Tuesday, 8 October 2013

No Metro Tiles Please

I'm much more of a design lover than a foodie, so if I'm honest when I choose somewhere to eat its most likely to be based on how it looks. I can practically hear people sucking through their teeth at this revelation - 'oh dear, thats not the way to get a good meal, never judge a book by its cover' etc. Well I've got news for you, I always choose books based on the cover because frankly its either that or the obligatory blurb on the back claiming that this, like every other new book is the book of the year etc.

The other factor here is that I eat very well at home thanks to my partner who lives for cooking, so eating out for me is often more about the experience and ambience than the food.

As a result it takes a lot to temp me to drop my cash on an evening out and the prospect of sitting in yet another semi industrial, metro tiled cantina is no going to do it I'm afraid.

So I was really pleased to see the decor of Berners Tavern on, you guessed it, Berners St.

Hoorah! finally a new restaurant with a real sense of occasion, style and just enough pretension to make you want to dress up for said occasion.

I love the the practically floor to ceiling art work, which is something I do at home but on this scale is really impactful. The different textures of glossy prints, oil paintings and gilded frames give this huge space a much needed sense of warmth without which it would be a big fail. New York does this sort of grand scale restaurant so well but until recently only the Wolseley had nailed it here, so it nice to see someone have the balls to take on this space and be bold yet tasteful.

For the foodies, I can inform you that Grace Dent (you will be my new best friend!) gave Berners a glowing review and ate herself into a stupor. So its basically a win win situation here - oh except for the bill, but then nobody's perfect.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Living in a Shoebox

People are always complaining about the size of new build rooms - the box room syndrome. Not only are new homes often small but they are uninspiring they tend to be a bit dull to be honest. With more and more people to house in the world one company in Spain has some up with  a solution; A tiny house that may be small on size but big on design. Its easily transportable and only cost £35,000 - you can't even get a garage in London for that!

Its nice to see a beautiful solution to a serious problem and while this is too small to live in for me, it would make a gorgeous holiday home - somewhere with an amazing view!

Check out more of their work at www.abaton.es

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


rockstars by hassan hajjaj   http://www.africafashionguide.com/2012/11/my-rockstars-is-an-exhibition-by-london-based-artist-hassan-hajjaj/

I have recently been working with a Kenyan tea company on a branding project for them - as you do! This has led to lots of research into African textiles and prints for inspiration - and boy have I been inspired! African prints are certainly pretty ubiquitous at the moment, especially in fashion but they are yet to make much of an impact in the World of interiors.

African Fabric Super Wax PrintAfrican Printed Fabrican African style patternAfrican Political Cloth
african textiles political - Google Searchvlisco_fabric.005For some design inspiration, we take a look at some print designs from all around Africa. Creating commemorative textiles for elections and presidential visits are a common practice in Africa. Some argue that these prints were used by many African dictators to promote themselves and brainwash the masses, others argue that they are an Exercise in National pride.

Above - A selection of the amazing fabrics I have stumbled upon.

I suppose this is because they are a pretty 'strong look', but I think the mix of pattern and colour is really fresh and a nice step on from the graphic prints and geometrics which are everywhere at the moment. I love the fabrics with political figures on them - interesting to see such a serious subject approached in a decorative medium.

african fabric Jumpsuit

I've found some great images that show how African prints and pattern can be incorporated into a modern interior in a way that is fun but not overwhelming.

african interiors

African Prints in Fashion: African Prints in Interior Design

neon post-it

Wishbone chairs

The home of Australian artist Michael Zavros and family, photo by Jared Fowler, for thedesignfiles.net


Tapet Totem, nr VP 657-03, Élitis/Interior plus.

I especially love this last one which is totally mad but equally fab.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Sloane Street Seduction

Working in Interior design I obviously have an interest in the finer things in life but this has never extended to designer clothes and accessories. While I have no problem shelling out hundreds of pounds for a giant hindu statue ( totally happened ) there is no way I would drop the same amount on a pair of Prada trainers ( not ever ).

This being said I have always had a weakness for a certain Mr Ford and not just his brooding good looks but actually his products. I've long been a Tom Ford aftershave devotee and always had a sneaking suspicion that I might be prepared to abuse one of my credit cards to own one of his suits.

Well that suspicion was confirmed this week when I took myself off to visit his newly opened London store. Normally the thought of spending time in a Sloane Street store having my bank balance mentally sized up by the staff is my idea of hell, but I was too determined to have a good look around to be put off by such things.

I breezed through the door with all the confidence of a person with a Centurion Amex in their pocket and headed for the fragrances - a safe place to start. There was a hilarious moment of confusion when both of the sales associates drew a blank when I said I was looking for aftershave; some quick explanation that I meant Tom Ford aftershave finally hit home - evidently I was the first person to have asked for the cheapest item they stock.

By now I had realised that I was the only customer in the store - just me and about 25 impossibly well dressed and good looking associates who all said a rather surprised good morning as I circulated round what is quite frankly the most beautiful retail space I have ever been in.

It's pure Tom Ford; dark, luxe and a little bit disco - disco as in the hedonistic glamour of studio 54 not school disco. The whole atmosphere is of seduction and I'm afraid that like a true floozy I was seduced. I even found myself, normally totally anti fur, having a conversation about a Beaver coat that only Richard Burton could carry off, and thinking 'well there are lots of beavers, aren't there?'

It was time to make a hasty exit with my aftershave and my credit card only slightly burned. If I had stayed longer I have the most terrible feeling I would have ended up compromising my credit rating and my morals to buy something much more extravagant. 

Don't get me wrong though, I'll be back to run the gauntlet of gorgeous things vs my financial ruin. Foolish perhaps, but thanks to Tom Ford being bad has never looked so good.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Burton and Taylor

Anyone who has read this blog will know I'm a big fan of la Taylor. Last night I finally got round to watching the BBC 4 production Taylor and Burton which recounts the story of the couple during their run together in Noel Cowards Private Lives.

Since Liz died there have been many attempts to dramatize her life and relationships - most notoriously in  the Lindsay Lohan car crash Liz and Dick. However with the always fantastic Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West in the title roles this was clearly going to be of a different calibre.

I thought that this was a truly enjoyable watch, beautifully filmed and very well written. However, despite their considerable talents Bonham Carter and West fail to consistently bring the power of this pairing to life. There are a few moments of brilliance - when Burton and Taylor have dinner together, there is real chemistry between them and Elizabeth suddenly comes to life in a passionate out burst that is pure Taylor. The brilliant script makes this final hoorah of the great pairing truly touching. The age old adage 'can't live with them, can't live without them' rings eternally true here as Elizabeth tries and fails to reclaim and then let go of her true love.

They also look much better than the real Burton and Taylor who were definitely showing the effects of their years of excess by the time they took to the stage in Private Lives as can be seen in the photo above.

This was a great production and showcases what the BBC does best. Its a crime that funding for drama like this has been cut and yet there is money for Eastenders and Bargain Hunt! I'd like a refund on my TV licence please.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

First Class Frown

I was just looking through Design Week when I saw a feature on the new Great Western Mainline and East coast mainline trains which are set to replace the Intercity 125. I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with the gloomy first class carriage design. The re-design has been taken on by DCA design International who have distinguished the first class cabin with 'wood veneers and a darker palette'.

Hitachi Super Express Train first class interior by DCA Design International

While I find the use of veneers a nice touch, the sombre greys fall flat for me, looking oppressive enough in this well lit visual; one can only imagine how gloomy this will look on a typical cloudy English day!

So I had a little go at this myself incorporating in some colours from the operators livery and tinted glass hat racks and some led colour lighting for the ceiling panel. I also added in some work/reading lights which I think is the least you would expect for a full first class fare. See what you think below.

It's still not exactly to my taste and I would have liked to start from scratch but I only had a few minutes to play around.

Ironically I think the standard cabin is much more successful looking light, comfortable and modern.

Hitachi Super Express Train standard class interior by DCA Design International

I suppose my ideas of what substitutes first class have been shaped by working for Virgin Atlantic who's Upper Class cabin is a show stopper. Here's how to do first class ;


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Flat is back

Kings of the flat pack and the Swedish meatball - Ikea, have announced that they are bringing back one of the original designs from 1956 that changed the way the world looks at furniture. The Lovet table is being reborn as the Lovebacken from Ikea's 2014 range which will launch in August. It's a real beauty and I can't wait to get my hands on one of these - for £40, who wouldn't?


The original catalogue spread from 1956 showing the Lovet table bottom right.