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Blog, book review, Book Reviews

KIT KEMP design threads

This, Kit Kemp’s third book, and it is about weaving together spaces that are dynamic and diverse in their own right, but with a thread of creative connection running through each and every one, so as to create a house or hotel that resonates as a harmonious whole. The book explores the outside spaces that have become rooms in themselves – places to sit and breathe and just be. In contrast, the fun of designing an hotel’s event spaces is in creating rooms that entice, inspire and transport you to somewhere else altogether. The townhouse and pied à terre featured here are proof that you don’t need to have huge rooms to create interesting spaces –it’s about playing with light and interesting textures, mixed in with all your favourite things, that make it feel so personal and perfect.

As she says in her introduction

‘I like my interiors to capture the imagination in some shape or form. When you leave a room, something should stay with you, making you want to return, if only to recapture that magical spell all over again.

My interiors might have a handwritten and distinctive style, but it is an adventure to create a new room.

There is always a new fabric or craft to discover, a new vista to be revealed, a little treasure to unearth.

Most of all, I want a room to last – if it is lovingly created and beautifully detailed, it will forever be a joy. Happy moments and treasured memories are integral to our comfort and surroundings.

To be curious is important. To want to pick up a plate and turn it over to see where it’s from or touch an interesting fabric on a curtain or footstool, to feel the raise of its weave and the softness of its yarn, is all part of immersing yourself in an object’s story.

I love to watch the people in our hotels stop in their tracks to look at something that’s caught their eye. I’m always looking for pieces that tell a unique story –maybe of a person or a time in history, of a particular handcrafted technique, or even just something with a combination of colour or pattern, or a found object re-purposed in an unusual way, that takes you unawares.

These are the ‘design threads’ I like to weave throughout all the interiors I design, whether it’s a living room at home or a bedroom in a hotel, a pied à terre or writer’s escape in a shepherd’s hut at the bottom of the garden.

A beach bar inspired the Caribbean vibe of the showroom I was asked to design for Turnell & Gigon in the Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour. The folkloric motifs that pepper so much of

what I do, from fabrics with Chelsea Textiles to room murals created in collaboration with artist Melissa White, have now come full circle in a new collection of fabrics and wallpapers with Andrew Martin, a second dinner service with Wedgwood and even the interiors of my own colourful little shepherd’s hut. Nature has always provided huge inspiration for the way I team colour palette and pattern, so it’s always a joy to ‘bring the outside in’ to many of the rooms I design.’

Kit quotes Virginia Woolf’s book, A Room of One’s Own, As well as giving us one of the greatest feminist debates about women and fiction, equality and women’s rights, it also left us with the valuable notion that, if you do not have a comfortable room and feel at ease with your surroundings, it is much more difficult to be creative.

Creating comfortable, functional and well-designed interiors is not rocket science, but it is very often misunderstood and underrated. Having a pleasant and happy room of one’s own is important for our wellbeing. To be able to turn the key in the lock and find oneself surrounded by much-loved objects and the colours that make us feel cheerful must surely be one of life’s greatest luxuries. To illustrate the point, Kit’s first chapter

explores an elegant townhouse in London. It is colourful and

finely detailed to make the most of every space. There is a winding path to the front door painted in ‘Invisible Green’, where tumbling plants and climbers soften the entrance. The sash windows are painted a softer green against the white of the walls. The French windows in the drawing room lead out to a small round table, perfect for drinks on a sunny evening.

Inside the front door, in contrast to the green outside, is a bright yellow walling fabric by Pierre Frey, disguising the cupboards for storage and coats

For the second chapter of the book called Making an Entrance Kit chooses to show case her design for The Whitby Hotel in Manhattan. Apart from negotiating the engineering and architectural plans, her major concern was to create a space that would pique the curiosity, delight all the senses in an adventurous and colourful way, and make visiting or staying a worthwhile experience.

The book shows her designs for both Wedgewood and Andrew Martin. A Manhattan Penthouse, a pied à terre , gardens, a Beach Bar and creating a collection are all featured. And a final chapter called Sleeping Around. Another plus for me is the book is dotted with recipes in the same way that Nora Ephron’s ‘Heart Burn’ novel was. This book will take pride of place on your coffee table and is a total inspiration if you are doing up a house or even just a room.

By Kit Kemp with Fiona McCarthy

Photography by Simon Brown

Published by Hardie Grant

Blog, Press Show Picks

TOM DIXON A/W 2019

The designer Tom Dixon is based in a fabulous old building called The Coal Office

in Kings Cross. He has his headquarters, studio, and shop there. He also owns the adjoining restaurant/cafe , which uses many of his products. I was there last week with other journalists to view his new products, mainly his new fragrances that come in the form of candles, room diffusers, soaps and hand lotions. There were also a couple of new  drink ware ranges  for hot and cold drinks and some very nice coat hooks and other artifacts called Swirl. Whilst I was there I took the opportunity to view his furniture, textile and lighting ranges that he sells in his shop. everything is thoughtfully designed and very beautifully presented.

            Tom Dixon started his recent adventures into the peculiar world of fragrance a few years ago with his Eclectic collection that was structured around the exotic smells of London, Royalty and Orientalist.

This year he has refreshed the vessel form that hold the candles, with an elegant, new slim waisted metal container and added two more refined perfumes to the collection – Underground and Alchemy.

Underground is described thus, ”In the dark subterranean, hidden below the surface, rhizomes secretly grow and slowly develop the fresh, sharp intense fragrance of ginger. This is combined with woody Haitian cardamom to make the unique scent of Underground.

Alchemy is influenced by the endless search to transform basic materials into a valuable substance, sharp black pepper, woody cypress, eucalyptus, exotic patchouli and smoky guaiac wood combine to create the precious perfume of Alchemy.

The London fragrance captures the smell of red brick and London parks with crocuse and nettles, and the salty smell of Thames at Dagenham. Encased in a copper vessel with marble lid.

Orientalist is inspired by the faint memory of an Indian wedding with rose petal garlands, giant cinnamon sticks on beach stalls and the musky smells of the Chinese herbal market. Encased in a brass vessel with marble lid.

Royalty is a reminiscence of tea time with a pot of Earl Grey, scones, strawberry jam and the drive home in a ‘52 Bentley with tatty leather seats. Encased in a nickel-plated brass vessel, with a marble lid.

Tom Dixon has also created travelers gift set with a  trio of mini scented candles contained within a hand-spun vessel formed of copper, nickel and brass. The scents are created to capture the essence of travelling, trading, and the nostalgic past within the future of British life.

Swirl is a mysterious new material that resembles 3D marbled paper yet has the weight of stone. Tom Dixon has designed some new Swirl hooks that celebrate the little details that are often missed, the hidden bits of functionality that are often the first touch point in a space yet go unnoticed. A series of small and large hooks made from powdered residue from the marble industry, mixed with pigment and resin to create a variety of surprising colour combinations.

Brew kettle and filter set recognizes coffee making as a form of art and coffee drinking as one of our few remaining contemporary rituals. In response to consumers now being more educated and curious about coffee, Tom Dixon have introduced the Kettle and Filter set to the Brew family to encompass the different ways to create a good cup of coffee.

The Kettle and Filter set allows you to prepare and serve coffee simply and quickly, whilst still retaining the flavour and quality. The unusual thin and elongated shape of the kettle spout is essential for precise pouring and taste.

Tank is characterised by a hand painted copper band, Tank takes its sculptural cue from the functional shapes and volumes of scientific glassware. Minimal yet decorative for a multiplicity of purposes of drinking, pouring, storing and displaying drinks, the new Tank copper gift sets recognise our love for drinking stories.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Want to Master the Art of Punch Needle And make accessories for you and your home?

Look no further than the book Punch Needle

by Arounna Khounnoraj

Published by Hardie Grant £14.99

Photographs by Catherine Frawley

Punch needle is the very modern take on rag rugging, it uses  a tool to punch yarn or strips of fabric into a stretched base fabric to create a series of stitches. In the same way that you embroider or cross stitch over a printed or drawn design, so you can create your own needle punched pieces of work.

         Having just been to the Autumn Winter 2019  home ware collections, this craft is so on trend and this book  will enable you to make some of those fabulous textural, soft products yourself.

         The author, Arounna Khounnoraj is a great pair of hands to help us master the art of needle punching. She has a masters degree in fine art and in 2002 set up, with her husband John Booth,  her multi-disciplinary  studio Bookhou in Toronto.

         Together they explore a variety of printing and embroidery techniques through making utilitarian objects such as bags, home goods  and textiles.

         Inspired by the seemingly never-ending ways you can combine different stitches to create contemporary homeware, Arounna has been instrumental in the current modern punch needle renaissance.

         The book opens with an overview of the fundamentals as Arounna teaches in her studio workshops. As a result the ‘how to’ sections are as simple and clear as possible. Most projects only have two components – the punching and the making. Each project has a design drawing, and step by step instructions, for both the punching or hooking element of the work, as well as the means to turn the punched pieces into a wide variety of different items. There are charts featured throughout to help recreate the designs given in the book.

There is also a web site at bookhou.com/pages/patterns so that you can download patterns if you are nervous about drawing them freehand. The tools and materials sections are small, as so little is required of this craft. You are shown how to stretch a frame and how to transfer and image. You are guided on how to create the stitches and how to fid inspiration and design your own patterns. The finished projects are lovely and once you pick up this book, you will want to be making.

Blog, Meet the Maker

Meet the Maker: Deirdre Hawken currently exhibiting at Metropolitan Museum, New York

Deidre
radish salad toms opener

Deidre Hawken makes what might loosely be called hats or head pieces. However that description does not do justice to the exquisite intricate pieces of work created by this multi talented designer. I and my photographer went to interview her recently in her studio.

JB.I know you as a hat designer and maker, but I understand  that you also design and make jewelry. Can you tell us which discipline you trained in and how you came to practice both?

DH I trained in theater design, sets and costume, at the Central School of Art and Design, now Central St Martins.

I worked as a Theater Designer for some time and I was an Art Director for a couple of design companies, but I have always loved the design and making process. I have made costume accessories for The Royal Opera House, English National Ballet and the BBC, I also designed a run of windows for Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and made props for Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Asprey Ltd and I had an exhibition in Fortnum and Mason among others, and I created collections of jewellery with my sculptor husband for various fashion designers.

three hats

JB.What is a typical day for you?

DH. There is no typical day! I could be designing hats or jewellery or researching new work, seeing a client or dealing with boring administration.

into studio

 JB. What do you love most, about what you do?

DH.I love researching ideas, it is now so easy on the internet, and as I said I love everything about the making process, especially dyeing fabrics.

working pages with fabrics dyed

 JB.What do you dislike most about what you do?

DH Any kind of administration.

JB.Have you ever worked for anyone else? Or done any collaborations ? If so with whom?

DH.When you are a designer for the theater you’re basically working with and for the director, but I have been a freelance designer most of my life. I did collaborate with a jeweler, we were asked to make a joint piece, but I did not really enjoy the experience. I have also made jewellery with my husband.

mushroom onions etc

 JB.What made you want to start your own creative business?

DH. I love working for myself, although I sometimes have an assistant on a really big job, such as when I made jewellery for Saks 5th Avenue.

 JB.Have you had any training recently? If so where and why?

DH.Not recently, but in 1998 I won a scholarship to study couture millinery. This was through QEST, Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. There are no age limits and but you do have to fill in a very difficult application form. I trained with Rose Cory in Couture Millinery and had an internship with Stephen Jones. I also went to America and studied at the Met.

JB.Can you describe your creative process?

DH.First I have an idea, then I research, choose the materials. I only work with a few materials, leather, silk taffeta, silk velvet silk organza and organdie. I dye all the fabrics myself using Dylon dyes. I then decide how to make the headpiece or perhaps a collection of jewellery. Most of my headpieces are one off designs. I never make another piece exactly the same.

cigar making in progress

JB.What are your biggest challenges?

DH.Selling work.

cigars

JB. What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field today?

DH.It has always been difficult to be self-employed, especially in the Creative Sector, I believe good training is essential, also you must have self belief.

JB.Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for designers to set up on their own nowadays or more difficult?

DH.I think it is harder, as everyone thinks they can be an artist or a designer.

JB.Have you exhibited? If so, where?

DH. I have had so many exhibitions it is hard to choose which ones to talk about. I have work in the following Public Collections: Victoria and Albert Museum – London, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute – New York, Kyoto Institute of Costume – Tokyo, Graves Art Gallery– Sheffield, Museum of Costume –Bath, Philadelphia Museum of Art-USA, Hat Museum- Stockport.

 JB.How do you find clients?

DH. Clients come to me and I sell at exhibitions.

JB. What are you currently working on?

DH.A very tricky Summer Pudding Headpiece for submission for the London Hat Show early 2018.

summer pudding

 JB.Do you teach or run workshops? If so where?

DH. Not now! I have taught at various Art colleges and was an assessor for the BA Jewellery course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and design, Dundee for three years. I have given many talks including one at the V &A and many workshops all over the country.

lemons leather

 JB.What is next?

salad

DH. I am developing a range of headpieces which can be displayed as Still Life’s in acrylic cases, which I am finding very exciting.

JB. That is a great idea, your work is far too lovely to store out of site, in a hat box.

Many thanks Juliet

I did this interview over a year ago, however this week I had the email below and this image. So I wanted to share it with you.

‘I just wanted to let you know that a Cauliflower headpiece of mine  has been included in the latest exhibition at the Costume Institute, part of the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
I was so thrilled it was included! I am attaching an image of it in situ, the exhibition is called ‘Camp’ Notes on Fashion.’

http://www.deirdrehawken.com/

BlogFooterTurqiose
Blog, Press Show Picks

Oliver Bonas autumn and winter range 2019

This week Oliver Bonas showed both their new interior and clothing ranges for this autumn and winter to the press and influencers.

This is a company that goes from strength to strength in both their home-ware and fashion collections. They know the look their core customer wants, that being a mixture of sophisticated, modern with some humour thrown into the mix.

There are two main themes running through both the home and fashion collections. The main theme is Enlightenment and Orient Express is the capsule collection. This could also be described as Art Deco or Luxe.

There is a great deal of glass , mirrors and glamour. Oliver Bonas produce cocktail ware, including drinks trolley’s which, a little bird tells me, always sell out. Talking of cocktails there are drink mixing kits, and gorgeous glasses, lovely mirrors, rattan furniture, picture frames and planters.

Velvet chairs and fringing on lamp shades carry on from this season but with new twists of colour, shapes and length of fringing. 

Part of Enlightenment is Sanctuary. This includes mosaic, ironwork ,ceramics and plants, and baskets. Oliver Bonas now sell real and faux plants in their larger stores.

There is a vast array of baskets, pouffés, throws and cushions. The pouffe’s are particularly original.

Another best selling line for Oliver Bonas are items decorated with letters of the alphabet, and also the letters themselves.

Always great with decorative patterns, from August the company will be selling some very nice bags and cushions with lovely surface designs.

New this season, are Oliver Bonas own brand of decorative filament light bulb.

Last of all I must mention the very the simple ,but lovely art works in the form of textural wall hangings and bright prints.

Blog, Makes

Reuse old plastic bags to make Pom-poms

Photographs by Antonia Attwood

Being very aware of all the plastic and rubbish that lands up on many of our beaches, and in our parks and roadsides, I thought I would come up with a project that could put some of that plastic to good use. The result is pom-poms created from plastic bags. I suggest you use and reuse the bags until they start to get holes. When they are finally  of no further use, make pom-poms out of them.

Image 1

You need very little in the way of materials, just scissors, plastic bags, cardboard and string or twine. You will also need something to draw round to make a large circle with a smaller one in the centre.

Image 2

Draw round a small saucer or a large roll of tape onto the card to create a circle. Use something like an eggcup and draw round it to make a circle in the center. Cut out the two cardboard shapes, with a hole in the centre. Cut the plastic bags into a long strip about 1cm wide.

Image 3

Place one cardboard circle on top of the other and then start to wind the plastic strips round the two circles as in the picture. Carry on until the whole of the cardboard is covered. The more strips you add the fluffier the pom pom will be.

Image 4

Cut a piece of string or cord and put to one side. Holding the plastic covered discs, insert the scissors between the two outer circles and start to cut. This is the tricky bit as you don’t want to end up with a load of plastic on the floor. When you have cut all the way round the outer ring insert the cord and pull the two ends together, drawing together the pom pom at the same time. Tie the string ends together.

We used our Pom poms to decorate a basket, but you could use them to decorate anything. Have fun creating crafting and recycling.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Print Play

Screen printing inspiration for your life and home

Jessie Wright & Lara Davies

Published by Hardie Grant

Published by Hardie Grant

Print Play is the perfect description of this book. It is about printing and and at the same time playful and fresh.

The authors Jess Wright and Lara Davies are “Home-Work” – two textile designers and screen printers from Melbourne, Australia. The creative duo have worked together for the past 7 years teaching screen printing and design, as well as bringing their own colourful textile designs to life! Jess and Lara’s obsession with colour and pattern is tangible and is evident in everything they create! Enthusiastically converting ideas from their imagination to reality (usually with music playing in the background), the pair produce screen printed textile prints that are thoughtful and fun.

Adding a little objet d’art to the simplest everyday items, these textiles become functional and are turned into tote bags, make up bags, cushions and even wallpaper. The book opens with a really great contents page, a real appetite wetter, with small images of some of the projects you can make.

The instructions for printing are very clear and easy to follow. There is a section on different kinds of inks, things to consider when choosing colours, and both the authors describe their own preferences when it comes to colour and design and they also show their own design processes.

You are told about creating an inspiration board and then you start on the projects that on the whole are easy and incredibly effective.

This is hand holding at its best. A really great book especially if you are new or inexperienced when it comes to printing.