The Ultimate Home Tour


Gallardo Spyder: Fast times with Lamborghini's topless beauty. Plus minute repeater watches put to the test.

From This Issue

The Ultimate Home Tour: The Entry

Entering this home, a 17,500-square-foot structure built partly over a man-made lake within a private four-acre site near Vancouver, British Columbia, is a religious experience of sorts. The house’s circular copper front door is framed by a 14-inch-thick square clad in black granite, forming a design element that is a loose reference to the Buddhist […]

The Ultimate Home Tour: The Basement

Building a house for a client, says Michael C.F. Chan, is like making a film in which he or she will play the starring role. “You are using a visual picture to tell the story of someone’s life,” he explains. “Most of my clients are very successful people, and I wouldn’t want to tell them how […]

Feature: Chic of Araby

It is late afternoon in Marrakech, and the Djemaa el Fna, the Place of the Dead, is jumping. The former execution grounds, now a vast market square surrounded by a high mud wall, teems with humanity: acrobats and belly dancers, stilt walkers and musicians, Saharan tribesmen stained deep blue from the indigo of their robes, […]

Contributors: Architects of the Ultimate Home

This issue features the fifth edition of the Ultimate Home Tour, and Robb Report Home & Design Editor Adele Cygelman has been directing the processfrom the beginning. “The first year we had to define what, in our minds, was ultimate,” says Cygelman, who is also the editor in chief for Robb Report’s sister publications Robb […]

Feature: Chic of Araby: Kasbah Tamadot

Upon first glimpsing Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot (, you have to wonder what the caliph who built it a century ago was thinking: A kasbah, by definition, is a rural fort and thus should appear forbidding. However, Tamadot seems to have been confected from gingerbread, with delicate, onion-bulbed spires rising from turrets, intricately carved […]

Robb Design Portfolio: All Dressed Up

The craftspeople at Cote France know how to keep a secret. In the 120 years since it invented the technique, the company never has revealed how it achieves the finishes that characterize its furniture, including the Louis XV com-modes shown here. “It’s done in a way that makes it look like the commode has experienced wear […]

FrontRunners: Business Trip

Canoe Bay (715.924.4594, owner Dan Dobrowolski knows that some of his guests will not be able to leave the office behind. He also recognizes that a cabin at his northern Wisconsin resort, with no telephone lines and cellular service that is spotty at best, is not an ideal working environment. He therefore recently added […]

FrontRunners: In The Doge House

If it is not fit for a king, Venice’s recently opened Dona Palace (+39.041.2743511, is at least suitable for a doge, the title once given to the former city-state’s chief magistrates. In the 16th century, the building that houses the 27-room hotel was the home of Leonardo Donà, the city’s 90th doge. Unlike many […]

Furnishings: Fruits of the Loom

Ben Soleimani’s great-grandfather worked as a rug trader in Isfahan, Iran, and in 1981, his father, Mansour Soleimani, founded the House of Mansour, the London purveyor of antique rugs and tapestries. It is not surprising, then, that the fourth-generation Soleimani has, for the last 13 years, operated a Mansour showroom in Los Angeles and continues […]

Appliances: Spatial Relations

Italian architect Antonio Citterio, now 56, was a bachelor in 1984 when he began designing products for Arclinea, a kitchen manufacturer in Vicenza, Italy. Today, the cofounder of the Milan architecture and industrial design firm Antonio Citterio and Partners still draws all the plans for the Arclinea Collection, but his latest creations reflect a broader […]

The Ultimate Home Tour: The Facade

This 1920s-era Bel-Air mansion is the answer to a presidential trivia question, one involving John F. Kennedy and where and with whom he spent a night. The story goes that in 1953, then–Senator Kennedy and Jacqueline, before returning East from their honeymoon at the San Ysidro Ranch in Southern California, accepted an invitation from their friend […]

The Ultimate Home Tour: The Dining Room

When you extend an invitation in Palm Beach, you can only guess who’s coming to dinner. “Everyone’s houses are full of guests, so when you invite a few friends over for dinner, they may end up bringing their friends, too, and a quiet get-together can quickly turn into a major affair,” says New York architect […]

The Ultimate Home Tour: The Wine Room

When the owners of a Northern California winery purchased this 20,000-square-foot home in Southern California five years ago, it lacked what is for this particular couple an essential feature: a wine cellar. “I wanted a room where I could keep my collection of wine, as well as a place where people would want to spend time,” […]

The Ultimate Home Tour: The Trophy Room

Designer Paul Vincent Wiseman recognized the potential pitfalls of creating a room that would house the mementos from the hunting expeditions of the husband and wife who own this formal estate near San Francisco. Therefore, before embarking on the project, he consulted the work of someone whose trophy room designs have withstood the test of […]

The Ultimate Home Tour: The Master Suite

Not everyone seeks instant gratification. Consider the owners of this Long Island residence. Noel Jeffrey spent the last 20 years working on their 8,000-square-foot house before completing the project with the master suite, which includes a master bedroom, his and her closets, an elegant bathroom, and a study with a secret passageway.     The […]

The Ultimate Home Tour: The Living Room

The challenge presented to Steven Park was daunting: He had six weeks to transform a former studio apartment with a sleeping loft, which had been stripped to its brick walls and cement floors, into a stunning living room. The cause, however, was a worthy one: the 2005 International Designer Showhouse, a project that benefited the […]

The Ultimate Home Tour: The Study

Working for clients who own part of the San Francisco Design Center could intimidate some designers, but Suzanne Tucker was not fazed by the prospect. The San Francisco design veteran, who is well regarded for her knowledge of antiques, deftly applied her skills to this 7,500-square-foot Bay Area residence. “My clients asked for a jewel […]

The Ultimate Home Tour: The Kitchen

It has been said that the larger the kitchen, the less frequently it is used. However, the owners of this contemporary home in Los Angeles do not subscribe to that theory. “They actually cook and are in there every day,” says architect Richard Landry, who, at his clients’ request, created a space that is open […]

Journeys: Artists’ Residence

The Mercedes has bottomed out. More speed might have propelled the vehicle over the hill on this rolling Irish cart road, but the undercarriage now sits squarely on top of a grassy protuberance, while the wheels spin frantically in the air. The driver, Garech Browne, squire of the land, member of the Guinness family, writer, […]

Travel: Funky Old Medina

Stroll the cobblestoned streets of Tunis medina, the old city within Tunisia’s capital, and smiling merchants will beckon you to enter their shops—not necessarily to buy, but pour le plaisir des yeux. If you do not understand French, they happily will translate: “for the pleasure of your eyes, sir.”   Dating to the seventh century, […]

Art: Gates of Paradise

Most artists start small and move on to bigger things, but few have followed that career path as literally as Albert Paley has. He went from crafting delicate gold jewelry in the 1960s and early ’70s to his present pursuit of forging iron gates, sculptures, and other massive works in a 20,000-square-foot work space in […]

Dining: Setting the Table, and the Stage

The hieroglyphs decorating the lamp shades at Thomas Keller’s Per Se restaurant in New York should seem familiar: Those same symbols are the ones that adorn the tags inside your clothes and describe how to launder them. The designs are in fact a reference to the French Laundry, Keller’s restaurant in Yountville, Calif., and on […]

From The Editors: Cryptic Comments

While you may have only one chance to make a first impression, it is also true, writes Douglas Keister, that you have but a single opportunity to create a last impression. Keister is the author and photographer of Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography (Gibbs Smith, 2004) and Going Out […]

FrontRunners: Gaining Complexity

Russian river valley wine producer Lynmar Winery (707.829.3374, has added to its Sebastopol, Calif., estate a tasting room more typical of the celebrated Napa Valley establishments to the east. Designed by San Francisco–based Baum Thornley Architects to resemble a wine-country home, the hospitality center debuted last October, just after Lynmar had completed a yearlong […]

FrontRunners: Divine Guidance

At Providence (323.460.4170), which Michael Cimarusti opened last summer and named for the Rhode Island city where he grew up, the chef is guided by standards established far from the restaurant’s Los Angeles address and even farther from New England. “If I can evoke some of the Japanese sushi chef’s reverence for quality and freshness on […]

FrontRunners: Select Smoke

LA AURORA 1495 Had the La Aurora 1495 cigar actually been available in 1495, Columbus never would have doubted the wisdom of his venture. The 1495 celebrates Columbus’ founding of the Dominican Republic’s Santiago de los Caballeros, one of the first cities in the Americas. Some historians claim that Christopher Columbus actually founded the city […]

FrontRunners: Vino Veritas

As anyone does when buying wine, Eugene Mulvihill, owner of Restaurant Latour on the grounds of his Crystal Springs resort (973.827.5996, in Vernon, N.J., takes chances when replenishing the rare and fine wines he keeps among his 20,000-bottle collection. “We bought a case of 30 bottles one time, and 12 were contaminated,” laments Mulvihill, […]

FrontRunners: From The Robb Cellar

CLOS DU VAL DUSTY BOTTLE CLUB Thanks to the depredations of Prohibition and relatively small quantities of wine produced in California as compared to Bordeaux, the opportunity to acquire older vintages of California’s finest reds is an especially welcome boon to serious collectors—or serious enjoyers—of wine. Rarely do the old-line vintners release bottles from their […]

Wine: Six Splendid Bottles

New Zealand represents a fascinating collision of old and new. This assembly of Polynesian islands contrasts primordial glaciers and volcanoes with modern cities and farms, the ancient indigenous traditions of the Maori people with the buttoned-up Britishness introduced to this far-off land when the Empire declared it a crown colony in 1840. Extremes manifest themselves […]

Spas: Working Vacation

Contrary to its serene setting within a sleepy agricultural valley outside San Diego, surrounded by oak, olive, and orange trees, the European-style Cal-a-Vie (Cal is short for California, and Vie is the French word for life) is not a place for relaxation—or presumably for romance: The spa has a one-person-per-room policy, hosting only 24 guests […]

Smoke: Green Days

Cigars and clothing share a pair of fundamental truths: A product that is in fashion soon will be out, and one that is out of fashion someday will return. Accordingly, the candela, a cigar wrapped in a light green leaf, is staging its comeback. Candelas—including high-quality, handmade examples—found favor with millions of smokers in the […]

Sport: Living it Up

I am not a fisherman, but I do subscribe to the theory that if you find yourself in Yankee Stadium, you certainly will be a baseball fan for at least that afternoon or evening. Thus my visit to the Resort at Paws Up, a property encompassing 37,000 acres of mountain streams and rolling prairie in […]

Golf: Bumper Crop

As you take in the view from the elevated tee box at the par-5 11th hole of the recently opened Ritz-Carlton Members Club golf course in Bradenton, Fla., it is difficult to imagine that rows of crops once dominated this landscape. Now, you see long, rolling swales punctuated by hills, valleys, and a large man-made […]

Feature: Bell Whethers

For all its expressive sound, a minute repeater still could be considered a blind purchase. These coveted, highly complicated musical timepieces are so exclusive that rarely would you have the opportunity to hear one before placing your order, much less compare it to others. Indeed, it is unlikely that you ever would see two of […]

Feature: Great Balls of Fire

Ten years ago, opal dealer Mark Tremonti heard that an exceedingly rare black opal had been unearthed in Lightning Ridge, the remote mining region in the Australian Outback. He quickly flew to the desert to cajole the miner into selling him the prized gem, bringing with him some necessities for closing the deal: two cases […]

Time: Working on the Railroad

The term “American-made” holds little allure for those who have learned to regard Switzerland as the sole source of fine mechanical watches. Yet the quality and design of American timepieces once rivaled anything manufactured in Switzerland. That was before the Swiss all but extinguished the U.S. industry following World War II, when they began producing […]

Style: Knitting Wits

Richard hope’s rough and rugged hands suggest that the 63-year-old Scottish textile worker spends his 10-hour days wrestling with the heaviest machinery. But as he knits a delicate single-ply intarsia sweater on an antique hand loom, his coarse, burly fingers prove nimble enough to manipulate individually the finest strands of cashmere around the razor-sharp needles […]

Style: Knitting Wits: Highland Society

Ballantyne and 13 other Scottish yarn spinners, weavers, and knitters—including Johnstons, Alex Begg, John Laing, William Lockie, Peter Scott, and Hawick—compose the Scottish Cashmere Club, a collective that seeks to educate shoppers about the defining characteristics of authentic Scottish cashmere.   The Scottish Cashmere Club formed in 1998 as a trade organization, but the group […]

FrontRunners: Medal Ceremony

By naming the watch after the Prussian medal for outstanding artistic and scientific accomplishments, A. Lange & Sohne (310.980.5264, established lofty expectations in 1994 for its Pour le Mérite tourbillon, the centerpiece of the company’s first modern collection. The latest version of the watch, the Pour le Mérite Tourbograph, advances the original’s technical feats by […]

FrontRunners: A Super Fine Find

Italian clothing maker Corneliani (800.222.9477, recently obtained a small cache of Super 210 fabric woven from wool fiber measuring an almost microscopic 12.9 microns. The supply is enough for Corneliani to produce only 630 custom and completely handmade suits, each priced at about $10,000. “We established a little section in our factory just to […]

Jewelry: Tribal Treasures

For nearly two decades, Lisa Black, a New York native living in Australia, learned about tribal antiquities and oceanic art from her husband, Robert Bleakley. He is the former director of the tribal art department at Sotheby’s London and the founder of Sotheby’s Australia, where he served as chief executive officer for 15 years before […]

Watches: The Straight Man

Throughout his 25 years in the watch industry, Gérald Roden has been a huge fan of legendary watch designer Gérald Genta. Today, as president of the brand bearing Genta’s name, Roden is intent on creating watches that complement the master’s legacy. This goal has involved the less glamorous tasks of improving the watches’ reliability and […]

Autos: Inconspicuous Consumption

There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, about a man who picked up his new Audi A8 in Los Angeles, drove it across the country at enormous speeds to Miami Beach, and then proudly parked outside Joe’s Stone Crab—where no one paid any attention to his arrival. Even if people had noticed the car, from observing […]

Feature: Miami Vice

The return flight  from Miami to Los Angeles, populated by a predictably stereotypical and colorful cross section of travelers, seemed interminable. Having spent the previous day hammering the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, I was exhausted and hardly in the mood for a 4:30 am ride to the airport. Takeoff was delayed, and once the plane was […]

Back Page: Fighting Fatigue

Robb Report has written about vintage planes and the people who collect, restore, maintain, and fly them on a number of occasions. We do so again in this issue with the story on collectors of Grumman amphibians (“Sea and Be Seen”). But questions concerning the maintenance and airworthiness of vintage aircraft in general and seaplanes […]

Wings & Water: Sea and Be Seen

Joe Vittoria smiles as he recalls the time several years ago that his Grumman Albatross landed off the coast of Connecticut. “It sure attracts attention,” says Vittoria, the 70-year-old former chairman and CEO of the Avis rental car company and the owner of three sailing yachts, including Mirabella V, the world’s largest sloop. He employs […]

Aircraft: Embraer Light

The latest very light jet, Embraer’s Phenom 100, might be the most attractive for passengers concerned with the space limitations of this new, relatively inexpensive class of aircraft. The $2.75 million Phenom 100 costs more than the segment’s two most prominent members, Cessna’s Citation Mustang ($2.4 million) and the Eclipse 500 ($1.47 million); however, the […]

Wings & Water: Sea and Be Seen: Grounding of Mallards

  Crash Leads to Grounding of Mallards The Vintage-Grumman community suffered a very public tragedy last December, when a Grumman Mallard G-73 flown by Chalk’s Ocean Airways lost part of its wing shortly after takeoff and crashed into the waters near Miami Beach before horrified onlookers. All 20 people on board were killed. Chalk’s, one […]