The milan furniture fair

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jean-baptiste fastrez

As part of Salone del Mobile 2012 (or the  Milan Furniture Fair), Danish fabric house Kvadrat,  invited seven curators from around the world to nominate a design talent from their area ….. to create a new piece using their fabric. These pieces are some of my favourites … the hammock, coffee table and giant animal cushions …. showcasing the design itself ….. the classic fabric …. and of course the colour palette !!

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fredrikson stallard

This exhibition was a focal point with its iconic woollen upholstery fabric relaunched in 58 colours !!

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ionna vautrin

images: wallpaper magazine

This beautiful fabric has been used and loved by designers around the world since 1968 when it was first produced by Kvadrat. It was designed by the very talented Nanna Ditzel.

Ilse collection for georg jensen launched milan 2012

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Designer Ilse Crawford’s collection for Georg Jensen comprises a set of universal objects that frame simple daily acts. Studioilse’s design starts with the human being at the centre. The video attached to her ‘website in the making’ is beautiful and shows the pieces above …. in her own words “design can influence the way we behave and feel.”   

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Because I love her design so much …. I do try to keep an eye out for her latest projects. Her interiors for Soho House which originated in London and included High Road House, Chiswick and Babington House amongst others …. were to me ….perfect !! ….pared back, yet glamorous …. so different to anything else being done in London at the time. 

Such a success Soho House now has a much larger network.   

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Her latest is the Ett Hem Hotel in Stockholm, due to open about now. The above two photos are a little preview.  Designed with the feel of staying in someone’s private home ….. a feeling not many hotels manage to achieve or even set out to achieve.  Personally it is my only criteria when selecting a hotel to stay in.  I really don’t want to feel as if I am staying in a hotel at all.

Ilse Crawford’s pet hotel hate is more about how the hotel is run…..if they are unloved by the staff….whether the lighting levels are right !!  I can definitely relate to that.  I may have said this before but I can never bear to go back once the doors of a hotel open …. at least one I have worked on.

 

 

10 tips for creating a black and white interior !!

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image: likainen parketti

There is nothing as smart as black and white !! And you don’t need another colour at all if you are clever with texture and pattern.  How inviting is the grey woollen blanket above, not to mention the rustic trunk …. the juxtaposition of the contemporary slick white walls with lots of texture, pattern and vintage !!

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Again, a simple white interior contrasted with the warmth and texture of the linen sofa and timber table.  Interestingly, it is the definite contrast of the black shade, television and other smaller pieces that create the statement.

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images:jakob nylund

This is an example of pure white on white with not a lot of black …… however you don’t need a lot to make the statement.

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image: apartmentsilike

In contrast, the black in this interior is strong and bold and looks fabulous !!

The combination of the very definite black and white stripes with the softer lines of the sofa and armchair works beautifully. The detailed window architrave and rustic side tables soften the linear effect of the rug.

So be bold ….. go forth and embrace black and white for its simplicity, its inherent style and its flexibility.

Some black and white suggestions ……

almost black walls with white ceiling, doors, windows, skirting and architraves, floors pale bleached timber

white walls, ceiling and trims with black gloss timber floor

bathrooms with white wall tiles, predominantly white tiled floor with small black tile in check pattern, black vanity as a contrast with white bath and basin

all white kitchens with a very thick black benchtop … particularly good with black timber floor or even grey bleached timber

staircases in white with black handrail and tread only

charcoal to black painted exterior for timber houses or sheds with white trim on windows, doors and shutters

black and white photographs framed in black on a white wall or framed in white on a black wall

a soft black fringed throw rug on a bed made with crisp white bedlinen and doona

thick black bath towels hanging or folded in an all white bathroom

a large vase full of fully blown pink roses in any black and white interior ….

Autumn starts slowly in the southern highlands

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I am going to drip feed photos of our autumn as it seems to be much slower to progress this year. While there are pockets of wonderful autumn colour that seems in its peak…..other areas are barely starting.  Our maples….the showcase of our garden….have barely started to turn.  Luckily we already have so much other autumn colour to admire….particularly our beautiful smoke bush.

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It seems such a shame to have inclement weather at this time of year because you really do want to be out in the garden admiring it all.  I love finding a sunny spot to set up morning tea….the glow of the sun shining through the yellow and red leaves…..it reminds me of stained glass windows.

The house always looks amazing when you can pick branches of colourful autumn leaves to put in jugs.  Colourful rosehips look equally as good.

With the nip in the air….although already some days are quite cold!!!…..work in the garden seems such a joy.  Any excuse to be out with all the autumn leaves….even if it means hours of endless raking.  It is exhilarating and fabulous exercise I tell myself year after year.

I am never alone out there though…..the families of kookaburras perched close by…..are always on the lookout for worms as you work your way through the leaves raking….raking.  They are never afraid of you….and I find them quite a comfort.

On a less strenuous note, autumn heralds the arrival of our beautiful sasanqua camellias ….. the bushes so old they are enormous. I have bowls of them all through the house ……they don’t last long but that doesn’t worry me a bit …..there is an endless supply down in the garden.

Clock and coffee at the museum of contemporary art, sydney

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What a magnificent day to visit our beautiful MCA.  Our decision to start with a coffee was a good one …. we stepped out of the lift on Level 4 …. to this !!!!

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This space (called the Sculpture Terrace) flowing off the cafe and with views to die for …. just needs a few more sculptures …. which are coming.

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images: mydesignfile

The cafe, apart from the view, is simple, smart … terrific design .  The food, coffee and wine menu … just about perfect.

 And now for the reason we came: The Clock

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Christian Marclay is nothing short of genius with his 24 hour video work which won him the Golden Lion at last years 54th Venice Biennale.

Friends had talked about it, however nothing had prepared me for the joy and delight of this installation.

Entering the cinema-like space with its extremely comfortable sofas (some 40 or so I guessed) one is transported !!! I didn’t want to leave. Short extracts from thousands of films spanning cinema history each suggest or reference a particular time of day. Synchronised with real time, which is captivating, the extracts move cleverly from one to the next with changing locations, eras etc.

You do find yourself desperately trying to recall certain films or to know which films various scenes are taken from … I guess one will never know.

If only they allowed refreshments … one could settle in for a whole morning/afternoon.  Maybe people do. I simply cannot wait to attend one of the all night sessions … or at least part thereof.

PS. A glass of wine/cheese etc would be a fabulous accompaniment to the early evening sessions.

London revisited one sunday afternoon

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Sitting here in the Southern Highlands on a gloomy Sunday afternoon…..skies grey and misty rain falling….I am transported back to London.  I am always reminded of London in this sort of weather…. for obvious reasons and I absolutely adore it!!!! Very strange indeed for a Queenslander.

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I thought I would reminisce by flicking through my London photos…..an experience that would be so much more enjoyable had I printed off actual photos and put them in an album.  Nevertheless, I searched through My Pictures file on the computer and found myself lost in the memories of my home away from home.  Any number of hours have elapsed and here I am still indulging both myself and you with my favourite buildings…..the ones that just capture a moment or a mood.

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Rows of elegant white terraces, Georgian townhouses (or Annabel’s nightclub for those in the know….in the beautiful Berkeley Square) or Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair for afternoon tea.

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I have always loved the Michelin Building in South Kensington …. not just for the building itself but for the activity that surrounds it…Walton Street, Draycott and Sloane Avenues, the V&A and on it goes……what I would give to be there right now !!

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There is always something extremely comforting about the London Pub …  particularly after a day shopping.

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images: mydesignfile

Or just head for Somerset House on the Strand and spend a lazy Sunday afternoon exploring the Impressionist collection at the Courtauld Gallery …. that’s what I would be doing if I were there right now !!

Designer rugs by fabulous designers

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The very clever Designer Rugs has engaged a number of designers with differing skills and backgrounds to come up with a range of spectacular rugs…..we are talking Akira Isogawa, Dinosaur Designs and Easton Pearson to name a few.

My favourite rugs are interestingly both by Catherine Martin, production and costume designer to Baz Luhrmann’s fabulous Moulin Rouge and others.  Her philosophy for these patterns was to “transform the mundane into the extraordinary”.

The rugs themselves are works of art but to see the rug named Feathers in situ above…. one can appreciate the impact of a stunning pattern but in rather subtle tones on what would have been a very neutral or bland interior.

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This rather exotic rug named Peony caught my eye…..I pictured it immediately….. sitting on high gloss Black Japan timber flooring.  Such a rich and vibrant addition to a classic traditional or contemporary interior….. a similar feel to a Persian rug.  Persian rugs work with any period or style of furnishing and this rug would be equally as versatile.

Rugs certainly change the mood of any room….they are a little like accessories that can dress up or down an outfit….they dress the room !!!

Mercedes benz furniture launched in milan

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Really not sure about the range of Mercedes Benz furniture….their first !!!!

It is being launched as we speak at the Milan Furniture Fair.

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In their own words they are describing it as dynamic, futuristic and having nice form and lines……and I am sure the ergonomics are brilliant, however it really just doesn’t look terribly comfortable. 

Perhaps, the statement piece in a Mercedes Benz showroom or state of the art harbourside apartment !!

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The collection comprises chairs, chaise lounge, dining table, shelf for the home theatre system, drawers and bed. 

No doubt the quality is impeccable, however I suspect the prices may be approaching that of the smaller cars in the range.

Food for thought…..I don’t think so.

Home away from home at the greenwich hotel new york

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There is something rather special about boutique hotels like The Greenwich Hotel in New York…..they are so much more homely and inviting than the larger hotel chains….even if they are 5 star !!  The attention to detail during the design process is one thing but the concept of the smaller hotel offering a little more is what really makes the difference to its clientele.

The additional decorative items that you don’t see in the bigger hotels such as the occasional throw rug, coffee table books, magazines….the sort of decorative pieces that you would have in your own home or would like to have, are generously incorporated into both guestrooms and public spaces.

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Having spent a number of years working on the interior design of large hotels and small, there is only so far the big hotels are prepared to go when it comes to individualizing either the guestrooms, lobbies, restaurants or bars.  Yes it is a staffing issue…..after all straightening books and decorative items does take time!!!

The reason I don’t go back to hotels I have worked on is that I have been known to plump up cushions or reposition a collection of items on a coffee table !! I have to say that a large part of the thought process when incorporating all the gorgeous extras is how it will stand the test of time …. and the general public.

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Wonderful boutique hotels like The Greenwich have no two guestrooms alike.  They are elegantly eclectic …. incorporating delicate silk rugs, interesting art collections, glamorous mirrors and libraries of books…and are truly a luxurious home away from home.

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Grain sack fabrics both rustic and elegant

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I first stumbled across these fabrics at the iconic Peppergreen antique emporium in the Southern Highlands…..sadly no longer.  Shelves and even bolts of this vintage linen, cotton and flax grain sack fabric. I think what draws me to it is the subtlety in colour variation.  All very neutral, really only varying in texture from the soft scrubbed finish to a much coarser, almost hessianlike fabric.

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The faded imprint of the logo or manufacturer only adds to the appeal….almost like works of art.

 Also falling into this category of fabrics I feel are the gorgeous antique european mangle cloths.  These are a softer colour palette and finer texture….fabulous for tablecloths and serviettes. I love the subtle stripe to the edge…..always faded red or navy.

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images: homelife

Being so neutral these fabrics combine well with pattern…..however with their subtle shades of cream, putty or taupe are at their most elegant when incorporated into a cream or white interior.   Have fun with scatter cushions and interesting trimming….and think about loose covers !!

The most exciting part is searching for these fabrics at your favourite antique market…..

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