The art of having a party is for all elements to be the hero. For guests to interact with food, drink, the space, music in a playful manner was the idea.
Bread and butter, chocolate, real food…done well in an imaginative way.
I love working with women who aren’t afraid to take risks and who can interpret what I do in their own way.
I have long admired Laila’s work and it was a bit of a dream to collaborate!
Finding a Jamon carver at the last minute was one of the biggest obstacles.
I trusted Laila wholeheartedly and this is when you get the best result. Everyone is good at what they do and who am I to interfere.
I just want it to be delicious, fun and beautiful.
"It’s always been what I have loved. I have never tried to do anything else. It comes from my family – I grew up appreciating food as my dad is a fabulous cook, so it’s always been a significant part of my life."
You are known to “design unique eating experiences” - what does this actually mean?
I guess you could describe it as taking of all of the elements of the food into consideration….. how it looks, how it tastes, what space it occupies, how it is presented to people, how people relate to it and how they interact with it. The food, the place and the people all play a key role in creating the story – ultimately, I use food to tell a narrative.
Where in the world has food taken you that you will never forget?
Food is one of the reasons I love to travel. I try and go out of my way to seek out something new and exciting to eat. Over the years I’ve had a lot of amazing meals and ended up in unique places that I wouldn’t have gone to if I hadn’t been seeking out food. I thoroughly enjoy visiting places and eating where the locals eat and seeing how food is treated differently in each culture. It really is such a personal experience.
You bring such creative flair to all that you do, what is it that drives your creativity? What inspires you most?
There isn’t one particular thing that drives my creativity but rather, it is all of the things that surround me. You need to train yourself to see, especially with the world becoming faster and faster and the exposure that we have to millions and millions of images a day – it really does come from everywhere. It could be the colour of a car you see parked on the street or how the light reflects off a building – it’s the little things that can bring out the greatest creativity.
You use bread a lot in your installations – what is that obsession all about?
It’s my personal war against “gluten free” hahaha. It really annoys me that people have become so obsessed about talking badly about food – especially bread since it is the oldest, most ancient food. If it is made of great ingredients, then it should be embraced and enjoyed!
For our Resort 19 presentation in Paris you created some pretty amazing chocolate sculpture - how on earth did you do that?
This is a side project that I’ve been working on for some time with my friend Rafael Prieto who has this amazing chocolate brand called Casa Bosques. Together we play with abstract shapes – placing traditional shapes such as a torso with a pyramid head. Being able to offer guests the opportunity to interact with it was amazing – seeing people take the wooden bat and try and break it down was really fun.
What about the butter hands and feet - what spurred that on?
This was a play with form – movement, different shapes. Lucy’s apartment in Paris is just so beautiful so I wanted to add some elements such as the butter hands and feet. I had to make a mould and then introduced the butter – it wasn’t an easy feat. Working in Paris versa NYC is such a different experience! Different cities, different cultures.
The table filled with tomatoes was beyond! How did that thought arise?
I wanted to create something with the travertine hexagon table inside Lucy’s apartment and because it was the beginning of summer I wanted to introduce tomatoes as they are so fragrant. I like to include food in its original form – tomatoes on their own are really beautiful – after all, what else can I do that is better than nature.
Lucy grew up with a father who cooked and a mother who was an interior designer - what was your childhood like in relation to food and creativity and how did it affect what you do today?
My dad is a photographer and a journalist – he is very creative and a wonderful cook. I am sure I inherited my creativity from him. My mother is more of a practical woman, but both of my parents encouraged creativity from an early age, so I guess that is what shaped me.
You were born in Egypt - and our R19 collection “Ettore Blues” takes a lot of its inspiration from this beautiful country. How does your heritage influence your creativity?
I think so in a non-literal way. Some people say that my take on food is a bit middle-eastern but I don’t think this is true. I mean it is and it isn’t. I love the concept of an offering – much like they did in ancient Egypt – it was all about the afterlife and taking it with you. I guess that is why there are lots of totem structures and foods such as tomatoes and dried fruits in my work.
What are your favourite pieces from “Ettore Blues”?
The Serpent Ring.
“Ettore Blues” is also influenced by the Memphis movement – if you were to create a piece of food inspired by this iconic period of art, what would it be and why?
Something that would be obscure, almost post-modern – not necessarily things that go together. I can imagine the form would be like a pillar or totem.
Lucy adores colour and it seems that you do too. What is your attitude towards colour when it comes to both cooking and getting dressed?
I roll back and forth – I felt the same way for a really long time – as there isn’t enough time in life to enjoy colour. But recently I started to think about everything from a visual point of view – if it’s a nice colour then it will look good – but I am challenging myself to use less colour and see if the form can stand on its own within its obviously colour. I’m the most critical about my own work – sometimes you make amazing things, but you have restrictions – there is something nice in this.
What does your ultimate summer vacation look like?
I prefer to take a month’s holiday every Summer – which is very non-American (Laila lives in NYC). I like to be gone for a long stretch of time, so I can truly immerse myself in a culture. I grew up in the Mediterranean, so this is the culture that I identify with most. Hence, I love to go there for a reset in the summer – no matter which region I go to, it feels like home.
What items you can’t live without when travelling?
Half an empty suitcase so I can bring found treasures home with me. Also, a great book.
Some would call what you do art – who are some of your favourite artists and why?
It is so hard to pick a favourite anything. I recently read an article about these 6 women artists who are all in their 90’s. They had worked their entire lives on their craft, but it wasn’t until they reached at least 70 that they started to get acknowledged for their work – I thought that was wonderful. Carmen Herrera is amazing as is Etel Adnan.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I am going through a super busy period – working on lots of projects in NYC. I am also working on a children’s cook book with a photographer friend of mine which will be really special. I have been going through a weird mood thought – having a bit of an existential crisis! Asking myself what it means to be a creative and am I actually helping anyone. I feel like there has to be something bigger than yourself. I recently started dreaming about becoming a neurosurgeon. I’m really inspired by doctors, lawyers, environmentalist, people who seem like they are a bit more grounded than artists....