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Posts from the ‘Scandinavian’ Category

Maze Interior | Tearing Up The Rulebook

 

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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If you could sum up Swedish design in 3 words what would they be? 

Honest, clever and smart

Get social with Maze Interiors on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook.

In the interest of transparency Maze Interiors sent us the brackets for the purpose of photography to accompany this interview. 

 

 

 

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Prep & Pour | DIY your kitchen worktops

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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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! 

 

 

 

Glazing Vision: Connect with the great outdoors

Creating a beautiful feature light well with minimalist glazing which appears frameless from below with a lot of help from British company Glazing Vision...

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Modernist Aspirations…

We haven’t blogged much about our self-build home extension. Mostly because when you’re in it it’s hard to see it! Instead we’ve taken a look back to show some photos of it in progress. Pictures speak louder than words and all that…

Back in August 2015 we dug the foundations by hand, with a spade, yes just the one. Quite mad clearly! Several grab lorries later and we were the proud owners of an enormous hole, which doubled up as a mud pit for the boys.

This was the easy part as we had an enormous well-built 1970s garage in the garden and a concrete drive. Borrowing a concrete breaker we then spent every weekend breaking up huge chunks of it, repurposing the smaller pieces and shingle for the foundations.

As the garage was so tight to our boundary it was a slightly tricky experience with the sledgehammer at times to ensure the brickwork fell our way. Our neighbours were great though helping and letting us have access to push the structure back onto our property.

Several grabbers later we had some space to carry on digging our trenches marking in red where we wanted concrete to go up to:

Then came a trench pour in concrete which went well and created a labyrinth style maze for the boys, which was quickly spoilt by blockwork and lots of it. This flew up quickly (if heavily) and the slab bases were compacted by hiring a heavyweight wacker plate.

We then installed the damp proof membrane, insulation, separating membrane and mesh reinforcement ready for the slab pour. Unfortunately it then decided to rain… a lot… and we had the last minute panic of trying to empty out huge amounts of water as the concrete mixer lorry patiently waited! As a result our concrete pour wasn’t as smooth as the first – and definitely not as flat!

Still, it set and allowed us to start work on the timber framing. This has been a satisfying part of the process so far as it’s reasonably quick. Travis Perkins and Bradfords have kept us stocked up with what we have to say has been a brilliant service.

 

Creating timber frame walls and studding them out we’ve then plyed the outside and clad it in insulation and battening. Suddenly things felt more ‘real’ and we had professionals on site to fit the single ply membrane flat roof. People are often scared with flat roofs but this comes with a 20 year guarantee and is expected to last MUCH longer. Even when it does need replacing it’s just a case of laying a fresh layer over the top!

 

Once the roof went on we could fix the GlazingVision Flushglaze roof light which looks devilishly crisp and beautifully connects the inside with the outside with a 2m x 1m frameless view of the sky. Now we had weather protection we were able to start focusing on the inside. By finding seconds insulation on eBay this allowed us to really make the framework into a cosy modernist box for a fraction of the price.

And then finally the aluminium bi-folds and slimline grey upvc windows have gone in today. These are in anthracite grey but of course covered in protective film which we’re just itching to remove! We’re waiting on the garage roller shutter door but are finally dry in the ‘living’ spaces of the build. Relief!

The self-build to date has been fun and exciting but also stressful, gruelling and hard – in sum all-encompassing! It’s a way to learn what you’re capable outside of your comfort zone, be hands on and experience it as a family (with grandparents and friends heroically coming to the rescue). Importantly it gives you the ability to make decisions as you build whilst also saving money. It does take away from your evenings, your weekends and in short any chance you have to relax! We’ve had black thumbs, back aches and even one case of passing out so it’s very much both a physical and mental process. Still, looking back to date, it’s been quite a journey and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved as a young family going with the ethos ‘don’t move, improve!’.

We’ll update you soon on next progresses… we hope you’ve enjoyed this little run through of our journey to date though.

ecomodernstudios x

 

 

 

Design Christmas Wishlist #3

MidCentury Magazine was set up in 2011 from a dining table in London and in 4 short years it has published 9 Issues brimming with discovery. Forgotten designers, homes and stories sit side-by-side with those treasured profiles in mid-century design – and always with the most beautiful of visuals.

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You could say I was biased having worked for the magazine for over a year now but I’ve always been a fan of letting the story speak behind strong design and MidCentury Magazine embraces this ethos in spades. Following a rebrand in Issue 05 the strongly recognisable magazine aesthetic was born. A clean minimalist cover encompassing a bright mid-century hue and a design from the interior pages brought to the fore in a simple boxout. These issues have the feel of a good book (and importantly are brilliant fun to display on shelves with their punchy mid-century colours!).

They’re definitely for keeps and I use mine for inspiration, for guidance (the Buyer’s Guides are great) and to just immerse myself in learning about the mid-century mind. So if you want a magazine with longevity then I’d urge you to order a copy of the latest Issue 09 released this week.

This months Issue 09 speaks with Paula Day, daughter of British designer Great Robin Day, gives a concrete tribute to American Modernism in Belgium (with some LOVELY Eames furniture) and a bright fun refurbishment of a 1960s London chalet home. Enough to provide some respite in this busy December month!

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Handily too, ecomodernstudio readers can claim 10% off Issue 09 until midnight on 12th Dec by entering the code: mc9ems at the checkout, plus you’ll qualify for a free upgrade to first class post! You might just want to create your own little rainbow #shelfie of MidCentury colours…

To order Issue 09 or back-order a previous Issue visit the online shop!

 

 

Daytripping in Falmouth and the surrounds…

For our wedding anniversary we had a long weekend in Cornwall. It was beautiful and blustery just like it had been 4 years ago on our honeymoon. This time we checked into the Fistral beach hotel near Newquay which was perched overlooking Fistral beach, a stunning surfers cove which was perfect for people-watching from our balcony.

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We visited surrounding National Trust properties, enjoyed the countryside and beaches and on one day decided to visit Falmouth and the surrounds to soak in the autumnal colours and displays. Here we discovered Willow and Stone, a beautiful hotchpotch of homeware and paper-based wares with a fun stationery collection which included Rifle Paper Co (so some ‘essential’ stocking up of cards was done). For lunch we went further afield to a quieter spot to a restaurant designed by Interior Architect Kathryn Tyler called Gylle Beach Cafe which sits directly on this sandy beach.

The food was fresh and tasty but we were studiously taking in her interior design for inspiration on our own home renovation project. Specifically we loved the thin cladding contrasting against a black background with pops of colour and greenery from these simple boxouts.

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Kathryn had also cleverly introduced beautifully designed details such as the scalloped layered plywood on the bar itself:

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It had a simple clean aesthetic but it felt like a personalised warm space so there were many tips we took from it. Even if you’re not planning your own home renovation its a great place to go with family and friends – even very young kids. The vibe is most definitely relaxed, friendly and orientated towards that glorious beach to walk off the effects of that donut…!

Design Trip | Le Corbusier in Paris

A trip to Paris to explore some key buildings by Le Corbusier. An inspiration in colour, light and taking a risk!

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Maison & Objet Paris 2015 | Our top Five!

Maison & Objet Paris was a wonderland in design and interiors. Read about those we were lucky enough to meet!

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Master bedroom plans afoot!

So, bright skies and warm sun is upon us. When we can be tempted in from the garden we’re faced with a room that’s ready for it’s transformation. We’ve split a large sitting room / dining room into two to create a master bedroom and home office. Plastering happens in three weeks time so there are lots of wallpaper and carpet samples strewn about the room with hard choices ahead!…

Master Bedroom - Before

Happenstance had it that Heart Home magazine had a competition to create a pinterest board of inspiration for a bedroom using up to 3 pins of Betta Living products. Challenge duly accepted, this enabled us to narrow down some of our ideas and you can see the results here! We always find it a challenge when you have to create an entire room in one go so this was great practice to actually focus our minds.

Our starting point was finding a king size bed which was comfy, stylish and not overbearing in the relatively narrow space. We’ve set our sights on the grey Jamie Bedstead by John Lewis with it’s unusual shape and lack of footboard (which should make our limited space seem bigger). From this springboard, a bunch of wallpaper samples were duly ordered from Cole & Son and Roddy & Ginger, all very beautiful and referencing botanic or nautical forms. We’re veering towards the cow parsley print now we’ve seen it in situ and this has been reinforced by asking the opinions of passing friends and family!

Our scheme follows the Scandinavian influence of greys, with lots of secondary lighting in organic forms and pops of colour through bedding, graphic cushions and anemones. We plan to install fitted wardrobes down one side so we can stop fighting over wardrobe space – these by Betta Living are ideal with bi-fold opening doors, generous drawers and plenty of hanging space. We want the feel of the room to be calming and full of little nooks to sit or perch on so need serious-working storage hidden away to be able to enable this. Can’t wait to get this project underway… ‘after’ photos to (hopefully) follow soon!

Sarah Hamilton | Less Is More

Sarah Hamilton's Studio. Neutrals and colours sit side-by-side with an emphasis on natural (and often nautical) shapes and forms.

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