Man of the Andes
Mark McMenamin -- Interior Design, 8/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
Jiun Ho packs a suitcase at least once a month, usually for business. Off the clock, he and a friend traveled through South America for three and a half weeks. On the five-hour drive to Torres del Paine in Chile, the Malaysian-born San Francisco designer paused at the area's national park, where the sky, mountains, water, and pampas blurred into a "magnificent painting. . . beyond words," he wrote in his journal. Still, he managed a few more: "How can I translate this scenery into my textiles, bedding, and carpet? How can I use those colors?" He may resist, but flashes of obsession persist. And that's exactly the point.
He was so smitten with the view of the Andes from his hotel room that he spent most of his time in Chile hiking. A 7 ½-mile excursion led to a ravine, Quebrada la Feria, and the Sierra del Toro heights. On the Aonikenk trail, he spotted rock paintings, mating guanacos, and a hiding puma. Christmas featured a pisco sour with 100-year-old glacier ice. "You will never want to go back to regular ice cubes," he wrote.
In Buenos Aires, he sampled tango shows and legendary steaks. He remembers Brazil, ironically, for "one of the best Italian meals I've ever had"—at São Paulo's Hotel Fasano by Isay Weinfeld and Marcio Kogan. "The interior will take your breath away," Ho adds. Evidently, obsession doesn't break for dinner.