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Truly time-poor? Key trends are written in BOLD!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Trends: The New Humility in Design

I thought, given the chaos in the financial and political worlds, that I would start my breakdown of LDF 2011 trends with what is a very widespread trend for, if not austerity as such (which is too problematic for a bunch of people selling high-end design / launching new products), then a certain unmistakeable humility in the work. It's in the materials, the finishes, the forms, the techniques, even their presentation (numerous crate shelves and small, unpretentious flower displays). No-one seems much interested in the glossy, the showy, conspicuous consumption, pretence or veneer. And thank heavens for that, it was always pretty naff and insecure - unless the tongue was firmly in the cheek. Anyway, here's a selection of images I took over the London Design Festival that, when put together, hopefully show what I'm talking about. 

Some people are already bored of this trend and championing a return to glamour, decadence etc. To me, given the situation in the wider world, this seems crass and, in the case of many glossy fashion and interiors magazines I presume, at least in part, an attempt to appease their desperate advertisers. Until things turn around and I really can't imagine how that's going to happen in the western world (although I'm happy be proved wrong), this kind of design - if new design is needed at all - seems like the only way to proceed and the only look that I am comfortable living with. 

All pictures copyright Kate Jacobs

Thursday, 10 November 2011

A moodboard of key trends as seen at the London Design Festival...

Before I get a bit more specific about LDF trends in some upcoming blogs, here's a moodboard I've made of close-ups taken at the London Design Festival. Not being a masochist, I won't be attempting to caption this one.

Trends Overview:
Materials: unfinished wood, leather, concrete, terracotta, wicker, woven cotton, knitted wool, marble, quartz and agate etc., brass, copper
Colours: naturals and neutrals, metallics, matt black, acid yellow
Textures: wood grain, woven and knitted, geometric, slatted
Styles: industrial, crafts, austerity, humility

All pictures copyright Kate Jacobs

Monday, 7 November 2011

London Design Festival: Michael Anastassiades on Brompton Road

After a hectic October, I'm trying to catch up with some posts on the many inspirational things I saw at the London Design Festival. First up is the pop-up show of Michael Anastassiades work. I first met Michael in 2006 when I wrote about his wonderful Waterloo home for Elle Decoration. I called the piece 'the new simplicity' because I felt that the house, with it's neutral plaster-inspired palette, natural materials and occasional precious objects in brass and marble was going to set the the tone for future design trends. And he was pretty much on the money, as far as I'm concerned. 
I was similarly inspired by the latest show. There were just two elements to this show: the setting and the work - with no additional frippery. The setting was a defunct early-Victorian jewellers in the Brompton Design District - lots of shiny glass and mirror yet still austere in ebony gloss-painted wood and neat white plaster. Then add to this Michael's work in glass, brass and marble etc - vessels, lighting and more sculptural pieces, displayed using multiples to great dramatic effect. The two worked so well together. 

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Photo Highlights of the Pavilion of Art & Design London

As part of the sprawling Frieze art fair that's taking over London right now, PAD London, set right among the towering plane trees of Berkeley Square is well worth a visit. Many of the world's finest galleries of high design are here showing there stuff.
Here are a few of my (iPhone) photo highlights - better pics to follow along with captions and links.

* Pavilion of Art & Design
Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Modernity, Stockholm
Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Dansk Mobelkunst, Copenhagen
Picture copyright Kate Jacobs
Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Dansk Mobelkunst, Copenhagen
Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Friday, 7 October 2011

Terence Conran and the Seventies Victorian Revival

A still from the BBC’s If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home

I’ve been absolutely riveted by the two episodes of  the BBC’s If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home that I have seen. I find the history of the home so inspiring and illuminating. In the episode that’s available on BBC iPlayer until October 13th 2011, historian Lucy Worsley looks at the story of the kitchen. The section on the Sixties and Seventies Victorian revival caught my attention because it was very in sync with the ‘new country’ style I’m so inspired by at the moment.

This is from the programme: ‘Having spent all their money creating open-plan kitchens, hunting for cheap antique Victoriana became chic among young middle-class people. Terence Conran led this new style in home d├ęcor.  And along with open-plan kitchens he introduced Victorian style reproduction crockery and cheap pine tables to the country, through Habitat. [Conran:] “I’ve always been fascinated by the below-the-stairs objects of the Victorian era, which were made as very useful, simple objects, the design of them probably wasn’t really considered as such, they just had to do their job. And I found these objects very satisfying, very beautiful, and they’ve certainly influenced my taste.”’

I love rummaging for very ordinary kitchenalia whenever I get the chance; earthenware pots, wooden chopping boards and spoons, aluminium colanders and I have a collection of horn handled knives that is getting out of hand - so it was encouraging to read the great TC’s thoughts on the subject. For me too these objects are deeply satisfying to use and infinitely preferable to plastic. 

A still from the BBC’s If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Pinch and Ochre at Decorex

A quick posting on two of my favourite stands at the Decorex show - Pinch and Ochre. Both used relaxed, comfortable seating, huge, low-slung pendant lights in semi-sheer fabrics and exquisite palettes (Pinch's included greys, pale wood and mustard yellows while Ochre used mink, nude-pink and off-white). They're both companies I've always been fans of and they didn't disappoint today. 

Pinch, picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Pinch, picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Ochre, picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Ochre, picture copyright Kate Jacobs

The New Country style: my jumble sale hoard

On Saturday I took a break from London Design Festival, and days spent looking at new things for the home, to spend a day looking at old things for the home - at a cracking jumble sale. When I come back from these expeditions, I like to arrage my finds and take a photo, then I can keep looking at it and allow my new things to find a home around the house (if this sounds excessive, then remember that this blog is called Interiors NUT for a reason). So here's my haul from Saturday...

Friday, 23 September 2011

London Design Festival: The Timber Wave at the V&A

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

I had a great time at the V&A on Wednesday as part of the London Design Festival. From the images I'd seen, I didn't really expect to like the Timber Wave (above) outside the V&A's grand entrance but I was very taken with it when I actually saw it. I loved the contrast of the warm wood (American red oak) against the mellow grey stone facade. It was interesting to know that it's creators, AL_A (Amanda Levete's post-Future Systems practice) used techniques more typically used in furniture making but on a grand scale. The piece has a great kinetic quality and seems to draw you in like a whirlpool. 

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Thursday, 15 September 2011

My Still Life Obsession, Part III: Niki Jones

All pictures courtesy of Niki Jones

I've talked before about how much I love the still life genre of painting etc (see this previous blog), and I've been inspired to create my own. Still lifes, whether artworks or tableaux created in the home are always a source of fascination to me. So it was with some delight that I picked up Niki Jones latest catalogue. Last week I mentioned my highlights in terms of the products she's currently offering but today I wanted to flag up the wonderful styling and photography. With the use of dramatic daylight, the rough crumpled cloths, the vessels with food and flowers, it's all redolent of still life painting of the 17th and 18th centuries.
I suppose the reason why I like these still life pictures there's a sense of capturing a snapshot of real life. And if real  life doesn't look like this then why not? Follow the beautiful and useful maxim (try and do both in one wherever possible - banishing plastics from the home is a good start) and life can be filled with little accidental tableaux along these lines - a source of joy on a daily basis... if you are a true Interiors Nut.

Niki Jones

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

MY EDIT: Niki Jones' latest collection

I just received the latest catalogue from one of my interiors heroes, Niki Jones, and it feels like she's surpassed herself. I loved the styling and photography, more on that in my next blog, and there were lots of extremely covetable pieces - see my edit below. I love the folk / artisan / ethnic feel of her products. They feel very timeless, trend-transcending and easy to live with. They're  things that will look just as great even if they sustain the odd knock or mark - something you normally only get with vintage pieces. And a lot of designers and magazines are talking about 'investment buys' and 'heirloom pieces' these days, as a way of persuading the cash-strapped punter to keep splashing out on high-end products but, for me, Niki Jones' stuff is the sort of thing you could have around for a lifetime. 

I think this introduction to the catalogue sums up the ethos and aesthetic perfectly:
'Niki Jones embraces this rich world of folk art and hand craft and gives it her own unique contemporary twist by re-invigorating these age-old crafts. Mixing old and new, stylish and quirky, serious and whimsical, functional and decorative
Her collection celebrates the time-honoured craft of textiles and aims to keep these skills alive for future generations, creating unique pieces to be cherished as modern day heirlooms.'

Captions from top to bottom, left to right:
Lattice rug, grey and ecru
Crewel cushion, black and ochre
Vintage Indian wooden oil pots
Lattice rug, grey and chartreuse green
Vintage Indian wooden naan bowls
Izar throw, slate and chartreuse green
Folk bolster, ecru
Woodland cushion, natural linen
Vintage Indian wooden biscuit blocks
Large folk rug, ecru

* Niki Jones

Picture courtesy of Niki Jones

Friday, 19 August 2011

MY EDIT: The current crop at Ikea...

Following on from my last post about the new Ikea catalogue, here's a personal edit of great things currently available at Ikea... Lots of neutral, timeless pieces, simple lines, trend-transcending colours and artisan influences. 
(sorry, I had a few technical problems with the pic below and was left with two choices, massive or miniscule.)

Captions, left to right, top to bottom:
Asunden basket with lid, £5.29
Ikea 365+ Risp double quilt cover set, £35.99
Alvine Ruta rug, £139
Boja pendant lamp, £51.99
Karlstad, 2-seat sofa combination, £1048
Tranetorp dining table, £229
Soare place mat, £3
Nordmyra chair, £29
Sockerart  vase, £12.99
Karlstad, 3-seat sofa, £504
Alseda stool, £20.42
Melltorp dining table, £27
(and below:) Varmiuft lamp, £4.49

Inspiration from the new Ikea catalogue...

I really like the new 2012 Ikea catalogue. Firstly the photography is great  - lots of beautiful natural light, and the styling - all that greenery and the very grounded, realistic look (by the standards of interiors brochures generally, if not our actual homes). The products are totally in tune with the mood of the times: there's an absence of frivolity and gimmicks and a whole lot of utilitarian, functional looks and simple, humble materials. Things with a more enduring, neutral style, rather than of-the-moment fashions. I get the feeling that they're trying to tap into their customers' need for practical stuff to make their lives easier and more comfortable. It's achievable rather than aspirational.

Ikea's two big pushes this year are bedrooms and small space living. Small space living is self-explanatory: people can't afford to move into a bigger place so they need to manage their burgeoning possessions better, hence there's a lot of emphasis on clever storage throughout the home. Regarding bedrooms, my best guess for the reasons behind Ikea's  focus on this is that it's a valid way to indulge ourselves in a recession. We're not going out as much, plus the world is a scarier place, so our homes gain more significance in our lives. And the bedroom is the home-within-a-home, with the bed itself as the ultimate inner sanctum. It's always been my favourite place. So perhaps it's about encouraging us to make more of this room, as a place where we can unwind and be ourselves. 

Here are some of my favourite shots from the new catalogue, I'll do an edit of my favourite products very soon...

* Ikea

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Off-the-peg Surrealist brass sculpture at Jonathan Adler...

Brass Dora Maar, picture courtesy of Jonathan Adler

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed I’ve got a bit of a brass obsession (see posts including the brass kitchen, Brancusi's studio and Milan 2011) . There’s something so solid about brass. You have to be serious to make something in it and it's not a material that's readily faked - which gives it a certain integrity in an era of quick-fixes. I’ve always wanted lots of brass Modernist sculpture littered about the place and now, with a new collection of a dozen brass ‘objet’ from astute artisan Jonathan Adler, it looks like it might just be feasible. These pieces are an extension of his Surrealist-inspired 'Muse' collection (see my blog post), ranging from marble plinth-mounted sculptures to more functional pieces like shoehorns and bottle openers, all with a Dali-inspired, Surrealist feel. Here are my personal favourites:

Brass Salvador Orb, picture courtesy of Jonathan Adler

Brass Misia Orb, picture courtesy of Jonathan Adler

Brass Muse bottle opener, picture courtesy of Jonathan Adler

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Great Gatsby's Pool House: Inspiration for a blue and white summer story ...

The starting point: 
I've always loved Jay Gatsby's pool house in the 1974 film, The Great Gatsby. The gorgeous cobalt blue on crisp white palette, the wafting drapes, the Moorish patterned cushions lining the banquettes. It looks like a wonderfully cool place to be on a hot summer day. Although admittedly, not for poor Gatsby, who's about to be shot dead. 

My fairly terrible screen grab of The Great Gatsby (1974) Paramount

My fairly terrible screen grab of The Great Gatsby (1974) Paramount

My fairly terrible screen grab of The Great Gatsby (1974) Paramount

Some more inspiration: 
I've recently been working on a summer blue story of which the cornflower and cobalt blues were my favourites - such great shades for the heat of high summer. Here are some more inspirational room shots in a similar vein to Gatsby's place, that I came across during my research:

Fabric from Trina Turk at Schumacher

Fabric and wallpaper from Harlequin

All fabrics from Baker Lifestyle at GP&J Baker

Getting the look: 
If you want a slice of Gatsby-inspired, Palm Springs Modern-Moorish style in your life then here are ten fabrics and accessories that share that cool and airy summer vibe...

Positano Asterisk pillow by Jonathan Adler

Harvest fabric in Indigo, Marvic Textiles

Positano Bolster pillow by Jonathan Adler

Blue floral bone inlay mirrors from Graham & Green

Trellis print fabric in Marine from Trina Turk at Schumacher

Positano Diamonds pillow by Jonathan Adler

Moorish Tile cushion in cobalt, John Lewis

Zig Zag throw by Jonathan Adler 

Santorini print fabric in Marine from Trina Turk at Schumacher

Positano Helix pillow by Jonathan Adler