A little escape to Cornwall and some design lessons learnt this November...
Posts from the ‘Design City’ Category
If you’re on Instagram then we’re pretty sure you will have heard of ‘Bloom & Wild flower delivery’. We love this brand for their quirky take on bringing postable greenery into our homes in the forms of seasonal flowers, wreaths and even, well, Christmas trees! Each of the above arrives in a narrow slim box which easily fits through a standard letterbox.
First up this year is ‘The Drew’ which arrives with a collapsable pot, moss and ribbon. You can choose what decorations you’d like it to come with for a little extra sparkle – be that baubles, fairy lights, deluxe beauty treats (yes really!), robins or jingle bells.
We couldn’t resist the stunning reflective hues of the mini baubles and fairy lights so this was our combo to get started with for a design-led looking mini tree in our kitchen.
Kitchens can be tricky spaces for bringing festive cheer to as there’s the safety issue of adding flammable materials to a kitchen as well as the practicality issue of lots of ornaments and banners precariously taped or balanced. The idea of a mini tree which could sit on the worktop, be easily moved and watered once a week seemed perfect. The fairy lights are battery operated making it a really easy portable tree.
For our kids room we wanted something fun which they could embellish to really make it their own. We opted for ‘The Jack’ with its colourful string of festive jingle bells and fairy lights which when initially decorated by our three year old looked like this:
And was later embellished with lego to look like this..
The great thing about these mini trees is you can move them around their room to set up different festive scenes (sometimes it is also ceremoniously walked to the playroom with new embellishments added). It becomes a living breathing part of Christmas the kids can enjoy looking after.
You might have clocked our first review of a mini-tree last year (if not you can read it here) and we just wanted to update you that we potted it up last year and it’s been very happy. We’ve added a few of the baubles from last year as a welcome by our front door! Once Christmas is over pot yours up and help the little fella grow so you’ve got a Christmas tree for years to come!
If you fancy your own tiny tree or want to surprise a loved one to get them in the festive mood (especially if they’ve only got a small space) then enjoy 10% off your first order by signing up to the Bloom & Wild newsletter (scroll to the bottom of their ‘Bloom & Wild flower delivery’ homepage to sign up).
For transparency we were sent these trees by Bloom & Wild for the purposes of photography and to share on the blog as part of our Christmas series. We’re huge fans of the minimal packaging, clever seasonal designs and practicality they bring to the flower delivery market!
The busiest time of year? Get a diary which is going to work as hard as you in 2017!
With just 4 Sundays left before Christmas we’re starting our Christmas recommendations here at ecomodernstudios starting with Hello Marilu.
Hello Marilu is a creative lifestyle brand with a strong focus on handmade. Created by Mary-Ann Aveline in 2015, Hello Marilu offers an eclectic range of textiles and paper goods that have all been designed, handmade or hand finished in her South London studio, using a variety of techniques such as screen printing, marbling and painting.
We put in a 12-bauble strong order as her hand-painted ceramics are just the sort of one-of-a-kind heirlooms that are treasured on the tree year after year (as well as perfect for thoughtful gifts for those who have ‘everything’). Intrigued about what drove Hello Marilu in its first year of business we sat down with a cuppa to find out more about what makes this British brand tick.
In a time when we’re so technologically advanced why do you think there’s been such a strong comeback of handmade with brands such as notonthehighstreet, Folksy and etsy championing the individual?
There is no doubt that technology is great; I can’t imagine living without my iPhone now, or the internet, but its is also kind of sad how much it dominates our lives. You might be working all day on a computer only to go home and spend half your evening checking social media or watching TV. Its addictive, and almost a bit overwhelming at times.
I think its this technology overload which is actually encouraging people to want to take up new hobbies, such as hand made crafts, or learning a new skill at a creative workshop. Being able to physically make something can feel so satisfying. There is a sense of achievement, something real that you can feel and touch, and it focuses your mind in a totally different way, almost like a meditation. The result is a finished product which you can feel proud of and that’s a good feeling.
The great thing about technology however is how it can help support and grow your handmade business. Years ago it would have been very difficult to know how to sell your handmade products or get any recognition, but with websites like notonthehighstreet, Etsy and Folksy, almost anyone can get their work out there.
It makes handmade products accessible to everyone and it also shows that it is possible to sell your own work – something which would otherwise feel very daunting. People that buy handmade are looking for something a bit different – something personal, unique, and original. It can be hard to know where to buy those things on the highstreet so websites that showcase products from independent designers are a wonderful source for both the buyer and the seller.
Creative workshops also really seem to be on the rise which is fantastic. Its lovely to learn a new skill and try something you never would have thought of before, whilst meeting other fellow creatives. There are some really unusual ones out there too. Earlier this year I went to a spoon carving workshop by Grain and Knot, which is something I probably never would have had the opportunity to try had there not been a workshop available!
Your work is bright, bold and playful with pops of neon and gold! What inspirations have you had in 2016 which has helped shape your brand and what are you looking towards in 2017?
I have always loved bright colours, neon red in particular and of course gold. I find colours like that can transform a simple design into something really eye catching. I tend to be inspired by so many different things – almost everyday a new idea pops into my head, or I see a new technique which I want to try. I am very curious with wanting to try different techniques and I have a long list which I need to work through!
It was Screen Printing however which really led me to start Hello Marilu and it is something that I always love to go back to in between other crafts. I recently discovered through trial and error how to screen print with gold foil. I was so pleased that I could finally get it to work, and I now have quite a few gold foil print ideas in the pipeline.
I also love how working on one idea can organically lead you on to something else. I am really enjoying hand painting my ceramic Christmas baubles at the moment and I now to want to decorate other ceramic items such as plant pots and coasters.
I would love to try the Japanese technique Kintsugi. If you are not familiar with it, its basically an ancient Japanese technique of repairing broken or cracked objects using gold. Rather than trying to hide the damage you make it a feature by highlighting it with gold. It is really quite beautiful, looks amazing on ceramics, and of course its using gold, one of my favourite colours, so I’ve just got to try it!
What is the product you’re most proud of from your collection and why?
My hand painted Christmas baubles are getting a lot of attention at the moment, which is great in the run up to Christmas. It feels very special to personalise a bauble for someone, knowing that gift will hopefully be cherished by the recipient for years to come.
I love the build up to Christmas and decorating the tree is my all time favourite thing, so it makes me feel very happy to know that my baubles will be decorating other peoples trees too. The hand painted design which I use was inspired by traditional Russian folk illustrations. My mum is Russian so I grew up surrounded by beautifully painted Russian figurines and matryoshka’s. I have always wanted to use this inspiration for a project of my own so working on my hand painted baubles holds a special place in my heart as they are inspired by things which are very dear to me.
There is a really strong creative community online in the UK. What social media accounts do you really love following and why?
The online creative community is amazing. Websites like Pinterest really help for inspiration and finding new craft techniques that I would love to try, and Instagram is just incredible for building your business and seeing what other like minded creative people are doing. I love how supportive the Instagram community is.
Its so encouraging when you post a picture and receive such lovely comments and likes from people that you have never even met before. Its amazing how it can bring people together from all over the world! Instagram is definitely my favourite social media outlet and I think i would be a bit lost without it. It was a huge inspiration to starting my own business because it made me realise so many people were following their passions, and that I could do that too.
Some of my favourite Instagram accounts to follow are @ohjoy for lovely bright colours and DIY posts. Her account is always so cheery – its a great happiness fix and it just puts you in a good mood! Jewellery maker @benumade is another favourite. She makes the most amazing, quirky leather jewellery. Her designs are so unique, I find them really inspiring. They make me want to work with leather. I also love @elizabethpawle. Her woven and hand stitched art pieces have so much depth and texture to them, you just want to reach out and touch them, and they incorporate some of my favourite neon colours which is always a winner!
If you’d like to meet Mary-Anne and have a go at your own designs at a Bauble Decorating Workshop then you’re too late to catch her at Anthropologie (sold out) but if you’re quick you can get a place at her workshops at West Elm on 24th November (only 2 places left!) or 8th December (only 4 places left!). Price £20.
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.
SO many people told us we were mad to try and create our own DIY kitchen worktop but what is life if not for a little adventure?
Creating our own worktop allowed us to be flexible with our kitchen design and we love the results. Here’s a little step-by-step photo explanation of the prep and pour phase of creating our worktops. We used a system which enables you to make a bespoke frame to suit your requirements from Z Counterform Europe and we love the fact we created one continuous surface with a story behind it!
Step 1: Create a ply base on top of your units. Z counterform suggest using Durarock but we went with ply. In retrospect the ply repels the water when Durarock absorbs it so it made the mix slightly wetter to work with (which made it messier) but it worked fine!
Step 2: Fit the plastic formwork to the edges of the worktop and around holes you’ll need to keep e.g. sink and hob. You will need to cut the edges at a 45 degree angle so they sit tightly together which is made easy by the mitre block provided. Duct tape and silicone EVERY joint you can see!
We bought a few tools but the pack was really comprehensive and included the mitre block, plastic formwork, plastic spacers and screws, glass fibre reinforcement mesh, the dry pre-mixed cement and magnesium float. All we did was buy a paddle mixer and some additional trowels.
Step 3: Roll out the fibre glass mesh to the length you need and overlap the mesh slightly on the corners to ensure the joints are strong. Using lightweight gloves is a good idea as otherwise it makes your hands itchy! You then need to snap off the longer plastic legs of the Z clips which are provided (you only need the shorter legs for domestic use) and attach them to the fibre glass mesh approx every 10 cm in a square formation and lastly adding a central clip to each square. There are 2 grooves in each Z clip to hold the mesh so this ensures your mesh will stay at the correct level when the concrete is poured on top. Using an electric drill is a must when you have so many screws but a good tip is to buy a magnetic tip for your drill if you don’t have one. It holds the screws on the end of the drill when you’re trying to fix down and stops a lot of cursing!
Step 4: Remove your drawers / cupboard doors and protect your floor and units with lots of plastic (we used packaging from appliances we’d bought which worked fine). We also cut plastic bags and taped them over sockets and the extractor hood to avoid splashing concrete onto them. We covered over the holes for the sink and hob with the ply which we’d cut out from the ply worktop to stop too much concrete seeping in. Be sure to leave holes in the corners though to be able to easily remove once the concrete is set! This worked for us but they took a while to cut around the ply edges as concrete had dripped and set into the joints. In retrospect styrofoam would have been easier and worked just as well from a protection POV with the added bonus of being quick to break up after the concrete was set.
Step 5: Mix and pour the concrete as per the instructions on the packets. Make sure you mix up a trial amount first to check the consistency and make sure it’s suitable for working with. This process is messy and renders you feeling rather kid-like! It was an incredibly exciting / scary morning! Once the concrete is level vibrate the edges of the formwork by tapping on them with the end of a trowel or by using a sander. We did the latter and this worked brilliantly for us – we have very little holes on the edges as a result.
Step 6: As the concrete started to set we peeled back the plastic sheeting and wiped the plastic formwork clean. We also used a little trowel to move any concrete spillage from the edge of the ‘holes’ so that it would be easier to take the ply protection out. Tidying before the concrete dries was really easy and we were glad we’d done it when it came to removing the formwork later on.
Step 7: On Day 2 the concrete had dried a lighter colour and we could take the ply framing out of the holes for the sink and the hob. It required a bit of jiggery pokery but worked fine. We could then test that our fitted appliances would fit snuggly on the new surface.
Step 8: Break the formwork off – this peels away and is a very satisfying step! You’ll need to sand the top, edges and corners so don’t be worried about a little bit of excess concrete as shown below on the corner edge.
This is when it starts to get fun and you can put in a few drawers back in to start to imagine the final effect! We chose a simple square edge formwork frame with a white concrete mix but there were so many options to choose from according to your style which you can check out here.
We posted about our progress on our Instagram account and the most frequently asked question we had was ‘is it possible for an amateur DIY-er to do?’. We would respond – absolutely! We had both sets of our wonderful parents over to help and definitely a little ‘team’ is recommended when little leaks start to spout or the drills overheat as this is a time-pressured activity! However going with Z Counterform meant they provided links to videos which really highlight each stage and this took the fear out of the process for us. If you follow them on Instagram you can see some of their latest projects to get ideas and we found this really helpful for imagining the final result.
Next up we’ll cover the sanding and sealing process so watch out for the next blog later this month… We’d love to hear your comments though on our DIY adventure and thoughts on using a concrete worktop!
In the interest of transparency we received a discount from Z Counterform when purchasing their products but this post genuinely depict the process we undertook to create our first DIY countertop!
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!