book review, Book Reviews, Blog

The web site Design*Sponge is closing 31st August

To honour a great web site here is a review of the book Design*Sponge At Home

By Grace Bonney

Published by Artisan $35

The brilliant talented and inspirational Grace Bonney is closing down her web site ‘Design*Sponge.’ She was always well ahead of the game when it came to web sites and inspiring content. With this in mind I was thrilled to come across one of her books in a charity shop, Called ‘Design*Sponge at Home’ It came out in 2011

It even has a forward by Jonathan Adler.

In the book’s introduction Grace describes how she set up her web site in 2004 not realizing what a storm would come of it. She had always believed that good design didn’t have to come with a high price tag or with a professional degree.

         Even though no one joined the discussion at first, Grace was delighted to have an outlet to express her love of design and decorating. Within weeks her blog was eliciting comments and e-mails and she felt like she was communicating with a community that she hadn’t previously known existed.

         When she was writing this book she said “Today, I wake up every morning and share news and inspiration from the design world with an audience that could fill Madison Square Garden. (How cool would it be if we could meet up every day like that?) It is quite simply a dream job.”

The first part of the book focuses on one of Grace’s favourite pastimes: sneaking a peek inside some of the most inspiring homes she has seen. Every home featured in the book is packed with ideas that anyone can copy in their own houses. In addition to practical tips on decorating and renovating, you learn about the history behind design classics such as Chesterfield sofa’s and Hudson Bay blankets.

         Inspiration and knowledge is only half the battle when it comes to designing the home of your dreams, so the second half of the book features do-it-yourself projects that have been tested by the team of editors of the book.

There are also Before and After makeovers featured with hints on how to turn a dowdy flea market dresser into a design delight, or on a larger scale, how to transform a dark hole of a kitchen into a modern chic space for cooking and entertainment.

This is the ultimate décor bible. The book includes home tours from artists and designers, clever DIY projects to help personalize your space, step-by-step tutorials on everything from hanging wallpaper to doing your own upholstery, a flower workshop with bouquets for every budget, and amazing before and after transformations.

With hundreds of inspiring tips and photo’s this is the only design book you will ever need.

Below is part of the letter that Grace Bonney has put on her web site prior to the closure of it on 31st August.

‘I’ve spent a long time trying to figure out the right way to close this beautiful, complex, and wonderfully meaningful place that I’ve had the honor of running and contributing to for the past 14 years. I’d written and re-written a letter like this dozens of times until this fall, when someone snuck into my mind and heart, and put everything I would have said onto (digital) paper. That person was Tavi Gevinson and when she closed Rookie she wrote the closing editor’s letter that I had always imagined, down to the very last word.

She talked about the changing publishing world, social media and the endless demand for more and more content (usually sponsored) that resulted in less and less support (financial and traffic) for publishers and their teams. She talked about the privilege and honor of doing what we do, and knowing the choices that would have to be made to keep things afloat would be at odds with the mission of the site (please do read her piece, she outlines the struggle of indie publishing better than anyone I’ve ever read). Most of all, she talked about starting and ending an artistic project with honesty and love at its core. And for me, that is all I have ever wanted.’

So as I finish this blog post I would like to say Thank you for all the joy Design*Sponge has given over the last few years. Juliet Bawden

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

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, book review, Book Reviews

Extra Ordinary Interiors by Rockett St George

Published by RPS

Photography by Debi Treloar 

Rockett St George was founded in 2007 by long time friends Lucy  St George and Jane Rockett. it was their shared passion for black clothes, flea markets, Manchego cheese, travel, Tom Hardy and (of course) interiors that cemented their friendship.

Ten years down the line, they are still best friends and still love a good car boot sale but have also learnt a huge amount about how to create show-stopping interiors. In this book, they share their decorating mistakes along with their triumphs, they guide you through tricky decision making, and offer top tips on how to achieve magical, surprising and inviting homes.

The book is for your own personal use, with the goal of motivating you to be adventurous and plan properly so you can achieve an interior that dreams are made of. In between each chapter, there is interior inspiration from beautifully photographed houses and apartments owned by their friends and colleagues, as well as their own homes.

Decisions and how and why you make them.

‘With so many fabulous options available to us nowadays, choice can be a bit of a challenge. And when it comes to making choices about how to decorate our home, we all want to get it right first time round.

Some people spend hours deliberating over colours, styles and textures while others find it easy to reach a resolution. Regardless of which category you fall into, we believe that making decorative choices should be fun; a pleasurable process that fulfills your creative needs and leads to a satisfying conclusion. The result should be a home that creates a sense of wellbeing and rooms that makes you smile every time you walk through the door. This, my friends, is why ‘Make it Personal’ is the first chapter in this book. Get things wrong and you could spend a long time regretting your decorating decisions.

Indeed, Jane once had her entire bedroom wallpapered at great expense only to arrive home and absolutely hate the result. The wallpaper was patterned, colourful and gorgeous, but Jane didn’t feel comfortable in the room. In fact, she felt irritated and edgy; exactly how you don’t want to feel in your place of rest. If only Jane had asked herself a few simple questions, she could have avoided making an expensive mistake. In fact, she ended up having to pay to have the whole room done again.

We now know exactly where she went wrong. Jane rushed her decision, listened to other people’s opinions and was influenced by a trend that was splashed all over magazines and blogs at the time. Although she loved the design she had picked, she didn’t take into account her personal style, the way she used her bedroom, or the atmosphere that she was hoping to create.

If Jane had analyzed her personal style and the ways in which she spends time in her room before making her choice, it would have been obvious where the whole thing was heading. Here’s what she should have focused on:

• _She loves a calm, gentle environment

• _She doesn’t wear colour or bold pattern

• _She likes a rock ’n’ roll twist, whether it be zips on her clothes, stars on her jacket or snakeskin on her boots.’

In summary, you could say that Jane is drawn to a clean, tailored look with a dash of punk thrown in. Her bedroom is a place she likes to indulge herself – somewhere to escape during the weekend for an hour or two in order to read, relax or grab a sneaky snooze. It was never going to be the right place for high-energy patterns and colours.

The good news is that there was a happy ending. Jane’s second choice of a subtle snakeskin wallpaper in natural hues created the tranquil atmosphere that she craved but it has a cool twist that makes her smile. The Moroccan cushions and wedding blanket draped over the bed head provide a gently exotic and modern ethnic feel that’s luxurious and calming. So she got there in the end!

We hope our first piece of advice will prevent you from making the same mistake that Jane did. What we are suggesting is that you have a good long think about who you are, what makes you happy and how you live your life. We will be encouraging you to ask yourself some questions about your personality and unique individual style. Don’t worry – there are no wrong answers here, this is not a test. The questions are just a tool to help you analyze your tastes and needs so you can make the right decisions when it comes to designing your home. But remember – you need to be honest with yourself in order to get the home that you really want. ‘

Now go and find a pen or pencil and a large piece of paper, pour yourself a glass of wine, relax and write down the answers to the following questions. If you share your home with a partner, you should answer the questions together.

1 Write down five words that describe your personality, e.g. organized, eccentric, energetic, naughty, serious, sporty, thoughtful, musical, quiet, etc.

2 Write down five words that describe the way you dress, e.g. slick, colourful, monochrome, tailored, boho, rock ’n’ roll, seductive, suited and booted, etc.

3 Write down five things that make you happy. This could be anything at all, from the obvious things such as spending time with family and friends to more subtle concepts such as particular smells or feeling the sand between your toes.

You now have the key words that describe your personality down on paper, it is time to consider the room you wish to decorate. The way we spend time in the various rooms in our homes varies enormously. The atmosphere we want in the kitchen, for instance, will be very different to the aesthetic required in the bedroom. So there are just a couple more questions to answer.

1 Write down five activities that you would like to do in this room (ok, this may be quite hard for the bathroom but give it a go!).

2 Think of five words that describe the way you want to feel in this room. For example, you might want to feel indulgent, relaxed, peaceful and sexy in your bedroom or sociable, organized and cheerful in the kitchen.

A whole page (or more) of words that describe you, and your taste , and the function of the room that you want to decorate. You can use these words to determine the right decorative style both for your personality and for your lifestyle. The combination of different styles might be surprising, but they will be right for you. They will provide you with a style template for your home and you can combine them with your room results to achieve exactly the right look for each space.

Having sorted out the basic priorities the pair then give you their top interior inspiration sources and then go on to talk lighting, colours and style spots. By this, they mean a focal point that grabs the eye. A style spot is a grouping of furniture, artwork and lighting that fits beautifully together and creates impact. When planning a room, we encourage people to split the space up into sections such as the fireplace, the seating area, the entrance and so on, then to consider each one as an individual style spot.

They give tips on using the space you have made look so beautiful.

1 Always maximize neutral light, take down heavy curtains and allow the day light to flood in.

2 Don’t automatically push furniture up against the walls. Try placing it in the middle of the room as this gives the illusion of more space

3 Never arrange your seating around the television.

5 Beds should always have a view if you don’t have one create a style spot to look at (perhaps a dressing table or chaise longue.

4. It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of lighting

6 Ensure that every seat has a view too. There should be a beautiful style spot to to please the eye wherever you sit.

7 In the kitchen take advice from the professionals with regard to layout space and storage. Then adapt the plans to suit your style.

8 Creative storage -and lots of it is essential. Think tall kitchen cabinets, beds with drawers beneath and capacious cupboards. How can you have a beautiful interior if you haven’t got somewhere to hide all the things you don’t want out on display?

 9 If you don’t love it, upcycle it, swap it or recycle it.

10 Keep mixing it up

There are many more tips too. This highly recommended book is both beautiful and practical and will probably inspire extreme home envy so sorry about that, but enjoy.

Blog, Press Show Picks

Graham and Green

Below are the Spring Summer 2019 key looks from Interiors company Graham and Green . Many of the key trends seem to be carrying on from recent seasons these include Berber Rugs. Metallics are still around : rose gold and copper being the most popular. Neons and succulents are still with us, as are fifties and sixties inspired cane chairs on spindly legs. Talking of legs, G&G are selling a fine line in patterned and embossed ceramic pots that stand on tiny feet so they are slightly elevated from the surface on which they stand. Velvet in strong acid yellows and rich royal blues are still being used to cover sofas and chairs. There are some metallic mouse lamps – sure they are cute if thats your thing but personally I can’t stand rodents and prefer the birds shown in the image below. To sum up, it is a strong cohesive collection all fabulously styled.

Metallic bird lamps
Velvet covered arm chair

Spatter designed enamelware
Ceramic plant holders with tiny feet

Blog, book review, Uncategorized

Do you need to get your house in order and sort out your life? Then Debora Robertson’s book DECLUTTER is your answer

Declutter

The get-real guide to creating calm from chaos

By Debora Robertson published by Kyle Books at £12.99

You need this book if you are doing any of the following:

  • You regularly buy things to replace items you already own because you can’t lay your hands on them right now.
  • You regularly lose your glasses, keys, phone and tv remote. Or if like me recently, when the night before I was to fly to Armenia I couldn’t locate my passport. It was 2 hours of anxiety and turning everything in the house upside down before I found it.
  • You have said any of the following in the last month:

‘ I have to go through those‘ ‘Someone might need that’ ‘It’s still got wear in it’ ‘It might come in usefulone day’

Unlike other books on this subject, Debora does not expect you to totally readjust your world to minimalist living. She offers practical advise including allowing a certain amount of time to clear up. She suggests buying a kitchen timer and using it. Decide how much time you can spend on a task on any given day and just spend that amount of time and no more. She suggests keeping a diary of what you wish to achieve and offers tips on what you need to do daily, weekly and monthly and even how to clear up if you  only have a spare ten minutes.

She gives information on how and where to get rid of useful unwanted items. I have made so many visits to charity shops during the last month!

I am a craft author and run workshops so I am a great one for collecting all kinds of tools, materials and ephemera. ‘Oh that will come in handy sometime”. Reading that Debra writes on cookery and gardening I realized that her pile of stuff probably bears a resemblance to my own. So I am even more impressed.

What this book does, is encourage you to create new habits that will enhance your life.

I knew this book was good because as I was reading it, my friends kept asking if they could borrow it after me. Well it is a great book based in reality and full of practical advise and No you can’t borrow it. I’m keeping my copy and authors like Debora deserve people to buy their words of wisdom. So go out and buy your own copy, you won’t regret it.

Blog, Exhibitions

New Interior Trends For 2019

This feature first appeared on the blogazine www.magpieonline.co.uk

Hornsey-stool-by-Giggy-and-bab-1080x675.jpg

Creativecolour.org’s Juliet Bawden has been to the design shows in London and Paris and has come back with what’s hot to trot for the coming months in interior design.

Want to be the first to know next year’s trends? Well you have come to the right place. I bring you news of all that is new and desirable from Paris Design week and the enormous trade fair known as Maison et Object and London Design week including Decorex,  Design Junction and 100% Design.

When 100% design started in 1995 it was the first organisation to promote design throughout London. It lost its way for a while and became too big and unwieldy, there was a changeof venue and ownership and now it is back on course and this year has exceeded expectations with the promotion of new young talent and innovative design. For the first time the design team have the input of Barbara Chandler the Design Editor of Homes and Property in London’s Evening Standard. She has always championed new designers as well as being a great photographer in her own right. She has curated 100% Forward. This section of the show that spotlights seven emerging design talents each of whom has been chosen by an established designer who launched their own career during the first decade of 100% Design.

The designers are Simon Pengelly a furniture designer who has nominated Daniel Schofield, industrial and product designer. Michael Marriot furniture and product designer has nominated a furniture designing team Dominic Postlethwaite and Will Dyer. Chris Eckersley a furniture designer has nominated weaver Majeda Clarke and they have collaborated on some projects together. Philip Watts interior designer and designer maker has nominated Light Up North, makers of creative neon. Ella Doran surface print designer has nominated Kyla McCallum whose work Foldability + Northern is beautiful and intricate. Jocelyn Warner who launched her own wallpapers at 100% design haschampioned Stoff Studios who design furniture and textiles .Samuel Chan furniture designer has nominated Moe Redish a multidisciplinary designer currently creating glass ware made by blowing into a wooden mould.

Here are the key trends for 2019.

Dulux colour of the year for 2019 is Spiced Honey and it is a warm comforting tone that will go with most of the key looks for next year, but it is the colour green that is very much in evidence everywhere. As a colour and as a life style concept of bringing the outside in itis a very strong trend. Sometimes it is shown as a flat colour at other times it is mixed with foliage and flowers.

Lighting has been influenced by the popularity of steam bent wood and laser cutting. There are many lightshade made using both these techniques and the result is fabulous patterns on the walls when the lights are on. Laser cut screens and wall treatments are being used on exteriors of buildings on balconies and fences. They are used as indoors as room dividers and screens.

Awareness of the environment, means that designers are finding new ways of using up waste, and recycling materials such as coffee grounds, paper and cardboard. IKEA have made some elegant dining chairs from that come in both black and white and are made from recycled plastic. As we are using less and less plastic bags we need replacements. Baskets are still popular either in natural straw and hemp weaves or in bright woven plastics. Stretchy string bags in a variety of colours are popular too. Bamboo, a fast growing sustainable wood is very much in evidence used in a variety of ways from flooring to fabrics and bowls.

The craze for wall papers that look as though they are made from something else be it aged wood or three dimensional ceramic tiles doesn’t look as if it’s going away any time soon. Florals and bright colours including fluorescents are still popular. Using a multi mix of patterns with one another is a trend in soft furnishings that echoes that of the fashion industry. Rough textures on surfaces such as walls, interesting finishes and weaves on fabrics and anything ‘natural’ or ‘eco’ friendly is going to be everywhere over the coming year. Felt is a very strong look in interiors. Concrete is being used more and more unusual and innovative ways.

Nineteen fifties or Mid Century Modern furniture and accessories are hugely popular, as in the original or as inspired by. The Vintage furniture pop store took place in Galerie Joseph. Paris had a pop up selling original furnishings and accessories from the nineteen fifties and early 1960’s. Baskets are very popular still and stretchy string bags. If you are considering building a house or replacing your front door you could do no better than looking at the work of Urban Front who design and make the most desirable enormous steel reinforced hardwood doors.

Another section of the show is 100% Futures a feature that shines a light on the most cutting edge designs and innovations under the theme ‘designing for cities’. Design Fresh showcases the talent of the very best designers who graduated this summer. Here are links tosome of their web sites:

www.phoebedeeprose.co.uk -textile designer printer and illustrator

www.lucygrainge.com – image maker/designer
www.giggyandbab.co.uk – designer who has re-designed the fold up kitchen stool
www.lizziehillierstudio.com – artist and designer, surface designer
www.niaristprints.com – surface designer

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