Decor

past present

December 27, 2023

It’s a beautiful idea to take relics from different cultures and time periods and re-imagine them as contemporary sculptures. French artist, Nicolas Lefebvre does exactly this. A background in antiques informs his work. As does his extensive travel. Imagine an antique Amazonian headdress and Nigerian coins, or a Khmer mirror and a Berber tent peg. Each one of his “objets montés” are a delicate balance of colour, texture and scale. As is often the case with collections such as these, choosing just one is impossible. I want them all.

the stripes

June 21, 2023

In a contest between polka dots and stripes, I’d choose the latter. As teenagers, my best friend, Stephanie and I had amassed so many stripe-y t-shirts (many of them matching) we could have run a shop on the green outside our school. Stripes for Sale! Two for a tenner! Anytime I see a stripe, I get excited. These striped cups, coasters, dishes and bowls from ceramic artist, Amy Kraus are terrifically cool. A background in graphic design informs her approach to surface decoration. “Picking a simple pattern like stripes is great because it’s simple, and I can’t get overwhelmed by the possibilities of different patterns and graphics,” she says. There’s something about the stripe that’s bold, fresh and classic. Hello, Audrey sur plage! “The only rules are that I have to use stripes, and there has to be two colours in the piece,” adds Kraus. “Within that framework, I am able to explore different colour combinations and variations of stripe patterns, and I am pushed to see what colours I can make work together. The best results usually come from combinations I wasn’t expecting to work well.”

tulipiere

May 24, 2023

I’ve been making tulipieres for weeks now, in my head, at least. They’re an ornate vessel with multiple spouts that date back to the 1600’s. They were originally conceived as a a vase in which to grow tulips, a single bloom emerging from each spout. These days, the tulipiere offers endless possibilities for arranging any cut flower. The one I’m crafting in my head looks somewhat like the vintage one below, only it stands on a dainty pedestal and is painted in my signature blue stripes. I’ve made enough things in my mind to know they rarely look the same in real life. Eight small spouts? We shall see.

glass act

April 20, 2023

Over two decades, we’ve amassed a collection of glasses that ranges from tiny vintage tumblers to hand-blown goblets to dainty champagne coupes in every colour of the rainbow. We’ve attempted to buy glasses in sets, but they rarely stay as such, and so our dinner table is a mish mash of all the above. What I love about Drew Spanenberg’s stemware is that it works both as a set and as a one of a kind piece. This peach cup –– as perfect for prosecco as it is for lemonade –– is just dreamy. They’re all hand blown and limited edition. Wash by hand and keep away from buttery fingers.

skirting aound

April 11, 2023

We so rarely see sink skirts anymore and I don’t know why because they’re charming. Okay, so there’s the obvious impracticality of spilling mouth wash all over your vintage Guatemalan textile, but really, who doesn’t love to floss over a bustle of fancy fabric? I’d brush my teeth all day at this marble sink, and this candy cane fabric brings the circus to a country kitchen. My favourite is this gorgeous stripe; I love it so much that I wish it was an actual skirt!

my loo

March 6, 2023

Long time readers know about my penchant for fancy powder rooms so it’ll come as no surprise that when we finally renovated our home it was the loo that got the most attention. “Must we have a toilet,” I half joked to the contractor. Even the chicest potties are an eyesore. And don’t get me started on the flush plates. Designers go to great lengths to disguise the toilet. Nicky Haslam has a bespoke commode in the guest loo of his London flat and Maria Speake’s of Retrouvius uses elaborate wallpapers to distract us from from the toilet bowl. We opted for one of those floating designs, and in a moment of madness I considered a black model –– so 80’s –– so that it would blend into the midnight blue walls. I came to my senses, and in the end, I barely notice the loo anymore. That is, unless I’m scouring it. But if I ever design another one, I’m splashing out on a Delfts blue Victorian loo with a mahogany seat. Because, why not?

otherworldly

February 22, 2023

Elisa Uberti‘s anthropomorphic sculptures are simple and soft and tactile and remind me of what a child might make if you handed her a lump of moulding putty. Only the little girl would paint her two-legged dog pink and green and cover it in sequins and sticky feathers. These are utterly restrained, and stunning in their simplicity. Uberti’s lamps look like creatures from another planet, and her chairs are thrones for aliens.

beginner’s luck

February 15, 2023

I’ve made seven large cylinders in the last few weeks, and none have turned out as well as the first. One collapsed, and three cracked straight down the middle. How to bring more of that first-time fresh, unbridled energy to a second or fifth attempt? I have to step away and work on something else. A bowl. A plate. This evening’s dinner. And then try again. And again. You’d think a cylinder would be easy but it’s often the simplest forms that are most unforgiving. As I am not a thrower, I know that my forms will never be as tight as they would be on a wheel, and nor do I want them to be. But cracks won’t do. ‘Practice makes good,’ is my new motto. And Julie Hirschfeld’s lovely pitchers are inspiring me.

water colour

February 13, 2023

Some of Emma Larsson’s compositions look like sea monsters or corals while others look cells under a microscope. Her love of nature is evident in everything she paints. Larsson grew up in the Swedish countryside and would often get lost in a nearby forest. To this day, she wonders into forests searching for inspiration. Watercolour, and the merging of colour and pattern, gives her work a fluid and organic feel. “Beauty is important, but it is subjective. For something to be beautiful, it doesn’t have to be pretty. Personally, I’m not drawn to the “obvious beauty” we’re told to admire in the pages of fancy magazines. There has to be some flaw for me to feel interested; it’s the imperfection or the awkwardness that attracts me.” I find her work exuberant, alien, beautiful and alive.

hyacinth

January 16, 2023

No matter the season, I can always count on my local corner shop for fresh cut blooms. When buckets of Hyacinths arrive I know that spring’s in sight. So you can imagine my confusion today when I spotted them alongside the last of the amaryllis. Not that I’m complaining, I love hyacinths. It’s just that seeing them gave me some kind of false hope, like tiny, frilly beacons of something that’s not only out of sight, but over the hill, down the lane, and through the forest away. Of course, I bought an armful. The smell is too lovely to resist. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a little fantasy. (This drawing is by Picasso, by the way. Just another example of his extraordinary range.)

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