4Dec

Storage Suggestions For Your Home

I guess you could describe me as somewhere between a minimalist and a maximalist. I have vast & unique collections that sprawl over my home, shop & storage units. These collections are diverse in reach, with some pieces being more precious than other – read: more delicate, though perhaps no more sentimental – so working out how to best keep them safe and suitably stored is of utmost importance. While I love museums, I like to arrange my things in a more informal setting, inviting friends to pick up the pieces as they so desire. Keeping this in mind, I think striking a balance between open display and more closed storage is a smart way to enjoy the best of the minimalist and maximalist worlds. Here are some suggestions for adding storage to your home, that still speaks of your style.

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Apply some creative thinking to your storage solutions to create spaces that offer practicality, while still adding interest. Here, the wide steps of a ladder provide shelving, while the narrower rungs can be used for draping jewellery, scarves and other accessories.

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If you have a penchant for open display – like me – find a common thread to group your pieces. Objects stored on open shelving and flung-open cupboard doors take on new appeal when blessed with a uniformity of colour, because what’s the point of possessing beautiful and meaningful things if you can’t show them off for the world to see?

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Don’t feel you need to buy a staired chest – I recycled balsawood boxes tipped on their sides and secured (by sheer gravity or Liquid Nails, if you must). They once housed old scrolls, paper lanterns and ceramics.

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As I mentioned recently in my Stylist Alphabet: S is for… post, while I’m perfectly content with throwing things into baskets, filling jars and inventing other ways of decoratively displaying my possessions, I’m equally devoted to finding practical – read neat and tidy – storage solutions. Look for second-hand shelving and cabinetry from apothecaries or industrial filing cabinets and drawers in a mixture of timber and metal.

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I have a lot of stuff (yes, I really am just a good old-fashioned hoarder like my grandmother!) so I’ve  built floor-to-ceiling shelves to house it all. They’ve become my cabinets, or shelve, of curiosity. Corners to explore, study and enjoy. You can do this, too, anywhere you like – on window sills, mantels and dressing tables. Line things up on a baseboard on the floor or hang textiles from a suspended pole from the ceiling. Do not limit yourself with display and let your collection speak for itself.

3Dec

Meet the Maker: Anna Karina

Hailing from the Byron hinterland, Anna Karina Elias is an earthbender, molding clay and forming different shapes. Hers are of the wabi-sabi variety, perfectly imperfect & intended to be enjoyed with a green tea, or freshly picked greens from your own garden. Instinctual & utilitarian, her practice is multi-sensorial and each piece completed is unique in its own subtle way.

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Can you describe in detail your workspace and location?

I work from a converted hardware, which has been divided in twelve studios for artists and creatives in the small town of Bangalow in the hinterland of Byron Bay. My studio has high ceiling with timber beams and timber flooring, the room itself has been divided horizontally across by a wall of large windows. This way I have a small gallery/showroom in the front and work from the back.

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Walk us through your artistic process.

At this time most of my work is utilitarian. It is important for me to carefully consider all the elements of my work. This process is instinctual. I look at how weight plays with size, colour plays with material, composition with proportion. My aim is for a multi-sensorial experience.  One has to engage with my pieces physically, there is no distant objectivity. The work is my language, imperfect, subtle, tactile, quietly composed and deliberately delicate.

Do you have any rituals you follow when creating & making?

The only ritual I have is a cup of scalding hot coffee straight up.

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To what era in history do you most identify?

My daughters would argue the 70’s, given my love for corduroy and ELO, but I have a great imagination, every era has its romantic allure.

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Who would you love to chat with over a meal & where?

There are so many people I’d love to sit and eat a meal with! I’m interested in so many people and what they do. At this moment I’d love to meet Oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, artists Marlene Dumas and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Possibly in a rustic taverna in Italy because I can dream.

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What’s your favourite flower?

As much as I love all flowers I’m a tree person. I love the architecture of trees; I love to think they hold the stories of time.

Who or what keeps you inspired?

I find inspiration everywhere! Nature, people, cities, colour, stories. I don’t know how you can’t be inspired.  But inspiration plays a small roll, imagination and turning up are just as important. You have to get into the work, labor for it, there will never be a perfect time or a perfect idea. The stars won’t align; magic happens when you let go of your preconceived ideas and just begin.

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What is currently on your bookshelf?

I usually have a few books on the go… I just finished Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art by Nancy Princenthal, now onto Barbara Hepworth Writings and Conversations with Sophie Bowness, Heartsnatcher by Boris Vian and I read to my little boy every night and we are loving The BFG Roald Dahl.

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2Dec

Bringing Home Galapagos & Ecuadorian Style

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Inspiration from a trip will never be translated in the few mementos you bring back (unless you did some serious posting home) – and shouldn’t be! Gather paraphernalia that reminds you of an area and mishmash it together. High up in the Ecuadorian mountains, the homes were comfortable, with interiors that spoke of family history, each piece a memory but not hodgepodge. Make it a beautifully orchestrated journey throughout your house or apartment, including the transitional and forgotten spaces.
Don’t be afraid of colour. It doesn’t necessarily mean bright or overwhelming. Here, it has become its own neutral – a beautiful base to build the rest of your room around. It reminds me of driving very high up into the clouds, surrounded by vivid green fields & mountains.

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As a nature sanctuary, nothing can come in or go from the Galapagos Islands. I bought this collection, put together in the ’60s by a fisherman’s wife who lived on the part of the Moruya River where the river meets the sea south of Bateman’s Bay, NSW. I put them on table surfaces to be arranged by size, colour, shape or whatever I desire. Not to be shut away behind glass as it is a lovely experience to hold them.

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Embrace unusual spaces. This was a very narrow and what many would see as quite an awkward space. Rather than being scared of small spaces, make them inviting and intimate – like the quarters of a ship’s captain!
Let the space direct you instead of the other way around. Often you will create something you never would have thought of. The Galapagos was a stopping point for merchants, buccaneers, specimen collectors, explorers and whoever else was lurking in the waters. Here, they’d stock up on tortoise meat, which would last for six months and guard against scurvy. Some of the first things that attracted me to these islands were the stories of the trade winds, of seafaring exploration and the romance of Darwin’s discoveries here.

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In Quito, I went to Casa Museo Guayasamin, a museum which houses famous Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamin’s studio and his home, which had a wall of nooks with hanging ship’s bells. A wall can be a cupboard, window or screen, textured, of unusual shape and three-dimensional. Embrace any unusual backgrounds and let them guide your display.
Here sits a casual setting on the table for what will be the beginnings of a long lunch. The mix of textures shows off vintage and new cushions as well as a beautiful blanket as a make-do tablecloth. This gives the feeling that everything is handcrafted, although it is not – the fact that it is a little off and not quite perfect is the reason why the scene is pulled together. By creating a casual setting, your guests will feel comfortable and your gathering or event will be guided accordingly. A styled interior should not be seen as simply something to admire from the outside, but must be appropriate to live in and be a part of, it should act as a foundation to create stories upon that reflect your life and become a part of your memories. I would eat a dessert of passionfruit pie, chocolate cake and fig with cheese in syrup here with good friends over many hours, as I did in an Inca stone dining room what feels like many moons ago.

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Here I have created a little make-your-own altar. Mine is a tribute to travel where every cross could be a representation of a place or trip – I have included a fun one from Byron Bay to reflect my location.
You can pick up crosses anywhere and, if you dig a little deeper, they come with a story or the history of the town or country you’re in. In an antique shop I saw a figure of Saint Anthony, and through my enquiries discovered that if you have lost something or are lacking in love you pray to him (for love, place his image facedown under the pillow).
Some people collect magnets (which I’m not encouraging) or postcards, make your collection personal and aesthetically pleasing so you can show it off for guests once home, and as a reminder for you. A travel shrine. Hung by the bed, they can also protect you while you’re sleeping and ward off bad dreams. I like the way magic realism and superstition are part of religion in South America. I personally pick up textiles all over the world because they pack flat and travel easily – don’t be shy to change them regularly, it transforms your room through a colour palette.

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A dip-dyed curtain in watery tones, changing like the colour of the sea as the tide goes out, and a hexagonal-patterned runner, reminiscent of the tortoise’s shell, complete this interior.

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I could never overestimate the importance of freshly cut flowers – all the better if they’re home grown. In the haciendas throughout Ecuador, roses & geraniums are in every room. It’s a nice little surprise when there are flowers somewhere unexpected like your bathroom. Attention to detail is important when creating a space, as it is those small moments that make it memorable. I love picking up salvaged bathroom fixtures – this sink is the ultimate powder-room size, petite and elegant with lots of history. I recently renovated my own bathroom and mixed old & new fixtures to give it plenty of layers and interesting patina – not just shiny & new. My own sink is an old Parisian cleaner’s sink and the taps are from Porte de Clignancourt in Paris, a convenient accident.

 

Tune in next week as I tease out more interior ideas from my adventure to Galapagos & Ecuador, as well as let you in on little secrets that you’ll want to check out if you make the journey.

1Dec

Holiday Gift Guide: Tradewinds

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Shop the Tradewinds Holiday Gift Guide here!

30Nov

The Stylist Alphabet: S is for…

S is for…

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Safety pins
Ah, the variety. Like pushpins, safety pins come in many shapes & forms depending on the country of origin and the purpose. The Japanese version of the kilt pin is a favourite present, fine and in a gold finish. For my hardware range, I designed some based on the oversized laundry bag pins of the past and oversized fine kilt pins. A great invention that is both functional and beautiful. Shop some of my collection of pins here.

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Samples & swatches
I opened a box at my storage space recently and found my samples of fake grass and fake snow. it reminded me of my years in NYC building sets, so I put the box back on the shelf and look forward to the next time I open it. I have lots of samples. I blame it on my job but I do love to see the colour or texture variations of the same thing in a small size.
Since the days of travelling salesmen, we have had sample & swatch boards. It’s always lovely to come upon an old bead, ribbon or lace one. At the indigo dyer’s house in Kyoto, he let me pore over his great grandfather’s indigo kimono sample books: mulberry paper, thick with fabric squares, and hand bound. This was extra special.

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Scientific paraphernalia
I have a thing for miniature things, not dollhouse things, but really small functional stuff: petri dishes, beakers, vessels, test tubes, funnels etc.
I have bought many a vintage scientific vessel from flea markets all over the world. I use them in my own interiors both on an everyday level as well as display. They are very much a part of my own Cabinet of Curiosities as well as making an appearance in my bathroom. Old apothecary jars house decanted vitamins, glass medical jars with labels like ‘tongue depressors’ house my cotton buds, bandages, cotton pads & other bathroom essentials and are a lot more sightly than the packaging of today.

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Scissors
From Vietnam, my great-grandmother’s pinking shears, tiny, tiny cord-covered Japanese ones, Chinese kitchen scissors – you name them, I seem to have acquired them. There is no reason why utilitarian tools should not be beautiful; these are for use and display. You can buy my makers’ scissors here.

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Shaving mirrors
These look great alone or en masse. I pick them up all over the world. They fold flat, come on a stand and are mostly round, oval or shield shaped. The original idea was as a travelling mirror to hang or stand alone on a dresser or convenient surface, such as a sand dune, side of a mountain, campaign table, train bunker, back of the door or tree branch, depending on your destination.
The other option is the freestanding kind, with an adjustable angle. Not as practical for adventures, but they look great standing against your existing mirror or in a dressing room, by a bed, a specially made shelf or the like.
I most recently found a round one about 25cm in diameter with a wonky wire stand, in a dusty antique shop in Ho Chi Minh City, slightly neglected, but lovely in all its tattered-ness.

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Shields
The icon for my shop is a shield based on an old enamel school badge, similar to the one I used to wear. I have always admired the shape of shields and now that it is so synonymous with my brand, I use them liberally in interiors and logos I design, and even the jewellery I wear.
On the day I bought my shop, I found a rose gold shield ring, large in size and perfect for my thumb. I wear it to this day and it reminds me of the joy & accomplishment I felt in starting The Society inc.  You may have a favourite icon that can be used in the same way.

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Snapshots
Snapshots taken on overseas adventures should be more than just a record of the places you visited.  I took this photo at the Summer Palace in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, and constantly refer to it for inspiration: the rich and layered colour combinations, the textures and shapes on the walls and floor, and the furniture placement all have the potential to be part of my own living space. Flick through your old albums and see what interiors and architecture you fancy, then find ways to introduce those elements into your home.

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Stamped & official
A girlfriend of mine once asked where I hide all my ugly stuff. I believe that nothing has to be ugly. I’ll keep an eye out for something old, well-made and so considered in its design and material over the quick buy. This applies to hole punches, receipt pins, string holders, tape dispensers and the like.
While looking for them, I keep coming across rubber stamps (although not always made of rubber). The irregularity appeals to me and they have become a staple at The Society inc. We do get some made, always the ones you use the inkpad with. In Hanoi, I watched a man carve my name & address out of wood in English, backwards, circular and about 2mm high for each letter. He presented me with the most beautiful wooden business stamp plus bright red ink & pad. I was very happy – it felt like an incredibly special gift.

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Stencils
I squirrel these out from country antique stores, flea markets, hardware and stationery stores. Many are old handmade metal ones, some are single letters & numbers, others the names or initials from working farms or a crude form of labelling or maker’s mark. An old-fashioned way of branding  your logo. I find I use these in my own commercial designs as well as my house and shop.
To me they have dual functionality. Firstly, they can be a display piece in themselves, hung on the wall with small nails you can see (try to use hand-forged ones), either as a colelction or on their own as a piece of art.
Secondly, they can be used for what they were created for. With either a spray paint or a stipple brush, you can transform a simple piece  of burlap by stencilling on an ampersand then stitching into a square. I have jussed many a chair by stencilling a number or word onto it.

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Storage
While I’m perfectly content with throwing things into baskets, filling jars and inventing other ways of decoratively displaying my possessions, I’m equally devoted to finding practical – read neat and tidy – storage solutions. Look for second-hand shelving and cabinetry from apothecaries or industrial filing cabinets and drawers in a mixture of timber and metal.

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Strange little paintings
I visited the isolated Nukus Museum of Art, Uzbekistan, with my mum. All these amazing Russian avant-garde artists whose works were banned by Stalin are on show in this incredible museum. Outside, there was a small exhibition of local children’s art. I bought a drawing of a blackbird. On a recent trip to Amsterdam, while visiting Moooi’s HQ, I picked up a discarded portrait with a green background and strapped it to the back of my bicycle. It now sits comfortably in my annexe with other such finds.
I like picking up flat things when travelling, and paintings fit this requirement, especially when small. Although I randomly collect paintings without a specific subject matter, it’s more about the place & trip for me; you could pick a theme and run with it, for example portraits, landscapes or trees.

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And, of course, Silver
I think one of the best opening lines in a book is from Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson. It reads “My Mother called me Silver. I was born part precious metal, part pirate.” I’m quite sure, having not met the author – until recently – that it was written just for me. These words jumped off the page from the moment I first read them, and inspired me to name my own daughter Silver, and precious she is.

 

The Stylist Alphabet:
A is for…      B is for…
C is for…      D is for…
E is for…      F is for…
G is for…     H is for…
I is for…      J is for…
K is for…     L is for…
M is for…    N is for…
O is for…     P is for…
Q is for…     R is for…

27Nov

Ideas For Your Living Area

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Your living area can be a place for a bit of a devil-may-care attitude when it comes to the way you style it. As it toes the line between entertaining zone and relaxation space, you can afford to be a little louder in your approach. If you feel so inclined, get creative with a wall mural or art of some form. Don’t be too worried about making a statement as your quieter rooms, such as bedrooms and bathrooms can err on the calmer side.

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If you’re familiar with my 10-colour palette, you’ll know that I like to have common threads of colour running through my spaces. Here, natural elements, such as timber and hides, draw comforting texture into this living area for a cosy feel, while flashes of green in linen book covers and soft furnishings add a bright finishing touch.

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Your home is not a showroom and a mixture of furniture in from all eras is perfectly acceptable, especially when anchored by similar colours or shapes, or the mere notion that you love it. While living areas exist as larger zones of the home, creating smaller nooks within – using a single chair and side table, for example – will add a sense of intimacy.

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Don’t disregard the floor when it comes to tying the whole look together, especially in an open-plan living space. Whether you go for a bright floor rug or a more tactile, earthy option, a rug will mark out your relaxation zone and smarten up the area. I love those rough-hewn crunchy natural fibres, but if you like to go barefoot you might want to look into a softer option.