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465 West 23rd Street, Suite 9B
New York, NY, 10011
United States

(917) 664-2294

JOURNAL

CAN I TELL YOU ... TAKE A TRIP AROUND THE WORLD AND SEE THE CULTURES THAT INSPIRE MY DESIGNS.

Filtering by Category: USA

Can I tell you about ... Block Island

Rafe Totengco

I live for weekend getaways especially during the summer. On a recent holiday weekend my boyfriend and I decided to go to Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. Block Island is full of sandy beaches and rocky cliffs that dot the shoreline.
 

STAY

The Atlantic Inn, a former boarding house built in 1879, is a quaint Victorian style bed and breakfast with a wraparound veranda offering spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean
 

DO

Rent a bike and take in the scenic views while pedaling around the island. 
 

EAT

The Oar, in New Harbor, is named after the hundreds of painted oars that hang from the ceiling and walls. It's a local favorite!
 

MUST SEE

Mohegan Bluffs. You must descend down 141 steep steps to reach the beach, where you will find a secluded spot for swimming, a favorite among surfers. You'll also find people engaging in DIY mud treatments using the damp clay within the beach's perimeter.
 

WHAT I LOVED MOST

The laid back atmosphere. I could only imagine that if we stayed a bit longer we would get to know the locals by first name and they would know ours. We enjoyed our weekend so much we've decided to come back the same time next year!

Can I Tell You about ... Honolulu

Rafe Totengco

STAY

We chose Hotel Renew, a chic and modern alternative half a block away from the beach with windows facing the sea. The hotel staff was friendly and helpful. They offer complimentary beach towels, folding chairs and boogie boards to borrow so you can hit the beach fully equipped. What we liked most was the location. It's within walking distance of all the designer stores, restaurants and souvenir shops but they are far enough away to allow peace and quiet at night.
 

DO

A trip to Honolulu would not be complete without seeing Pearl Harbor. Seventy-two years ago, World War II began for the USA when the Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet anchored at the harbor, as well as other military outposts. The USS Arizona Memorial is an unforgettable and solemn reminder of the 1,117 crewmen who lost their lives that fateful day. It is only accessible by a short boat ride from the visitor center, allowing approximately 15-20 minutes per visit. The deck of the USS Arizona is still visible below the surface with parts of the wreckage still leaking oil, some 70 plus years after she sank. They call this layer of oil the "tears of Arizona".
 

EAT

Eating by the beach is one of my favorite things to do.Queen's Surf Cafe and Lanai came highly recommended and I'm glad we went. It's a popular spot; there was a very long line when we arrived! The food was unpretentious and tasty. For less than $10, you get a plate of Kalua pulled pork with rice, a side salad and a cold bottle of beer. What more could you ask for?
 

MUST SEE

At the top of my must-see list was Doris Duke's Islamic-style Shangri La mansion. Nestled in a residential subdivision near Diamond Head and on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it is filled with treasures and artifacts from the Islamic world. I would call it my dream home! It is an eclectic mix of Syrian, Indian and Moroccan decorative elements as well as actual rooms constructed from torn down palaces and assembled in Hawaii. It was luxurious, yet fittingly relaxed for a summer home.
 

WHAT I LOVED MOST

Crashing waves, white sand beaches, Hula dancers and Hawaiian shirts will forever be ingrained in my memory, thanks to a childhood spent watching Jack Lord in Hawaii Five-O and Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I. Ever since, I've been drawn to Polynesian inspired prints and have collected my own stash of vintage Hawaiian shirts. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Laird Hamilton in action but I had no such luck. When I come back, maybe I'll even learn how to surf. Aloha!

Can I Tell You about ... Hudson Valley

Rafe Totengco

STAY

The Glenmere Mansion A luxurious Tuscan-style boutique hotel located in the town of Chester. Built in 1911, the mansion overlooks the idyllic Glenmere Lake and was real estate mogul Robert Goelet's country home outside of New York City. He commissioned architects Carrere and Hastings, who also designed The New York Public Library. The new proprietors, Alan Stenberg and Daniel DeSimone, have restored it back to its former glory with state-of-the art technology. Interior Designer Scott Snyder decorated the rooms with Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Motherwell contemporary art, custom-designed Italian linens and Carrara marble baths with heated floors. 
 

EAT

Dining at Local 111 in Philmont was unforgettable. This farm-to-table restaurant used to be an auto service station and boasts tall glass garage doors that open during the summer months. It's a chic and contemporary dining space with a relaxed atmosphere. All the ingredients come direct from local farmers, including the award winning Old Chatham Sheepherding Company's delectable goat cheese. Needless to say, the food was incredible and alone worth the trip!
 

DO

For years I've heard friends rave about the inspiring Dia Art Foundation in the town of Beacon, so I decided it was a must. Once a Nabisco box printing factory, it was transformed to an exhibition space in 2003. The museum is the ideal location for showcasing Minimalist, Conceptual and Post-Minimalist art, sculpture and installations. Richard Serra's steel sculptures and Louise Bourgeois' Spider, located in the museum's attic, completely transfixed me. 
 

MUST SEE

The Rockefeller Estate, also known as Kykuit, is situated at the highest point in Pocantico Hills with a breathtaking view of the Hudson River. This 40-room home filled with paintings, sculpture and history, is one of America's most famous private residences. The extensive art collection includes works from Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, David Smith and Pablo Picasso. The former basement turned art gallery houses a rare Picasso tapestry of "Guernica" in tonal shades of brown. 
 

WHAT I LOVED MOST

A trip to the Hudson would not be complete without indulging in a little antiquing! Conveniently, all the stores line Warren Street in the center of town, which makes for a lovely leisurely stroll and one stop shopping! Some of my favorites were Neven & Neven Moderne, Historical Materialism and Hudson Home.

Can I Tell You About ... Santa Fe, New Mexico

Rafe Totengco

STAY

We stayed at La Posada de Santa Fe, a luxury hotel and spa. Originally built in 1882 as a Victorian mansion, the hotel was later renovated to resemble Santa Fe's historic adobe architecture. It is conveniently located just 3 blocks from the main square and has free shuttle service to anywhere in the city.
 

EAT

The most charming spot for breakfast is Cafe Pasquals located in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. The boisterous, festive restaurant is adorned with murals by renowned painter Leovigildo Martinez, Mexican tiles and paper banners. I had the trout hash and it was by far the best breakfast I've enjoyed this year!
 

MUST SEE

The Girard wing of the Museum of International Folk Art, named after architect and textile designer Alexander Girard, holds the long-term exhibit Multiple Visions: A Common Bond. The room is a cornucopia of more than one hundred thousand toys, figurines and dioramas collected from over a hundred countries on six continents by Alexander and Susan Girard. Each vignette tells a different story with intricate, awe-inspiring dioramas. The exhibit is absorbing and fascinating for both young and old, and certainly brought out the child in me. Be sure to watch for my personal favorite, The Vision of Heaven and Hell.
 

SHOP

I was eager to stroll along the Palace of the Governors. The area is lined with boutiques, art galleries and the Santa Fe Indian Market, which is a highly acclaimed Native American arts show dedicated to the preservation and understanding of the American Indian culture. I saw artists from nearby pueblos showcasing their silver and turquoise jewelry, hand-woven blankets and pottery. I was especially drawn to the black on black pottery of Marvin Martinez. He learned the craft from his great grandmother Maria Martinez, a famed potter from the San Ildefonso pueblo, where Marvin and his wife still live and work on their historical craft.
 

WHAT I LOVED MOST

Centinela Traditional Arts is the result of seven generations of northern New Mexican Hispanic folk art/fiber weaving passed down within the Trujillo family. Irvin and Lisa are both celebrated and award-winning master weavers with work on display at the Smithsonian and various other museums all over the world. What sets them apart from other weavers is their ability to blend traditional patterns with modern themes and elements creating a new vocabulary of design and jaw dropping works of art. I was very touched and inspired by their designs.