Autumn Fair 2019

accessories, Decorating, Exhibitions, home decor, Lifestyle, Musings, Ramblings, Shopping, sustainability

This week I visited the NEC for The Autumn Fair, which is an exhibition for buyers covering homeware, gifts, fashion, retails solutions, home decor and more.

HOME DECOR

It is a vast space and was packed with exhibitors from across the globe.  There was colour trend forecasting also on offer, with 4 distinct trends and co-ordinating colour palettes – Dome, Scarcity, Gorge and Ritual were the themes:

Moving through the exhibition, in which there were literally hundreds of stalls, the next stop was home decor and lighting.  There were some lovely companies showing.  Coach House were particularly elegant and had a wide range of styles with a strong emphasis in oversized lighting:

I discovered a new brand called One World, and love their oversized furniture and accessories:

Plus I found a fantastic lighting company called Light & Living from the Netherlands, featured below.  Every light was beautiful, and I love the mesh pendants (which incidentally a lot of brands featured so they will be a big thing in 2020).  Their lights were beautiful, although very heavy so the practical designer in me popped out as I pondered the way to hang them safely on a standard British light fitting..

So looking at trends for 2020 home decor, colour is definitely creeping back in, even if the sophisticated greys/blush combos and Hygge remain popular.  I am really happy to see some colour after years of pale greys though….

SUSTAINABILITY

On another positive note, there was a large emphasis from exhibitors on sustainability.  I spent ages talking to a Chinese manufacturer from the Shaoneng Group about their products made from sugar cane and bamboo waste pulp.  They apply it to disposable food retail products, but it could also apply to many other home items.  It is biodegradable, water and oil proof and much more.  A wonderful product, especially for take aways and similar food outlets.

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So definitely an interesting place to visit and see what is on offer, how it is made and what some companies are doing to help sustainability and recycling.  This month I also will be visiting 100% Design & The London Design Fair, so watch this space for more ramblings…

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Design Trip – Denmark

Art, furniture, Ideas, Inspiration, Interior Design, travel

I recently returned from a design trip to Copenhagen, where the Interior Design department visited many museums, galleries and buildings to develop our practice.  What I noticed on the trip was how I have started to question design in relation to my visual cultural studies since starting the academic year.

In relation to areas in which my practice is specifically connected, I found that there is a real hierarchy of design ‘owners’, in that a small number of people have classed items as being of importance, and to that end the rest must follow suit in agreeing and accepting those definitions.  In terms of design history that makes absolute sense, eg: The Bauhaus changed ornamentation into form follows function and delineated all items, and given the age in which it happened it connects to social and economic change.   I do love modern architecture, especially Brutalism and post modernist hard lines, as it visually inspires me, but every item has a subjective reaction.

A Year of Learning…

Interior Design, interiors, Musings, Ramblings, university

So being a busy-bee student has definitely been a real adventure this academic year… but what a blast and I love every minute of it.

Next week I get my final crit from Tutors for my latest project.  I have been charged to design a Pavilion (full on Architecture style, from fixings to weights to construction), a bar to go in it, and do it all within a Grade I* listed site so absolutely no touching of the fabric of the building etc.  I am finding that I have a bit of Brutalist slant to my work, which is very surprising given the chaotic clutter which I live in (and love)…

I realised I have not posted any work on here since I started back at Uni, so here’s a few bits and bobs I have done this year to prove why I have had no social life, sleep or spare time to post much… 🙂

Semester 1:  Theatre Design & Product Design

Here I started out learning about Orthographics and site surveys.  Basically if you do this type of drawing by hand, JUST as you reach the end of a drawing your hand slips and you have to either scalpel off the ink, or more usually START AGAIN…Gah!  My tutor also is an architect, and knows if I am on a 0.01 or 0.1 pen so you can’t make any mistakes as he’ll know.

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I started to learn how to make scale models.  This is something I love doing, and think I am like Gulliver but maybe with more fumbly fingers and a tendency to superglue myself to small things…PORTFOLIO MASTER COPY 4 UPLOAD copy8

My next challenge was to design a theatre installation inside a beautiful Medieval Hall showing an excerpt of a scene from Macbeth.  This is where the brutalist streak started coming through I think… why try and complete with 600 year old carvings, go the opposite way….!  I also made films as part of the design as that is something I used to do in the past for a living, and this design had no budget attached so I went all out for it…

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The next project was to design a piece of modular furniture to be used in a travelling exhibition planned for the first ‘Martian House’.  This will be a pod designed a bit like the Antarctic science stations for prolonged living on the red plant in 2030.  I was asked to focus on wellbeing and health, so came up with a multipurpose item that becomes  amongst other things gym parts with added games to spice up what will be probably be a very dull life on Mars…

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Semester 2/3:  Staircase / Pavilion & Bar Design

I had to present a project on the design of a staircase by a notable architect, (right down to delivering a correctly scaled model).  I was given one by the architect Santiago Calatrava, one with NO KNOWN MEASUREMENTS ANYWHERE, which resulted in me travelling to Basel in Switzerland tape measure in hand.  But I measured the thing and managed to build the model to scale.

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Below is my last project this year, and I will know if I have been slayed by the end of June (gulp)….  I have worked myself to the bone in this one, and cannot even begin to count the hours/days/weeks/months it has taken…

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What have I learnt?

Less is More and document everything!  I have to justify and be accountable for every minute detail, right down to fixings and screws.  I have also had to learn a huge amount of new digital skills as presentation boards are so vital; Photoshop, Rhino, Sketchup, Illustrator, Lightworks, CAD and so on.  My iCloud storage is huge already as a result and I have over 11,000 photos on my phone….

I have also learnt brilliant practical skills; steam bending, digital fabric printing, woodwork, welding, plasma metal cutting, textiles, ceramics, 3D printing, laser cutting, fabric manipulation, resin and jesmonite techniques, and more.  I have learnt the (new) ways of digital studio shooting in photography, (I am so vintage that I did my first degree in photography on film, and digital did not even exist!).  The fabrication facilities are amazing at my University and the technical staff are brilliant, I am making them a huge cake next week to thank them for teaching me so much already.

On top of all of the practical I also had to deliver a critical blog and essays.   Now I know why Uni students have/need such long summer holidays, I am frazzled but still raring to go for September this year although I think the pressure will be on even more….

Adios for now

Emma

Object of Desire – Bespoke Wallpaper

Decorating, Interior Design, interiors, wallpaper

This week’s obsession is not the Royal Wedding for me, but the amazing new wallpapers which I keep seeing everywhere as new designers embrace the digital printing possibilities that are now available.  It seems that interior trends are embracing large scale and bright patterns, and while they may not be for everyone’s taste I love the boldness they offer.

The original bespoke wallpaper in Europe from makers such as de Gournay are exquisite and I have always lusted after a bespoke wall covering.  But they are not cheap, and there’s a part of me that just cannot justify the expense.  But just look at the beauty of them:

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Recently, due to my somewhat obsessive scouring of Instagram and Pinterest, I came across a designer team in New Zealand called Back To The Wall.  These designers do huge digitally printed murals in gorgeous designs, and while they may not have the hand finished painterly effect of a de Gournay, they are still pretty spectacular.

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In the UK, another digital mural company well worth looking at is Surface View.  They have a huge collection of images available to be printed up as large scale murals.  Their botanical and historical prints are pretty amazing and you can go as wild or as tame as you like in terms of design.  But all are large scale for a great feature wall.

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Another favourite who I love is House of Hackney.  They print beautiful designs which are quite intense, sometimes quirky and also designed as a set of 3 panels which can  repeat around a room if desired.

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I used their design Florida Onyx in my renovation of a townhouse as panels on wardrobes and it was stunning.  Who knows, one day I may be brave enough to do a whole room?!

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The Influence of the Bright Young Things

Art, Decorating, Historical Houses, Inspiration, Interior Design, Literature, Musings, Painting, Photography

I have a huge obsession with early 20th century literature, especially authors like Evelyn Waugh, Somerset Maugham and Nancy Mitford.  They describe an age of elegance, beautiful houses, artistic endeavours, privilege but also the advancement of social mobility and change.  The books are bitter, funny and sharp.

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In real life, a group of people emerged at the start of the 1920’s who were dubbed ‘The Bright Young Things’.  Evelyn Waugh pronounced the best definition: ‘There was between the wars a society, cosmopolitan, sympathetic to the arts, well-mannered, above all ornamental even in rather bizarre ways, which for want of a better description the newspapers called “High Bohemia.”

The press could not get enough of these people who tended to be the younger sons and daughters of the aristocracy and their middle-class friends by association, it was the first sign of celebrity being documented in it’s own right.  Lurid stories of wild parties, wealth, promiscuity and convention-flouting were reported and the public lapped them up.

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This photo was taken, under Cecil Beaton`s direction, by “William the footman”

The Bright Young Things included writers, artists, society women and rich club members memorably satirised by Waugh in Vile Bodies (1930).  It was acceptable within the circle to be homosexual, which still as considered illegal in Britain at the time.  In Nancy Mitford’s novels, the most eccentric characters are also allegedly based on real people of the time; who can forget Lord Merlin dying his doves to match his party decorations?  This character was supposedly based on the real-life Lord Berners, an eccentric party-giver whose dogs wore diamond collars as they roamed his grounds.  Or there is a woman known as ‘the Bolter’ as she kept running off from her husbands to marry someone new.

But from this group of Bright Young Things also emerged creative figures in their own right like Oliver Messal, Noel Coward, Stephen Tennant, Cecil Beaton, Rex Whistler and John Betjeman to name but a few.  Although frivolity and frippery was the order of the day, a strong literary development and aesthetic developed and some of England’s most highly regarded artists emerged.  Through literature, documents and photography there is a wealth of information available about these people and their times which I find fascinating.

Some of the interior design from this age as spectacular; money was no object and the aristocracy had started marrying into the US millionaire families bringing great wealth for them to modernise their homes.  You can still see interiors designed by some of these dazzling talents:

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This is the tent room mural painted by Rex Whistler at Port Lympne, in Kent.

 

The Art Deco bathroom at Upton House, Warwickshire

Lady Bearsted’s bathroom at Upton House – a dazzling modernist boudoir of red, black, silver aluminium leaf and streaming natural light. It was designed for her by Morley Horder.

Oliver Messel is best known for his lavish set designs for the theatre, ballet and opera, but later he also worked as an interior designer, mainly in the Caribbean for the wealthy and famous.  His interiors are beautiful, and his signature tone of green is now commonly known as Messel Green.

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By the 1930’s the Bright Young Things’ popularity fizzled out.  Socially England was changing dramatically, the aristocratic families were breaking up their estates due to huge taxes, and their excesses were seen as distasteful to the press and public.  World War II would draw the final line under this social scene, but it is still such an exciting group of people creatively to draw inspiration from.

My ‘Door to Nowhere’..

before and after, Decorating, House Renovation, interiors, wallpaper

As mentioned in the last post, the final item left to complete was my door to nowhere.  This the odd doorway/architrave mid way up the top stairs.  A nice, but quite bizarre period feature in the house (?!).  You know that song ‘We’re on the road to nowhere’ by Talking Heads, it has now morphed into ‘There is my door to nowhere’, and I have been so obsessed with getting this area sorted that I just can’t stop singing it in my head….

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The wallpaper I put in it a few years ago had faux books, and I was quite bored.  I ordered some samples of wallpaper to see what I could replace it with.  They were all extremely expensive, and actually when they appeared I didn’t like them.  So I turned to my iPad and starting hunting with the hashtags #quirky.  And this amazing paper appeared via the excellent site Iwantwallpaper…  it is a great site and they have a really good collection of papers.

It’s called Mad Dogs by Holden Décor and there is a monochrome or coloured version.  I decided to go monochrome, as I can always add colour later if I want to with my trusty pencils.  It arrived really quickly, was very reasonably priced (£15.99!  Saved me a bomb!) and took literally a few minutes to hang.  It does not stretch or sag like a lot of papers do when they are left to soak, so lining up was really easy to do.

So there are dogs & flamingoes in hats, boxing kangaroos, drunk toads and a giraffe smoking a pipe amongst other things.  I love it!

Here it is in situ, and I think it suits the grey walls much better than the previous books paper.  Due to the width of the Door to Nowhere I couldn’t help but have to cut into the frames on the vertical run, but I still love it….

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What do you think?  It could be a Marmite situation for this paper for most people – love or hate!

Stairs & Landings – the ‘nearly’ finished results…

before and after, Decorating, gallery wall, House Tour, interiors, Makeover

In my earlier post, you may have been aware of my procrastination about finishing off the top floor of my hall and stairs.  But it is finally done, with some serious hanging off bannisters paining techniques.  I forced myself to start yesterday, and it is now finished, well very nearly….

This was looking up to the next level before I changed the wall colours.  That wallpaper which is in in the strange ‘door-to-nowhere” architrave is going to change too, I have ordered some samples of eye-wateringly expensive wallpaper from the lovely Fabricsandwallpapers.com and we’ll see what works best when they arrive.  They are all very large scale patterns:

I am really forgetful about before and after shots as I tend to dash in with paintbrushes on a whim.  So I don’t have any photos of the floor above pre-makeover!  Probably as it was always such a dumping ground, it had loads of overflowing bookcases, an electric piano in pieces, and I never really liked it so never photographed it.  Sorry….😐

Anyhow, I cleared out all of the books and had a huge cull so there are boxes and boxes ready to go off to charity shops, and I removed 2 out of 3 bookcases.  I had to keep hubby’s collection of comics, books and coca-cola limited edition bottles, plus we had a lot of film posters and things to hang.  This is now what it looks like looking down the stairs with the dark grey walls.

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And here is the artwork.  The weird original Harry Potter troll picture was a present to my daughter from her Godfather, who got it from the art/concept designer Rob Bliss from the films.  If you look carefully, he has pierced nipples, which Warner Brothers obviously asked him to tone down for the final film!  It scared my daughter to bits when she got it, so it has been hiding in the loft until now. That is the bonus of having older teens, I can put whatever I want on the walls now without fear!

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At the top of the stairs is an odd landing which goes nowhere, a bit like the door mid-way down the stairs.  What is it about my house and places going nowhere?  Originally this landing had 3 full size bookcases on it, now it has been reduced to one,  And I have hung the strangest huge anatomical drawing/chart on it which the hubby gave me, and until now I had no idea what to do with.  But I think he looks great against the red carpet!

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It looks so much better than before.  There is no natural daylight in this landing, so I was a bit worried about how dark it would be with the grey walls.  But it looks bigger in a strange way as the corners vanish with the dark grey.  I kept the original wall light which was a converted victorian gas light, and got 2 excellent wire cages to go on the top from eBay.  The ceiling is white so light can bounce around still, so it’s not dark at all.

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The bookcase generally houses Hubby’s stuff, and I have moved the books I saved for myself elsewhere so it looks much more spacious now – althought somewhat random items are on it…

I’ll do a final post when the wallpapers have come, and I have decided what to do with the ‘door-to-nowhere’.  I also have the odd corner wall to hang something on so I am hunting for something large like a mirror to go on it, or maybe a lovely bit of taxidermy.

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Instagram Challenges

Decorating, instagram, Interior Design, interiors, Lifestyle, Photography, Ramblings

Or how the # has become second nature…

It is a fact that I love Instagram, and I am always amazed and delighted by the creativity out there that I can peruse… from nature photography to food to clothes to interiors.  It means I follow so many people that it takes ages to scroll through daily feeds, but it’s worth it!  It also seems that there is a colony out there of similar minded people who like me are obsessed with interiors, it’s like having a mini village of people right on your doorstep.  Everyone shares ideas & tips, and are incredibly friendly.

From there come the Instagram challenges, which tend to be people setting up a hashtag and the rest of us posting pictures including it, usually within a timescale.  One that I have been doing is #myhousethismonth this February.  It’s a daily shot with a title, so things like #storage, #bestbargain, #love (Valentine’s day of course) and so on.  I love doing it, but WOW! it takes some planning.  Especially when you have to photo something everyday that passes muster.

Anyhow, here are some offerings I have been posting this mont.  My teenage daughter has trained me in various editing methods for photos as she said I needed to up my ‘instigame’ – thanks daughter, that made me feel ancient!  So I sometimes use Whitagram and VSCO to tweak shots before they are posted, although I do like to use Instagram as it was intended if possible and just shoot and edit on it directly.  So here are some shots posted while I tried to keep up, and it’s only mid month!  And this is the challenge set….

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This is #favecorner

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This is #window

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#metallic – a lovely silver leaf

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#lightit up – a very un pc lamp!

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#handmade – my upcycled cupboard

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#storage – my favourite huge cupboard

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#workspace – my desk where I ponder the universe

Once I get into doing it I then start taking other photos, so they go up as well as the challenge ones:

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And so it goes on… now off to shoot today’s picture which is #can’tlivewithout…. that will be my coffee maker then…?  Or maybe my cats…. ?  Hmm, it takes ages to decide…

When you really need a proper upholsterer…

before and after, Decorating, recycling, upholstery

Picture the scene, I am at an auction and am supposed to be selling off unwanted furniture. If you have been to auctions, you know there is a lot of waiting around for your lots, and there are also a lot of chairs about that you sit in whilst waiting for the said lots.

So I realise that I am sitting in a really comfortable chair, and it is tired and sad, but it has a really pretty shape and is probably Edwardian.  So when it comes up as a lot, and no-one bids I stick up my hand.  I felt sorry for it.

And so I came home from the auction with a little tired chair for a very small price, not really what I went for.. I don’t think I really should go to auctions.

The chair sat in our house looking battered and tired for a long while.  But it was very popular, as it is just so comfy.  It’s like Goldilocks’ best baby chair in fact.  I scoured the internet for upholstery lessons to give it a revamp, but it all looked far too complicated.  And thus it lived draped in blankets for a long, long time.

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So very tired and grubby…

Cut to a year later, and I remembered that someone I know is an upholsterer.  With a quick call, the chair was delivered, and I was off on the hunt for fabric.  I really wanted some House of Hackney fabric, but it would have cost a fortune as the chair needed a few meters, so I had to be creative and scour the internet.

If you follow the blog, you will know that orange is creeping into my house a lot.  So I decided that the chair needed a massive jazz up and orange was my new black, so I found some raised velvet fabric of orange on a sort of hessian base.  It is like a psychedelic Indian curry house in the 70’s, but I sort of like it!  It also was a total bargain on eBay, and I got about 7 meters in total so I have some left over to play with.  I then found a lovely orange plain velvet to go in the inner part of the chair.

I then handed it all over to my clever upholsterer Caroline, and waited for the finished result.

Lo and behold, soon it was ready and this bonkers chair was ready for its new home:

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She looks so pretty!  And so ORANGE!  She has had her innards re-plumped as well, so is even more comfortable, and is my favourite companion as I watch far too many episodes of Stranger Things in one sitting.  As yuletide nears, I am loathe to share her when the relatives arrive.  Happy Christmas!

 

Photo Shoot for 25 Beautiful Homes

25 Beautiful Homes, Christmas, Decorating, Interior Design, interiors, Magazine Feature

‘Jewel In The Crown’

This week my house featured in the December 2017 issue of 25 Beautiful Homes.  The house was dressed to the nines with Christmas cheer, and styled beautifully by Sian Williams and photographed by Brent Darby.  It’s the second time one of my houses has been featured in the magazine, so thank you 25 Beautiful Homes.

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What is always odd about shoots for magazines is that they are done so far ahead in advance.  This feature was shot months ago, and since then new bits have been added or tweaked, so the photographs always remind me how much evolves in the house.  The houses always look so large due to the lenses used, and so CLEAN too!  The latter is due to a whirlwind of cleaning in preparation, so the ‘owner’s photo’ is always a bit hideous as I look very tired!

Here are some of the proofs that were taken.  The favourites are then picked out by the editors for the final piece:

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And here is the final layout, my rather useless scanner has not shown how lovely they actually look so apologies about that…

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Anyhow, job done.  It’s time to move house again now I think so I can start all over again….