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Posts from the ‘business’ Category
One definition of the noun ‘maze’ is a network of paths and hedges designed as a puzzle through which one has to find a way. This helps to sum up the experience of using the playful products from Maze Interiors.
Not, you understand that it is confusing, but rather that their products ask you to interact with them to discover what works best for your home – they don’t come with a rulebook!
Recently Wallpaper Magazine described the brackets as ‘mathematical shelving which allow reconstruction at the drop of a hat depending on the collection of objects on display’. It’s this functional flexibility which future-proofs Maze products in order to maximise their lifespan; a refreshing change to the planned obsolescence we often see with consumer products these days.
Take the brass-coated pythagorus shelving bracket system designed by Gustav Rosen as a case in point. You can arrange them in symmetry, mix and match with different colours or choose how they are hung (there are four options offering visual variety and freedom).
The beautiful glow of the brass coating was a magnet for us here at ecomodernstudios. We wanted to hang these in our grey and concrete kitchen to contrast the stark functionality with warmth and geometric interest. We had fun thinking about how best to hang the brackets and whilst you can buy the shelves from Maze too we chose to make our own using ply offcuts to tie in with existing shelves. Intrigued about the brand behind these playful products we sat down with CEO Lotta De Visscher to talk about the ethos behind this successful Swedish brand.
Hi Lotta, the website states ‘Nature in all its splendour is the greatest inspiration in history. It should be only logical to feel driven to protect it’ but what is it about nature specifically which is inspiring your current designs?
The natural geometrics of nature and the exciting variety of natures own materials are inspiring us right now. We find a lot of inspiration in natures own natural geometrics and patterns. The smartness and self-explication of its lines, curves and solutions. As always we enjoy natures vast variety of natural materials, differing surfaces and exciting colours to inform our work.
The ethos behind the ‘slow produced’ collection is fantastic. Are there household items which have been handed down to you which you treasure?
I think most of us have our old family treasures big or small, like an old single chair or a wooden kitchen table that we really love and cherish. These items are often filled with a lot of personal history, memories and stories that pass down through the generations and don’t we all love quality materials worn smooth by time and use?
Personally I treasure an embroidered pillow made by my grandmother which she used to have on her sofa when I grew up. A colleague treasures a bat armchair from the 1960s handed down from his parents, which has already been upholstered twice, but is an essential at home – it’s all about good warm memories isn’t it?
The pythagorus bracket system allows homeowners to be playful and flexible in how they use Maze Interior products. Much of your storage design follows in this vein – how did this approach come about?
We have always believed that when someone buys a Maze product it immediately becomes theirs to take over and they naturally become co-creators in how they choose to use it, where to put it and how they combine it with other things and furniture in their home. They create their own personal relationship with it. We encourage this as much as we possibly can because when you really add value to our products they become a living part of peoples lives.
If you could sum up Swedish design in 3 words what would they be?
Honest, clever and smart
In the interest of transparency Maze Interiors sent us the brackets for the purpose of photography to accompany this interview.
When we moved into our 1970s bungalow in Dorset from our terraced Bath Stone 1930s home packed full of character the initial impression wasn’t one of immediate attraction… However we knew that there were plenty of pluses with bungalows. The first being space, the second being all-on-one-level (handy with two tiny children) and the third being detatched. The bungalow was also a 5 minute walk to the beach which was a definite selling point and 3 years on we’re in love with the home we’re working so hard to create. It feels like home.
Here’s a little before & now photo which illustrates our work to date to keep a midcentury vibe but reference its coastal setting with the addition of new window sizes, shutters, cedar wood slatting, a white and grey paint update and tropical landscaping to include banana plants and numerous spiky plants.
Our focus has remained very much on getting the back extension and internal renovation finished but next up is to remove the green tile-hung frontage and replace with cedar wood, update the guttering and to relocate the ugly yellow alarm box! Even though there is a never-ending to-do list we can appreciate how far we’ve come and it was lovely when Michelle from Roxwell Press offered to capture our home renovation project with her customised illustration portrait service.
When the result arrived via post it was incredible to see how she’d really captured the spirit of the place (also kindly future-proofing the portrait with the cedar cladding rather than the current green tiles!). Michelle created the portrait by working from photographs we provided and asked about planting, colours and textures and it was this attention to detail that has ensured such a pleasing portrait which feels like home.
The bungalow always really sings on a bright blue day and it’s amazing to have this captured in the illustration. All that remains is to get it framed and hung. We’re thinking in the kitchen and know it’ll be a talking point!
The good news is that YOU can actually win a customised house portrait worth £100 by entering this competition which is running until 6th October. All you need to do is sign up with your email address to receive her occasional e-newsletters which feature sample sales, competitions and free hand-designed wallpapers for your screen. There is also currently free delivery on all orders (including a single card) at the moment so do take a look at her website or perhaps get an early order in for Christmas cards (if we’re allowed to mention the ‘C’ word yet).
If you’re not lucky enough to win Roxwell Press will offer a discount code to everyone whose signed up to the e-newsletter for the launch of this new house portrait service or you can skip the queue and pre-order with Michelle@roxwellpress.co.uk.
Just a quick little post to share the great news… Voting for #IBA16 is now open!
ecomodernstudios is a place to celebrate innovative fun design and our experiences in design. This year we have been fortunate enough to be included in the Best Design Inspiration Blog category in the Amara Interior Blog Awards. The awards were set up by Amara.com in 2014 and driven by an appreciation of great design – they stock really beautiful designers which include Tom Dixon, Orla Kiely and Kartell for starters!
So, if you enjoy reading the blog please do click on the link below which will take you through to the voting page:
There are some fantastic bloggers in this category so we’re really honoured to be listed, some incredibly well known bloggers and some less so, so it’s definitely worth checking out the list to discover some real talent.
Voting will close on 9th September and only one vote per person is allowed!
Thank you for your support xx
So it’s the summer holidays and we decided to take our boys (aged 2 & 4) to their first festival. Specifically, a four-day childrens festival in Dorset; Camp Bestival. Headliners are as diverse as Mr. Motivator and Dick and Dom to Fatboy Slim so there is something for everyone! We had a exhilarating bonding experience absorbing the sun, colour and fun and we wanted to share some of the vibrancy of our weekend on the blog…
This years huge flag designs were by Angus Watt and were dominating and impressive evoking the desired effect of power, beauty and grace against the beautiful blue skies.
Similarly there was lots of ribbons and material bunting which designated different areas throughout the festival. Streamed up in large swathes they were fun and provided movement and colour as you explored the site.
Confetti. Lots of it! The kids ran around collecting it and its near on impossible not to burst into smiles watching it rain down on you as Mr. Tumble kindly illustrates here…
This years theme was space so there were some wonderful space sculptures which were highly reflective and often lit up with help from multiple sources including fire.
Lasers and glow sticks around the main stage in the warm evenings completed the holiday vibe.
At night the neon lights led you from one area to the next and it felt like an enormous playground for adults and children alike!
By far our favourite design was the two spacemen who shifted colour and light looming in front of the castle…. they were enormous and really evoked the spirit of fun, creativity and passion that the festival provided.
As Dorset-based bloggers there was something so pleasing about experiencing such an exhilarating ‘Outer Space’ experience in Dorset. It was quite unlike anywhere we’ve ever been. Perhaps see you there next year!
Meet Isobel. A Dorset Papercut Artist who is sure to brighten your feed with her creativity. After graduating in Textile Design from the Arts University Bournemouth in 2012 her work has evolved into illustration and paper cutting. Isobel took five from wielding a scalpel and scissors to explain what inspires her and her unique work…
We love your playful bright style. After graduating in textile design how did you end up going down the illustration and paper cutting route?
I’ve been obsessed with drawing, colouring, creating, cutting and sticking from the word go so I’ve always known that I wanted to work in a creative field. Whilst at university I became absorbed in intricately cutting, layering and sticking coloured paper as a way of designing colourful patterns and prints in my sketchbook.
I think it was my Final Project in my last year of studies which was my ‘light-bulb’ moment. I designed and engineered a collection of Elizabethan inspired collars solely from card and paper which I had printed onto and cut into. I loved the versatility of the shapes and forms I could creative by manipulating the card and paper and was hooked from there. Paper as an illustrative medium was also becoming popular around this time with the likes of Rob Ryan and his detailed paper cuts popping up so this definitely inspired me too.
How would you describe your vibrant style?
Colourful and playful with a sprinkling of sophistication through the three-dimensional intricate detail. My work most definitely requires a steady hand!
What topics or themes do you return to in your work?
Obviously a lot of the time, the theme of my work is defined by the clients brief. However, when I’m playing or working on a self initiated brief, a recurring theme is most definitely food! I find it such a colourful, vibrant subject matter and being a total foodie is probably a contributing factor too! The scale skin of a fish, the segments in a citrus fruit, berries bursting with colour… I find the inspiration from natures patterns and colours is endless!
What inspires you about Dorset countryside and coastline in particular?
I have a concerning habit of imagining how everything I see would look constructed out of paper, so I feel very lucky to have the ability to sponge inspiration from pretty much everywhere I go! I’m very drawn to colour, so colourful signs in particular inspire me, from bunches of wild flowers when I take the dog for a walk to rows of colourful beach huts along the Dorset beaches.
Some of my favourite Dorset towns also lend themselves as inspiration for my work. I have a range of paper cut prints, including a view over the harbour in Swanage and the famous steam railway chugging down the hill away from Corfe Castle in the Purbecks, two of my absolute favourite spots.
What other contemporaries are inspiring you right now with their creativity?
Fellow Paper Cutter wise, I adore the work of Jared Schorr. He works more two-dimensionally, but his work is just so much fun! He creates the sweetest little characters and worlds from card and paper and I really admire his imagination.
I follow lots of current illustrators on social media and two of my favourites at the moment are Holly Exley and Danielle Knroll. They both work in watercolour, but their styles are completely different. Holly creates the most intricate and realistic paintings with food and wildlife as recurring themes and I think her work is just gorgeous. Danielle paints in more of a whimsical style and I love the playful subject matter of her paintings and her use of vibrant colour combinations and patterns within her work. I’m also very inspired by set designers for their compositional and three-dimensional design qualities – there is a lot to be inspired from right now!
Kitchens are often described as the ‘hub of the home’ and something we here in England obsess about. There is an alarming trend for spending enormous sums on a kitchen created by a designer which leaves the rest of us wondering how on earth we can afford one. The answer is by taking it back into your own hands and getting creative.
With us moving our kitchen into the new extension everything had to be from scratch which meant we weren’t confined to existing drainage or electricity points and it put the onus on us to get the design right. This is our longterm home and we wanted to install something with longevity for both ourselves and future owners. Whilst we argued over if there was space for a breakfast bar (there wasn’t) we spent time creating a practical triangle (between the oven, hob and sink) and ensuring placements were practical (dishwasher next to the sink etc). Whilst in the design phase it’s often easy to gloss over impractical placements but DO fight the urge to put pretty ahead of practical!
We’re only part way through our kitchen build but thought we’d showcase progress so far:
We bought the kitchen cabinets from IKEA and had them delivered which was a practical choice given there were 120 flat-pack boxes!
We chose the inexpensive Veddinge fitted kitchen in matt grey. Whilst stand-alone units are wonderful, fitted cabinets really maximise storage and being a family of 4 this is now one of our top priorities! Being IKEA you can of course change the colours of the doors / styles as necessary and we liked the ‘future proofing’ this provided. The units are solid so they don’t have gaps for installing utilities like other kitchens you can buy in the UK but its easy enough to drill access holes and this doesn’t compromise the strength of the units. We then spent a long weekend putting together the carcases and even the kids were great with some of the repetitive builds like the plastic feet.
The next part is fixing the cabinets to the wall (and to each other). It’s here you discover the walls aren’t perfectly straight or you have wobbly floors so its best to allow lots of time (and patience) for this part. In our last kitchen we used hidden push openers but they didn’t cope with the heavy drawers well so unfortunately (we love the minimalism of handleless drawers) we’ve decided we need to install handles. The handles we’re using are fixed to the inside of the drawers at the top so it means we can change them in the future if we want to change the look or functionality as the handles we’ve chosen leave the doors perfectly in tact from the front.
With the washing machine at the end of the units we had to build an ‘end’ to it which the husband swiftly did with sheets of mdf. We always look to build in display storage wherever we can to add character and functionality to spaces and this was a handy place to display cookery books (in addition to the two yellow boxouts we bought). We’ll accent the bookshelf by painting the backing in Little Greene Mister David Yellow or possibly Lamp Black.
Similarly to hide the kitchen worktop from the kitchen table we raised the area above the sink with a simple timber construction clad in mdf. This also avoids any splash back to people sitting at the table and in time we’ll add a simple shelf, splashback glass and paint.
The next step felt really exciting – using ply to create the worktop template for the concrete pour. We’ve gone with a wonderful company called Z Counterform who let you DIY using their kits. This means you can create kitchen worktops which are personal to you and the space you’ve created (no annoying joints). We settled on a White Concrete mix with a square edge profile (but you can choose whichever you like). and they look like stone on completion so are a sturdy look for your kitchen which adds to that feeling of home. Watch out for a blog post on this shortly.
Our top tips so far:
- When you’re 90% sure which kitchen you want to proceed with buy a unit. We decided to go with a grey kitchen. Installing a kitchen into a room which wasn’t a previous kitchen was daunting so we bought a single unit and built it in situ to check before taking the plunge and ordering the kitchen. Whilst it seemed risky spending £100 on something we couldn’t return we knew worst case scenario we could use it in the garage and it would be easier than returning 120 boxes after we’d ordered it if they didn’t look right!
- Think of your triangle. Using packaging cut out templates for the size of sink and hob so you can check the proportion of workspace you have around them as you’ll want everything in proportion which can be tricky to visualise when starting from scratch.
- Shop around and if you can – buy in advance and store to avoid panic-buying. Through cash back schemes, brand online outlet stores and eBay we’ve saved a fortune on our appliances. Warning: it might take over your evenings though…
- Splurge on the items you’ll use every day. We’ve gone for an induction hob for the benefits of safety, lower energy consumption and speed. We know we will cook every day! Likewise our Rangemaster sink was a splurge but we loved the unusual modernist square proportions of it which visually tied to some of our bargain Smeg appliances and we don’t regret it.
- Think about storage and add in display areas if you can to break up the ‘fitted’ nature of the space to make it feel more like you. Our yellow display boxes handily matched with the shots of yellow we had in the house and whilst they were fiddly for us to build them out to be flush with the wall units we think the extra work was worth it. Likewise extra storage for cookbooks with their lovely covers on display seemed a handy and colourful way to finish off the end of the unit in the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to add your stamp!
Would love to hear your experiences and tips too!
I’ve admired ecomodernstudios for a while now – Hilary features some of the most gorgeous designs and I feel like every time I read one of her posts I’ve fallen in love with yet another beautiful piece. So collating a list of the desks with the biggest wow factor I could find to feature on her blog was an absolute pleasure.
Like many of you, I often work from home, which in a small home has some real challenges. I’ve featured some cool little small space office solutions before on my blog Small Space People but none are as design-led and instantly covetable as these!
I hope you enjoy them. I’ve got my eye on all of these, so next time I’m revamping my home office I’ll definitely be returning to this list…
Rewrite desk by GamFratesi
So this mid-century cool little number is perfect for those of you that have nothing more than a corner to dedicate to your mini-office, and yet need somewhere that you can completely focus on the job in hand. Its cocoon-like bubble would be perfect for those times when you really need to get your head down, yet it’s small and minimal enough not to take over a space.
Lots of great features make this a surprising yet amazingly functional and beautiful desk: the walls of the ‘bubble’ are acoustically protected on both sides to give a shielding from sounds both inside and out; there’s a white cable box mounted underneath the main desk to keep your wires tidy; and it’s covered with textile to enhance its welcoming look.
Deskbox by Raw Edges/Arco
Here’s a super sleek desk if there ever was one! I love this for small spaces for so many reasons: it’s wall mounted, so no legs to clutter up the space, it’s foldaway which means you can hide your desk clutter and things you’ve been working on easily, and it’s a beautiful minimal design which would work in a variety of settings.
The Hackney design duo and Dutch manufacturer released this in Milan’s Salon Internazionale del Mobile in 2012, and its solid oak and epoxy steel construction is bound to make it really durable and strong. The hinge mechanism folds down easily for working and folds back up to form a shelf when the desk isn’t in use.
I naturally love this because it’s been designed just around the corner from me in North London, but it’s an absolutely beautiful yet practical idea for working at home with hardly any space.
COM:POS:ITION 0.9 (from Gentle Objects by Martin Mestmacher)
Launched in 2014, this is a bolder, almost Mondrian-esque line of black steel-framed designs, including this bureau style offering. Featuring a small desk with a pull out drawer and a high mounted cabinet, it’d be a really striking look for a monochrome room.
The range comprises so many different combinations for wall storage and function. The frame is black powder-coated steel, with black stained oak and stainless steel for the fixings.
Of the Gentle Objects title, Martin Mestmacher says gentle is ‘a synonym for eternalness and silence’ (perfect for working on your latest project!) and objects stands for ‘an expression of the variety of our spectrum which we can offer you.’ A vast combination of designs to fit your space with a timeless look sounds good to me!
Stockholm range by Mario Ruiz
Here’s another neat little wall-mounted number (can you tell I’m in love with these?!). Combining wood and coloured aluminium effortlessly, this range features a lot of very beautiful pieces for your home, including sideboards, chests, media units and this gorgeous little desk.
With potentially endless colour combinations with 7 different wood finishes and 3 different colours for the anodised aluminium top, this is something you could really match to your home, or equally make a statement with some bold colourways.
Regarding himself as a designer who ‘says a lot with very little’, Mario Ruiz works in Barcelona. The Stockholm range won the 2015 Red Dot Design Award.
Royal System® by Poul Cadovius
If you’re looking for a minimal option which incorporates shelving and cabinet options then look no further.
This piece is steeped in history. Way back in 1948, Cadovius designed the first wall-mounted shelving system with many different combinations – shelves, drawers, cabinets, even a bureau style pull out desk. Back in the 50s and 60s it was on everyone’s wish list. It was extremely forward thinking back in the day – furniture used to take up valuable floor space, so Cadovius injected some Danish innovation to the furniture market – the range was described as ‘the largest success the Danish furniture industry has ever had’.
It’s now being made by DK3. It’s available in walnut or oak finishes with stainless steel or brass hangers, and it’s beautiful. The gentle curve of the metal with the lines of the wood make this a classic option.
Thanks for taking over the blog with this article Lizzie! It’s been wonderful to work with a fellow blogger so passionate about design and interiors. You can read the ecomodernstudios article on 2 Willow Road on the Small Space People blog so head over there to take a look!
We’re lucky to have a brilliant local shop which picks the very best British kitchenware, stationery and book selections on the market. When we were last there we picked up a few goodies from the Busy B range which we’d been eyeing up for a while as we had a spate of mini-breaks and holidays coming up.
We’re often the people you see emptying everything out of their suitcases, patting themselves down looking for that missing ticket / passport / money with the flushed look of panic on their faces so we resolved to do better this year. Having a dedicated travel wallet for passports, secure pouches for holiday bags and a hard-working small purse are all invaluable for making travelling that bit more relaxed!
Intrigued by this Busy B brand which seems to keep organisation at its core (albeit under a deeply pretty facade) we were lucky enough to have a chat with the Managing Director Kerri Middleton this month. So if you’re a fellow stationery addict then grab a cuppa and read about what makes this British brand tick.
Kerri, why do you think this love affair with stationery is still so strong in this digital age where we can have a calendar on our phone and can be connected instantly via text or email?
I think stationery is about so much more than keeping organised nowadays. With all the different brands, styles and quirky planners not only on the highstreet but online too, there’s something to appeal to everyone. Stationery is more emotional than digital, and notebooks and diaries are much more intimate and personal. The lust for beautiful stationery lives on.
We went to France recently (more to come on that soon) and the above spread REALLY helped us get organised. Leaflets and important paper stored flat in the spotty expanding file, a travel wallet for passports, money and health cards, the little doggy page markers for our holiday reading and guide books… last but not least the really beautiful mini-purse which has a handy front pocket for tickets. We’ve been back from holiday for a month now and this purse has replaced the monolith Ted Baker purse for good. All the materials Busy B use are ethically sourced right back to the paper mill they come from and the pouches and purses are made from faux leather so they’re vegan-friendly too.
In your Busy B collection your designs are very colourful with pretty florals, bunting, dots and animals. How do you decide which new designs to add?
Our designs have to stand out and be very much on-brand, in terms of the Busy B style which gives us our brand identity so market research and trend analysis helps with this. Our USP is to be beautifully organised, so as well as ensuring our designs are beautiful and pretty, our products must have clever features and formats for all the Busy B’s out there. We put a lot of research and design energy into making sure our products are genuinely useful for busy women e.g. the pockets in our family calendar make it easy to find appointment cards, invites or bills just when you need them.
For transparency we bought a number of Busy B items from our local shop and Busy B sent us a few more items for us to try out and photograph as part of this interview.