Friday, 6 December 2013

Black and Blue

I love this season's fashion trend for all things black and blue. So much so, that this is the invite I designed for our studio christmas party. The black silhouette is from a photograph I took of the Brighton Pavilion.
By coincidence COS launched these carrier bags at the weekend.
I remember a rhyme from when I was  young…"black and blue will never do" - just goes to show, rules are made to be broken.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Paul Smith at the Design Museum

Yesterday I went to the Paul Smith exhibition at the Design Museum. It was a bit surreal, as when I turned into the room that represents his office, there he was and he said hello! His assistant and press officer were there too, and they said they found it all a bit strange as the layout was exactly like their real place of work.
It's an interesting exhibition with lots to look at and you get a real feel for him and his business. The best part of the exhibition for me, is a film that captures the day of his Menswear S/S 2014 fashion show in Paris.
In the film he is talking about his brand and the fact that it is all about colour. He says "there is COLOUR and there is colour", and it's as much about a light navy and a dark navy, as lots of colour; that has real resonance for me.
The exhibition runs until 9th March 2014.  

Monday, 4 November 2013

Merchant & Mills - a maker's paradise

During the week I am a designer, but on the weekend I'm a maker. So it was wonderful to visit the Merchant and Mills shop in Rye - this really is a maker's paradise.
An emporium of everything to do with sewing from patterns and fabrics, through to all sorts of notions. Merchant and Mills is the creation of Carolyn Denham and Roderick Field. Carolyn is the maker, responsible for the patterns and sewing side, while Roderick is the graphic designer responsible for the  packaging and stationary.

As you can see from the photographs the store is beautifully considered, as is the Merchant and Mills website and online store. On the website they also have a great video about their enterprise see here.
So what did I buy? …. all sorts of hardware for my bag making, a super sharp awl, more tailor's chalk…. but best of all their Maker's Journal. This is fabulous, it's a note book that concertinas out. The beauty of this is that you can add fabrics and things without it bulging to one side. Also you can view all of the contents at once. I'll be using my Journal for my next big personal project - designing my new flat!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Carréducker Bespoke Shoes

I've just completed a course in making handmade bespoke shoes with Carréducker. It was an intense two week course, where Deborah Carré and James Ducker taught me everything I need to know to make my own shoes. Back in July I spotted a small article in Elle Decoration about the course, and that I could see Carréducker shoes in Gieves & Hawkes. So I visited Gieves & Hawkes in Saville Row to see the shoes and while I was there, I was allowed downstairs to the workrooms, to see where the shoes are made for their clients. I then arranged to visit their studio at Cockpit Arts near Holborn (see below) - I was hooked.
I decided "in for a penny, in for a pound" and ordered my own bespoke laste, as I knew I would want to make more than one pair. I chose a pointy toe which is more my style at the moment and the last can be slightly reshaped if I wish at a later date.
I had chosen to do the course because I make my own clothes and some accessories, but I've never made my own shoes. I was warned by Deborah that it would be really hard work and it would ruin my hands - and she wasn't wrong!
There were three of us on the course, where we learned something like 200 procedures including  hand-stitching the layers of leather sole with our own twisted hemp threads. You can read more about the course here. It was very tiring but by the final day, I really didn't want to leave. Hand stitching shoes is very therapeutic and at the end you have something so unique to you. I feel very privileged to have had this opportunity - absolutely the highlight of my year! 
Polishing up the almost finished shoes.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

London Design Week

 Things I loved at last week's design shows.......
Louise Wilkinson's exquisitely naive fine bone china at Tent

these wonderfully considered utility products from Turner and Harper at Design Junction

and the beautiful upholstery fabrics from Eleanor Pritchard, also at Design Junction

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Farrow & Ball new colours

I recently attended the launch of Farrow & Ball's new colours, pictured here are my two favourites"Mole's Breadth" above, and "Stiffkey Blue" below.

World Interior News asked me to write up my take on all the new colours - you can read it here:-

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A recent photo shoot

I've just done a photo shoot of some of my recent interiors, with photographer Leigh Simpson. I love working with Leigh because I have an excuse to play around with the styling, as he likes to shoot the detail as much as the overall interior.
These pictures are from two kitchens I've worked on for male clients. I find that men like very functional kitchens with lots of clean lines; my female clients prefer a softer look; so plenty of scope for styling these photos. With this grey kitchen I thought the deep mauves of figs, aubergines and beetroot would work well.
The client for this white kitchen, wanted an uncluttered look with no visible electrical sockets or appliances, with the exception of the minimal hob and oven - so here I've added textural leaves.

But this is my favourite; I like the earthiness of these potatoes and mushrooms against the sleekness of the straight clinical lines.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

A life less ordinary

One of my favourite shops in Brighton is the i gigi General Store. So when the owner's Zoe Ellison and Alex Legendre bought out their book, a life less ordinary, I just had to get a copy.
It is full of beautiful images from their store, homes and personal inspiration. The store opened 10 years ago, and it's interior and products have always concentrated on an intense neutral colour palette. There is always a wonderful mix of old and new, lots of layering of texture and colour levels.
As Zoe and Alex say in the book "We love to reclaim old things and put them in a modern space. Such places offer a story and a history, and bring a sense of individuality." It is interesting to see how this has translated through into their own homes. Very inspirational!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Wabi Sabi

I really love this summer's trend for all things Wabi Sabi, from the beautiful Miu Miu coat above, styled and photographed by Damian Foxe, to my favourite scarf of the moment below -
the fabric for this came from The Cloth House in Soho. The term Wabi Sabi refers to the Japanese aesthetic of finding beauty in imperfection, but to me the rawness and simplicity of these print effects are perfect. The trend is as strong in interior design as fashion, with these great wallpapers from Harlequin

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Brighton Festival

All this week I've been watching as Brighton's Clocktower gets shrouded in mens shirts. To begin with I wasn't convinced! However as it neared completion, I started to see the graduation of colours from dark to light, with some sections depicting seascapes.
Then I poped into Fabrica to see The Blue Route, and saw this incredible instalation, now I understand what's going on. Kaarina Kaikkonen, the artist, has been commissioned as part of Brighton Festival 2013 to create these artworks. The installations are assembled from second-hand shirts, donated by Brighton & Hove residents, which will in turn be donated to Oxfam when the exhibition finishes.
  Kaarina uses simple everyday objects to create large scale installations that articulate the architectural or open spaces in which her work is sited - 'A shirt is the closest to the heart, so that is why I use shirts. The person is there'. Well I think this is magical!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Deceptively modern wallpapers

I've been sourcing wallpapers for a regency property in Brighton and came accross the Little Greene wallpapers reproduced from historical archives. A lot of their papers originate from actual London addresses as with the one above from St James Place. 
This 18th Century design looks surprisingly contempory when reworked into Little Greene's colours. However property I'm working on dates from 1825, so this design is a little early.
According to Little Greene the 1800's was a key period in the evolution of wallpaper production. During this century the introduction of continuous paper reels (from France), and subsequently roller-printing in 1840, replaced the widespread, artisan technique by which individual rolls (called 'pieces' measuring 12 yards x 23 inches) were printed by hand.
Little Greenes 19th Century designs include patterns from Japan, where printing methods had evolved in a similar way to those in the west. I love this design 'Pines' - the wonderful ombre effect of the folliage seems so right for now.
Little Green suggest coordinating this design with the following colours from their paint range -    Normandy Grey, Stone - mid cool, and Fray

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Faded Glamour; this season's colours.

Harpers Bazaar's "A Moment In Time" photographed by Yelena Yemchuk, styled by Leith Clark
I subscribe to various fashion and interior magazines, and I find it very interesting how each one covers a trend, and how this crosses from clothing to lifestyle. This month there is a feeling of romantic nostalgia; of faded glamour. The fashion story above, in Harpers Bazaar is very English country home with a decadent nonchalance.
Vogue's "Heartbreak Hotel", styled by Lucinda Chambers, photographed by Jervier Vallhonrat 
 Whereas Vogue have focused on this season's sharper, mid-century influenced silhouette, but still softened in the same wonderful faded shades, with a beautiful backdrop of De Gournay wallpaper.
Elle Decoration's "Beyond the Pale" photo Sean Myers, Stylinh Hannah Bort
These gorgeous sepia tinted tones are crossing over into interior trends, as the move away from minimalism continues. The overall effect reminds me of hand tinted photos.
Louis Vuitton Autumn Winter 2013/14
This soft and sensuous colour story is very current, but also set to run through to next autumn, as shown at the Louis Vuitton catwalk show last week. A fabulous mix of colour, pattern and texture - dreamy!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Modern Mosaics

The other week I visited the Surface Design Show in London, and several companies were showing mosaic style tiles in neutral shades. Here are my favourites - above is Estrela Nero and Cubo Nero from Vicalvi. And below is Frame by Refin
To me they are reminiscent of Victorian tiles, refined for modern tastes. I like this re-introduction of patterning for floors especially after years of plain surfaces.
This is the Frame flooring in a retail environment but I think it would look equally fabulous in an open plan living area.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Light Show at The Hayward

I visited the Light Show at the Hayward Gallery yesterday. It's not the sort of show that I would have put at the top of my to do list, although I had seen the good reviews. But a friend of mine suggested it, so off we went. There are too many installations that I could rave about, so I'm just going to concentrate on Carlos Cruz Diez's Chromasaturation. 
Here's an explanation -“The Chromosaturation is an artificial environment composed of three color chambers, one red, one green and one blue that immerse the visitor in a completely monochrome situation. This experience creates disturbances in the retina, accustomed to receive wide range of colors simultaneously. The Chromosaturation can act as a trigger, activating in the viewer the notion of color as a material or physical situation, going into space without the aid of any form or even without any support, regardless of cultural beliefs”

It's almost impossible to describe the effect the coloured light has on your visual perception, as you move from one chamber to the next. It so disturbs the retina that at one stage we thought we were devoid of colour, visible in sepia or almost black and white. Quite extraordinary, disturbing and breath-taking all at once. Brilliant!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

My pink crush.

Hawkins Brown Biochemistry Building, University of Oxford      WAN photos Tim Crocker 
I've never really liked pink, even as a child, I found it a bit too sweet. But things started to change when I fell in love with the Hawkins Brown Biochemistry Building in Oxford, a couple of years ago. The Beautiful tones of rose pink, apricot and honey used for the bris soleil, work so well with the surrounding sandstone brickwork.
Raf Simmonds for Jill Sander A/W 2012 / The Sartorialist Milan 20.4.2012    
Then last spring Raf Simmonds showed this stunning camel and pink coat for the Jill Sander A/W 2012 collection. By coincidence at the same time I saw this fabulous picture from The Sartorialist - the pink of those shoes mixed with the strong neutral palette of chocolate, cream and caramel - gorgeous.
So the trend for the neutral and pink mix just grew on me. I started to see versions of this palette everywhere; form Farrow and Ball's promotional pictures above, to these palettes below from the ever inspiring La Boheme blog

I particularly like the way orange and ginger tones are being added here.
But the level of pink that completely swung it for me, is this subtle shade of blush.....
The Independent magazine 29.12.2012
This picture, styled by Magda Bryk and photographed by Rory Payne, captures spring's tone on tone colour look perfectly. The strong clean lines of the burgundy Prada coat, softened by the 'hint of pink' silk top from COS - I'm won over!