All posts tagged: Escape

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 …

Travel guide, a design packed weekend in Antwerp

Travel Guide: a design-packed bloggers tour of Antwerp

When you think of the design capitals of Europe, cities such as London, Paris, Milan and Stockholm might spring to mind. But, there’s another city out there that should be on that list, the slightly more under the radar Belgian city of Antwerp – a Flemish jewel with an emerging design scene that’s giving others a run for their money. With a strong artisanal heritage and cultural legacy, from the 17th century paintings of Rubens and Van Dyck, through the thriving, polished world of the diamond industry, to its cult status in the fashion world with Belgian fashion royalty Dries van Noten, the merchant city Antwerp has developed into a super stylish cosmopolitan centre. Today, young, emerging Belgian designers are putting their stamp on the city, while contemporary concept stores and gastronomical delights are attracting visitors from across the world. There’s certainly more to the city than frites and beer, there’s culture galore, art and architecture, and design by the bucket load, untapped and waiting to be discovered. In October I visited the city as part of a …

St Vincents concept store, Antwerp

Travel: st. vincents concept store, Antwerp

So earlier in the month I shared the first instalment on the bloggers tour I attended with Function & Form in Antwerp (you can see it here if you missed it). Masterminded by fellow bloggers – interior stylist Tiffany Grant-Riley and graphic designer Annie Kruse – we spent a lovely weekend in October exploring all things design in the Belgian city. A slightly under-the-radar European city in terms of design, Antwerp has a bounty of boutique concept stores, beautifully curated design shops and independent coffee shops waiting to be discovered. One such gem is the concept store st. vincents, which we were all cooing over. And if it hadn’t been for the fact it was our last day and we all had trains and planes to catch I think we would have moved in. It has something for everyone, whether you’re an interior and antiques magpie, a fashion lover, or whether you simply want to while away an hour or two over a good coffee or tea in this beautiful, raw but contemporary setting. Visitors are actively encouraged to linger and enjoy …

John Pawson's Life House for Living Architecture - a holiday home designed for moments of calm and reflection

Travel: John Pawson’s Life House for Living Architecture

Back at the beginning of August, we escaped for three nights of peace and relaxation to the Life House – a simple, contemporary holiday home designed by the architect John Pawson for Living Architecture. It was unlike anywhere I had stayed before, a retreat away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, from which to rest, reinvigorate and restore, all in the stunning, picturesque setting of the Welsh countryside. Set up to promote modern architecture, Living Architecture commissions some of the best architects to design houses in some of the most beautiful locations in Britain, a winning formula right? You might have seen Grayson Perry and FAT’s jolly A House for Essex, or the precariously cantilevered Balancing Barn in Suffolk by MVRDV, or wondered what that peculiar looking boat is doing perched on top of the Southbank Centre. They’re all available to rent, making the perfect getaway whether you have an interest in architecture and an appreciation for meticulous design, would like to experience what it’s like to live, eat and sleep in a space designed by a top architectural practice …

Travel Guide: A design-packed weekend in Copenhagen

Travel Guide: A design-packed weekend in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is certainly one of the most stylish of the Scandinavian cities but it’s not bragging about it or singing it’s own praises. It’s a relaxed, down-to-earth place, with effortlessly well-dressed Danes casually cycling past, bustling cafes spilling out onto the tranquil waterfronts and smart design shops waiting to be explored. Copenhagen ranks high in surveys of quality of life, and it’s not hard to see why the Danes have it so good – that magic formula of good city planning, lively culture, tasty cuisine and a strong emphasis on community. It may have been because it was the summer when I visited in August, but people weren’t rushing about like in London; everyone seemed to be in a calm, quietly content mood, slowly going about their business. The sun was shining and Copenhagen was soaking it up. Copenhagen is a city built on decades of design heritage and culture – from mid-century icons such as Finn Juhl and Arne Jacobsen paving the way, to young contemporary designers like Muuto and Ferm Living making their mark on the city, and indeed the design world, today. …

A weekend in Venice off the beaten track

Travel: a weekend in Venice off the beaten track

Last weekend I was in beautiful Venice for the opening of the architecture biennale. It’s one of my favourite cities in the world – I’ve been a number of times and stayed for five weeks back in 2012, also for the biennale – so returning to the city of water was like coming home. I found myself fitting back in like a local, dusting off some rusty Italian and knocking back the spritz like I had never left… I wanted to share some tips and places to visit off the beaten track and away from the streams of tourists. There’s so much more than San Marco square and the Grand Canal – there’s old palazzos filled with contemporary art; little cicchetti and bacaro bars hidden down alleyways; sunny squares with shuttered windows; ornate medieval churches tucked away behind doors and narrow streets filled with washing lines and buzzing with local life. So put down the map. I really think Venice is best seen by following your feet, and noses for the food of course, wherever they will take you. …

Vipp701_Kitchentable01_Low

Vipp's plug & play getaway

Wouldn’t it be nice just to getaway, escape the hum-drum of daily life and the rat-race of urban life? Well, Danish design company Vipp has done just that: they’ve created this sexy ‘plug & play’ 55 sq m prefabricated shelter. And they’ve thought of every little detail, from lighting to linen, from table to toilet brush, and from shelves to self dispenser. All you have to do is decide where to put it, if you have €485,000 to spare… Prefabricated north of Copenhagen, the simple steel grid supports a two-level space with a compact bathroom, sleek, dark-toned kitchen and living space as well as a cosy bed loft. Taking 6 months to produce but just 3-5 days to install, Vipp’s CEO Kasper Egelund describes it as ‘a battery-charging stations for humans’. The starting point for the designers was going back to basics; the landscape is purposely framed by two large sliding window frames and an all-black interior lets the outside do the talking. Chief designer Morton Bo Jensen says: ‘Vipp is rooted in the manufacture …