Monthly Archives: March 2013

Food for Thought: Creativity on a plate

Malaysian artist/architect Hong Yi  (who goes by the nickname Red), has set herself a challenge: to create a piece of art every day during this month of March, using only food, styled on a simple, white porcelain plate.

The results are stunning, clever and inventive:

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From the top: ‘I found a dragon in my dragonfruit’Dogs in Oreos; Banksy – made from Nori and Apple; Water Melon; Adaptation of the Great Wave with rice (Can you spot Mount Fuji?).

Take a look at more either via Red’s Instagram feed or her website.

Geometric, graphic, colourful: Mid Century patterns, at home

Archives: reading press releases for fabric collections that include what are described as ‘archival prints’ prompts me to think about these fascinating hunting grounds for inspiration. How lucky we are (both textile designers and us ‘civilians’? ‘non-designers’? or the more prosaic ‘shoppers’?) that these historical resources are kept for us, ready to be viewed should we decide to take an interest in their subject.

The Victoria & Albert Museum has several archives which are open to the public on request, including one relating to furnishing textiles within in the Art & Design Archive. Here you’ll find records of popular fabrics sold in department stores such as Heals from the 1920s onwards:

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[Image: page from a sample album, Heals, 1922, V&A Archives]

…plus the archives of individual designers including two of my favourites, Lucienne Day and Jaqueline Groag. The current passion for Mid Century design means that 1950s fabric and wallpaper designs by luminaries such as Lucienne Day and Jacqueline Groag and their contemporary Robert Stewart are a talking point once again. The typical ’50’s design includes geometry, inventive colour contrasts and graphic, repetitive patterns: perfect for today’s decorative schemes.

Take a look at these images, reproduced from the V&A archives:

Mainly blues; some pictorial; others graphic:

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And there are patterns in pastel shades:

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Plus ones in those sludgy hues, typical of the 1950’s:

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And some fresh white/green combinations which make me think of stereotypical ’50s housewives with their aprons and Formica-topped tables:

Formica kitchen

[image Picture Post/Getty, via The Guardian online] 

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[All print images, Memory Prints]

Whilst some 1950s fabric designs can be bought by the metre: try Glasgow’s Classic Textiles for a collection of original Lucienne Day and Robert Stewart designs  (recreated with the consent of the designers and/or their estate) sadly not all are currently in production.

But if you like any of these patterns above, it’s possible to order a paper print: the V&A’s prints are available online through Memory Prints, who reproduce these (and many more) onto high quality paper, ready for framing;  a simple way to bring a colourful, patterned piece of Mid Century artwork into your home.

To visit the V&A’s archive click here for more information.

Decorating a cottage hallway; some of the best patterned fabrics

Back to the house, I’m determined to bring in colour: and so transform the walls here from their current dull, battered, beige/magnolia existence:

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Susie Watson‘s deep, rich Ramsbury Red colours the walls of the adjacent room (I’ve mentioned it before here)  and with it in place, the hall colour had to follow. The random mix above includes some icy blues / stone-grey shades both from Susie’s paint chart (the column of neutrals on the left of the picture above) and Fired Earth, with the walls finally painted in Teresa’s Green from Farrow & BallAs the wonderful Ben Pentreath mused the other day, it’s become fashionable in some circles to diss Farrow & Ball paints for their coverage, but their colours continue to be interesting, adaptable and versatile in both dimly lit and bright spaces…

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Next task: choosing curtain fabric to hang in front of the draughty stable-style back door and to bring some pattern and softness to the room (the black and white floor tiles, here and in the room beyond, were inherited with the house). With London Design Week in full swing (now open to the public; catch it till this Friday 22 March, at Chelsea Harbour) it’s a great time to celebrate the best in fabric design from both British and International designers. I’m searching for an eclectic pattern in lively shades:

Interior designer Penny Morrison‘s luxurious fabrics include fabulous patterns and interesting colour mixes for a relaxed, country-living vibe; the designs start life in her studio on the Welsh borders:

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penny%20morrison%20kenil%20pin%20484 Pasha%20484 Sukriti%20BlueRed%20484 Karlstad%20Blue%20Red%20484 pennymorrison_arabella_repeat%20484 Ashok%20natural%20orange%20484 penny%20morrison%20luma%20gre_pet%20484 pennymorrison_mander

All swatch shots above: Penny Morrison

Another favourite is Rapture & Wright: Based in Gloucestershire, their motifs are contemporary and occasionally geometric in nature, and successfully designed to suit all sorts of interiors:

cocoa doves-husk sarafan-skye-8-linen charlbury-cloud-linen aurora-red-linen clouds-red mandalay-indigo cocoa-beach-butternut

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All images: Rapture & Wright 

All the fabrics shown above come in many other colourways, and of course there are other patterns too; take a look and let me know what you think.

Sit in colour: the best kitchen chairs

All-white (walls, storage, work surfaces, and sometimes even floors too) as the backdrop to our kitchens currently appeals to many of us right now. Perhaps it’s because we crave calm and peace at home once we close the doors on the world outside? Or maybe it’s because white is simply a great canvas on which we can build up layers of colour, creating a unique space.

The trend for accenting kitchens with coloured chairs is gaining pace: whether the chairs are covetable originals (vintage Tolix or Eames are the most-desired)…

skona hem image, credited on findthedetails.com

sot sur via jan pinterest

Or, more easily obtained, and with their own charm, are traditional kitchen chairs, painted in shades either to coordinate or contrast, with the room’s decor:

livs lyst

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[Images Skona Hem, Livs Lyst, Pinterest] 

My dining chairs are simple, folding white wood and metal bistro chairs from Habitat: I started off with a pair for my first flat (they doubled up as garden seating) and I’ve never replaced them: just added to the collection as the numbers of people needing regular seats in my house has increased. As you know from previous posts, my current kitchen is a long way away from being entirely white…but here they are in my previous kitchen (aka playroom; office; dining room…):

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Now I rather hanker after French company Fermob’s bistro chairs: these all-metal equivalents cone in a rainbow of zingy shades:

Fermob bistro chairs via findthedetails.com

Whilst Ikea’s folding dining chair comes in this season’s must-have ’80s shades of grey, coral and a minty-green:
ikea chairs

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Tolix’s Model A chair is also from France, and a design classic: created in 1934, this metal chair is hugely popular right now. If you can’t source vintage ones like the lucky owners in the top image, then Graham & Green sell new models in a choice of colourways:

tolix_colours_group graham and green

Chairs with traditional shapes but in fashionable cool colourways also appeal: new for Spring Summer 2013 are the Talia wooden chairs from Habitat, in red or yellow:

MILNER_HABITAT_SS13

BHS Brighton chair -ú80, Hove coffee table -ú129, Reno pendant -ú35

… and let’s not forget the stylish Brighton chair by BHS, also new for spring/summer 2013 (mentioned before here, but deserving of another peek!).

Which designs would you buy? Let me know…

Just in: Chic, easy-to-live-with homewares at Loaf

Just in time to catch the first tempting rays of spring sunshine (at least round these parts, the sun is trying to make an appearance after months lost….) is the new collection from Loaf.

From sturdy painted kitchen tables to soft rugs and covetable, squishy cushions, materials are natural (wood, metal, linen) and colours span a gentle palette from subtle neutrals (greys, creams, off-whites) to modern pastels.

Here’s my pick of the best:

Loaf - Bobbin bed is priced from £645 for a double low-res

Loaf - Scrunch cushions £55  low-res

A modern take on a traditional bedframe above; whilst textiles are textured; colours soft: love both the bedroom rug and generously sized feather-filled linen cushions…

Loaf - Dolly storage trolley £295 low-res Loaf - High Wire storage unit £155 and Geronimo chair £145 low-res

Bathroom pieces include metal trolleys and locker-room storage: a gentle interpretation of the currently on-trend industrial, utilitarian look

Loaf - Pantry kitchen table priced from £495 low-res

There are plenty of dining tables, plus mixable dining chairs…

Loaf - Snow Compact kitchen table is priced at £395, Geronimo metal chair is priced at £145, Cafe au Lait chair £115 low-res

Loaf - Splay kitchen table priced from £895 low-res

This delicately decorated bedlinen below is a favourite: slightly folksy, slightly Scandi, but yet (phew!) not twee: the design successfully captures the look of vintage linen:

Loaf - Saint Irene bed linen priced from £15 low-res.2

All images from Loaf

Predominantly an online business, Loaf started out in 2008 with a capsule collection of well made, well priced, chic beds and have taken it from there. Take some time out to browse their site for the full range and let me know what you think; some pieces are already there whilst others will be in stock shortly.

Art in found objects; Hong Hao

Anyone who’s ever picked up shells on a beach knows how easily found objects can make their way into our homes….  But Chinese artist Hong Hao takes this to another level, with his highly detailed photographic artworks that focus on the ephemera and belongings in his life.

By combining images of his belongings – whether treasured for years or standard household clutter – Hong Hau gives a unique, artist’s view of our human desire to collect:   artwork_images_424109330_629909_-honghao

The Long March in Panjiayuan (2004) (above)

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If you’re lucky enough to be in Beijing over the next few weeks you can catch a  exhibition of Hong Hao’s most recent work at the Pace Gallery (From 16 March to  April 27), including my favourite, above: As It Is – The Writings of a Hundred (pencil on found paper 2011)  

artwork_images_424891678_399706_-honghaoMy Things: Book Keeping of 06C (2007) Hong Hao

[All images from Artnet]