Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Object of the day: Brighton Beach goes technicolour

Please do bear with the recent break in my usually regular posts. Things will be back to normal within a few weeks – but meanwhile, a quick find I'd like to share.

I've seen this print – or, at least, very similar – in numerous interiors shoots, and I have coveted it HARD.

Tonight, while researching for the Independent Christmas Gift Guide that I'm in the middle of compiling, I stumbled across it on Clippings.com. Hurrah!

I was surprised to discover the photograph was of Brighton Beach, rather than somewhere glossier and hotter. Though when you look closer, it all makes sense. The image is by photographer James French, who has "done a John Hinde" on his final print, giving the colours a technicolour buzz just as the old English postcard master once did.

The limited edition prints start at £75 and are available at Clippings.com

Monday, 20 October 2014

Object of the day: Jacqueline Talbot tiles

Unusual tiles are a find. And these, by artist Jacqueline Talbot, are just that.

In 2009, Jacqueline experimented with photographing her paintings, intending to use them to create digitally printed wallpaper. But then discovered she could digitally reproduce her work onto tiles... one kiln later, and a business was born.



I think they're beautiful, and beautifully different. They aren't intended for use on floors, but are safe around fireplaces and as oven splashbacks, or just as a decorative wall feature.

They're reasonable too: prices start at £4.50 per tile for the smallest size, 9.8cm x 9.8cm, and go up to £14 apiece for the largest size, 19.8cm x 19.8cm. Jacqueline also creates bespoke designs on request.

Had I not gone for all-black for the downstairs loo, a totally tiled power room in the style of the above arrangement would have worked a treat. Too startling? Be inspired by this incredible tiled house in Mali. Tiles were also all over London Design Festival this year, including beautiful displays by Bert & May and some cool collaborations, notably the British Tile Collection series with Workhouse and guests (see a couple of teasers from my Instagram feed below).

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More from yesterday's #designjunction plunder: hot tiles from @workhousecoll & Roy Pegram in the #BritishTileCollection collaboration series - also featuring Custhom & Gemma Fabbri #design #tiles #pattern @_designjunction #LDF14 #London #L_D_F_official







One of Jacqueline's original paintings.

I don't think the gallery on Jacqueline's website does her beautiful ceramic artworks justice, but I do like the featured splashback, above.

Check out the extensive range at www.jacquelinetalbot.co.uk

Friday, 17 October 2014

Where's my Pantone Colour of the Year? It's behind you!

A short post today (boy life has been busy, so apologies for gap in the usual, regular service). But brief as I am, I come bearing cheery and Friday-ish news to lift your spirits for the weekend: The Interior Designers' Pantomime is imminent.

Following on from the success of 2010's Snow White and the Seven Designers – below – comes Peter Pan and the Designers of the Caribbean. Har har.

The new show, which is all in aid of the NSPCC and runs from 28 October to 1 November at London's Bloomsbury Theatre, opens in a grey and drab version of the capital. All the interior designers have fled to Never Never Land to escape their clients’ bad taste and endless complaints. But with Captain Hook on the loose, how long before the designers realise they must return colour to London and save the city from Hook's evil clutches? 

Why ever isn't there more interior design based comedy in our lives? It sounds brill, and all the characters are played by a game bunch of interior designers, with Tim Gosling as Donna Kebab, the ship's cook and Dame, Joanna Wood as Tinkerbell, William Yeoward as the naughty Usherette, and Kate Bingham, Fleur Rosedale, Lavinia Dargie as lady pirates. And costumes have been created – ta-da – by fashion giants including Vivienne Westwood, Jasper Conran and Anya Hindmarch. See some of Conran's outfits below, modelled by Tim Gosling, and scroll down for more about the show and ticket info.




Buy tickets for the Interior Designers' Pantomime at the Bloomsbury Theatre.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Etsy UK is having a – real-life – exhibition

I've found some pretty special art over the years on Etsy – these affordable portraits are particularly memorable, as is the work of this Israeli artist (I've since bought two of her mini canvases and love them very much). I've also admired some rather unusual portraits on the site, too.

And now Etsy UK is hosting its very own art exhibition – a real one, not a virtual one. And here's my favourite piece in it.

It's called Path to the Beach and is by Shetland-based painter Kristi Cumming who runs an Etsy shop called Islandla. It's also the painting used in the poster to advertise the show (good to know I'm on the same wavelength as those Etsy bods). And this inaugural event takes place in London (but they're hoping to roll it out nationwide before too long) and you can catch it in Clerkenwell over the weekend, from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 October.

More than 600 Etsy sellers applied to appear, from all over the country, but there was room for just 15 of them – from oil painters to ceramicists – at the show. You can check out the line-up and all the details at the Etsy exhibition page right now.



Monday, 29 September 2014

How to be tidy (and some
storage porn)

I'm still on a high from the massive garage clear-out; a few scary cupboards inside got a healthy de-clutter. 

But, while it's all good for the weeks following a big blitz like this, if you’re anything like me (untidy at heart) you’ll soon be wading through mood-dampening mess in no time. I’m in awe of tidy people: what are their secrets? 

Above: Future & Found's bright and cheerful stacking crates, which start at £6

“Clutter is only clutter if it doesn't have a home,” says my tidiest friend, Lizzie. “I have a draw of ‘useful things’ – wrapping paper, scissors, ribbons, cards, so rather than shoving them in random piles, they have a place.” She also sorts paperwork weekly “so it’s never daunting”.

But where d’you get that sort of self-discipline? “Fear,” says another tidy friend, Paul plainly. “I visualise how overwhelmed I’ll feel if things get out of control.” 

Above: Ottoman from Made A New's Etsy shop, £150. But if you are handy you could rustle one up yourself with not much more than a lucky find, a fabric scrap and a staplegun.

Since that chat, I’ve vowed never to see my bedroom clothes mountain again by focusing on how unpleasant the bedroom feels with it, the time it takes to clear, and how Zen I feel without it. Getting into the habit of actively channelling those emotions whenever poised to hurl things on the bedroom chair heap has proved more effective than I'd have imagined. But if it doesn't last, I'm tempted by the idea of a bedroom ottoman instead, like the one above. Clothes heap: hidden.

Lizzie has another tip: “Have spare hangers in wardrobe. It’s only grim hanging clothes in an over-packed wardrobe: stick out-of-season clothes in cases.” I often think about doing that. One day I might be tidy enough to manage it, and when I do I'll be stuffing them into one of the oversized, rectangular storage bags from Dotcomgiftshop.com, above, just £4.95. I have already, and a little smugly I'll admit, bought the from-the-market launderette version of these and packed away spare duvets and pillows.

Above: small Ferm Living fabric storage basket, £49, Made in Design

Consider, too, your barriers to tidying. My aversion to sorting months of un-dealt-with domestic paperwork was partly down to not having a plan for the stuff I'd sorted out. Lizzie swears by archiving (a plastic bag in the attic will do); then stop talking about buying that shredder and finally get rid of the stuff you really don't need to keep. 

Tidy types love a “system”. But it can be forced. When I colour-coordinated all my books there was an unexpected side-effect (along with mild self-hatred for being such an interiors cliche): it looks so untouchable that it’s now immune to excessive random shelf-tat. Matching shelf colour to walls adds to the veneer of neatness.

Above: curtain fabric by Sanderson's Maycott Collection

Don’t fancy my uptight shelves? Hang beautiful fabric on curtain wire to hide all the crap. Use the same technique, plus a clothes rail, in an empty alcove to hide chunky coats, hallway junk, excess shoes, toys… 

Cork tile pinboards (so you can shape your own) are a top cheat if you’re prone to hoarding scraps of paper. But to avoid a student kitchen vibe, I love this idea my brother – a picture framer – suggested, and which I'm going to try myself soon: get the corkboard framed with a box frame and paint it the same colour (or choose wood the colour of your cork). It'll create a pleasing sense of containment.

And if all that fails, consider Monica’s chaos cupboard in Friends: “Tidy people aren’t really organised and smug,” says Paul, “it’s a veneer. Just because you can’t see the mess it doesn’t mean it’s not there. I’m tidy – but you probably know where to find things.” 

This is an edited version of my column on the topic in the Independent on Sunday a while back.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Another retro trend renaissance: hello pink bathrooms

Pink bathrooms are a trend a-brewing, I'm telling you, and I've been eyeing them longingly for a while. 

I thought it might just be me, but then these much maligned blasts from the past started popping up all over Pinterest. (Though not especially looking like this one, below, even though it's incredible.)

Then I visited the beautifully designed Bill Granger restaurant in Clerkenwell (read about it here) and was delighted to be greeted by a wall of muted bubble gum pink wall tiles (but alas no gold taps, though there was some gold trim). See it below.




And THEN I stumbled across an even bigger sign that love for pink bathrooms was big right now. There is a website campaign devoted to the revival of these divisive mid-century set-pieces. But before we get to that, let's have a look at some good ones.

Images: Retro Renovation (more of which below)



Above: images above from a rather slinky home in Melbourne, via Dustjacket-attic 

Above: this is the bathroom in Jo Woods' home. Love the matching giant 80s perfume bottles. See the rest of it here on the Daily Mail website


So the campaign, a brilliant, brilliant idea, is run by Retro Renovation. I'm incredibly late to it (it launched several years ago but since I obsess over interiors websites more than most, you may also not have come across it). The idea, as you might guess by the name of the website, is to preserve the classic 1950s/60s originals, to inspire new owners not to rip out the original bathroom suite simply because it's not white.

And Retro Renovation weren't messing about. Fuelled by wilful destruction on interiors DIY shows on TV, they launched a proper campaign, complete with Flickr group and pastel bathroom messiah merch (above). Yes.

If you love the originals, check out this incredibly well preserved 1962 house I wrote about a couple of years ago. You'll love it. And if you're hankering after a blush bath, look no further than HM James, who own the patents to some of the original avocado, rose and lemon suites and now reproduce them. I'm all for it, just trying to work out how I could incorporate some pink into the freshly painted all white bathroom...

But what do you think – could you perform your ablutions comfortably with a candyfloss backdrop, or is white the only way to go in the 21st century?


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Wednesday Question: gold taps – well, would you?

Gold taps were to 80s interiors what a Lamborghini is to inner city driving. A bit showy-offy for the sake of it.

So who'd have thought they'd be reincarnated all these years later in such pleasing way? It's a quick post from me this week as there's lots going on, but here's a run down of the new way to do gold taps. The trick is to mix them with a utiltarian back-drop and play down the flash.

Via 22-quick.com


Weathered bronze taps by Barber Wilsons

Image: interiordec.com

Utilitarian... or, the big budget option: solid marble. Image: petrabindel.com

But, like coloured kitchen appliances, is it such a now trend that in five years you'd be yearning for plain old chrome again?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Object of the day: Dutch tiles with tales

The best thing I saw at the London Design Festival last week measured 10 centimetres square and was based on a 16th century Dutch design classic. 



Yes, yes, there was so much to love at LDF 2014. The sprawling event, now in its 11th year, is the non-trade way through the back doors of the design world and, with six big fairs in different venues, various landmark displays of creativity, and about a zillion satellite range or product or designer launches in galleries, shops and street corners across the city, visiting can provoke a little design overload.

So these unusual Amsterdam-made StoryTiles by visual artist, Marga Van Oers – which I saw at Design Junction – aren't the only thing I loved, but they are probably the most memorable.

Marga explains the concept (better than I can at midnight on a Sunday) on her website (details below): "StoryTiles are miniature stories on Dutch Whites, the old-fashioned Dutch tiles that have been made since the 16th century. [Marga] gives old tiles a new life with her unique, detailed and humorous collages. Every StoryTile tells its own story."

A simple idea, beautifully executed. The tiles cost 25 Euros (£20ish) each for a 10cm x 10cm size, and go up to 75 Euros (£59ish) for 20cm x 20cm. Not cheap for tiles, but eminently affordable for wonderful, tiny art. Marga also creates larger versions printed onto wood, which you can see on her site. I think Little Red Riding Hood (below) might be my favourite.

They provide a similar joy to the similarly small but perfectly formed work of Israeli magazine illustrator and artist, Tali Yalonetzki, which I mentioned in Friday's post about some of my favourite makers featured on this blog of late. If you missed it, and like these, check it out.

Or go straight to Marga's site for more on the tiles: www.storytiles.nl

Friday, 19 September 2014

Throwback Friday – and a request to people make nice stuff

Today I'm plucking some of my favourite craft from the archives. Why? 

To inspire any readers of this blog who make, paint or draw lovely stuff, to apply to be part of the illustrious Crafty Fox Markets this Christmas. The deadline for submissions is next week (23 September) and – ta-da! – I am one of three guest curators selecting which stalls get a pitch (details below).

I touched on this in Monday's post, but that neither scratched the surface of my excitement – nor said anything like enough about it all.

When Sinead Koehler, Crafty Fox founder, invited me to co-curate the festive events which run across three venues London venues this year: Brixton, Peckham and Dalston, I was honoured. I'm also in amazingly cool company, since my co-curators are the very creative Emy Gray and Supermarket Sarah, both of whose style I've previously written about on this blog. Our job will be to pore over submissions from potential exhibitors and curate our dream market. It's quite the fantasy task.

In case you don't know about the markets, and don't hang about it London, they're worth the excursion. Founded in 2010 by Sinead and her husband, Stephen, along with artist Jimboart (whose nice bear cups you might recognise), Crafty Fox has taken off in a big way. Once a one-venue, very local affair, the market has now popped up in north London, been part of a Tate Modern event and attracts over 3000 visitors a pop. As you can probably guess, The Crafty Fox markets sell things handmade by real people – but there is also a DJ, a bar, cakes and tea, creative workshops and a side-project of expert talks.

The autumn markets take place on 4-5 October and have been curated by Katie Tregidden, aka the design blogger behind Confessions of a Design Geek and editor of new design magazine, Fiera. (See some of her curated crafts in the top image.)

So will you be sending us your wares? I hope so – and please do spread the word to any friends who create nice things to sell. The stalls are open to experienced and new sellers alike – and if you've been trading for under 12 months you may even be offered a cheaper rate and a mentor. As I've said, the deadline is imminent, 23 September, so get in quick. Full details can be found at the Crafty Fox website.

To get you in the mood – whether to buy or sell – here are just six of my many favourite made-by-actual-people items from the blog over the past year or so (the links will take you to the original posts).

Anna Chilton's tiger mug

Tali Yalonetzki's tiny portraits

Horse hangers

Durido's happy t-shirts

Jordan Grace Owens' personalised paper dolls

Very cool posters inspired by The Wire

It has been hard narrowing just this lot down. I fear the task ahead with my co-curators will be even harder... Hope to see you there.

Don't forget – submission deadline to be considered for a stall is 23 September. All details at The Crafty Fox website.
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