As part of our recent trip to France this Summer we were lucky enough to visit the gardens of Monet in Giverny. Of course we’ve all seen photos or paintings of the green Japanese bridge over the lilypond or the pink house peeking just above the flowers, but its a remarkable experience actually being there. And it isn’t just his garden; the entire village is botany mad! Driving to Giverny it’s fascinating to watch the landscape transform into one which becomes quickly familiar through the haybales, open stretches of fields and water. You realise just how imprinted his works and landscape are on your mind for the first time.
Claude Monet lived for just forty-three years, from 1883 to 1926 in this house in Giverny and created this giant jungle of colour using it as inspiration for his art (alongside his water garden which satisfied his interest in light and reflection). The assault of colour continues in from the thickly planted garden full of long straight narrow paths (giving you the impression you are almost walking through a flowerbed) and into the house.
Monet’s love of colour continues inside the house with his azure blue kitchen and bright yellow dining room (complete with yellow painted furniture which was considered extremely modern at the time) and this brings a strong feeling of being in the heart of the countryside. The house creaks under the weight of the tourists straining to look at the famous artwork and personal possessions displayed and they aren’t dissapointed. The walls are bursting with paintings and photographs, interrupted intermittently with welcome expansive windows overlooking the garden, it is a true artists home.
And it isn’t just the house and gardens which you can explore but numerous gardens, galleries, shops, artisan dwellings and fields within this village which is predominantly pedestrianised. We escaped the masses by taking a short drive out of the village finding a rather unconvincing dirt track which took us most of the way through some trees and into a clearing. A short walk later and we were on the untamed banks of the vast and wild river Seine. One marvellous picnic later and Paris was beckoning.
Travelling back in the car we reflect on how much love, work and passion there was in the home and garden. There is a quote from Claude Monet which translates as ‘Beyond painting and gardening, I am good for nothing’. That may be, but he was a master of both.
If you are looking to keep the sunshine indoors into the dark winter months then we’d invite you to look up Sunny Todd Prints. The duo behind these prints are Royal College of Art graduate Sunny Todd (hence the name) and his lovely wife Emma. Working from Herefordshire they draw each shape, cut it by hand and then carefully arrange it into a repeat (refreshingly without the aid of a computer).
Their textile line names include feathers (above), spots and dots, zigzag, diamonds and lines (below). These aren’t designs for the faint-hearted but their bright zingy personality brings an energising cheer that’s infectious! The bold, graphic shapes are fun and the shapes almost seem 3D with the use of clever shadowing. The full collection of 40 fabrics (10 patterns in 4 different colour ways) can be viewed in just 10 seconds here: http://flipagram.com/f/ZjYfwKWgI1.
Seeing the designs in rooms showcases the power of print to add personality into ordinary spaces. We love the blind in this room on the left hand side which is totally unexpected and ties the room together with its myriad of blue hues!
With the entire line being printed in the UK onto the highest quality cotton and with an exclusive cushion collection for Heal’s – Sunny Todd Prints are ones to watch!
Having featured the work of graffiti artists Jana & Js on the blog before and knowing they have their work on walls throughout Europe we always like to keep tabs on their latest projects. Their work looks at the interactions between people and the city and is strongly inspired by photography.
Jana & Js were kind enough to explain their involvement in Quai 36 at the Gare du Nord in Paris. The Collective Quai 36 was born in 2013 when a group of people passionate about urban art decided to set up a project with the aim of enhancing public spaces. The group named themselves after a particular platform (Quai) in Gare Du Nord as it was the mainline to the northern suburbs, where many of them live. Gare du Nord has over 700,000 commuters every day (which includes many members of this collective) so it was the perfect location for an impressive public exhibition. As we were in Paris for the weekend we popped over to take a look.
16 French and international street artists produced murals, stencils and wheat pastings on the theme ‘Faces of the Station’ to trigger unexpected encounters and emotions. Many of these can be found on Quai 36 and we’ve included some photos of a few of them for you to enjoy below!
Artist: Jana & JS
Artist: Jérôme Mesnager
Nottingham-based Lane have launched a new paper product. It’s a table lamp with a playful name; Beam!
Beam is made from four sheets of paper bonded together to make a thick card and it then has 32 paper fins that are slotted together to make a lightweight silhouette which is striking from all angles. The paper is made in Cumbria and by one of the oldest mills in the country and this is in line with their ethos: ‘We want to make beautiful products that are an investment in the craftspeople and communities around us. In a world of cheap imports, we think this is the future of British design’.
Owning two of their twin-tone paper lampshades (see our original article here) we know how beautiful these will look when lit up with a strong interplay of light and shadow. They will be available in 4 colourways and available from October 2015 at £120 each – they’re sure to brighten up any corner (on or off!).
A trip to Paris to explore some key buildings by Le Corbusier. An inspiration in colour, light and taking a risk!
Maison & Objet Paris was a wonderland in design and interiors. Read about those we were lucky enough to meet!