Culture

  • What is Perfect Imperfection?

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    For those of you that know me know that my style is a fusion of the old and the new, of working with different genres and creating a look that tells a story and has layers of intricacy. Hello ‘wabi-sabi’ or as we may know it to be ‘perfect imperfection’ i think that this really sums up the look perfectly (ironically).

    What is wabi-sabi or the art of imperfect perfection?

    It stems from the Japanese ideology ‘beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete’. It is rooted in Buddhism and stemmed from a tea ritual  where masters celebrated bowls that were handmade and irregularly shaped, a metaphor for the imperfection of life.

    Is there beauty in something that will pass? Spring turns to summer to autumn to winter and then round again and each has their own beauty but yet they pass. Plants grow, some flower, then the petals fall and the whole process starts again. The idea of something that is not static and never stays the same but still beautiful in each state is part of wabi-sabi.

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    In the interiors realm that means mismatched patterns and prints, vintage, bespoke and off the shelf pieces, exposed beams and it values simplicity, uncluttered, underplayed, and modest surroundings. Authenticity is key to the philosophy and the presence of cracks and visible ageing is thought to be an intrinsic part of how an object came to be in its current state at the current time and plays a significant part in these interiors. You mustn’t think that this means busy and overcrowded spaces, far from it, it values simplicity, minimalism and embodies a way of life.

    What do you think of wabi-sabi? Is there beauty in imperfection?

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  • First Hygge, now Lagom?

    So first we had the Swedish hygge (pronounced “HUE-gah”) meaning to “enjoy life’s simple pleasures” and now we have lagom (pronounced “LA-gom”) another Swedish word meaning “just the right amount”.

    The Lexin Swedish-English dictionary defines lagom as “enough, sufficient, adequate, just right”. Lagom is also widely translated as “in moderation”, “in balance”, “perfect-simple”, and “suitable”. Taking this meaning literally we can see where the style came from.
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    Lagom is more about ‘a way of living’ rather than just creating a look, think about what it would take to create a balance between work and play as an overarching concept behind life in general. Wouldn’t you like to create and ‘have’ that balance? I know I would! Do you have any tips? How do you balance work and play? Do we need to ‘make like the swedes’?

    Be great to hear your thoughts! Do you feel like we are quick to embrace other cultures terms and use them to shape our lives?

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  • The Scandinavian Influence

    The ‘Scandi-look’ is what I have requests for from a lot of my clients, they love the style and the feeling it evokes. The pure simplicity of clean lines and pared back elegance makes the space warm and inviting and is usually functional and minimal. The use of muted tones and earthy materials such as wood is a must for Scandinavian inspired homes.

    What properties do you need to instil in your space for this look to work? Here I talk about a few key elements that you should think about changing up for this look to work!

    Wooden floors
    Natural, earthy tones have pride of place in one of these homes, think pale but warm woods but don’t go towards pine (it’s too yellow). It has to be subtle to be Scandi-inspired and fit the look. Nature is celebrated in all its beauty and so wooden floors are always always the preferred option. Add some potted plants to your interior to further infuse nature.

    Materials – add texture and warmth
    There is a strong emphasis on using cotton, wool and linen rather than synthetics where fabrics are used and even this should be kept to a bare minimum. Think about bold, geometric patterns on cushions and rugs; be they chevrons, strips or squares. Flowery just doesn’t cut it in this look. Wood across floors and furniture is still a fixed requirement and you can never have too much!

    Clean lines
    Keep the geometry simple, that isn’t to be read as ‘don’t use curves’ but don’t have busy, fussy lines all over the space. Generally open plan living is the best type of space, this is in keeping with practical multifunctional spaces that can be used by the whole family.

    Colour
    The preference is for white and muted colours, these make the space look generous and keeping walls, cabinetry and other large pieces in the same tonal range make the space appear larger than it is. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use colour; rugs, vases, artwork, cushions and other accessories in bright shades can add character and personality to a space and will actually make them stand out more than if you had a busy, colourful interior as a base already.

    Functional and liveable interior
    The main focus of Scandinavian design is to improve the day to day functionality in daily life and to make life easier for you. So if you have to get inside a cupboard, to get inside a drawer to open the box to get a spoon it’s a completely un-Scandinavian way to live. The open plan model is one that is embraced by Scandinavians and lovers of the style. Make the open plan space work for you and allow you to complete daily tasks with ease so that it is a way of living.

    Furniture
    Strong, bold and clean lines in furniture with a big focus on multifunctional items is Scandinavian. Again wood is the principal material used. There are some iconic mid-century furniture pieces that you can invest in and they lend themselves extremely well to this look. Examples of these include;

    • The Eames Chair, by Charles and Ray Eames
    • The Poet Sofa, by Finn Juhl
    • The Egg Chair, by Arne Jacobsen

    Do you remember seeing any of these? Do you like the look? Some are still available and are very popular, even just as focal pieces for the space.

    Fireplace in the corner of a room
    The cold is big factor in Scandinavian countries and so they always like to have a nice fire, whether that be open or closed. If you don’t have a fireplace or working chimney it’s not a problem, there are some great freestanding fireplaces that have no requirements other than access to power. The key is to have said fireplace offset in the space and not aligned centrally like we do here in Britain, it isn’t meant to be a feature but to keep the space warm and allow functionality around it.

    Merge the inside and outside
    Diffusing the line between inside and outside is so easy to do now, think of those nice, nearly frameless bi-fold doors that you can just open up the space and be instantly outside. I am finding that clients love having that freedom to move into and out of both zones and I try to design with this in mind. Knowing that the weather is unpredictable in the UK means extra precautions have to be put in place for all eventualities, but I think that is part of the fun!

    Declutter and minimise your accessorising of any interior
    Keep your space focused! I have boxes full of nice display items but I could never have it all out cluttering the space up. I regularly curate each of my rooms to make sure there is a different focal point from a piece of artwork on my walls to authentic chopsticks from a trip to Beijing or my original digeridoo bought all the way back from Australia. I do always collect items of interest because I know that they will have their day and be out for all to see. Sometimes though, the hard part is determining what a keeper is and what something to just get rid of is. More on that in another post though. There are also some really lovely inspired pieces out there, you just have to find the right suppliers!

    Light and airy
    Natural light is increased by any means necessary. Windows are generously proportioned. Window treatments, if used at all, are kept sheer or translucent. Mirrors are placed strategically to visually expand the space and reflect any available ambient light. The dominant colour palette is generally a light-reflecting neutral.

    So actually, to completely overhaul what you have in your space currently and adopt a Scandinavian way of living isn’t so hard, in fact it could be the best thing you did, a way of living’ rather than just creating a look. Do you think its something you want to replicate? Will you be taking your space apart? Be great to hear your thoughts.

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  • Spring is Here – Goals for the Season

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    Spring Flowers – The Colours!

    With the clocks going forward, giving us more daylight it already feels like spring is here. The bright weather makes me feel like i need to set myself some goals for the season and I feel more optimistic and that goals are more achievable (suddenly?!). I am also hoping that by writing them down and letting the whole world see them i’m more inclined to commit to them, fingers crossed!

    My Blog
    So i have been blogging a while but i did lose my flow, now i’m trying to build it back up again and i really want to commit to it. Time is usually the issue but i think i am going to try and schedule regular weekly ‘blog time’ and get Mr P to push me to commit, i actually love writing it and getting my posts ready so its just the sitting down to physically get on the platform and write that i need to work out. I am also in the process of re-branding and creating a few mini-series features (watch this space). Lots of exciting things planned for the blog-o-sphere so lots to keep me busy!

    Interiors
    I’m an Interior Designer by day (and night!) and I really do need to focus on working on more projects that excite me, don’t get me wrong I have a few jobs on at present but I do need to push and strive to get myself working on more. This is the dream! When asked when I was younger ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ my answer was ‘an interior designer’ so here I am now with more than a decades experience across multiple sectors working for myself and various others, so I appreciate where I have got to and what I have achieved! But I (always) need to do more. I do have a Facebook page for this too but you’ll probably find me on Instagram and Pinterest more as I love the way these platforms allow you to share visually! Instagram is usually where you’ll find insider photos of any current projects or instant inspiration.

    Meet More Creatives
    Its hard to meet creatives if you don’t work with them or meet them through work, but since I’ve said to myself its the best source of inspiration I am on the hunt, and some of these people will be featured as part of my mini-series. Can’t wait!! I’ve recently met loads of inspiring people and hope to collaborate with some of them too!

    Homewares
    Those of you that know me, know that I’ve always wanted to curate my own homewares collection and I’ve got a collection bubbling away in my head which is just bursting to be committed to paper so that I could possibly start thinking about how to recreate and produce these items. Maybe its the fear of committing to paper meaning making it a reality that i’m scared of – who knows. I mean it may take months and months before i could even think about getting samples made but i have to start somewhere. So come on, get the sketchbook out and start writing, brainstorming and sketching!

    Air
    Now it might be pretty obvious that we all need air, but this is a fairly easy goal, I want to make a conscious effort to get outside more often. Its lighter and brighter now so its time to go for those long walks, get some exercise and generally get fresh air (as fresh as you can get when living in the hustle and bustle!).

    Any relatable goals? What have you aimed to get through by the time summer hits? Do you have any ideas for me on any of my goals? Be great to hear from you.

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  • Colour of the Year 2017

    Now there is a lot of differing opinions from designers all over the world about the trend that is colour and the colours that mean current to one designer is not the same as what means current to another. Dulux colour of the year is Denim Drift and Pantone colour of the year is Greenery, MY colour of the year is more like a warmer cappuccino grey with a hint of blush. I mean that isn’t to say that anyone is wrong, you’ll find many designers commenting on what they deem to be their colour of 2017 and yours truly is one of them; take a read and tell me what you think, be great to hear from you.

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  • London Design Festival 2013

    The definition: An annual event that promotes the city’s creativity and brings in creatives from far and wide. The ‘unique selling point’ of this design festival is that it classes itself as a celebration of design rather than just another weeklong event. It has been going for over 10 years now and was the brainchild of Sir John Sorrell and Ben Evans. The Festival program is made up of over 300 events and exhibitions shown by hundreds of partner organisations across the design domain and from around the world.

    Each year the festival finds a new focus on a different aspect of design and showcases different ‘landmark projects’. Landmark projects focus on experimenting with new materials and processes and the London Design Festival always ask great designers and architects to contribute. This year’s landmark project is the ‘Endless Stair designed by dRMM, sponsored by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and engineered by ARUP. This ‘endless’ staircase is placed with the Tate Modern as a backdrop, iconic in itself; the installation has a lot to square up to. Alex de Rijke of dRMM describes it as “a three-dimensional exercise in composition, structure and scale and as both a marker and meeting place”. The installation will be open from 13th September to the 10th October 2013.

    Endless-Stair

    My visit to the installation saw me waiting in a queue for about 1 hour. Mr. P was NOT impressed as I had promised him that it wouldn’t be too long a wait, but he too wanted to climb the ‘endless stair’ and so didn’t mind so much. It actually feels quite surreal to be climbing a staircase that you know leads no-where since you can see the top of it!!

    Shoreditch Triangle MapAnother aspect to the festival is the ‘Shoreditch triangle’, which geographically our studio falls into. We started off with a private view by ‘Deadgood’ at The Pitfield exhibition space. Deadgood are producers of contemporary furniture, lighting and interiors. The space looks as you’d imagine it, stylish, minimal and modern and the products are classics with a twist, be it material used or shape. Lee Broom’s new retail store was the next stop for us, he was hosting a private opening party, although when we got there I felt like it had been an open invitation free for all. Over subscribed and hugely packed like sardines in a tin! I didn’t feel like I could see any of his work and couldn’t wait to leave… having said that the cocktails were amazing and so were the canapés which was nice! Stumbling in late was going to be a regular thing this week…

    This year 100% Design was slightly same same, a few nice pieces mainly lighting but everything else was just as normal. The newest addition to this show is the ‘international pavilion’, which showcases work from around the world. It’s always good to see how others are doing the same. The part that I enjoyed the most was the stand with 3d printers on it. Technology has evolved so much, I remember having to vacuum form 3d molds to get objects melted into shape!! In front of my eyes a vase was being created out of string type lengths of plastic. I would love to have myself one of these printers, I even went so far as to ask how much it would cost initially, material costs and maintenance … the smaller ones RRP at about 2k which isn’t too bad… Mr. P however didn’t feel the same way!! I will have to work on him and see what happens… watch this space!! He may have a moment of temporary insanity where he agrees!

    Designjunction is a showcase of the very best in furniture, lighting and product design from around the world. It was held at the 1960s Postal Sorting Office over in Holborn and has been going since 2011. More recently it has been transported to Milan and New York. I didn’t get a chance to go over and take a peek but had a friend who managed to take some snaps for me!

    Final stop for me over the very busy period of London Design Festival 2013 should have been Decorex International the luxury interiors and design show.  However it was soo busy in the studio that I didn’t get a chance to visit. Posts on twitter kept me updated with the goings on and what the stand designs looked like and various guest tweets, photos etc.

    The 10 days or so of London Design Festival are tiring but fun and provide a great insight into how the industry works, new suppliers and new products. It also allows the interiors industry to catch up with one another and renew old or forgotten friendships us interior designers have with suppliers.

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  • Marrakech for some R&R

    Early August saw Mr P and myself take a short flight across to Marrakech. We had both always wanted to go, the Mr for the ‘food’ and myself for the intricate patterns and architecture.

    We were staying in a ‘Riad’ called ‘Maison Des Oliviers’ (A Riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. More on that later!) On the outskirts of town and since we arrived pretty late could not see a single thing! I could hear the frogs (noisily) having their conversations whilst we ate a hasty traditional dinner of cous cous and tagine on the terrace.

    Temperatures generally ranged between 40 and 44 degrees. Most of the time it was just too hot to sit outside by the pool, instead you were better off in the souks, making your way through the medina which are maze like looking at all the merchandise on offer and bartering with the locals.

    My best buy was a Moroccan tea set that included a teapot, traditional glasses (with filigree pattern work) and a serving tray. It now has pride of place in my kitchen and I am just itching to use it!! Mr P is not amused and shakes his head in dismay at yet another item in our home…. He doesn’t drink tea he exclaims for the 3rd time since we have been back.

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    Back to the architecture and design, a Moroccan Riad is a traditional house or palace. The reasons these types of houses have an internal courtyard is to ensure the privacy to their women, as privacy is very important within Islam as well as the need to protect against the weather. Looking from outside there would be a ‘fortress’ type wall protecting the home, with no windows or extra doors and all rooms would open into the central space promoting the idea of togetherness.

    Traditionally the walls of the riads are adorned with tadelakt plaster (nearly waterproof lime plaster) and zellige tiles (terracotta tile work), usually with Arabic calligraphy, with quotes from the Quran.

    The style of these riads has changed over the years, but the basic form is still used in designs today. Recently there has been a surge in interest in this form of house after a new vogue of renovation in towns such as Marrakech and Essaouira where many of these often-crumbling buildings have been restored to their former glory.

    Moroccan style and design is now increasingly being used within interior schemes (for more articles on Moroccan design have a look at this blog http://moroccandesign.com).

    Mosaic tile detailing

    From the light fixtures to the tile work, Moroccan design is all about the finishing touches. The quickest way to Moroccan interior design is using bright and colourful wool rugs, kilims or thin large rugs with traditional geometric and ethnic patterns.

    Moroccan style home decorating invites rich colours of Middle Eastern interiors, dynamic contrasts, traditional patterns and uniqueness of Moroccan decorations and decor accessories. Vibrant colors of red and rich orange inspired by amazing African sunsets, green and blue found in the sea of the area, tones of gold, light brown, yellow and silver from the surrounding desert.

    Whilst out there we indulged in a bit of pampering and booked the traditional Moroccan hammam treatment and relaxing massage. A hammam is in essence a large steam room where you get cleansed and Moroccans go at least once a week, a ritual of sorts. Once the cleansing ritual had been completed we were left to relax for about 15 minutes before being guided to the massage room where we both had an hour of relaxing massage bliss. Mr. P even fell asleep whilst lying on the massage bed.

    For the most part of our weeklong break I spent relaxing and writing lists, as well as enjoying the permanent sun and warmth. The food at ‘Pepenero’ was amazing, especially the dessert, but that was it for me…

    Visiting Morocco I envisaged little streets with lots of Moroccan arches and special mosaic details. However I was a little disappointed as it wasn’t as culturally ‘special’ as I thought it would be. I guess when you build up an idea in your head about what a place is going to be like, especially taking into consideration their design and architectural history, you are bound to be heading for some sort of disappointment.

    Finally…. I loved this tree with lights and just HAD to continuously take photographs of it much to the annoyance of Mr. P!!

    My sign off

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