Tag Archives: contemporary

Sneak Peak: Heals AW13 press launch

A quick pop into the Heals Autumn/Winter press launch to preview their designs for the coming season, and design lovers are in for a treat: in the autumn Heals will unveil a completely new lighting department in their flagship West End store, filled with stunning lamps made from a huge variety of diverse materials and in all shapes and sizes, from breath-taking flowing jelly-fish style pendants, to patchwork standard lamps and glowing chairs, as well as a fabulous selection of accessories from ceramics to textiles:

These delicate ceramics with their dip dye caught my eye:

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The jelly fish light had everyone gasping in amazement:
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….quite lovely and surprisingly relaxing to watch as it ebbed and flowed….

There were lots of glass pendants – some with a decorative trim:

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One for me: I do love coloured glass vases and bottles:

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Fabulous cosy textiles:

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Individual patchwork lamps:

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…. and a modern-day kitchen chair: one for the most important diner in the house: …

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I’m also particularly excited about the work Heals are doing with Out of the Dark – this fantastic charitable social enterprise recycles and revamps salvaged furniture, simultaneously training disadvantaged young people in craft, DIY and work skills. Check out this fab coffee table, below – and do click on this Out of the Dark link to find out more about this inspirational project.

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[All products from Heals, all photographs Find the Details] 

Which designs appeal to you most? The products will be in Heals stores and online in the early autumn and beyond. Until then, enjoy the summer! Jx

Architecture News: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, 2013: launch week

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, an annual temporary structure in the heart of central London, draws architecture experts and lovers from around the world during its brief life in Kensington Gardens. The temporary nature of the building is key: its impermanence allows its architects to create awe-inspiring spaces that challenge our perception of what, in fact, makes a building.

This year the architect in question is internationally highly-respected Sou Fujimoto, and he has chosen to create a mysterious, airy, confusing, awe-inspiring space made from thousands of latticed thin steel poles: 

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[Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, 2013, designed by Sou Fujimoto, Image credit Iwan Bann

These poles give the pavilion an ethereal semi-trasnparent appearance both on approach and within: it was important to his design that the pavilion is set within the leafy surroundings of Kensington Gardens. Fujimoto, describing his design work: ‘A new form of environment will be created, where the natural and man-made merge…. not soley architectural nor solely natural, but a unique meeting of the two’.

Visit the pavilion until 20 October, for more information about The Serpentine Gallery click here. 

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:

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[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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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:

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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.

All you need to buy this Christmas* – gift shopping sorted in 10

If, like me, you can’t move for pages of gift suggestions falling out of this weekend’s newspapers, then don’t despair… here’s a capsule collection of 10 modern classics to solve your Christmas shopping angst.

These (subjective, obviously) fabulous, mainly design-led products for should cover ideas for most of the family: some come with a little country-twist, but most are good for townies too….

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1 – Zeena Shah cushions: Zeena is one of the hottest textile designers around right now. Her cushion motifs are fresh, current and just a little bit folksy.

Buy for: yourself!; textile lovers, anyone who likes to sit comfortably… 

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2 – Paul Cocksedge Invisible Bookend: This is such a brilliant piece of design. It’s functional, witty, it doesn’t require any fitting, and yet holds around 1.5 metres worth of books. For me, just what modern design should be about.

Give to: cutting edge design enthusiasts, DIY avoiders, keen readers… 

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3 – Cambridge Satchel Company satchel. I grew up in Cambridge, and when I started school my mum gave me a (brown) leather satchel which I LOATHED. Complete with brown uniform, brown satchel, and topped off with pink-framed NHS glasses, I was a true child of my time.

Now I’ve grown up and so has the satchel: I love it in red, but the metallic ones are covetable too…

Give to: yourself, again! Your sister. Grown up nieces. Anyone who travels by bike. 

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4 Makers and Brothers Owls – I keep wondering when the owl as a motif will stop being popular, but till then you’ve got to love these owls by Cleo. Made in Ireland using Irish tweed and felt, they look just as cute individually as they do shown here in a group.

Give to: you could give them to others, but wouldn’t you miss them? 

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5: Opinel knife: Made in France, outdoorsy company Opinel have designed this round-tipped knife specifically for children  it’s the perfect whittling knife for boys and girls who love the outdoors and comes in several colours from red to pink, green and blue. My 10 year old loves the responsibility of having his own pen knife (yes it too took me a while to adjust from the knee-jerk reaction – a child, with a knife – I have only just moved from sarf-east London!). Picnic-loving or camping adults will also enjoy it. A safety catch keeps it either open or closed, and the round tip is also a safety aspect. (Opinel say from 7+ but for common sense reasons, only give to responsible children).

Give to: sensible older boys and girls, outdoorsy types, al fresco diners, glampers 

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6 – Beesnees by EsterComunello from TwentyTwentyOne: One of my favourite contemporary design stores stocks these quirky bee houses: sold as a set of three. Encourage solitary bumble bees to live in your garden and help our ecosystem. Made from wood and steel, they’re small enough for even the tiniest town garden.

Give to: gardeners, nature lovers, town and country dwellers 

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7 Capital Spice cookbook: We all love a currry, and this newly published cook book is a brilliant gift for anyone who – loves to cook, and/or loves curry, and/or loves London and/or loves to eat out at Indian restaurants.

Top notch London-based chefs share inside info and recipes, so we can recreate these tastes at home. (Ed.Chrissie Walker, published by Absolute Press).

Give to: A great gift for men who love to cook 

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8 Hampson Woods chopping board. Suddenly the humble chopping board has become a designer item, and there are plenty to choose from, but these are my favourites. Hand-carved in their Hackney workshops with wood from the London Plane tree, the boards are beautifully smooth to the touch.

Give to: lovers of contemporary design, keen cooks 

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9 – After Noah House of Marbles  62 piece marble run. After Noah was one of the first shops to stock unique pieces of retro and vintage accessories. They also  choose their toys well: classic in design, but most importantly, fun to play with!

Give to: boys and girls from 3+

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10 Baker Ross  Scissors Carousel: Not a great image but a perfect present for any child who loves to make and craft. Each pair of coloured scissors cuts a different pattern. Again, for common sense reasons, supervision will be needed for little ones.

Give to: boys and girls from 3+ 

 

 

Let me know what you think: Happy shopping!

(*FYI none of these are sponsored links, they’re just lovely products, in my opinion, which I’ve discovered this autumn whilst researching  for my ‘real’ job)