1. The basis or groundwork of anything: the moral foundation of both society and religion. 2. The natural or prepared ground or base on which some structure rest. 3. The lowest division of a building, wall, or the like, usually of masonry and partly or wholly below the structure of the ground
For our second colour hunting expedition we explore foundation; a soft and muted palette of natural tones, a 10-colour-palette I designed for my first book ETC.
Foundation is as its title suggests: a solid colour base for any interior. If you’re a gardener, consider it the fertile soil, sunshine and rain; if you’re a cook, think of it as the flour, eggs and sugar. With the right foundations, anything is possible: pirate black, cracked leather, paperbag, burlap, gypsy gold, felt, sailcloth, scrimshaw, chalk, glassine.
C is for…
My curiosity for cutlery knows no bounds. You can gauge my trips by the variety and material of hand-carved spoons I have: made from wood, shell, mother of pearl, snails, bamboo and horn from various ports around the world. It’s no surprise that I would be drawn to the work of the cutler, the early cutlery & knife maker. B in my Alphabet of Arcane Trades focused on the bonesetters, so what a perfect progression to learn that the first cutlers were cave-dwellers, who created utensils out of bone. Casting our eyes a little further forward, Sheffield emerges as the home of cutlery as we know it. The workshops of cutlers featured grinding wheels, from which came rudimentary blades for harvesting crops, which then evolved into knives for the table, though we have skipped a few notches on the timeline. I’m always interested in dining & cutting utensils, especially those that have passed through the passage of time, with extra points for patina and evidence of handmade. I recently returned from Korea with a bundle of razor-sharp knives, their wooden handles with small characters marked on the handle caught my eye.
I have mentioned my total dislike of downlights before, so I thought I’d share some alternatives that I often use in my spaces. I do not like to be in a spotlight, blinded by misdirected lighting. Everyone looks fabulous in soft ambient lighting, so why not make a prettier & happier world?
I have picked up old & new lights the world over and love the immediacy of clipping them onto a chair, or hanging where I want them to hang. Note: Don’t be deterred by different voltages, make friends with an electrician who can MacGyver them to suit your country code.
This old lampshade has been customised with a bedtime phrase, but you could pen a nursery rhyme, poem or favourite saying.
Don’t feel like you must stick to the classic lamp beside your bed. A hanging pendant makes a sculptural feature and also keeps your table clear for books, spectacles and glass of water.
The light above your dining table takes centrestage. I love how this take on a candelabra acts as a crown to the central entertaining zone and adds a sense of occasion.
An old brass light switch found at a salvage shop makes an interesting change from the modern, mass-produced version.
Think outside of the box when it comes to your home’s lighting and make sure you give your lights more responsibility than simply function.
noun /ʃiːld/ 1. a large, flat object made of metal or leather that soldiers held in front of their bodies to protect themselves 2. something or someone used as protection or providing protection.
The history of the shield is long and rich, spanning from fearless Roman gladiators in the Colosseum to romantic visions of medieval knights in shining armour. Shield sizes, materials and designs often varied to suit the wearer’s needs for protection. One small and light variety of metal shield called a buckler could easily by worn on the belt of a soldier, and eventually lead to the use of the term ‘swashbuckler’, a word every good pirate is familiar with. Shields were also used as a way of identification; painted heraldic symbols and coats of arms became very handy in the confusion of the battlefield.
Whilst today one does not often valiantly run into battle, shields can have diverse uses. 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.
Although traditionally made of metal, this shield on the bolster above is cut from denim, embroidered & appliquéd to ticking. It adds textures & layers to a plain linen sofa, as well as recording your personal stories and important dates.
Take home one of our little shields today, as a reminder to live like a swashbuckler & barricade against negative thoughts!
Mexico is just bursting with inspiration for more than just your interiors. Here are some of the ways I translated the vibrant atmosphere of Mexico into my styling.
Make things festive by simply tacking up Day of the Dead paper flags; use a giant yard game as sculpture (or to use) and pull your lime green cow hide outside.
I have rolls of vintage wallpaper, which I use in all sorts of ways. Line the inside of a cupboard with something colourful to create a decorative background. Create a shelf liner (mine is out of waxed baking paper), a rather naive reminder of the paper cut-outs of the Day of the Dead. Stack with all your favourite finds – leave the cupboard door open or even take off the doors.
A cool collection of old school maps becomes wallpaper. Hang them randomly as you acquire them. An old cane daybed is given new life with a slick of white paint and colourful throws. Use it inside or out.
Plastic mats that look like rugs (hunt them out at interiors shops), folding chairs and some flowing stripy fabric sets the tone with colours and finishes found while bicycling around the DF.
A past assistant made this fantastic mural years ago for a window display in the Flatiron Building. You can do one on paper, but I love that this is on reuseable plastic, and has travelled from NYC to Australia. The colours are perfect for Mexico and give this terrace house a cool studio feel. Don’t worry about not having carpet or rug large enough, as you go and line them up.
A hanging cane chair reminds me of sipping cocktails at sunset on the roof terrace of Hotel Condesa DF.
Tune in next week as I share more interiors inspiration gleaned from my Mexican jaunt, as well as some tips of things to see and do.
B is for…
I love bones – not all bones, mind you. They have to be a certain shape, but I’m not usually fussy about which animal they are from: the fineness & fragility of seafaring birds’ bones found on the beach; the oversized thigh bone of a camel; or the dried-out vertebrae of a snake my brother gave me from his farm, which is a sculpture unto itself. This is probably the reason I’m drawn to the practice of bonesetting. Perhaps we can think of these characters as early chiropractors. These unlicensed healers were tasked with setting dislocated bones and joints and “balancing the skeleton”. In India, bonesetters would also wear a slightly botanical hat, as the use of herbs was key in their healing. My fascination with the skeleton and all manner of fragile and intricate bones loves the existence of this trade and makes me hear a distant echo of yesteryear.
The Alphabet of Arcane Trades:
A is for…