Bettina Krause


Orientalische Oase

Spaciousness, wonderful wellness and all-round relaxed flair: oriental aesthetics meet a great deal of space at the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech. Guests stay in spacious private villas with their own pool or in one of the nine suites overlooking the lush greenery of the elegant surroundings.

This is definitely a place you would want to get lost in: the estate of the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech stretches over 20 hectares (49.4 acres), where winding paths lead through countless flowering gardens, olive groves and fragrant roses to the private villas.

Enter and feel overwhelmed: the large pool, adjoined by a hot tub, is the centrepiece of the open-plan villa area. Around the pool are rows of comfortable daybeds, sofas and armchairs, where you can relax in complete privacy. Sliding doors lead to the spacious living room and bathroom, centrally placed in the 280 square metre (3,014 square feet) villa is the bedroom, which offers its own access to the hot tub. In the large elegant marble bathroom, the vanities, a huge bathtub with whirlpool, the shower, the dressing room and the WC are each separate. In the pleasant African warmth, life takes place mainly outdoors anyway. This is why the outdoor area, bordered by lots of greenery and numerous small garden niches, has another shower, a kitchen and, in addition to the various sunny and shady seating options, a fireplace.

Traditional flair with a modern touch
Aesthetic in every detail, the villas are designed in Moroccan style. The interior of traditional tadelakt motifs, hand-blown vases, fine ceramics and hand-woven woollen carpets is a tribute to the culture and tradition of the country. The ceramic dining tables are made by the Moroccan label Ceramic Loun, whose workshops in the city are open to visitors. Those who prefer more of a hotel feeling instead of their own villa check into one of the nine spectacular suites with panoramic views of the gardens and surrounding landscape.

Pools, palm trees, pleasure
Walking around the grounds of the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech is a pleasure rich in variety: not only are exotic plants in bloom everywhere, but there are also fantastic views over extensive pool landscapes, lush vegetable gardens, secluded areas for sunbathing, shady spots for al fresco dining and a large enclosure where goats and donkeys live, which can be petted and fed. Cats also feel at home on the premises and are treated in a friendly manner, especially Snickers, a cute cat who even has her own Instagram account.

Magical Marrakech
In the far distance, the snow-covered Atlas Mountains stretch out as a breathtaking backdrop, and right next to the hotel, golf enthusiasts get their money’s worth on the 18-hole course. What should not be missed on any visit to Marrakech is a trip to the medina, only a ten-minute drive away – in the hustle and bustle of the narrow streets, you can feel Moroccan life up close and grab unique, handmade souvenirs. A visit to the Jardin Majorelle, considered one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, is also highly recommended. The airport is just 15 minutes away from the hotel and bicycles are available for guests to use throughout their stay.

Variety of delicacies
Back at the Mandarin Oriental from the excursion, guests are greeted by the pleasant calm and serenity of the property and it is time for dinner at one of the four excellent restaurants. Michelin-starred chef Akrame Benallal takes his guests on a world tour of flavours at SHIRVAN, combining Mediterranean, North African and Eastern specialities with Western influences. The restaurant’s interior, inspired by the magnificent mosque in Cordoba and designed by the architect duo Gilles & Boissier is impressive, like the entire property. Every element of the black and white marble mosaic carpet is handmade, wooden bookshelves store trinkets found in the neighbouring souks, the walls are decorated with traditional H’ssira straw panels, and an alley of slender columns evokes Arab-Andalusian architecture.

LING LING, a restaurant with a large outdoor terrace overlooking the picturesque olive groves and pools, serves small Cantonese dishes. The scenery is accompanied by local musicians or the sound concept by DJ Pathaan, who hails from London. At lunchtime, guests can relax while enjoying Mediterranean dishes made from local produce in the open-air Pool Garden. And at sunset, guests enjoy a cocktail at THE TENT overlooking the majestic palm trees. Those who wish even more privacy can book the restaurant team for the villa, cooking in their own outdoor kitchen if desired.

Peace and Wellbeing
Relax at the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech in the award-winning 1,800 square metre (19,375 square feet) spa. Both architecture and ambience are geared towards the senses. Here too, Gilles & Boissier were inspired by the architecture of Andalusia’s cathedrals and mosques. A corridor with seemingly endless arches made of the red bricks typical of Marrakech leads through the spa to the 70 square metre (753 square feet) indoor pool overlooking the gardens. In a relaxation room with a white stucco ceiling and brick fireplace, tea is served before and after treatments. The wellness selection is large: in six treatment rooms, each featuring a vitality bath or its own garden, numerous treatments and treatments inspired by Moroccan traditions can be enjoyed. Two luxurious hammams, the beauty salon, a yoga studio and a modern fitness centre make the all-round wellbeing experience at the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech perfect.

Photos Copyrights: Mandarin Oriental

The artist’s view on himself

Tobias Rehberger’s most personal exhibition in Copenhagen to date shows not only his artworks and snapshots but also objects which he has «amassed» over the years, as he says. But why? He unravels this mystery for us in the interview. 

Stretching over two floors and onto the forecourt of the museum, Tobias Rehberger’s major retrospective «through the back side of my eyes» at Kunstforeningen GL Strand in Copenhagen is on view until 14 January 2024. The artist is considered one of the most influential of his generation and was awarded the Golden Lion at the 53rd Venice Art Biennale. At the centre of his interest is playing with perception and the possibility to see, experience and interpret things in a new and different way.

What can visitors expect to see at your exhibition in Copenhagen?
I decided to exhibit works from the last 30 years. Some of them have been exhibited before, these are all works that I had kept to myself. When you make a series with several works, you keep one or the other for yourself. Since the exhibition is taking place in the large venerable Kunstforeningen GL Strand, which used to be privately used, I liked the idea of doing something «private» as well. I did some research and found no other artists who had undertaken an exhibition of this kind before me: This time, it is about the artist’s view of himself when he selects certain works of his. There are also two other layers in the exhibition. On the one hand, I show things that I have amassed over time that do not constitute art – for example, my collection of cookbooks and my collection of teapots – although I have to say that these are not curated collections, but objects that I found good and therefore amassed. I might want to add that there are photos of me that were not taken to be exhibited, but snapshots just like the ones others take.

And the fourth layer of the exhibition is the artwork in front of the museum?
Yes, outside there is façade work that, in contrast to the «private» inside, has to do with the opposite, namely the public. On the first floor of the building, neon boxes are built into the windows, like neon signs in front of shops. They are connected to a pedestal on the forecourt of the museum where you can log your mobile phone in and play your own music. The light of the neon boxes reacts to this music and in a way plays the music and the light version of the piece of music. So this work lets you turn something private like your own music into something that is publicly visible and audible.

What do the exhibits you have chosen have in common?
There are many different reasons why people keep their own works. Sometimes they are particularly successful works or one feels sorry for a work. What they all hold in common is that as an artist you identify with them in some way – it can also be the slightly weirder works that are not so catchy. There is not the same criterion for everyone. That is why it is so interesting – because it is such an ambiguous mass.

Speaking of the artist’s view of himself that is shown – what do you see when you look at the exhibition?
This very view. What that is, everyone has to find out for themselves. That is why I’m doing it. If I knew it so well myself, I could write it down, but then it would be a boring exhibition. It may also be about things that you don’t really want to know yourself. It’s intimate enough that I show you my view of myself. (laughs)

Seriously, that is true. What is the title of the exhibition «through the back side of my eyes» all about?
It is about this view of oneself, which is different from the view forward. When you look through the back of your eyes, you are also looking at yourself. It is a kind of self-reflection. There is a certain parallelism, because neither do I collect my own work strategically, nor do I collect my teapots strategically. So in this exhibition I deal with art in a different way than I usually show it to the outside world. Outwardly, I curate much more than I have now. Curating would be the front of the eyes. What I show here is much more unstrategically selected. Through the back of the eyes, which is also somewhat blind, I have a more unconscious access.

Exciting! Your work brings art, architecture and design together – what fascinates you about this interplay?
I would like to say I use strategies from other fields like design and architecture but only to find out something for art. Just because I do something with a chair there is no overlap with design – for me it’s always about what that means for the art. What motivates me, for example, is the question of why a chair cannot be a sculpture, why you cannot experience art with your eyes closed, … there are so many things that you are told and that I have also told myself that I suspect are not always true. That is what gets me interested. And my level of suffering is great enough to get up every morning and dive into these questions.

Which idea or project has excited you most recently?
An artist friend of mine, Rirkrit Tiravanija, told me that he wants to build a machine that performs a Japanese tea ceremony. The idea is that you make this absolutely precise ceremony that ideally is the same over and over again, really perfect in a way that is no longer human. The question is whether the tiny differences in human imprecision are not what is actually interesting. One always thinks that precision and perfection are the goal of the tea ceremony. But if you now have a machine that achieves this precision, the idea turns around. The best works of art are the ones  that achieve something like this. Funnily enough, I created some piece of art myself many years ago that dealt with this very question, which is probably why I find it so exciting. I am really looking forward to the work.

Photos Copyrights: Tobias Rehberger, through the back side of my eyes. GL STRAND, 2023. Photo by David Stjernholm, Portrait: SWATCH

Timeless Here and Now

Clarity, contemplation, class – that is what characterises the works of the Belgian designer and architect Vincent van Duysen. The 61-year old designs furniture as well as hotels, stylish offices and rooms for Kim Kardashian.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m interested in the wellbeing of people in general and a general serenity in the world. I would like to contribute something to it. I do that by first understanding how people live in their houses, inhabit their homes, their rooms. I incorporate this knowledge into my work.

Have you always wanted to be an architect?
When I was a child, my parents introduced me to many different forms of art, which was a crucial influence and the foundation of my appreciation and understanding of beauty. They also nurtured a natural talent for creativity in me from an early age. I chose architecture because it covers so many aspects of all applied arts and is therefore an all-round course. But it could also have been photography, cinema, fashion or something similar. Architecture gave and gives me the opportunity to express my creativity in many different ways and thus to contribute to the art of living.

You live and work in Antwerp, what fascinates you about the city?
Antwerp is very cosmopolitan, especially when it comes to arts, craftsmanship and culture. The city offers an enormous range of creative outlets, from theatre to performance, dance, fashion to architecture, involving many people, but in different and unique ways. Antwerp is my home, it influences, ‘contaminates’ me in a way, but at the same time it’s one of my two homes where I can also recharge my batteries and feel protected.

What do you love about your work?
There are many aspects that I like about my job. First, that I work first and foremost for people to improve their lives in organic and timeless ways. I also like the fact that my job gives me the opportunity to nurture my creativity and the ability to respond to change without constraints. I also love absorbing the most diverse disciplines like a sponge. Anything has the potential to inspire me: a documentary on YouTube, a picture of someone I follow on Instagram, a book, an artwork, all kinds of visual stimuli, books, galleries, films… Everything goes through the filter of my empathy and my imagination – and from this I draw and create. But I’m only at my most creative when I’m surrounded by people. I think everyday life, everyday encounters are what inspire me the most. And my travels. And my team!

How do you breathe soul into a room?
Since the beginning of my professional career – 30 years ago now – the most important thing has always been to consider architecture as a profession dedicated to people. This means that residents of a place, a piece of architecture, an interior space, need to feel protected and relaxed. This also applies to the furniture and objects around them that they need for a comfortable and happy life. I bring soul to an environment or space by infusing tactility, timelessness, organics, texture, serenity, comfort, natural materials, light and exquisite craftsmanship.

In such a space, people then feel …?
At home. You feel comfortable, protected, inspired. In my work, the focus is on people. That is why I design or plan primarily for people, for their wellbeing, for their serenity and calm.

Do you have a favourite project from your portfolio?
Each project is different in context, location, connections, use and purpose, making it difficult to prioritise some over others. Also, I always design with a narrative in mind and in that sense my projects are a sequence of a more comprehensive «big picture». Still, there are some key projects that come to mind because you always create an emotional connection – such as Casa M, my holiday home in Portugal.

How do you view the trend towards colour and opulence in interior design?
I don’t follow trends, I always try to be true to myself, putting the customer first and creating spaces, buildings or objects that improve people’s lives.

How do you work best?
My design process never stops, I am always designing in my head – never in front of a ‘blank canvas’. I like to be as observant as possible and have a strong visual approach. I regularly meet with my team and discuss ideas and directions to achieve a shared vision. My ceaseless inspiration comes from travel, conversations, exhibitions, people and everyday life.

What are you currently busy with?
With many projects in parallel… residencies in Asia, Belgium, USA, Berlin, projects for Molteni&C | Dada, Zara Home, Flos, hospitality projects in Portugal, too many. In short, too many to list them all.

Is there a dream come true project besides all this?
Nothing in particular, but in general I want to keep creating and designing new examples of architecture, products and interiors, creating something for humanity in an organic way, creating timeless objects. I want to travel more. To be able to work in countries I haven’t been to. I just hope that we won’t build and produce too much because we have to care about the world and think more in terms of timeless structures and objects. In terms of future endeavours, I generally enjoy seeing each project as an opportunity to try out new or unexpected ideas. I’m always designing in my head. Renewing and developing this common thread that runs through my work again and again is a welcome challenge. I look forward to surprising my clients and bringing a sense of integrity and individuality to every project. At the same time, I want to work with people who challenge me, with whom I have creative chemistry and a strong interaction. I enjoy working with people and clients who push me out of my comfort zone.

“My design process never stops, I am always designing in my head – never in front of a ‘blank canvas’.”

Photos Copyrights: Piet Albert Goethals, Mark Seelen, Alberto Piovano, Hélène Binet,  Max Zambelli, Matthieu Salvaing, Vincent Van Duysen, Koen Van Damme

Dolce Vita in the historic jewel

The gentle hills of Umbria rise between Perugia and Siena, the original landscape radiates a feeling of peace and comfort. Amidst the natural idyll lies Castello di Reschio – a magnificent estate, with a castle from the 10th century in the center captivating everyone’s attention.

From ruins to new splendor
Light-colored, historical stone walls, small turrets and slender, tall cypresses afford the Reschio its distinctive charm of Dolce Vita. The estate’s history is unique: In 1994 Graf Antonio Bolza purchased the 1500 hectare plot to renovate the listed castle and dozens of medieval farmhouses scattered around the grounds of the estate and proceeded to convert them to luxurious villas. Partly designed as a residential property, partly as a holiday home for leasing, each one of the houses built in a traditional Italian design is unique. Tradesmen, stonemasons, blacksmiths, tile manufacturers and restorers from the region breathed new life into the old walls with exceptional skills and a great love of detail.

Customized design
The castle itself is a superlative jewel: For over 25 years the architect Benedikt Bolza has been investing a great deal of effort and verve into the restoration of the building. The 36 very individual design suites in the boutique hotel are constructed in a charming mix of stately-rustic and modern-elegant flair. He designed numerous pieces of furniture, lamps, glasses and wall colors specifically based on an old archetype for the Reschio. Antique objects and opulent works of art were sourced from small antique markets and art exhibitions from all over Italy. The highlight is the 180 square meter Tower Suite, which extends over five storeys of the old tower that dates back centuries, and has two bedrooms and an open air bathtub.

Close to nature
The size of the estate is also breathtaking: A tour of the unique countryside with its hills, meadows, forests and olive groves takes roughly one hour on the e-bike. As well as vegetables, flowers and herbs there are also fruit bushes grown organically in the garden at the Reschio. The yield is served in the Farm-to-Table Restaurant. Olive oil is gained from the olives of over 5000 trees and roughly one million busy bees produce the finest organic Mille Fiori blossom honey. The high-quality wines produced from the estate’s Sangiovese, Ciliegolo, Cesanese and Merlot vines are also exquisite. In addition to activities such as truffle hunting, hiking, swimming in the private lake and cooking courses the Reschio is a paradise for horse lovers: 40 Andalusians – the noble animals have always been regarded as the horses of kings – live on the estate.

Culture and spa
After an excursion to the enchanting cities of Assisi, Arezzo, Siena or Perugia, which are all respectively approximately a one-hour drive from the Reschio, you can relax in the elaborate palm house or in the underground spa area with salt water pool, private rooms and hammam. Approximately 3000 years ago people lived in the area that is today the magnificent estate. An almost magic flair can still be felt today in the old walls. Unlike then however, we experience the Reschio today as a place of rural luxury, which is unparalleled.

Photos Copyrights: Reschio




The estate has an extraordinary charm, which also unfolds in the autumn and winter months. In the heated pool, by the crackling fireside or in the extra large whirlpool at the castle, the hours you spend will be as tranquil as they are inspiring, surrounded by an eclectic collection of excellent design and outlandish art. 

 Exclusivity and art 

There are only six rooms available to book at Castle Elvira – therefore there are at most eleven other guests experiencing the excusive castle experience with you. Castle Elvira was built in the late 18th century and lay vacant for over 100 years before Steve Riseley and Harvey B-Brown purchased the historic building on the 37 hectare estate. The architects preserved the original, authentic flair of the castle during its renovation and added design details from the 20th century, eclectic interior design and modern technology. Particular attention was given to the carefully curated art works – including a selection of works by Riseley’s husband and artist, Harvey B-Brown.

Fairytale flair  

Befitting any fairytale castle, Castle Elvira is enveloped in a tragic legend: Elvira is supposed to have been the name of a young, dreamy girl from Naples, whose affluent parents gave their only daughter the enchanting castle on her 17th birthday as a gift. To celebrate this, there was to be a banquet for which Elvira went out to gather mushrooms. As she accidently found poisonous mushrooms instead of porcini mushrooms, Elvira died, the inconsolable parents fled from the castle never to return. We can only assume the real reason that the stately property remained abandoned for a century – as in every good fairytale there is also a happy end for Castle Elvira: The castle was renovated with love by a new owner and the magic of Elvira’s contented spirit is tangible until this day in every room. 

Exquisite cuisine

The castle restaurant serves delicacies: The chef, Fabiana, comes from Salento – her passion is focused on traditional Cucina Salentina – and she refines her daily menus with citrus fruits, pomegranates and fresh herbs from the castle garden. She prefers to use seasonal, local produce for her classical Apulian cuisine. The dishes are served in the two generous dining halls; the hotel also has a piano room with bar, two lounges, a cinema and a business suite. There is an air of romance on the large rooftop terrace of the castle: It is the perfect place to gaze at spectacular sunsets and the view of the splendid park landscape with its lemon and olive groves is indeed fabulous.

The castle was renovated carefully after slowly deteriorating for a century. The unique ceramic tiles on the floor bear testimony to the history of the location.

 A place of tranquility: The aperitif is served every day on the rooftop terrace, from this location your view opens out on the huge park landscape surrounding the castle. 

The mixture of antique and modern designer furniture, the stylish, opulent interior and the atmospheric lighting, which unite to create the luxurious atmosphere, has been hand-picked.

 The temperatures in Apulia rarely drop below 10 degrees, with a little luck the air warms and it is pleasantly spring like. And if a thin layer of snow does happen to cover the landscape, you can relish the time in the warm pool, by the fireside or in the free-standing bathtub.

Not only the castle is enchanting – but also the art in Castle Elvira attracts a high degree of attention. The artist Harvey-B-Brown works in his atelier in the castle and is inspired by the magical flair surrounding him.

The ultimate luxury experience: A few kilometers from Lecce in Apulia, the exclusive and design-focused estate, Castle Elvira, welcomes its guests.

Photos Copyrights: Castle Elvira

Photos Copyrights: Castle Elvira

The Poetry of Fragmentation

Wallace Chan at the Biennale Arte in Venice

Whether he is creating intricate, opulent jewelry with precious gemstones or monumental sculptures made of titanium – the works of the Chinese artist Wallace Chan always convey his Buddhist philosophy. His exhibition “TOTEM“ can currently be seen at the 59th Biennale Arte in Venice. We met him in the city of the lagoons for an exclusive interview. 

Bettina Krause (BK): What is the concept behind this exhibition?
Wallace Chan: Visitors are invited to move through fragments of a ten meter high sculpture. The theme is uncertainty – in the darkened exhibition room it is difficult to ascertain how the fragments can be reassembled. Generally we look at sculptures as a whole from a distance, we move around them and the inside remains concealed. I wanted to open up this idea, so the observer can see the inside of the sculpture and become a part of it. They move through the fragments, which I call Totems, form a bond with them and acquire surprising, uncertain perspectives again and again.

Has this concept become a symbol of our world order?
Correct. We are currently living in extremely uncertain times but it is my hope that the fragments of the sculpture – and of our world – can be pieced together again to form an intact whole. So that the process of construction, deconstruction and reconstruction become complete.

So are you optimistic about the future?
At the moment our world is waiting to be repaired again. I believe that the world and we as people have the strength to heal ourselves. However, we have to work at it. The exhibition is a symbol of these connections and is deconstructed and reconstructed at different locations worldwide. In its current state it is reminiscent of strength and the possibility to heal and find balance again.

What does the title “TOTEM“ express?
The concept of a Totem is our attempt as people to establish a connection with the unknown. It is simultaneously our hope for something greater outside our reality. My earliest childhood memories include artistic carvings of dragons, phoenix and wondrous creatures at Chinese temples. The belief is that we are connected to the Gods because the figures are carved in the temples. The idea of the Totem is our attempt to enter a world that is unknown to us, to enter the uncertain.

What can visitors take with them from the exhibition?
The objective is to reflect on the process of deconstruction and reconstruction of ourselves: What is our self? What makes us what we are? Are we the person we seem to believe or are we beings formed by society? We live in a time of information overload and are bombarded with information. Sometimes we think it is a part of us because we absorb the information unfiltered without reflecting on our own existence. I think this is a good place for contemplation and to reflect on the idea of our own self – where it originates and where it goes.

Can art contribute to overcoming the crises of our time?
Yes, because art has the power to help us to transcend. Whatever we are currently experiencing in the physical world – it gives us the possibility to dream of a better, higher, more beautiful world full of good. I believe in the power of art and I cannot imagine a world without it. Without art there is no hope. 

TOTEM by Wallace Chan
April 20th – Oktober 23rd, 2022
Fondaco Marcello
Calle del Tragheto, Venedig

Photos Copyrights:  Massimo Pistore

Spa in a class of its own

Five-Star Spa Hotel in the Volcanic Landscape of Iceland

Moss-covered plains, hot springs and rugged earth – the terrain in Reykjanes, a peninsula in the southwest of Iceland, is as rustic as it is exceptional. Situated in the middle of an 800 year old lava field, the five-star luxury hotel “The Retreat Blue Lagoon Iceland“ celebrates its proximity to nature just as much as its promise of ultimate pleasure and comfort. 

The view of the bizarre and impressive landscape from 62 minimalistically designed suites at the Blue Lagoon can only be described as breathtaking. There is no need for a television in the rooms. When constructing the retreat the Basalt Architects were guided by the natural lava formations found there and consistently adapted their designs to the original landscape. “Nature was the guideline. We often felt that every location was a game of chance“, says Sigríður Sigþórsdóttir, founder of Basalt Architects. The architects were also inspired by nature when designing the exclusive interior. The atmospheric 40 to 200 square meter suites radiate authenticity and peace to the same degree as safety and warmth. From nest-like armchairs and smooth bed linen to afternoon tea in the lounge or the excellent service – the hotel diffuses an overall feeling of well-being.

Exclusive Private Lagoon

The highlight when staying at the Blue Lagoon Hotel is the spacious, subterranean spa area with its dark walls of lava stone that emits a deep sense of being connected to nature. In the blue lagoon the 35 to 40 degree warm and up to 1.40 meter deep water shimmers with a bluish light. The lagoon, which lends the hotel its name, was formed near to the Svartsengi volcano from geothermal seawater; which not only feels soothing due to its high salt and mineral content – it actually has a healing effect. The Blue Lagoon ritual pampers, cleanses and rejuvenates the body with silica sand, algae and minerals. The in-water massages are also a unique, revitalizing experience. Those seeking seclusion can book the private Lava Cove, optionally with butler and private chef. The features of this splendid suite include a private 35 square meter lagoon with terrace and fireplace – heavenly peace inclusive.

Dining on the Lava Cliff

The view of the exceptional volcanic landscape and the nuances of the moss-covered expanses that change with the weather conditions is not the only highlight when dining in the evening at the Moss Restaurant. The exquisite delicacies on the plate are also inspired by the Icelandic mountains, fields,
rivers and the sea. The chef’s table gourmet dinner comprises of 7-courses of fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, served on the massive lava stone table. When you visit the Blue Lagoon Hotel time seems to stand still for a while. The closeness of the fascinating natural beauty is ever-present: The view from the hotel terrace of the bewitching color spectacle of the Northern Lights in Iceland is unforgettable.

Photos Copyrights: The retreat at the Blue Lagoon Iceland