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A Timeless Ritual with Amore Pacific | Jeju Island, Korea

Any time someone throws the age-old question of what my skin routine is on social media, my reply had always been ‘foundation and Photoshop*’. More and more so I’m starting to realise that it’s one of those stupid answers, like saying ‘I’m in shape, round is a shape’. One that warrants ‘yeah… not really funny, sis‘ from my bro. As a South Korean, the topic of Korean beauty is popularly thrown into interview questions, one that stumps me entirely – because as someone who grew up in Europe and regularly gets into punch-fights with eczema, beauty alone is still a topic that scares me. Wherever’s it’s from. I don’t have a regime, let alone one rule I can stick by. Every other day my skin wages a coup d’état.

The one thing I do know, and not to sound like my mum, or Christina Aguilera circa Dirrty years, is that beauty comes from within. No matter what you put on your skin, if you eat crap, your skin will be crap – if not now then later. I learnt this the hard way. Kids, eczema truly sucks balls. Korean Beauty apparently boils down to this somewhat corny ideology – healthy, transparent skin that no diamond cream can buy, only a very specific (borderline anal) lifestyle. Put aside all whitening and cosmetic surgery taboos, that’s what drives the industry forward, products that are based on eradicating irritants and championing botanical active ingredients. Make-up is almost an afterthought.

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Jacket – Pinko. Jumpsuit – Mango. Boots – Stuart Weitzman. Bag – Gucci.

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AMOREPACIFIC is one of those S.Korean beauty giants, and their unsung hero? Green tea. Now, I am a coffee-lover who thinks green tea tastes like warmed-up pond water. I am however also someone who eats dollar-store sweets and calls it dinner and therefore should really shut up and get with the program. The Timeless Ritual program – to be precise – which launched the new anti-ageing line TIMLESS RESPONSE in Jeju, a volcanic island just off the Southern coast of the Korean peninsula. One hour from Seoul, 14 hours from London. Timed exactly in the window when the first green tea leaves sprout, the purest and most potent harvest – traditionally worth its weight in gold and main active ingredient of the line.

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Instagram @parkncube

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The first day – detoxing by way of nature, yoga (first time for me, if you can believe) and one of the most invigorating facial massages I’ve ever experienced. The second and final day, restoring through education and experience (a bit of re-toxing on my part with stolen coffee). Turns out I’d been brewing green tea the wrong way my entire life – over-brewing to the point of it tasting like expired spinach water. Hot – but not boiling – water, and 1-2 minutes infusion makes liquid gold – I was sold. I might also consider not putting frozen fish finger-equivalent on my skin, afterall. Stay tuned for a progress-report!

* sadly I do have to resort to light retouching when the going gets rough and I still want to run this blog, a bit of transparency that I hope you’ll understand.


Park & Cube was a guest of AMOREPACIFIC 너무 즐거웠어요, 감사합니다 :)

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Top – Zara. Skirt – H&M

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Cape – ASOS. Jeans – Frame Denim. Bag – Chloe. Boots – Tibi. Sunnies – Madewell. Watch - Larsson & Jennings

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3 Favourite Work Spots
in Warsaw

‘Thank you for your message, I am currently Out of Office stuffing myself with homemade cake and watching endless Korean TV with my parents. For urgent issues, please take a number and divide it by ZERO.’ Trips to Warsaw are never classed as work in my book, even if for genuine business purposes. This is one place in the world I will always consider as childhood playground, home sweet home, and at times, exciting new horizons. So, even as I lug a buttload of work and deadlines from London, in my mind I am absolutely, completely Out of Office.

In time, handy little gadgets like this HP Stream with Intel Inside® tablet snuck their way into my occasional Warsaw stints, and every time I find myself venturing a little further from home to find a happy place to work from. Anywhere with coffee and wi-fi, initially, but we all know a bit of zing goes a long way (McZing sold out since the dawn of hipster cafes). Many a local was consulted – particularly The Styledigger, my resident yellow pages since her days in Krakow – to narrow down three great spots to work in town:

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1/ Charlotte – chleb i wino
aleja Wyzwolenia 18, warsaw | bistrocharlotte.com

‘Bread and Wine’, a more-than-attractive sign-off of a trendy yet-slightly-rough-around-the-edges bistro at the Southern cusp of Warsaw centrum – one haven that I frequent whenever I’m back in town. Open from 7am, the premise is thick with the smell of fresh-baked leaven bread – plain or garnished with raisins – heroes of town. Keep an eye out for the pots of conserve, chocolate spread and lavender honey that accompanies the bread basket, for the jars are deep and the contents are finger-lickin’ good. A great place to catch up with emails, or wind down after a day – free wifi, of course. I do suggest keeping your tech gear minimal, because after a glass of wine you’ll suddenly be speaking Polish and making friends.

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Blazer - Max Mara. Skirt – YesStyle. Shoes – Aquazzura (similar). Bag – Gucci Soho

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2/ Museum of the History of Polish Jews
ul. Warecka 4/6 , warsaw | polin.pl

An important visit, if not mandatory – especially if a visit to Krakow is not yet on your itinerary. Highly educating and inspiring – a great place to work and find food for thought. Food for stomach too, in the cafe at the heart of the building.

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3/ eMeSeN
ul. panska 3,warsaw | emesen.pl

Short for MSN, or Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej – not the chat application of adolescent heydays although eerily exciting in similar measure. Relatively new to the block and a rather balancing presence to Warsaw’s ‘golden’ mall a few doors down, the Modern Arts Museum houses a café-cum-foyer that sports a tasteful selection of design books and comfortable chairs/stools to work on. I’d only recently discovered it, but found myself returning more frequently than the usual spots. Free wi-fi, decent coffee, and lots of good distractions.

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Speaking of gadgets, the HP Stream is a new kind of tablet with built-in Intel Inside® Processor, which means ‘fast’ for those who, like me, only speak colouring book. I picked it up because it was kind to 1) my wallet and 2) my bag – at a size just large enough to fit in one hand, and thus inside one of those mini-bags that make you suddenly proud of a questionable skill of editing your life down to a matter of a few essential belongings. Nevermind of course, the mess of an inbox – if it fits inside a Gucci Soho, it ships. Lastly because, 3) it runs on Windows 8.1 – which might come as a surprise to some given my profession as a graphic designer, but yes, I am a PC. And guess what, since we’re sharing secrets, I eat pizzas backwards. Now what.

In collaboration with HP & Intel. All views and opinion my own.

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Kempinski
Soma Bay, Egypt | www.somabay.com/

Roadside Soma Bay is the postcard Egypt I have in my head as we near the end of the 45-minute transfer from the airport: sand, more sand and a camel-like creature in the distance that perhaps also is actually just a clump of sand. Abi, Carrie and I spill out onto the doorstep of La Résidence des Cascades, atop our bikinis-and-GoPro-laden luggage and realise, that we’ve possibly spent a little too long in that van (which was air-conditioned, if I’m not wrong) and ended up imagining one collective oasis.

Two nights later we have the exact same occurrence, except this time at the doorstep of Hotel Kempinski, two minutes down the Soma Bay strip on the shuttle and thirty minutes since a glorious buffet breakfast. Surely that isn’t enough time to cook up a heat-stroke? Here, the oasis is quite literal, complete with: a myriad of swimming pools, lagoons, bridges over lazy (swimmable!) rivers and a herd of gazelles by the watering hole (may or may not have been a water-acrobatics class…). It was clear, the five hotels of the Soma Bay  were gatekeepers of the amazing technicolour dream-coast, only accessible through a hotel lobby of sorts. The Kempinski ‘gate’ boasts a rather theatrical mix of Moorish fortress interiors with a tinge of influence from the East, with the unquestionable white Egyptian sun streaming through the dark wood lattice.

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Dress and straw bag – H&M. Fedora – Hoss Intropia.

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Sunglasses – Westward Leaning. Roll-on fragrance – Bjork & Berries. Phonecase – Casetify. Rings – Monica Vinader.

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The rooms are sufficient, decorated with familiar time-honoured ‘luxury’, with mint-blue soft-furnishing that cools the overall orange tones of the wood and tiles. Abi and I unlatch the door that divides the two rooms and I use her terrace door as a shortcut to the beach for the next two days. The real luxury of Soma Bay, I feel, is the bespoke nature of setting the day’s pace at your will. A slow morning by Kempinski’s white beach followed by adrenalin-fuelled kite-surfing afternoon at The Kite House, and star-gazing at the Cascades golf course – all five-minute shuttle-rides away. In fact, water sports at Soma Bay is reason I’d return in the future, the waves reportedly best quality in the region. For now, I am content riding a strawberry margherita wave on the sky bar singing surfbort, surfbort while watching the experts flaunt at sea.

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Great for: Couples. Fly & Flop with room for impromptu change in lifestyle (i.e couch potato to potential surfboard spud). Snorkelling in the Red Sea is interesting too, but watch out for sea urchins.

Park & Cube was a guest of Soma Bay, all views and opinions are my own.

Scarf worn as dress – Nazanin Rose Matin.

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Bikini-top – Victoria’s Secret. Straw bag – H&M Home. Paleo – Tallulah & Hope. Necklace – Monica Vinader

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La RÉsidence des Cascades
Soma Bay, Egypt | www.somabay.com/

“Well this is perfect”, I said – the minute we stepped into Soma Bay’s La Résidence des Cascades lobby – in a voice best sounding like my father. Then I gave my apple-scented e-cigarette a long drag and tottered around patting my beer belly. You see, my father’s a classic Korean middle-aged man who keeps an emergency golf club in his trunk – not for roadside mischief or helping the neighbour’s boy retrieve his basketball from under the car – but for practicing his downswings in the car park before the next meeting. One of the larger hotels on the Soma Bay strip, the Cascades, in its terracotta-orange walls and latticed-corridor goodness overlooks a vast 18-hole par-72 championship golf course. It’s dad heaven. Don’t ask me what those numbers mean because for the past fifteen years I’ve waved off golf lessons for club sandwiches.

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Top – Mango. Leather shorts – H&M. Bag – L.K.Bennett Rosamund. Watch - Larsson & Jennings. Rings – Monica Vinader.

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It’s a classic fly-and-flop destination, especially when drab-coloured midwinter skies of London is your origin and a fiery red sunset is the destination. For those who, like me, think ‘18-hole’ is something to do with a nice big donut, will probably choose to appreciate the abundant Egyptian sun, Red-by-name-but-very-blue Sea, and a rather vigorous (?) dip in the Thalasso-tonic Hydrotherapy pool. Also if you’re travelling with buddies like Carrie and Abi you may end up spending the whole afternoon horsing off in the pool with the entire hotel’s balconies as audience…

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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Thalasso-tonic Hydrotherapy pool containing 830 m3 of sea water

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Great for: family fun, golfing, and overflowing breakfast buffet.

Park & Cube was a guest of Soma Bay, all views and opinions are my own.

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Hat - Hoss Intropia. Top – American Apparel. Floral shirt – Zara shirt worn as skirt.

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Sleeping is just time travel to breakfast = yes/no?

Let’s say yes. Not because it’s the correct answer (it is), but for part two of Winter Tale with Cartier, I envisioned a sunny morning of Christmas Day, crisp winter breeze cutting through a crack in the window letting this cynic-turned-Christmas-Elf know that the breakfast she’s about to wake up to is extra special. Nevermind the gifts, for now, it’s the fact that today, the members that have gathered to celebrate with you have nothing else on their itineraries. No meetings, no computers, no phones. All replaced by whim, tradition, and a good dose of ambling in between.

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Sweater – H&M. All jewellery - Cartier ‘Juste un Clou’

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Even as a innate sceptic I’ve always loved Christmas mornings: waking up to the smell of my mother cooking Korean food, and my father cleaning out the car – some years there would be fluffy snow, some years not – and a huge, hearty breakfast, served on the big wooden table in the kitchen as to accommodate for quick exit so that we can load up and make it to church on time. Gifts were usually exchanged in the evening over fruit and dessert, and since for some unknown reason we had stopped putting up a tree since around year 2000 (them Y2K silver tinsels didn’t do anyone any good), gifts would appear out of nowhere. And every year we’d discover, that mother hiding gifts in the fridge, inside what looked like kimchi containers, is the work of a true artist.

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While unfortunately I will not be joining my family this year, I will be rockin’ around the…  Aloe Vera tree with the hubby and bringing a bit of my own tradition from home. I may however, be forced to re-think the gifts-in-kimchee-container tactic unless I want to spend Christmas in A&E with the hubby choking on a Grooming kit because I GUARANTEE HE WILL TRY TO EAT IT IF IT’S IN THE FRIDGE.

I’m not signing off just yet, but I wish you all the magic and happiness over the holidays, and who knows, maybe a red box from the sky? Pray the cubs are playing rough this year.

And to all my fellow cynics out there: have a whiskey, open a gift or two. Relax.

In collaboation with Cartier. (Read Part 1 here) Art Direction – Park & Cube. Photography – KrisAtomic. Location – Blake’s Hotel

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