Insiders

Indagare Insider: Dina De Luca Chartouni

A born and bred New Yorker, Dina De Luca Chartouni's keen eye for design has distinctly shaped her career. With a creative background in film and television production, Dina has been the owner and design director of the storied Lowell Hotel on New York's Upper East Side for over 30 years and the head of her own brand of bath and beauty products, DDC28. This year, she oversaw a major refresh of the hotel, combining the property's classic elegance with modern glamour, and launched the hotel's Majorelle restaurant, The Club Room and Jacques Bar. Here, the sophisticated aesthete and globetrotter speaks to Indagare about the inspiration behind The Lowell's design, her favorite spots on the Upper East Side and where she loves to shop abroad.

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Related: Dining Spotlight: New York's Upper East Side

What are the inspirations behind your designs at The Lowell and what makes it unique? I draw inspiration from many different sources, but everything I do must be visually appealing in a timeless way. The pedigree of The Lowell sets it apart. It was built in 1927 and has continually operated in one of the world’s most competitive markets without being part of a chain. Its soul and character have evolved with time, yet it has always juxtaposed elegance and luxury with coziness.

Related: Top Tables New York

Tell us about the inspiration behind your bath and beauty brand, DDC28.

I was looking for new bath amenities to replace the brand The Lowell had been using for many years, and an Italian friend who is a global branding guru suggested that I create my own product. I worked with the perfumer Christophe Laudamie to create a unique scent, designed containers that were elegant and simple to use and sketched the logo: a figure propelling forward with arms reaching backwards and face lifted to the sky. I wanted the symbol to embody the brand and evoke a sense of energy and exaltation. Besides beauty and bath products, I have also started a minibar line of DDC28 snacks coming this fall.

Which cities or countries inspire you the most? The country that inspires me the most is Italy. Coming from four Italian grandparents, I feel at home there. The Italian color palette, the art and the architecture all play to my senses and align with my tastes.

Related: Why We Love Italy

Outdoor lounge at JK Place in Capri JK Place, Capri

What is your favorite hotel for an escape? My favorite hotel for an escape is JK Capri. It is my home away from home! I feel like I leave a bit of my heart there every time I depart. I also love Castiglion del Bosco in Montalcino, Italy and Bait Ali Lodge in Wadi Rum, Jordan (baitali.com)

Related: The Shopping Guide: Marrakech

5 colorfully patterned cups at Chabi Chic in Marrakech Morocco Chabi Chic, Marrakech

What is your favorite thing to shop for abroad?  In Morocco, I love shopping for textiles and ceramics, and in Egypt, I found antique pillows and blankets in highly detailed patterns. When I am in Italy, I shop for clothes and shoes, and in the south of the country, I buy ceramics and linens for the house.

Field of purple flowers in The Cotswolds The Cotswolds, Courtesy Mike Kipling

What is your favorite travel ritual? I love to surrender to the rhythm of the place that I am visiting. Some of my favorite rituals are drinking rosé at lunch in the South of France, indulging in the aperitivo hour in Italy, having afternoon tea in London and taking an early morning walk in the English countryside.

How has Indagare changed the way you travel?   The Indagare website is where I start my research for a trip. It acts as a Bible for me, and I trust the information completely. If I have been recommended a hotel or place to visit, I always cross reference it with the Indagare site, and if I don't find it listed there, I don't go!

Name a book or film that inspires you to travel. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.

Dining room at Majorelle restaurant in New York City Majorelle, courtesy Elizabeth Lippman

What are your favorite restaurants on the Upper East Side?  Le BilboquetMajorelleJacques Bar and Sette Mezzo.

Related: Top Tables Provence

Pizza Brun in Provence France Pizza Brun

Name your most memorable meal while traveling. Where were you and what did you eat? A meal that stands out is one my sons and I had while on a bike trip through Provence. In the tiny town of Paradou we ate at Pizza Brun (lefooding.com), a charming local restaurant with the most delicious thin crust pizzas that were light as a feather and topped with locally grown vegetables. These heavenly pizzas were accompanied by a local rosé served at the perfect temperature. Just thinking about this meal makes me swoon!

Read more interviews with Indagare's insiders.

Published onSeptember 7, 2017

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