A little guide to giving thoughtfully this Christmas with a little help from The Wisehouse.
Posts from the ‘Conservation’ Category
Last month we were up in London for the UK Blog Awards and were lucky enough to stay at the luxury serviced home-from-home Orchid Way from Merino Hospitality. Caio met with us at the property just off Russell Square and was so friendly and personable we felt instantly at ease. He explained our Bloomsbury surroundings as our eyes grew wider at the opportunities of being so enviably located in central London (think the tube one street away, rows of independent shops and cafés, the iconic 1970s Brutalist Brunswick centre around the corner… we were starting to feel there wasn’t going to be enough time).
However, it was clear that the mews home was going to provide the R&R we needed after all this excitement. Situated on a quiet street behind the famous Hotel Russell it was private and retreat-like and the home had enough gadgets to render us childlike (handmade beds with integrated lighting, SONOS audio which could link to your mobile, Netflix TV, solar heating system, rain sensor skylights, Wi-fi, a fully-fitted kitchen and a huge selection of Pecksniff and Aromatherapy Associates toiletries). You get the picture!
There’s so much to talk about with Orchid Way but lets begin with something which impressed us from the start. As soon as you walk in from the cobbled mews street the feel is one which is independent, artistic and worldly. There is artwork throughout the house, books displayed in frames, flowers, pretty ceramics, carafes with water, art supplies and huge wall decos – this is not your average pad. Far from it and it’s origins are just as interesting as these now multi-million pound mews houses were originally built as stable blocks back in the 18th century.
The house retains this sense of character and history and the contemporary interiors work to bring out these architectural gems through their use of quality materials. In retaining the stable doors, creating a loft-like open space upstairs and allowing you to open the house up entirely to the cobbled street outside you have the feeling you have your own little slice of London – and in fact the owners went one step further in allowing their guests to design the entire house from scratch… Intrigued by this concept we were excited to see if the notion of ‘design by committee’ is ever a good idea for the resulting design and delved a little deeper into the process they undertook.
When Merino Hospitality took the property on they decided to trust in those who had trusted in them; their guests. They sent a video to over 1,000 of their previous guests from neighbouring mews properties asking for their help in designing Orchid Way.
Guests were provided with a moodboard for the house with around 5 options for every item from cutlery to sofas (and everything in-between!). They were also welcomed to make their own suggestions outside of these options as the owners totally relinquished control to make this a highly unusual and democratic renovation not seen often in the design world. When asked about how they felt about undertaking it Caio said: ‘When we decided to do this we were certainly nervous about the potential outcome of such a leap of faith but luckily enough our guests have great taste so it was actually an incredibly exciting process’.
Guests listed their preferences in order and the most voted items were put in place which, as you can imagine, required considerable work behind the scenes! This belief and dedication to being client-led also extended to the name of the house as guests were encouraged to name the property as an homage to someone or something that was important to them. Even the artwork was chosen by the people in the Merino Hospitality office so everyone had their say! The resulting design is eclectic but really works as the spaces are unified by repetitive materials such as the light ash wooden flooring, minamalist glass balustrades and white walls giving it a restful feel.
So whose up for a little house tour?
The accomodation comprises of two bedrooms and two bathrooms with a large mezzanine and hidden playden but lets start from the ground floor which is open-plan meaning you have a combined living / kitchen area with a large wet room off the hall.
Walking up the stairs you arrive at the first of several split levels. Off this floor is a large bedroom with a coastal airy style with beautiful built in shelving and the master bathroom.
There are then a few further steps to take up which unveils the master bedroom which is full height to the roof and incorporates a large mezzanine and a hidden playroom (through the little door top right).
The master bedroom has a gorgeous autumnal forest scheme and feels cosy despite being full height. The beds are something which slightly blew our minds too. They’re bespoke and handmade and exclusive to the properties Merino Hospitality provide. Layered with Merino wool, white cotton felt, fabric, silk and individually pocketed springs you can imagine how deep and comfy they are to sleep in. The beds themselves are also fitted with sensors so when you step out of bed at night low-level light casts across the floor to help guide you. If we could have packed the bed in our bags we might have…
Light shines through the automatic skylights which have rain sensors and automatic closing functions. They also provide beautiful glimpses of the London rooflines.
Likewise you look out onto beautiful apartments with green zinc detailing from the front windows, the patina of the metal glows according to the level of light outside making them feel part of the artwork in the house and they capture your attention through the glass balustrades.
So what were the details which made this property so special? Aside from the lovely touches such as greeting baskets and flowers it was the attention to detail which made this feel like such a special base. The bath had a tap behind your head so you could instantly control the heat and speed of the water cascading onto your toes. There were automatic low-level lights for nighttime, perspex side tables by the bed, secure Banham locking systems… books you actually wanted to pick up. It felt like home but a spoily home and everything was impeccably clean making it feel like a healthy place to be.
There are lots of architectural tricks to take from living (albeit temporarily) in such a thoughtfully created space. It has added meaning when you know that this space was conceived with the input from 1,000 people worldwide. So maybe when we’re renovating our own homes we should open ourselves up a little more to the opinions of friends and family to end up with a space which is much more than the sum of its parts.
We were guests of Orchid Way but all thoughts and photographs our own. We will be back!
Founded in 2014 by Katy Goutefangea, Ola creates traditionally crafted stationery collections, featuring original prints of such zingy energising patterns. ‘Made in the UK’ adorns their wares which is a refreshing statement in a time when we’re often told ‘costs have forced us elsewhere’…
The quality of the cards is something which is immediate to see with heavy thick set card and foil blocked designs – this sits well with the principle behind the designs: ‘each item is a quiet celebration of pattern, influenced by architecture, abstract geometry and artists such as Sol LeWitt, Anni Albers and Donald Judd’. There is a quiet brilliance to this brand and we were lucky enough to sit down with Katy to ask a few questions about the inspirations and design processes behind Ola.
What is it about architecture that you find so inspiring?
I’m often drawn to the ornament found in architecture. There’s an interesting interaction between the size of buildings and their smaller human scale detailing. The period we research will often change depending on the collection we’re working on – at the moment there are lots of postmodern buildings on the pinboard!
These architectural references make for a really refreshing offering. Ola products are crafted in small quantities with a dedication to detail – stitching in place of gluing, inks laid with a roller instead of digitally – traditional craftsmanship which just shines with quality. Take for instance the patterned spine notebooks which are designed so that the spines will match when shelved for display and ease of organisation.
Do you dream in geometry and pattern? What impact do you think colour and pattern plays in our lives?
Pattern is, and always has been, a huge part of human life. Some of the earliest items in known history are decorated – it’s something we’ve been doing since the beginning of time. The prints on each of our notepads have been developed to balance pattern and subtlety. It’s important that the prints enhance the notebooks aesthetically and inspire the user, without distracting from what is essentially a blank space to record thoughts and ideas. The patterns are intended to be almost meditative, somewhere you can rest your gaze while thinking of something else.
Katy, when so many are going digital why have you focused on going ‘analogue’ with paper and traditional craftsmanship / manufacturing?
There is something very different about writing in a notepad to taking notes digitally. They definitely both have their place. Paper can be used to sketch and write simultaneously, it can be rotated and torn. It doesn’t need to be switched on to record a passing thought. It can be carried anywhere, crumpled and dropped without much worry. It can be flicked through at a later date and stored on a shelf. The same cannot be said for any digital device.
This detail matters. Despite the technologically dominated age we’re living in stationery design continues to grow in the UK – we still all feel a connection with writing, with posting, with making. The tactile nature of these beautiful products will only continue to strengthen this bond and play their part in attracting new generations of paper addicts for all the right reasons; to help people tell their own story.
We will be trialling out some origami techniques with paper from the current range ‘Dash Print in Klein Blue’ and ‘Victor Print in Turquoise Blue’ using this lovely book ‘Folding Techniques for Designers’. These pattern papers are traditionally printed in England, using vegetable based inks and soft white uncoated paper stocks and is a lovely quality for craft (or wrapping for that special person). We love the bold geometric inspired patterns so we’re excited to see the results… watch this space on our Instagram feed for progress!
Please note we were sent products to photograph for the purpose of this interview. All photographs ecomodernstudios
Mark Warner have set bloggers the challenge to think about what would make a perfect holiday and it got us thinking.
One of the most exciting things about taking our design trips is immersing ourselves in a new culture and climate and getting the opportunity to really embrace a weekend of exploration. We’ve done this with mini-break trips to Copenhagen, Barcelona, Rome and Paris and love that soaring sense of freeness when you step off the plane brimming with anticipation or see something breathtaking like the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. We undertook these trips minus the kids to escape for long weekends. However, now they’re fully fledged on their scooters and bursting with questions it seems like the right age to take them with us to really enjoy being a family and get them thinking outside the box with design, culture and daily life.
So what would we do?
We’d need a plan. Preparation seems to pay off with kids. Last year we drove to Luxembourg and back without a single tear shed due to a Mary Poppins style bag of tricks and a mixed itinerary of culture, exploration, cafes and stop-overs.
The fear of course is how can we keep them entertained enough for a proper break, and if we do, will we get the opportunity to explore ourselves to enjoy that sense of escapism? Right now a dream holiday would be somewhere with great food (Italy springs to mind), sun (anyone remember what it felt like to feel warm?) and somewhere to relax the mind and body (we’re in the midst of home renovation so can only dream). Somewhere with plenty of active outdoor activities but also somewhere not too far from old fishing villages, flea markets to lose a few hours and local artisans. A place to hear the stories, meet the makers, the crafters and locals whilst also (and importantly) getting quality time with the kids to run riot in appropriate dedicated spaces! It’s those fresh warmed faces of happy summers that we want our children to remember with those impressionable glimpses into the world around them. An early memory of mine is dipping into the glass-blowing houses in Venice when we stayed one Christmas. The light, the noise, the glow still stays with me and these experiences in our formative years are so invaluable to opening our eyes and hearts to the world.
Here’s to 2016 and opening our eyes just that little bit wider.
A style guru article for the Mark Warner Family Ambassador Programme 2016
Hello you wondrous people!
Please forgive the intrusion but if you get a tiny moment over the weekend please cast a vote for ecomodernstudios in the 2016 UK Blog Awards.
It’s the last 3 days of the public vote and we’re in 2 categories (Arts & Culture + Green & Eco) so if you’d like to vote please select the category (or both) that you’re voting for!
There are so many diverse blogs up for awards this year so it’s a great whose-who of those active and enthusiastic in the UK with their blogging. Well worth a peek!
Thanks for your support
Here’s a company we can identify with: ‘when you’ve finished your drink, you can show off your DIY Skills’.
If you’ve not heard of Lemonaid its a nifty company with a moral compass. Every bottle of their organic ChariTea and Lemonaid range actively supports social initiatives in the farming regions in Asia, Africa and South America where the raw ingredients for the drinks are grown.
So far more than £560,000 has been given to social, economic and cultural projects in these regions as part of their ‘help people to help themselves’ approach on top of the Fair-trade premium pay they receive. The idea is that ’empowered people hold the key to overcoming many of the world’s problems’. How great is that? Especially in what seemed like very dark days in 2015…
So perhaps get Lemonaid on your radar and then try out your own crafty ‘upcycle’ project. Here’s a few ideas to get your creative thinking going. Some simple and some requiring a little more DIY prowess!
By attaching pourers and pumps (which can be easily bought online) you can turn bottles into oil & Vinegar or Sugar or soap dispensers. Or if you want to go big what about a cluster of lights – any qualified electrician can help with this:
Or a set of variable height stools with the crates? We could see these in a playroom to help with fortress making…
Or a spice rack for those who cook and want proper storage sizes!
Or lastly (but not least) the ultimate outdoor ‘chandelier’ light. Perfect if you love hosting bbqs or mini-festivals in your garden. Simply insert an LED light into the middle to give a beautiful glow at night.
If you try any of these upcycles then do send us an image. We would love to see them (or any of your creations!).
Have a great weekend and look differently at those objects around you! It’s often the most satisfying and fun process…
To read more about the positive changes coming about through this company visit here.
Great British heritage…
Volpe and Volpe was born from founder Trish Scorgie’s passion for ceramics and Britain’s golden age of manufacturing. She started a collection of vintage ceramic swan vases from trawling second hand shops and felt she could update them in more contemporary colours using British manufacturing – most notably in the traditional heartland of British ceramics, Stoke on Trent.
Trish took the leap and in 2012 Volpe and Volpe won Best Newcomer at the East London Design Show 2012 leading to the swans being stocked by influential boutique stores, from super-stylist Emily Chalmers’ shop Caravan to Britain’s most famous collector, Paul Smith and cult online homewares emporium Rockett St George. This list goes on to include Florists Scarlet & Violet, Rebel Rebel and Wild at Hearts Nikki Tibbles dressing the swans for the Cover of Living Etc.
We’re big fan of animals in England and of products made with personality, heart and using our homegrown talent. Through Trish’s research and collaborations each new product is based around her collectors eye for quality, provenance and craftmanship and the new range entitled ‘The Last Series’ does just this. It’s a collaboration with renowned ceramic artist Robert Dawson and comprises of six preservation plates featuring 6 animals , 3 under conservations (bat, cuckoo, hedgehog) and 3 earmarked for Rewilding (wolf, beaver and Lynx).
Rewilding has been gathering momentum for some time now but it was the appearance of Beavers in the River Otter and the campaign to allow them to stay that bought things into the spotlight, Wolves and the Lynx are being considered for rewilding within the next 25 years.
Combining florals and natural history prints the plates make a beautiful gift for animal lovers and fans of conservation or rewilding AND each plate donates 5% to the respective Charity. So whilst you’re eating Christmas dinner you could be helping our green and pleasant land recover some of what makes it so special whilst also helping to preserve our UK manufacturing industries!
Old Harry: Jumpers as they should be
Old Harry is named after the rock stack which stands at the end of Studland Bay in Poole. The rocks are the namesake of an infamous local pirate called Harry Paye who was famous for adventure and plunder on the high-seas.
The ethos of this brand is ‘We are big believers in doing one thing and doing it right’ and this British knitwear brand talks the talk with 100% high-quality cotton designed in Britain which includes the coordinates of Old Harry’s namesake featured on the nape! It’s nice to support British companies inspired by the sea… and surely we should be being an island?
These soft unisex jumpers come in six different sizes in cream, navy, black, grey and dark grey with the five-guage fisherman’s knit so they’re perfect if you want to gift it to your boyfriend and then reclaim back (it’s always better that way isn’t it!).
So, this isn’t a call to ditch those Christmas jumpers (they are still as hilarious as they’ve ever been) but maybe to gift one with longevity in mind. One that’ll get better with age and warm your loved one as they do that painful stagger across the beach from a brave but chilly swim or on one of those days you wrap up and brave the weather for a blustery cliff top walk. A good jumper is worth it’s weight in salt! (sea salt that is)…
For every jumper sold the brand donates £1 to the National Trust who help protect the Jurassic Coast where Old Harry sits: www.oldharry.com