My Favourite Things

founder of the Lon­don-based ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­ri­ors firm De­sign Haus Lib­erty, talks about the buzz of New York, French bistro fare, and the view of the Bospho­rus from the Çi­ragˇan Palace Kempin­ski Is­tan­bul

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Dara Huang on the buzz of New York, French bistro fare, and the view at the Çi­ragˇan Palace Kempin­ski in Is­tan­bul

Favourite city?

Prob­a­bly New York, be­cause it’s got so much en­ergy. I love be­ing in buzzy places that have a great mix­ture of au­then­tic­ity and de­li­cious food. I’m an Amer­i­can liv­ing in Lon­don so New York is like home, but we’re just open­ing a Hong Kong of­fice right now so I’m liv­ing in be­tween Lon­don and Hong Kong. The key to call­ing any­where “home” is hav­ing friends and fam­ily to make you feel wel­come.

Favourite ho­tel?

It de­pends on my mood but I loved the Çi­ragˇan Palace Kempin­ski Is­tan­bul—not so much for the decor, but for the view from the ter­race of the water­front pool and yachts on the Bospho­rus. That be­ing said, fresh food, a beau­ti­ful set­ting and sun usu­ally do it for me. I also like any of the ho­tels around Lake Como, and the Ho­tel Plaza Athénée in Paris.

Favourite books?

I like non-fic­tion. An en­tre­pre­neur rec­om­mended The Richer Way by Ju­lian Richer, and Shoe Dog: A Mem­oir by the Cre­ator of Nike by Phil Knight.

Favourite mu­se­ums?

I love the Tate Mod­ern in Lon­don and ac­tu­ally helped to de­sign the new build­ing. How­ever, I pre­fer the old one, with its invit­ing slop­ing floors where peo­ple sat just like they would on a lawn. The awe­some­ness of this space re­ally is so pow­er­ful—even when it’s empty.

Favourite restau­rants?

Le Petite Mai­son is my favourite restau­rant in Lon­don. The food is de­li­cious, the at­mos­phere is friendly and it’s al­ways buzzing. Even though get­ting a reser­va­tion takes time, and it’s filled with celebri­ties, the at­mos­phere is com­fort­able and ca­sual; no one comes here to show off. It’s also a great place for a date.

Favourite artists?

I love so many artists, but Jean-Michel Basquiat’s art­work is se­ri­ously amaz­ing and in­cred­i­bly mov­ing. Re­cently I was given a book of his paint­ings, with ac­com­pa­ny­ing po­ems by Maya An­gelou. Like many artists that have moved and touched us, his life was tragic and ended too soon. I won­der if suf­fer­ing is cen­tral to the creative urge.

Favourite hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion?

I’m about to go to Italy’s Amalfi Coast, which I’ve heard is very hard to beat. In gen­eral, I’m con­tent wher­ever there is sun, scenic wa­ter views and ex­cel­lent food.

SPICE OF LIFE Clock­wise from left: Dara Huang; the Tate Mod­ern in Lon­don; and the Çi­rağan Palace Kempin­ski Is­tan­bul

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