Other than looking like a fairytale, there is a lot of magic & mysticism surrounding the ancient area of Transylvania. Not only stories of Dracula and the Pied Piper, but I dare say Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks & the Three Bears amongst others originated in these areas. We hear of wolves, lynxes & bears in the forests: howling on a winters night, or dew sipped from the hollow of a bear’s footprint, ancient forests of tree nymphs and wood sprites.
It has not changed much since medieval times, with the background sounds of the clip clop of horses, church bells tolling, bees humming, cuckoos and woodpeckers. The occasional all-purpose tractors are the only motor noise!
Not many trips I do go unrecorded by a stone memento. I prefer the round egg-like shape, sea-tossed smooth. I even managed to pocket one in Milan (I write the place & date in pencil on mine to jolt my memory of when & where). I enjoy seeing them incorporated into new & old interiors: in Italy & Greece on floors & walls, at The Haymarket Hotel or a Sue Lawty site specific wall mount. For an oversized art installation look at the marble pebbles displayed at Naoshima’s Benesse Museum. If these are a little out of your reach, try the lacquered ‘pebble’ coffee table from Driade or simple line up your collection on a window sill.
Years ago when I was working for Grazia I photographed Fabrice who was just starting Le Labo. He had two Truck catalogues at his house that he was using as a point of inspiration and reference. I had a good look & have been on their website uncountable times. Again, this was a shop in the middle of nowhere, in a city not on our itinerary. We caught the train (or was it five?) from Kyoto to Truck in the outskirts of Osaka. We made an appointment to meet with Tok, the owner (who just claims to be a humble furniture maker. Haha!). There are four purpose made buildings that house the workshop, his studio, the furniture (& other cool stuff) shop, his wife & sister’s Shirakumasha atelier, their home which he shares with his wife & 6-year old daughter and across the lane, a café & storage. Strangely enough, he drew much of his inspiration from Noosa, Australia. When he was creating his empire, his design starting point was to have a space surrounded by trees. Big trees. He rescued 31 trees from a local demolition site and added many more while maintaining an industrial warehouse feel. We went on a tour through the entire space including his garage which houses not only his porscha complete with wooden exterior luggage rack and leather straps and a woody surfboard, but also his woodwork tools for creating new products if he so desires. Throughout all his spaces from the wood cutting studio to the staining workshop, café and shop, the quote ‘Today is a good day’ is posted on simple, photocopied sheets of paper sticky-taped to the wall.
His wife’s atelier Shirakumasha, meaning polar bear in Japanese, was my idea of heaven. I could have easily moved my office into this space. A bit of a bowerbird herself (although it was a lot neater than my office), the two level space was choca-bloc full of all the things I love: wire baskets, workman’s lights, pegs, clipboards, leather cut-offs, beautiful tools and much more.
Today was a good day. Today was a VERY good day.
Packed with tips of the interior stylist’s trade, Etcetera is a lavishly photographed interiors book in which every image demonstrates a clear and easily replicable principle that will help transform a room without the need for expensive and permanent renovation. Author Sibella Court’s style is very global, combining contemporary elements with antiques and junk-shop finds, textile fragments, wallpapers, collectables and ephemera. Etcetera draws on five of Sibella’s favourite colour themes as a framework for the display of her impeccable eye for detail. Each section will draw the reader into Sibella’s world of colour and texture, through inspirational room settings to the most intimate of details. Etcetera won Best Designed Book and Best Designed General Illustrated Book at the APA Annual Design Awards 2010.
Two people I work with on the design of restaurants & bars turned me into an incandescent enthusiast. They give off the most beautiful warm glow, come in long elongated tubes (much the same as fluoros) and you can design outer casting to your heart’s content. If you do not have access to a supplier of these tubes, or have a handy electrician or metal/wood/stone worker to create your casings, you could just order some of these fantastic readymade ones I have found:
If you are in Sydney and would like to come and see some in situ, check out MsG’s, The Fish Shop or Palmer & Co.
I stumbled across Analogue Life in Selvedge magazine. I am such a sucker for a shop in a country that is not my own & in the middle of nowhere- or at least nowhere near my itinerary. We decided to squeeze Nagoya in between training from Kyoto to Tokyo, a three hour window. Analogue Life is a gallery/shop located in suburban Nagoya that no taxi drivers know exists. It is 10 minutes from Sakurayama Station. It is on the second floor of a beautiful, traditional house on a corner with a generous garden and big, black, temple style gates. They showcase the wares of Japanese artisans and craftspeople from silky, soft wooden miso bowls, cast metal mosquito coil holders, lacquerware vessels with walnut lids, spoons handbeaten by a jeweller, persimmon painted paper dustpans for sweeping your tatami mats, wooden coat hangers with very long hooks, copper scissors that fit your hand to perfection, bamboo and charcoal soap by a hippie German expat, delicate, handle-less ceramic teacups (a good time to start a collection), tree stump stools and rami & linen bathhouse cloths. So many lovely things. It was worth the adventure: two train rides and three cab rides, all in the rain.