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The Container House

This is one of the most unusual holiday homes I've ever seen... It may look like your average compact kitchen apartment, below, at first glance – but the Container House is built entirely from shipping containers, is perched on the roof of another building, and measures just seven square metres in total.

If you fancy a holiday in Majorca (it's in a quiet spot near Palma), you can rent the place for £79 per night through Airbnb. Either way, have a nose around – and check out that dinky-sized pool. Nice.

What is so exciting about tiny spaces, used well? I just love them.
The upstairs landing floor is interesting. I wonder if it is made from plywood – an idea I wrote about earlier in the year here.

I spotted this place over at Cassandra, where you can read about other excellently compact dwellings here.

This cushion makes me happy

I love Camille Walala's bold, no-holds-barred bonkers designs (just check out her website... though not if you suffer from epilepsy, perhaps: it is IN YOUR FACE).

Her basic approach to design is that it should make you happy. She is, I would say, successful. This cushion, which you can buy from the designer's website or CultureLabel, for £48, certainly does the job...

She also has a rather marvellous blog, on which there are more of these sorts of messages, including 'rave more', 'learn more' and 'floss more'. Quite.

Arrange your stuff like Supermarket Sarah

A few weeks ago, I interviewed the very creative Sarah Bagner, about her brilliant new book Wonder Walls: Supermarket Sarah's Guide to Display (Cico Books), in which she takes a tour around some of her favourite homes, to look at their different approaches to displaying their stuff.

You can see more about the book in this little preview; I also shared her tips for arranging things in my Insider column in the Independent on Sunday's New Review magazine, which you can read here – but here are some images there wasn't room to include, as well as some more of Sarah's ideas. Over to Ms Bagner...

"With collecting there are so many ways of doing it. There’s the Christopher Kelly ‘more is more’ way (see above). I thought that was a great idea: why have one lamp when you can hang 12? He has hung loads of Chinese lanterns over his table, and I think it looks magnificent.

"At the same time – I learnt a lot about curating from Bjorn Springfeldt, former curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm and the Museum of Malmo. He collects in contrasts; that way, he says, it makes it more about the objects. Whereas collecting in collections says more about the person. All his things have a story: he displays things to create drama. For example, on his coffee table he has a sculpture of a massive blood-spattered face; he’s about evoking feelings and wonder, and also questions. And the book is very much about objects as questions and that sense of play – that a lot of the homeowners in it use. 

Fashion designer, Asa Sternerhag, also collects in contrasts (see her desk space, above): it brings out the opposing nature of things. It brings friction, which can create humour and surprise – they are interesting to look at; things don’t have to be ordered and conventional. 

"Walls are about displaying yourself and finding yourself and it’s wonderful to be in someone’s home where that happens; I prefer it when people show you who they are, rather than tell you. It makes being at someone’s home so much more interesting as things become conversation starters.

"I love Asa's little bottles with green shoots in them so you can see the growing roots (also above). It’s nice to have a sequential collection like this – as in; they are all little bottles but they are all different. She likes to have lots of nature in her home which feels good  and encourages growth and makes you feel humble.
A lot of the homes in the book are studio homes. There is always a lot of play in a studio; walls are constantly evolving. Whereas people move into homes and feel the need for them to be done and then remain set in stone. But I love to see things evolve around you and what you are doing – whether that’s throwing a party or reading a book.

The bathroom is a great place to go a bit wild and make it a gallery. You’ll have a captive audience after all. Bjorn does this in his bathroom with the porcelain dog and silicone daisies (see above)… he really has fun with it.

In my own bathroom, it is such a small space but a place where people spend time. And they always really notice what is in there. It’s a great place to play with things, especially things that create friction. With mine it began with a badly painted painting of Churchill – and then we wanted to collect lots of badly painted great men. But then you have to find them… meanwhile we found a badly copied Van Gogh Sunflowers. But you never find enough examples of that one thing so it evolves – and that is part of the story. 

"I love how in Hiroyo Suzuki's place in the book – she is a Tokyo button designer – the walls are covered in layers of fabric instead of paper. In Japan it’s probably easier to do that as they have very thin walls and so it’s easier to just pin stuff to them, but using thin nails should work. I think it looks really beautiful. In her place she has so much stuff but it doesn’t look chaotic because it is so structured." (See above, both images.)

“Many homes in the book are studios; there’s always a lot of play in a studio; walls constantly evolve. People’s homes often remain set in stone, but I love to see things change around what you are doing. It’s wonderful to be in someone’s home where people show you who they are. It starts conversations, and makes being at someone’s home so much more interesting. 

"Rather than do a place up in one go, go slowly. You don’t need to be a stylist – it’s just about developing that confidence to play.”

The Eames of the textile world

Scant posts this week... a bit of a family emergency. I'll be back when I can: meanwhile, to tide things over, I direct you (especially if you are lucky enough to be in New York) to some images from the NY Mag to this wonderful looking exhibition 'The World of DD and Leslie Tillett', about the mid-century American husband and wife textile design team, favourites of Jacqueline Kennedy.

The show, on at the Museum of the City of New York until February, provides a peek inside the couple's incredible home / showroom. That kitchen, especially, gives me visions of my fantasy alternative Manhattan life. Read the backstory of this influential, yet lesser-known creative couple here.

And in case you missed details of the visual telling of another famous mid-century design couple, do check out the Eames movie too.

(Rent) the Welsh 'Falling Water'

Currently plotting a cottage getaway in Wales... which has involved dodging tacky leather sofas (why are holiday cottage owners obsessed with these beasts?). So next time I reckon it's worth gathering some extra troops to justify renting this place, buried deep amid the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons. 

It is the holiday cottage of my dreams. Except that, of course, it's nothing like a cottage. But. You know what I mean... It looks like Frank Lloyd Wright's 'Falling Water', and Ty Hedfan, the name of the building, which means 'the hovering house') was designed by the architects Featherstone Young, to cantilever over the River Ysgir. It has three bedrooms, sleeps eight, and there's a cosy log fire and three en-suites. This time of year it costs £950 a week to rent (under £120pp if you have a full house!): who's free to make up numbers?

Find out more at The Modern House estate and lettings agency.

New York, New York: Famille Summerbelle's new
Manhattan wallpaper

Like many Brits who've been, I have a soft spot for New York. I spent three months living there a few years ago; a bit of a rushed escape from the mess of London life at the time. The city straightened me out sharpish, for which I shall always feel grateful. So any good-looking NYC interiors mementoes are always welcome in my house...

Maybe yours too. In which case you might like this...

Morning in Manhattan (Blue)

This new 'Manhattan Morning' wallpaper comes from the sweet online Anglo-French shop, Famille Summerbelle. The rolls come in 'Sky Blue and Hudson River' and 'Yellow Taxi Cab and Silver'; they measure 10.05cm x 52cm (repeat 61cm) and are designed – as with all the Famille Summerbelle prints – by one half of the founding duo, Julie Marabelle (the other half is her husband, Simon Summerscales). Each roll costs £45.

It reminds me of the excellent Toile design, based on the real (and very gritty) London, by Timorous Beasties... they now also do versions of this well-known print based on other cities (it comes in fabric and on cushions and lampshades, too), including Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as New York (below). Somewhat pricier, mind: this is £240 per roll. It is a work of art, though. (And, unrelated to NYC, but in the same Toile range I love the pigeon print.)

One of my other favourite NYC home accessories, is this Cavallini Manhattan map wrapping paper sheet, £3.75 from The Paperie. You can see it in situ (last image) in my office makeover post, or below.

Faux taxidermy

I LOVE this idea. The White Faux Taxidermy company makes and sells these stunning, very detailed resin replicas of some of nature's biggest, most beautiful beasts – but none were hunted in the process...

... which is kind of obvious when you look at the beautiful colours they come in: from clean, and all-white, to clean and all-white with a flash of colour (see below), or neon brights. I just think these are wonderful and would look spectacular on a fresh, white wall in need of a centrepiece.

Ed the Oleg, £76.31

MEASUREMENTS: 21.75" tall X 24.5" wide X 7.75" deep

The Barnes, £41.33

MEASUREMENTS: 14.5" tall X 13" wide X 3" deep

The Kersey, £95.38
MEASUREMENTS: 17.75" tall X 8.5" wide X 9.75" deep

The Phillipa, £82.65
MEASUREMENTS: 21.75" tall X 24.5" wide X 7.75" deep

They even make people...

The Fitz, £19.99
MEASUREMENTS: 6.5" tall X 6.25" wide X 8.85" deep

Postage is pretty hefty if you are outside the US, even though the pieces are cast in a polyresin material and, therefore, fairly light. But if you can't stretch to shipping one your way, they are still a joy to behold. And they do mini heads, too.

Check out the White Faux Taxidermy website, for the full range – which includes elephants, wolves, bears and alligators. Or buy via their Etsy website. They are happy to customise any of the pieces to the colour of your choice – just tell them how you'd like yours to look.

Polar bears: this year's best Christmas decorations?

I hate that people are already peddling Christmas. I saw mince pies in M&S in September... that was wrong. However, I've just come across some decorations from Bodie & Fou so lovely that, despite myself, I'm going to share them. 

And in my defence (to myself, obvs) I don't think they need only come out at Christmas...

These ceramic polar bears, £28 for a set of two (father and son) from Bodie & Fou, would also make a sweet small gift, festive or otherwise.

Abandoned mid-century
modern houses

I've just come across a strangely mesmerising post over at Flavorpill: this series of beautiful, atmospheric photographs of abandoned mid-century modern houses – designed by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Swedish designer Bruno Mathsson and American architect, Paul Rudolph.

The peg for the post is a new book by Steidl Verlag, called Södrakull Frösakullfeaturing the photographs of Mikael Olsson which focuses on the two houses by Mathsson, taken by Olsson over a series of years during which they have been unoccupied.

Summer House by Bruno Matthson – Frösakull, Sweden
Image credit: Mikael Olsson via Galerie Nordenhake

The Twitchell House by Paul Rudolph – Siesta Key, Florida
Image credit: Chris Mottalini

Villa House by Knud Blach Petersen & Herbert Jensen – Aarhus, Denmark
Image credit: Julian Weyer

Check out Flavorpill for more pictures

This week's favourite things

October is the time of the year when everyone starts pulling together their new collections, in time for (sigh) Christmas. But it does mean my inbox has been heaving with very beautiful things that I've collected to share today.

No theme, apart from they're things I think are GREAT.

This beautiful monochrome cup and saucer, £12 each, from Shelf, is very Marimekko, don't you think?  Not cheap, but a beautiful present and comes in a good-looking box. That apple is like a work of art on top of the saucer.

People have, in the past, laughed at my extensive wooden fruit collection. I inherited a full, colourfully painted set from a clear-out at my parents' house years ago (having grown up with people picking up rock-hard apples and looking at them, confused). Then a few years ago when I went to Brazil, I found another – slightly different-looking – set. It really was a very "no, you DON'T need that" purchase, but I love them. And I love these unpainted wooden pears, £26 each and made from Laburnum in Scotland, also from Shelf. Pointless, but so aesthetically satisfying.
Frida Kahlo print, £16.95 (A4), by Barcelona-based illustrator Judy Kaufman, available from Pretty Dandy, which is a lovely shop. Check out this image in situ in Judy's own home, which featured on Design*Sponge. It's part of a series of four, see below.

Each one is printed with a quote from the person depicted beneath the image. I particularly love the Andy Warhol one: "I have social disease. I have to go out every night.If I stay home one night I start spreading rumors to my dogs."

Teal, mustard and grey is one of my favourite colour combinations. It's very 1950s. And this gorgeous mini plaid blanket, £140, by Fine Little Day – or baby play rug, or cot cover, or thing that makes the sofa look prettier – puts them together beautifully.
These stove-top coffee makers always look great. And this one is excellently extra large, and comes in orange and dark blue. The six-cup coffee maker, £35.95 (with free UK delivery!) from Howkapow is designed by San Ignacio, a family-run company founded in 1944 in the hills of the Basque country in Spain.

Emily Pickle tea-towel, £8.50, digitally printed from one of her own designs and for sale in her Etsy shop.

Love this hand-painted teapot from Lena Hanzel in Berlin, too. It's just £16.57 plus postage. Check out her beautiful blog, too, Room for Emptiness.

What is Ikea's most
ubiquitous item?

A gold interiors star to you if you escape the Ikea dash when you move somewhere new – even if you haven't done it for years, surely there are items you bought there for your first ever home from home that still loiter around your current place.

I definitely have a hearty smattering of staples – including what I think could be the number one thing-you-always-see-from-Ikea-in-other-people's-houses: the Ordning stainless steel cutlery stand. I don't even really like it, it just beckoned me with its pure simplicity, non-erodible material and sheer usefulness. I've also got a Malm chest of drawers, a few cushions (some now hidden inside newer covers), and a LOT of chunky Ribba picture frames. To the point where I try only to buy prints that will fit inside them. Shame on me. What about you – what's your Ikea stash? Or what is the one thing you always see in other people's homes from the blue and yellow behemoth?
Magasin cutlery stand
Grundtal wall rail 

Pokal glass 
Ribba picture frame 
Malm chest of drawers 
Ordning cutlery stand

Grundtal wall shelf 

Klippan sofa 

Bumerang skirt hanger 

Billy bookcase 

I'm now wondering if this reads like some sneaky kind of sponsored post paid for by Ikea (they so wouldn't pay – it's IKEA!). Anyway, so it's not, but I do have the shop on my mind right now because I'm writing about it journalistically... and this question came up as I typed. So there you go.