Month: January 2017

Pinch Rodan table - minimal design - furniture

On my radar: new furniture launches for Spring

With the Spring furniture fairs in full swing, from Paris and Cologne to Stockholm, there’s a bounty of new furniture launches to swoon over. Here are some of my favourite designs that have caught my eye recently – all three below display a dedication to craftsmanship and detail, celebrating a material’s natural capabilities and finding beauty in the simple and minimal. &tradition Danish company &tradition has released several new furniture designs for Spring, continuing its mission of creating made-to-last design that fuses craft and art. The Catch lounge chair, for example, by Spanish designer Jaime Hayon comprises a high, reclined back and elongated seat in a singular shell supported by a simple metal frame. With its short armrests it has character and humour, a signature of Hayon’s work. It comes in four gorgeous, deep, rich colours – a light mustard yellow, a red wine colour, navy blue and reddish-brown. Hayon says: ‘A lounge chair should be inviting to look at. In a way, it should be almost irresistible. Meaning you can’t help but sit back, …

before and after living room makeover - light grey walls - painted white floors

My living room makeover – painted white floors and light grey walls

It’s been a long time since I shared the first photos of our new house in south London. It hasn’t been the smoothest of renovations (nightmare builders, endless delays) so I’ve been reluctant to share much of the progress, because for a while there wasn’t any! But, just before Christmas the builders were finally out of our hair and we could get on with the decorating and making it home. I’m so excited then to reveal the first of the spaces to be finished – the living room. After the builders had painted the ceilings and whitewashed the walls, it didn’t take long to put the final coat of paint on and see a real difference. I spent the days in-between Christmas and New Year painting the original floorboards white and after leaving it to dry and cure for a few days, with a new month and new year, we were ready to move our furniture back in and put all the finishing touches in. There’s still a few bits be done, and it’s still a work in progress, but …

Spring Fair 2017 - vita copenhagen - lighting design

Spring Fair to present UK’s largest selection of Scandi brands

It’s the time of the Spring interior trade shows again – while much of the focus is on Paris, Cologne and Stockholm, the UK also has a bounty of inspiration to offer. Spring Fair is a gift and home interiors trade show that takes place each year at Birmingham’s NEC. It’s one of the oldest shows out there, with a 67-year history. This year, from the 5 – 9 February, some 60,000 visitors will stream through its doors in search of the latest design trends and home products for 2017. With 14 sectors on offer there’s something for everyone. The Home section has doubled in size since 2014, with a more international focus, and for the first time a DIY and home improvement sector will be added. The Summerhouse will feature an edited collection of over 40 exhibitors offering a stylish mix of high-quality home and lifestyle brands with a designer edge, such as Abigail Ahern, VITA Copenhagen and Nkuku. Elsewhere, the Kitchen, Dining & Housewares sector will show an impressive line-up of brands exhibiting for the first time, such as Everdure by …

travel guide: postcards from Helsinki

Travel: postcards from Helsinki

This year Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence and what perfect excuse to visit its beautiful, harbour-side capital, Helsinki. Just before Christmas last year I headed there for a work trip, I’d been once before in the summer, but this time the white skies seemed to bring out the earthy tones of the buildings and the low sunshine cast long shadows across the cobbled streets. It was certainly crisp and cold, but cosy dips into coffee shops and boutiques thawed the toes and warmed the soul. Slightly overshadowed in many ways by its Scandinavian cousins Stockholm and Copenhagen, it’s taken time for the Finnish city to find its own identity. The country was first governed by Sweden, and then by the Russians, so the city’s architecture sits somewhere in-between east and west, Europe and the Baltics – its neoclassical buildings and long boulevards bear influences from Leningrad and Moscow, while the cathedral was modelled on St Petersburg’s. In the 20th century it was Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto that helped put the city on the map, from Saarinen’s art …

Menu furniture - Tailor sofa - minimal design - scandinavian interiors

Minimal designs from Menu’s SS17 collection

Expanding on their ‘Modernism Reimagined’ range from last year, Scandinavian design brand MENU has added new products to its collection for Spring/Summer 2017. Appealing to the minimalists among us, these carefully-considered, beautifully simple pieces are functional and designed to last. More and more I’m wanting to embrace the pared-back, minimal interior, living with less, and investing in well-designed objects that live beyond trends and fashions. It might mean a well-loved chair you pass from generation to generation or a set of glasses you always get out at special family occasions. I was once talking to a Danish sofa manufacturer and he said that in Scandinavia even sofas are often passed down over the years, and because they’re so well made, they may only need a little bit of reupholstering every generation. MENU’s new products, here, all show an almost obsessive attention to detail and an exploration of material and memory. There’s the beautifully crafted Tailor sofa inspired by the designer’s memories of his grandfather, a mirror that explores the history of our relationship with reflections, …

The making of Alvar Aalto's famous vase

Your Home Needs This: Alvar Aalto vase

My series ‘Your Home Needs This’ is all about profiling beautiful design classics and timeless pieces of furniture that I feel everyone should have in their home. And this one is the perfect example – the Alvar Aalto vase, produced by Finnish glass manufacturer Iittala. If I had to name my favourite piece of design, ever, this would be it. It’s by my favourite architect and designer, Alvar Aalto, and it’s my favourite object at home. I love its soft, sinuous form that makes it truly unique – there’s nothing quite like filling it with flowers and enjoying its sculptural shape day after day. The Aalto vase has become a true classic in Scandinavian design, found in the homes of every Finn and in museum collections across the world. Compared to the highly decorative objects being made at the time the vase was first created, the organic shape of the vase was a revolutionary statement. Inspired by waves in water (Aalto means ‘wave’ in Finnish), it’s a simple design whose tactility appeals to the senses. It’s lost none of its allure …

Tidying those wires and creating an uncluttered home with Calligaris

Tidying those wires and creating an uncluttered home with Calligaris

With a fresh new month and new year, January is all about new beginnings, getting organised and rejuvenating your life and home. Just like with a Spring clean, it’s a great time of year to declutter, have a clear-out and re-evaluate the things you really need and can’t live without. I took the time between Christmas and New Year – days usually lost to lazy mornings, binge watching box sets and copious amounts of leftovers and chocolate – to get ahead with a bit of DIY. We’re so nearly there with the renovations. The floors in the living room and kitchen have been painted white (we got the walls done before Christmas), and after all the dust and builders it’s beginning to look fresh, bright and like somewhere you could actually live! The best bit about starting this new year is that we now have this lovely blank canvas to make our own. A clean, bare room. We can start afresh and take our time filling the space with our belongings, only adding the things we really need or love, …

Belgian design: the furniture of Ethnicraft

Belgian design: solid wood furniture from Ethnicraft

I don’t often feature Belgian design – those Scandinavians are always stealing the limelight in these parts – but there’s one furniture brand that I think should be on your radar. Introduced to me while on the Function & Form bloggers tour in Antwerp, Ethnicraft produces simple, functional furniture with a focus on timeless, contemporary design.  Established more than 20 years ago, Ethnicraft is based in the Belgian town of Boom, with workshops in Indonesia, Vietnam and Serbia. Popular across the world, their sustainable designs, from extendable oak tables through versatile walnut benches to vintage-looking teak sideboards, are sold in more than 50 countries. They like to call their furniture ‘Emorational’ – a word combining both the ’emotional’ and the ‘rational’. Made predominantly of ethically sourced wood, their simple designs aim to evoke a sense of emotion, through the warmth and tactility of solid wood. As they say: ‘We always work from what we firmly believe is the essence of good design: authenticity, simplicity and impeccable craftsmanship to create sustainable pieces full of character, made from …

Loyly, Helsinki by Joanna Laajisto

Designer focus: Joanna Laajisto Creative Studio, Helsinki

While I was trawling the Internet, namely Pinterest, for some of the best designed places to visit in Helsinki for my visit in December, I kept coming across the name of interior architect and designer Joanna Laajisto. Literally every cool little bar or contemporary restaurant I found had her name attached to it, so I was intrigued to find out more about her creative studio, and more importantly hop on to her projects, stat. I recognised some of her interiors from across social media and various blogs, but didn’t realise she had designed quite so many beautiful design spots in Helsinki. Laajisto began her career in the West Coast of the United States. She worked for international architecture practice Gensler in Los Angeles designing large-scale commercial projects, and even travelled the world as a professional snowboarder, before settling back down in her native Finland and setting up Joanne Laajisto Creative Studio. Her work is characterised by a focus on functionality and aesthetics, elegantly combining a neutral palette of tactile, natural materials – lots of wood, …