New and Noteworthy for the Week of 8/13

In this issue: Toronto, San Diego, Tokyo, London…

070815_umbria_store_torontoF.jpgShop: Toronto’s quirky design lab
With its bold, translucent pink exterior, Umbra, the new flagship store in Toronto for home-design gurus, is hard to miss. Inside the 7,000-square-foot space you’ll find a wide array of fun and affordable products, like cast-metal compass clocks ($55 CAD), nesting salt and pepper shakers ($13.50 CAD), and glossed trash cans ($33 CAD). They’ll also build unique, custom-design furniture for a song.

Play: Vegas without the slots
Nighttime in Vegas can be pretty predictable. Fortunately two new hot spots are set to open at the Luxor over Labor Day weekend. LAX Nightclub is a party post for the jet set, with DJ Vice spinning on the ground floor and upper level lofts for VIPs. Connected through a hidden entrance is Noir Bar, a modern speakeasy with black crocodile chairs and chandeliers — it’s the first lounge on the Strip to offer a private entrance, away from the gaming tables. Perfect for those who break out in a sweat at the mere sound of dice hitting felt.

Eat: Farm fresh New York
Everyone seems to be fussy about fruits and veggies these days. We’d buy them direct every morning from the farmer’s market, if we could. Responding to the Green Need, Laurent Tourondel, of BLT Steak and BLT Fish fame, is opening BLT Market at the posh Ritz-Carlton in New York. The fare will highlight ingredients at peak freshness, like pan-seared striped bass with cranberry bean caponata and stuffed Amish chicken Provençal. Straw-bottomed chairs and sunflowers add a touch of French country flair.

Drink: Soigné in San Diego
Sushi and sake go together like sun and sand, but at Pearl Sushi, Restaurant and Champagne Lounge, a Del Mar newcomer in San Diego, diners are likely to find themselves hitting the gold-hued champagne den after their hamachi tacos. Guests sit on banquettes dressed up in gold fabric underneath chandeliers while sipping $19 glasses of Bollinger SP Cuvée and Pommery Pink Brut Rosé. Purists can get their effervescent kick with Star Rabbit sparkling sake ($20). Remember to raise those pinkies.

Stay: Turning heads in Tokyo
Not since Lost in Translation has a Tokyo hotel aroused so much buzz. The Peninsula Tokyo, located in the ritzy Ginza shopping district, has a museum vibe, with over 1,000 pieces of art on display. The 314 rooms (starting around $500) feature red-lacquered elm desks, portable phones that can serve as your mobile throughout the city, and flat-screen TVs in the bathroom. And like the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, this one also has those clever bedside panels with remote control gizmos that allow you to tweak the room’s ambiance from the comfort of your bed. What more do you want?

See: In London, a fashion-history primer
Contemporary fashionistas might find Christian Dior a tad stuffy, but back in 1947, when the designer assembled his first shocking collection, there was nothing more luxurious than one of his full skirts. The Victoria & Albert’s exhibition, The Golden Age Of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957, captures this fairytale era of opulent design houses, showing off gowns from the likes of big names such as Balenciaga, Givenchy, and Dior. Runs September 22 through January 6.

Alia Akkam