All posts tagged: Travel

Maison Louis Carré by Alvar Aalto

Inside Maison Louis Carré by Alvar Aalto

Maison Louis Carré – Finnish architect Alvar Aalto’s only remaining building in France – is a modernist architectural masterpiece situated about an hour outside of Paris. Open to the public from March to November, it’s a must-visit, Scandinavian gem for architecture and design buffs looking to get a deeper insight into his design process. As an avid Aalto fan myself, I’d already visited his home and studio in Helsinki, and was keen to step off the beaten tourist trail of Paris and step inside another Aalto interior, which combined architecture, furniture and design into a total work of art. The house is located in the remote village of Bazoches-sur-Guyonne and was the home of French art dealer Louis Carré. He acquired the sloping site in 1955 and the following year met Aalto at the Venice Biennale while the architect was supervising his pavilion there. They immediately bonded over their love of fine things – fine art, good wine, the good life – and became friends for life. Carré commissioned Aalto to design him a house that could serve both as a private …

Travel: A stay at SP34 hotel in Copenhagen

Travel: An (honest) review of SP34 hotel in Copenhagen

The headboards at boutique hotel SP34 in Copenhagen are possibly the most instragrammed ever. I’d seen plenty of this hotel across social media, so it was first on my list of places to stay when I hopped over to the Danish capital for a work trip last month. The beautiful, minimal design lived up to all my expectations, with its pared-back style and relaxing, muted colours. There were a few things that could be improved that I’ll get onto later, but it’s still one of the best places to stay in the city. Part of the Brøchner Hotels chain, SP34 is designed for ‘luxury bohemians’ with 118 simple yet elegant bedrooms, a cosy entrance lobby and bar, a private cinema for 25 people and access to two stylish restaurants. The hotel, right in the heart of the historic city centre, opened in April 2014 and featured on Condé Nast Traveler’s list of the 60 best new hotels in 2015. Located on Sankt Peders Stræde, the name refers to its address at number 34. The bedrooms are the main draw of SP34. Minimal but refined with a …

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 …

Muller van Severen lamps - Galerie Valerie Traan

valerie_objects / Gallery Valerie Traan, Antwerp

If you’ve been following me on social media at all you might have seen that I went on a Bloggers Tour of Antwerp with Function & Form and eight lovely blogger pals. Set up by fellow bloggers – interior stylist Tiffany Grant-Riley and graphic designer Annie Kruse – Function & Form is a community of like-minded individuals who all share a love for interiors and handcrafted design. This was the first outing abroad to explore all things design, meeting designers and delving deeper into their process, touring furniture factories and getting a peek behind the scenes, and visiting design-led concept stores and galleries. One of the highlights of the tour was Gallery Valerie Traan, an art gallery founded by Veerle Wenes. The modern, white interior, designed by Belgian practice LENS°ASS architecten, is split onto different levels and connected by a wide, black staircase. The light space looks onto two courtyards and connects fluidly to Wenes own home, housed in an adjacent old convent. In fact, you don’t know where art gallery stops and home begins, both …

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 …

The beautiful Frama store in Copenhagen, housed in the former home of the St. Pauls Pharmacy. Image: cate st hill

Frama store Copenhagen

I first heard about Frama store in Copenhagen when I saw the most beautifully calm, minimal images on my friend’s blog Hannah in the House. I just knew I had to pay a visit when I headed to Copenhagen for the northmodern furniture fair. So, Hannah and I popped into Frama for an evening of drinks at the store to showcase the work of Copenhagen-based Plethora magazine. Eager to have a proper nosy around, I returned the next day to wander around the fascinating space and take a few snaps. Housed in a former home of St. Pauls Pharmacy in central Copenhagen, Frama is an architectural gem of a store, where old meets new. The building has been remarkably restored, with all the original dark woodwork, decorative ceiling motifs and even the little drawers where all manner of pharmaceutical paraphernalia would have been kept. Floorboards have been sanded back, while the back rooms have been left fairly minimal with white and soft grey walls. They describe the store as a ‘work in progress’, serving as a both a retail space and a platform to …

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. …

My top picks from northmodern copenhagen

My top picks from northmodern 2016 – part 1

northmodern is a furniture and lifestyle trade show that takes place once a year in Copenhagen. Showcasing the most exciting international talents and the very best of Scandinavian design heritage, it’s a must for any design lover, no matter if you’re a buyer or press. I headed there for the August edition, which had a focus on holistic, sustainable contemporary living. Housed in the airy halls of the Bella Center, a conference centre just ten minutes from the heart of the city, the show was a lively mix of the latest contemporary design, reissued classics, hand-crafted pieces and sustainable products. I had previously been to Stockholm Furniture Fair and this in comparison was a much more relaxed affair – considerably smaller and fairly intimate. The atmosphere was chilled, designers approachable, gentle music playing and plenty of places to pause and rest weary feet. There was a wealth of young, emerging talent that I had never even heard of before under the glass roof of the Crystal Hall, while it was a pleasure to meet some of the more established brands such as Ferm Living …