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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Bold as brass: the coolest kitchen I've seen in ages...

Picture by Will Pryce courtesy of Arcaid

I was struck by a momentary pang of kitchen envy when I read yesterday's Evening Standard Homes & Property section. I'm heavily into brass at the moment. I 'd have big brass Modernist sculptures dotted all over the house, were it not for the unpleasant matter of the bill. I prefer its golden colour to actual gold, which is a bit too orange for me. Interestingly, the owners opted for brass as they're fed up with the ubiquity of stainless steel, and I have to agree with that. It's not a material that fires me up at the moment. But this kitchen, part of a whole-house renovation by architect/owner Dominic McKenzie, looks like some precious sculptural box, as well as being somewhere to make your tea and toast.

For more (and bigger!) pics, see Arcaid

Picture by Will Pryce courtesy of Arcaid

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Chair striptease from Moooi

I love this image from Moooi's website homepage. Called ‘gothictease’,  as time goes by the offbeat Dutch design company gradually peel back the grey and white Moorish wrapping to reveal tantalising glimpses of the studded yellow modern-gothic chair below. The idea is to get us fired up for their Milan Salone show, ‘The Unexpected Welcome’. It's working for me. 
Picture courtesy of Moooi

The Sunflower - my flower of 2011

Palladio Sunflower
Picture courtesy of Sanderson

Last year it was dandelions. This year I’m into sunflowers. It’s been bubbling under for a few years now. I was first inspired by some dried sunflower heads that I saw while shooting the home of Emily Chalmers (owner of the wonderful Caravan shop in East London) about five years ago. Around the same time I first met the designer and Very Inspiring Person, Clare Corrigan (now Senior Styliste de Bijoux Fantasie at LouisVuitton  – what a job title) and she introduced me to Briglin Pottery which often features sunflowers. There are sunflowers dotted around my house on vases, cushions and throws but my favourite sunflowery thing is the Palladio Sunflower pattern by Sanderson, which I've got big plans for - watch this space. I’m drawn to sunflowers because on the one hand they’re the simple, classic flower shape that a child draws, but their extreme size and twisting petals give them a surreal aspect too.  They're sunny, optimistic and unpretentious and because they have a purpose, in terms of providing food, they feel quite right for a time when frivolity feels somewhat inappropriate. Oh and they’re yellow.

Picture courtesy of

Picture courtesy of Spinster's Emporium / Folksy

Palladio Sunflower
Picture courtesy of Sanderson

Picture courtesy of

Palladio Sunflower
Picture courtesy of Sanderson

Picture courtesy of 

Monday, 28 March 2011

MY EDIT: A handmade Mother's Day with gifts from Folksy...

Folksy is a great website, putting small scale designer-makers and craftspeople in touch with a wider market. The range of products, styles and prices is incredibly diverse, meaning there's something for everyone but also that you have to really trawl to find what's right for you. One piece of well-intentioned advice for Folksy: you really need to find a way of helping people to refine their searches, look at more items per page etc. because few visitors have the inclination to browse 139 pages of cushions. Fortunately I did. Here's my edit from just a few of the homeware categories. Trends include green, yellow, cream, neutrals, botanicals, geometrics, wood, rustic ceramics, fur (faux), knits, rope and weave.


All pictures courtesy of Folksy

Captions from top row (left to right) to bottom row. I've left the item descriptions as each seller wrote them so you can use them to search on Folksy or (hopefully) just click on caption for a weblink...
1 Gold Plate, £12 
3 Oak Burr Bowl, £39.95 
5 Lobster Pot, £14.95
18 Aran Afghan star shaped, £32

Friday, 25 March 2011

Beautiful AND Useful: bright new desk accessories by Michael Sodeau

It's Friday afternoon, the sun is out, what better time to talk stationery? OK I know it's not the perfect moment but I just wanted to share a cool pic of a great-looking new range of desk accessories, another collaboration involving renowned British designer Michael Sodeau  (see the last one here: ). This time he's working with Japanese company Suikosha, and their new brand is called ANYTHING, available to buy at Designjunction, which will be in Milan next month for the Salone. I love the eye popping colours, the fact that they look basically normal but with a subtle distinction about each piece. They don't scream out for more attention than a stapler (let's face it) actually merits. Smart, gimmick-free design. I'm all for William Morris' famous quote 'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful' and I think that this new collection manages to tick both boxes.

Picture courtesy of ANYTHING

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

So long, Liz...

I just wanted to do a quick salute to Liz Taylor, who died today. Not strictly interiors but, to quote Paul Smith, 'You can find inspiration in anything. And if you can't, look again'. For me inspiration is holistic - fairly horrible word, but I'm drawn to the same visual things whether in film, fashion or home. My mother introduced me to the joy of old films from Hollywood's golden age as a young child and these films and their frequently fabulous interiors have always been a source of entertainment and inspiration. It wasn't hard to find stills, from Elizabeth Taylor's brilliant body of work, that also have great interiors too. Top of my long list of favourites are Suddenly, Last Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The V.I.P.s. So here's to Liz...

Spice of Life: A nice idea for open shelf kitchens

I had Sunday lunch at my friends Sam and Marc Jones' house at the weekend and the interiors geek in me was transfixed by their herb and spice storage arrangements. Yes, really. They're all in small glass jars and their contents are identified by little coloured plastic plant markers inside each jar. I thought it was such a sweet, appealing idea that I had to do a quick post on it - sorry my phone pics aren't too clear. See more of Sam's style, including her bold, bright and brilliant own-design 'Hey Pico!' homewares, here.

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Very Inspiring Person: a catch-up with designer Niki Jones...

Picture courtesy of Niki Jones

Picture courtesy of Niki Jones

Picture courtesy of Niki Jones

I first heard about Niki Jones producing her own interiors collection in 2009, I recognised the name as I had met her years ago (through creative director Georgina Godley - one of my top ten interiors heroes) when Jones was designing under Godley for Habitat and then Wedgwood - at very exciting times for both companies. Her background is in textile design but her role grew while at Habitat to include coordinating colour palettes and patterns across all the ranges - which must have been a brilliant job. When she went with Godley to Wedgwood as Design Director they started to work miracles at this staid old place - fizzing with inspiration as they plundered the incredible and unique Wedgwood archive. But, for big-business reasons well beyond the remit of this little blog, it was not to be and they were forced to abandon what was already a really great project. Still Wedgwood's loss is our gain as it prompted Ms Jones to strike out alone producing furniture, rugs, cushions, bedding, accessories and lots more. ...

While researching this blog, I had a lovely catch-up chat with her and asked her what it had been like, going into business at such a difficult economic time. 'It has been a positive for me, because suppliers were keener than they might have been to work with us on smaller quantities. And there was a general lack of people doing new things. A lot of what I'm interested in is very of the moment; hand craft, pieces that are well made and built for longevity. People are more discerning today and think about what they are buying. If you really love something, you'll always want to keep it.' 

 Her work is all about using time-honoured techniques, materials, forms and patterns, but subtly re-worked, with exquisitely off-beat colour palettes, to sit happily in the 21st century home. It's not cheap, in any sense, but her prices are well justified by her manifesto. Her work is an antidote to disposability and mass-consumption culture. There's a well-travelled feel about it - I particularly like the Middle Eastern stuff. And she's well stocked on my other obsessions too including turned wood, geometrics, inlay, grey, chartreuse and yellow. Below are some of my personal favourites.

Picture courtesy of Niki Jones

Friday, 18 March 2011

MY HOUSE: rugs

Last week, I was inspired by the Rug Company, which got me yammering on about my own rugs. I thought it was a bit pointless to talk about them without showing some pics so I nipped round with my phone and snapped them - they're not the greatest shots but you get the idea. I'm really drawn to simple colours (I love the nuances between grey, white and cream) but lots of texture (be it woven rush, shaggy goatskin or patchwork cowskin).  The patterns are chiefly geometric but I fell for the unusual rush mats from Zara Home that really take me back to my earliest memories of a home with lots of Seventies 'crafts' influences. I've never thought much about this 'Good Life' look since, until I had a child myself. Then I began to feel that it creates a nice warm, cosy atmosphere to grow up around. 

All pictures by Kate Jacobs

Caption info:
Top left, top right, third left and bottom left, all Zara Home, used in the kitchen and dining area.
Second right and bottom right, vintage goatskin, try The Real Rug Company for similar, used in the bedroom.
Second left, Ikea, used in the hall and elsewhere.
Third right, vintage Danish wool rug (this was passed on to me by a family friend, if I find anywhere that sells similar rugs, I'll post a link), used in the guest bedroom. 

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Brawn and brains: an enjoyable exercise in non-design

Brawn, which opened a few months ago, is on East London's Columbia Road - home of the Sunday flower market. The look of the restaurant is as simple, unpretentious and enjoyable as the food. A pleasant antidote to the surfeit of design one encounters almost everywhere today.  Obviously it is 'designed' but it's about using what you've got in the existing building, minimal intervention and the use of affordable and second-hand additions. It's the same kind of aesthetic as seen in my earlier blog on Farrow & Ball. Lots of simple, humble materials, re-used furniture, pipes and cables snaking the ceiling in an industrial fashion. In fact my photo manages to make it look more coordinated and schemed than it actually is. But it is great. Every neighborhood should have something like this. 
Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

I loved the plank platters and simple knives too.
And the clams!
Picture copyright Kate Jacobs

Friday, 11 March 2011

The new Stone Age

At this year’s upcoming Milan Salone del Mobile, many of the Brits (including Modus, Benchmark, Race, Innermost, Channels, Anglepoise, Anything, Melin Tregwynt, Wedgwood and +Stone) have cleverly ganged together as Designjunction. Among their previewed offerings was something that caught my eye.

Picture courtesy of +Stone

It’s the first collection by +Stone, a new collaboration between Brit design stalwart, Michael Sodeau, and Portuguese stone specialists Sienave which design fans might have spotted at the Tramshed show during the London Design Festival back in September. It’s another example of the huge trend for raw materials. The simplest of forms have been chosen so that the material itself is the star - and why not? with it’s beautiful natural texture and warm colour palette. Refreshingly, Sodeau has created the kind of vessels that don't need to be left empty to be appreciated. I'd love to see a table strewn with these, filled with meze for grazing. Yum.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

MY EDIT: Things that are floating my boat at The Rug Company right now...

What an incredibly beautiful room
Picture courtesy of The Rug Company

I saw an ad for The Rug Company in a magazine the other day and it made me check in with their website which is always good for some inspiration. Although they have an amazing roster of designers, artists and fashion designers (from Tom Dixon to Suzy Hoodless) Suzanne Sharp, who runs the company with her husband Chris, produces some of my favourite designs (Chiesa and Ponti Blue) - she has such a sharp eye for trends. I love the Moorish look in some of the designs. I think rugs are an often overlooked part of a room and I chose my own ones very carefully - geometric cowskin patchwork in shades of silver and white, rush matting to evoke the seventies craft vibe, grey and white goatskins, a Danish wool 60s teardrop design and lots of chevron-patterned runners in caramel and mink (colour NOT animal). I even have a rug design that I've been meaning to get made (in a run of one!) for a few years now. Maybe this year... Anyway, here are some inspirational images courtesy of The Rug Company.

*The Rug Company

two patterns that are right up my street
Pictures courtesy of The Rug Company

Picture courtesy of The Rug Company

Picture courtesy of The Rug Company

Here are a selection of my favourite rugs from The Rug Company
I'm sorry I don't have time to caption them all
Pictures courtesy of The Rug Company

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Max Fraser's Joy of Living design project for Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres

This is a really great project on every level so I had to write something about it...

Picture courtesy of Joy of Living

Picture courtesy of Joy of Living

WHO: Design dynamo Max Fraser is the man behind the London Design Guide and umpteen other interesting projects. He's also generally regarded as the nicest man in design by all who have met him, myself included.

WHAT: To raise funds for Maggie's cancer centres, Fraser has organised a selling show of one-off pieces by designers - from big names like Tom Dixon and Jaime Hayon to up-and-coming talent. Each work is displayed anonymously and all take their starting point as a single sheet of graph paper [a beautiful thing in itself that, to me, conveys order, elegant simplicity and... infinite possibilities]. The project is called 'Joy of Living' after an inspirational quote from the charity's founder, Maggie Keswick Jencks: 'Above all what matters is not to lose the joy of living in the fear of dying'.

WHY: Having lost his mother to cancer after a six year battle, Fraser wanted to get involved with a cancer charity and it's not surprising that Maggie's was the obvious choice. As anyone who has been through it knows, the effects on cancer can spread to every aspect of one's life - well beyond the medical. Through their stunning-yet-welcoming centres (designed by the likes of Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers) dotted across the UK and beyond, Maggie's provide help with all the other aspects of life with cancer, everything from emotional support to benefits advice.

WHERE: In the Grand Lobby at Somerset House, The Strand, London, WC2R 1LA

WHEN: From 15-21 March 2011, 10-6 daily.

HOW: In keeping with the democratic values at the heart of Maggie's philosophy, each work is priced £250 and the designer of each piece will only be revealed (online) after the exhibition closes.

Because the last of the pieces have only just trickled in, I haven't been able to get my hands on all my favourite images, make sure you have a good look at the Joy of Living website.

[ADDENDUM: Since I wrote that I've found a way to show my favourite pieces - see below...]

*Joy of Living
*Maggie's Centres

Picture courtesy of Joy of Living

Picture courtesy of Joy of Living

Community by Russell Pinch
Picture courtesy of Joy of Living

+/- by Peter Marigold
Picture courtesy of Joy of Living

The Same but Different by Alistair
 McAuley of Timorous Beasties
Picture courtesy of Joy of Living

Materials Study by Simon Hasan
Picture courtesy of Joy of Living

The Gift by Lee Broom
Picture courtesy of Joy of Living

Friday, 4 March 2011

MY EDIT: Zara Home... Probably the best home accessories shop in the world.

And see below for six reasons why I love Zara Home...

All pictures courtesy of Zara Home.
Sorry I've no time to caption them all but it's an easy-to-navigate site...
Zara Home is a brilliant shop and one of the best kept secrets in interiors. I attended their UK launch a few years back and have been a fan ever since. I've got quite a few of their things and if I wanted to get my own house's 'look' all over again without spending the best years of my life in charity shops / boot fairs / jumble sales / skips, then I could just head for Zara Home and I'd be halfway there.

Here are six reasons why I love them:

1. Their stuff is so unbelievably on trend that it's shocking: neutrals, yellows, African, woven, rope, linen, geometric, metallic, horn/shell/inlay, stone. 
2. They use beautiful  natural materials: silk, linen, flax, stone, leather, horn.
3. The prices are great - the stuff in my personal edit, above, ranges from about £10-£50 with most things around the £20-£30 mark.
4. The range is vast and fast-changing, so you won't end up with the same piece as five of your friends - the Habitat factor (although, don't get me wrong, I like Habitat too). 
5. You can buy online.
6. When quizzed, it's a brand most people can admit to with pride - if such things bother you - personally, I'm more-or-less without shame on this front.

* Zara Home

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The New Faces in Jonathan Adler's Utopia

Who doesn't love Jonathan Adler? I'm a big fan of the Utopia collection and had to do  something on the new additions. The range is reversible with different faces on either side of the vessel; boy and girl, lord and lady etc. I love their naive little faces, complete with blushing cheeks. They remind me of so many great things; the work of Danish ceramicist Bjørn Wiinblad, Julie Christie and Terence Stamp in Far from the Madding Crowd, early generation Quality Street tins, basically all Sixties things that hark back to the early 1800's. Anyway, it's a bit of a no-brainer guilty pleasure so let's just enjoy...

Pictures courtesy of Jonathan Adler

These are my two, on a shelf in the kitchen.
By accident rather than design they represent my husband and daughter.
Just need a 'me' now!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

MY EDIT: What to buy in the Designers at Debenhams' New Season Sale

I’ve noticed that Debenhams are having a ‘new season sale’ – on til Friday. It’s a great chance to get 25% off almost everything, including their Designers at Debenhams home collections, which always feature a few on-trend gems. Having trawled through the entire range, here’s my personal edit:

Images courtesy of Debenhams

Product information, clockwise from top left:
Rocha.JohnRocha Cream slate large oval platter, normally £12, currently £9
Rocha.JohnRocha Natural cable knit throw, normally  £60, currently £48
Rocha.JohnRocha Green reactive mug, normally £6, currently £4.50
Rocha.JohnRocha Wooden platter, normally £32, currently £24
J by Jasper Conran Yellow chevron boudoir cushion, normally £22, currently £16.50
J by Jasper Conran Grey round wicker bin, normally £16, currently £12
Rocha.JohnRocha Wooden salad servers, normally £15, currently £11.25
Rocha.JohnRocha Yellow reactive mug, normally £6, currently 4.50
J by Jasper Conran Green Carlyle bedlinen, normally  £28-80, currently £21-60 


MY HOUSE: Diagonal Displays

Picture by Kate Jacobs

Being an unashamed interiors geek, I enjoy rearranging my vases, ornaments and general knick-knackery. In the past I’ve always tried to create something balanced - not symmetrical but often with the ‘golden section’ idea of proportion at the back of my mind. But right now I’m going through a slightly odd phase of lining things up from large to small in order to create a diagonal line. It started by accident when I moved a few things to clean and liked how they looked – now I seem to be doing it all over the house. Often I’ll arrange one type of object in a diagonal line, like the white urns immediately below, but with the other pieces breaking the rule. I like it because it brings a bit of modernity to a display and the effect is offbeat and unexpected. It shows that you can have a bit of fun and create something different without having to buy anything new. But only if you’re an interiors geek…

Picture by Kate Jacobs

Picture by Kate Jacobs

Picture by Kate Jacobs