approachable.  Look up and look around.  I love to people watch and dining solo is a great opportunity to do so.  I love looking at what people are wearing (once a fashion girl, always a fashion girl), how they interact and I especially like to see what others are eating.  Overall, solo dining is a great way to experience the local culture and to get a better understanding of the people and country that you are visiting.

Solo dining is nothing to be afraid of.  It just takes a little bit of planning and a little bit of gumption, soon you will be on your way to enjoying an incredible culinary experience regardless of where in the world you may be.

I hope that you have a beautiful day and happy dining!  XXS