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The Friday Edit #4

A few of the best design stories on the internet this week...

1. Did you catch the Guardian's sorrowful ode to Ikea's Expedit shelving this week? In honour of the ubiquitous storage system, three of its best moments: some excellent Expedit hacking at homes blog, Dans Le Townhouse (bottom right); 20 real spaces featuring Expedit at Inthralld included this very good bench seating version (left and also, from Inthralld, top right); it also led me to discover Ikeaspotter, a site dedicated to collecting instances where the Swedish megabrand appears on TV and in films (a little too much time on one's hands...?). In this instance, Expedit pops up in the Big Bang Theory.

2. Designboom reports that Zaha Hadid is on the shortlist for the grand – and controversial – rebuild of Crystal Palace, on the site of the original victorian building, which burned down in 1936.

3. Research into colour psychology collated by a window shutter company has found that shades of blue around your dining table may prevent over-eating.
4. And finally. Remember the early 90s New Age travellers? And the massive rave thousands of them went to in Castlemorton that went on for a week, got the Daily Mail sweating about the danger of "repetitive beats" and wound up invoking the Criminal Justice Bill? Check out one of the surviving relics, in this video tour of travellers' homes.

Back on Monday, have good weekends.

Object of the day: horse hangers

Perhaps inspired by Les Trois Garçons' haul earlier this week (particularly the wall-mounted unicorns), I have my heart set on these.

Regular readers will know of my fondness for an equine accessory. But is this a step too kitsch?

Neighhhhhhh! It is for sale in the US at Etsy (from a shop called Equine by Lauren) along with a range of similar designs featuring different horses (this, I think, is the best). Don't you just love the sense of dynamism?

Alas, at around £130, it more than tops the threshold for free imports into the UK (anything over £15 is chargeable) and so the tax would bump up the price. I'm still debating... but also considering making my own. I'll keep you posted.

Real homes... kitchen trolley suggestions?

The top of this kitchen trolley in my house has been a design conundrum for years. It was originally acquired to provide a side table for the kitchen bench. 

For various reasons that never happened, and now – since the dramatic kitchen table relocation – it isn't really necessary either.

The trolley, due to its generous surface area, immediately became a dumping ground for downstairs clutter – bills and letters, to-do lists, nice things that temporarily have no home, instructions for things and spare bits of other things.

The bottom shelf became the place where a mountain of newspaper cuttings and recipe supplements (and denial) lived. The arrival of the dog, who found the newspaper pile to be a cosy retreat, gave the bottom shelf a better use and it evolved into his official, non-papery bed. The dog is also a reason not simply to ditch the trolley entirely. Where else could he loiter in comfort, waiting for someone to drop something edible?

So what to do with the thing? I've dreamed of creating a glamorous bar area, perfect for a trolley top, but that doesn't really work when said trolley is butted up against a radiator. Any kind of box attracts more clutter. I've been toying with giant ornaments, something with height to balance the tall radiator, but have yet to find anything. Or big lamp? Though that wouldn't take up enough space to remove the temptation of re-filling the trolley top with toot.

And what about a new cushion cover for the Jack Russell? The dirty grey cover in situ should probably get an upgrade... I fancied monochrome chevron, but possibly not the immense clash of fabrics.

There's some progress afoot: the trolley's woodwork is now painted black. It looks much better – don't you think? And the clutter is contained. But the toot box doesn't need to live right there, and the rest – well, it just could look better. Any clever suggestions?

Post by Kate

Spotlight on... the Sight
Unseen shop

After writing about a Sight Unseen competition last week, I discovered the online US craft magazine has a shop dedicated to selling hand-made products by artists and designers.

The shop has recently extended its remit from just selling wearables to including a few very nice homewares, all produced in tiny batches.

These mugs are designed by former print-maker, Josephine Heilpern under the name Recreation Center. They are about £18 ($30).

In case you're not familiar with Sight Unseen, the magazine is dedicated, very broadly, to craft, but has its own unique style in tackling the topic. Founded by three former staff from i-D magazine, it aims to go behind the scenes of design, art, fashion, food, photography and other creative disciplines, and to "uncover the stories, inspirations and obsessions of people who love to make things". A good bookmark.

Love this unusual pair of geometric bookends by Brendan Timmins (around £60, or $100). Made from steel, marble, and zigzags of painted pine, they’re inspired by architectural ruins.

Above: as Sight Unseen say, "if any product was ever in need of a makeover, it's the wind chime". And this one – made from brass, copper and aluminium sheets, leather, wood and salvaged stained glass – as they add, "shakes off that candle-shop-in Woodstock vibe once and for all". Designed by Ladies and Gentlemen Studio, it costs around £108 ($180).

Below: it's pretty extravagant to spend £18 ($30) on a coaster, but these Kiel Mead brass designs are very good-looking aren't they? The designer, who hand sands the designs onto each disc, says his mission is to "make the mundane more precious".

It's true that none of the products, being either made to order, produced in very small runs and often by one-person design outfits, are especially cheap. Add (UK readers) the infuriating import tax on anything over £15 and the shop might just be for window browsing. Luckily, the shop – as the magazine – is as interested in the stories behind the designs and features links to studio tours, how-it's-made videos, home tours and more: below is Kiel Mead's living room, for example...

...and here is how Ladies and Gentlemen illustrated their response to a question about their influences...

Nice. A great way to discover up-and-coming talent and get an insight into various creative minds.


Post by Kate

The Insider: inspiration
from the interiors of Les
Trois Garçons

If you've ever eaten at A-lister repository and east London restaurant, Les Trois Garçons, you'll recognise the style below. 

Even if you haven't (and it isn't cheap), the place is well-known for its interiors and a favourite with art directors and photographers, so you'll have almost certainly spotted it as the backdrop for countless glossy magazine shoot. Either way, feast your eyes...

Why read about it today? Because the auction house, Christie's, has just announced that it is selling off lots of the unusual decor in a sale next month. And not just eye-catching objets from the restaurant, but also bounty from the owners' French castle, La Chateau de la Goujonnerie, and from their London homes.

In all, there will be 380 lots and Christie's estimates prices between £500 and £80,000. Goodies up for grabs include this collection of late 20th-century decorative pineapples, estimated to sell for £800-£1200.

The owners Michel Lasserre, Hassan Abdullah, and Stefan Karlsson (aka "Les Trois Garçons"), run quite the aesthetic empire, which also includes their cocktail bar, Loungelover, a design shop café, Maison Trois Garçons, and L3G Design, the trio's interior design practice. "We love beautiful things – collecting is a compulsion," they say. And with Hassan having launched his own range of furniture, they say the auction is part of the process of "simplifying" their lives.

You may not be able to stretch to purchasing any of their exotic cast-offs, but shots of their interiors are marvellous inspiration for injecting a bit of humour and creative oddness into your own place. Don't you just love the insane Victorian taxidermic squirrels playing cards, below (guide price £2,000-£4,000)?

Or how about this for a grand hallway?

The unicorns are Lot 7 and estimated at around £4,000-£6,000.

Lot 75 is this striking 2005 Jonathan Wateridge painting, above, oil on nine layers of perspex bolted together (£50,000-£80,000). The Italian rosewood desk, designed by Paolo Buffa for Dassi in around 1950 and the bent plywood chair, by Vittorio Nobili, are Lot 74 and the set is estimated at around £2,500-£4,500.

The 1970s/80s panda table above is expected to sell for between £2,000 to £4,000.

Groups of the vases above will be going for around £500 to £2,000. The 1960s/70s French beaded-glass chandelier below is Lot 13, and is estimated to go for £5,000 to £8,000.

The auction catalogue is worth a voyeuristic flick-through. I particularly like the Orangery, a room with a plastic Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton (from £500) on the dining table, and a McDonald's "M" and huge metal sign on the wall reading "Cock" (from £1,500) hanging on the ancient stone walls. Well, if you can't have fun in your own castle...

The pieces are all also part of a pre-auction exhibition at Christie's, in London's South Kensington, which runs from Saturday 1 March until the eve of the sale, which is taking place on 5 March. Find out more at

Post by Kate

The Friday Edit #3

This week's aesthetic highlights...

From left to right:

1. Don't need more interiors crack in your life? Look away now, because Sight Unseen has discovered Neybers, a new web based app which it describes as "a cross between My Deco and Sim City". The app lets you design rooms in 3D, using products from brands including Fornasetti and Donna Wilson. There's a competition currently running on the Sight Unseen Facebook page for the best room.

2. Font nerd? Then you might not feel too icky looking at this guy's beard, which he has carefully shaved to form a newly designed alphabet. Read about it (and see the type without his face behind it) at Design Boom. There's also a font-celebrating exhibition happening right now at London's Book Club in Shoreditch.

3. Don't you just need a woodburner in your bedroom now? Though that one does look like a bit of a fire hazard... See the rest of this muted, golden, girlie (but not too girlie) flat in Sweden at the very good

4. This beautiful painting of the sea, from a brilliantly eccentric flat that Habitually Chic featured this week, is mesmerising. I'd love an equally mesmerising painting for my own walls – I did find this one but alas the time was not right to be buying. And now it's gone. Sadface.

5. You can't go wrong with a bit of Selby voyeurism. Love this place, belonging to New York curator, Ambra Medda, particularly her slightly scruffy pot rack.

6. Totally brilliant tips from regular recommend, The Kitchn. In this post you will learn 15 invaluable culinary tricks such as how to freeze fresh herbs in olive oil, as illustrated, how to make ice-cream with just one ingredient and how to peel a whole garlic bulb in 10 seconds.

Merry weekends. I'll be giving the downstairs loo its last coat of black paint – who else is DIYing and what are you DIYing?

Post by Kate

Introducing... The
Common Room

When former performance artist, Kate Hawkins, retired from her chosen medium, she followed a new vision: to make good, contemporary art accessible to "the many, rather than the few". 

Her solution? To commission working artists to design conceptual wallpapers, and sell them in her new shop, The Common Room. I think the brand new company's first designs are very exciting. What do you reckon?

'282 Ways of Making a Salad', above, by Fine Art/Philosophy graduate James Ferris, takes its title from a 1950s book of celebrity salad recipes (it exists, I checked on Amazon).

Wallpaper has generally been thought of as background rather than foreground," Kate and co explain. "but our wallpapers are designed to challenge and excite. Just like every great artwork."

The concept not a million miles away from Fenton Art and Design, who I wrote about last year – ethos-wise, at least, as both business models are focused on supporting either emerging or established artistic talent.

'Back to Front', above, by Goshka Macuga, is based on a scan of the threads from the back of one of the large scale tapestries she makes; "the hidden workings, the threads and knots" showing "how an artwork is all tied together".

The papers are for sale at £85 per roll, with samples at £1.50 each. See other artists' designs including Kate's own at

Post by Kate

Object of the day: Sanderson 'Manila'

It's holiday time of year for the organised among us. 

If that's not you (it's not me), or if your holiday is about open fires and British countryside, you could always bring the heat home instead. And these two prints, in Sanderson's new Manila range, would do it for me.

A good tip if you don't want to commit to wallpapering properly, or can only stretch to one roll of the stuff, is to paper a board instead – as above. Use MDF if your panel won't be as big as this one (the stuff weighs a tonne) or even plywood if sturdy isn't a requirement, and you fancy making it portable.

You could also buy a roll with a buddy and split it to make a bed headboard or fill picture frames, top an old table (smother it with PVA glue or non-yellowing varnish), renew a paper drum lampshade (get a hot glue gun – amazing things), spruce your stair risers (wallpaper paste and matt varnish)... Any other ideas?

The fabric could be fashioned in a similar way but using an artist's canvas stretcher.

The Manila wallpaper is £52 RRP per roll and the fabric is £49 per metre. Find it at

Object of the day: stuffed drawings

This crazy looking little figure would look good on a shelf, especially in a kids' bedroom (but don't let that limit you). It's like a Donna Wilson creature cushion on acid.

And if children's brains are as free as a hallucinogen fuelled mind, then it sort of is. Because this stuffed character is modelled on an original child's drawing. Brilliant, no?
Thorody, the fabric company that makes them, offers a bespoke service whereby you can send in an original work of art by the small person in your life, and they will transform it into a 3-D one of these. Like this...

Not a bad idea for a birthday present for close family members or the little artist him or herself. And it'll last longer than that drawing Blutacked onto the fridge door (and it'd need to as they're not cheap). Prices for the bespoke service on request.

You can also buy ready-designed creatures, which cost £30 each, so only for very special people. My favourite is the Ginger the Reindeer, below.
Find out more at

Post by Kate

The Friday edit #2

Back again with a round up of some of the best things I've seen/read/received this week. Happy weekend, all.

(Clockwise from top left)

1. Meet the original Brooklyn hipsters: The New York Public Library has more than 500 of Dinanda Nooney's 1978-79 photographs of Brooklyn dwellers, many taken in their homes. Apartment Therapy published the highlights. Excellently nostalgic, fascinatingly voyeuristic.

2. A Place to Live is the name of painter, Trevor Burgess's, long-running series of artworks depicting ordinary urban homes. I love them (and you can see a few examples in this previous post, along with info about the project). Or... if you are in the Reading vicinity, chip up to Trevor's latest show, to which he's added lots more new paintings. 1-28 March at the Peacock Gallery, Maiden Erlegh School, Silverdale Road, Reading RG6 7HS. 0118 926 2467

3. How Pinterest thinks you should celebrate Valentine's day was a post that made me laugh from a favourite foodie website The Kitchn (them of the popular story about "normal kitchens"). If you're sick of heart-shaped anything too, you'll appreciate it. (And if you like the site – you should, it's brill! – you might like to know about their upcoming cookbook.)

4.  The Stockwell Park Estate, a stone's throw from where I live, is often in the news for rather bleak reasons. But this week, Design Week published pictures of something more positive: this colourful new navigation system, made with locally designed tiles.

5. Meet Charming Baker. This cult British artist is responsible for my Valentine's non-card this year. I like the sentiment. It's a sticker and was acquired from an eBay-er in the US ("very rare!" apparently). I'm going to put it in a little frame I think. It was originally given away at a CB exhibition in Los Angeles. We've got a few of his paintings around the house and a print (I've uploaded them here and here on Pinterest) and you can see more of his stuff here - or buy the last remaining sticker for sale on eBay (for just a couple of dollars).

6. 90s revival? I defer again, I'm afraid, to Apartment Therapy. But this was just too good to ignore: they suggest we could be poised for a 1990s interiors revival and pontificate on how this look might be updated. Love it. You might also fancy browsing these spectacular 1990s copies of Living Etc. Anyone else remember the "Weekend in the life of..."series? I'm still on the hunt for early participants Annie & Prosper. If you're out there – holler!

That's me off till Monday. Tonight, it's a romantic night in with the start of House of Cards Season II (not seen it? Ohmygodit'sbrilliant. Kevin Spacey is so very bad and strangely sexy).

Oh, and if you're in London this weekend, it's the last couple of days of the Heal's Modern Craft Market. I went to the opening and it had some excellent stuff on show and for sale.

From left to right: Kangan Arora's bright cushions; Maxina Dragomirova's sexy seating; Fay McCaul's knitted table illuminations;

Post by Kate

Object of the day: Eduardo
Barba prints

Some different examples of Eduardo Barba's striking geometric prints have featured here before

The Seville-based artist, a trained architect whose schooling seeps into his work, has created designs with a sharp 50s feel but without cliche.

 Geometric Exercise 3

A Rum Fellow, whose incredible Peruvian chairs I wrote about last week, seem to be the only UK shop to stock his work, and they have picked out some beautiful pieces to sell – and for just £25 a-piece for an A3 print.

What do you think?

The Braille alphabet

Geometric Exercise 2

Find these prints and more at A Rum Fellow

Post by Kate

Before & after: Ikea mini drawer unit revamp

I've had these Ikea drawers so long that they no longer sell them (though they're in the ilk of the Moppe series). 

I put wheels on them back in the day, and thought often about painting them, just like the ones I overhauled in the bathroom – using odd old drawer knobs found on eBay and some white gloss paint. Years passed, procrastination flourished. Finally I have got around to fixing them up.

The drawers (almost) before, sad and naked 

Motivation came largely from an empty space in the bedroom where my make-up and general female paraphernalia needed to live. It had been in a large re-usable shopping bag for too long.

Also, I couldn't see what I was doing to my face in the mirror as the lighting wasn't good after dark. I dabbled with the idea of a giant Anglepoise kind of thing (like this, from Habitat/Argos), or an extendable wall light, but as the idea of the Ikea drawers came into focus, so did the far easier idea of topping them with a regular-sized Anglepoise.

The empty space in the bedroom, and bad make-up lighting

Anyway, first of all, here's the transformation. What do you think?

It was very quick and easy to do. Rather than using sticky varnish, I painted the drawers with two coats of tinted Colron Danish oil (Georgian Medium Oak, only because that was what was I had and I was too lazy to go shopping). You're meant to use at least three for more of a shine, but I gave them a little polish and thought they looked good already. If you've never used Danish oil, it's nice to use – you just paint it on, let it dry, then buff with a soft cloth. Ideally a lint-free one so you don't get a surface covered in soft bobbles.

The frame is painted with black Ronseal floor paint. I love this stuff. It gives a tough finish because that's what it's made for, it has a very soft sheen – softer than eggshell even – and you can paint it onto anything. Apparently you don't even need to prime the wood but I only read that bit after I'd already done it, using two-in-one primer and undercoat. Then two coats of the floor paint and it was ready.

I have it on good authority from a lighting designer that overhead lighting is rubbish for doing make-up: what you need is something directed at the mirror and reflecting back at you. Anglepoise-tastic. It also means that this corner of the bedroom gets a cosy glow at night now. And the lamp can illuminate the strange charity shop painting when not in use helping me to avoid over bronzing. The lamp is borrowed from downstairs, so the hunt for another is still on. I'm scouring eBay and Etsy with no joy so far. Any budget tips? Do share.

Meanwhile: dark, messy corner sorted. Now I just need to get greener fingers so the plant doesn't put the whole arrangement to shame.


Words & pictures: Kate

The Insider: remembering
Nest magazine

Today, designer and writer Andrew Pothecary writes an ode to his favourite defunct magazine, and one after this blog's heart...

The entire span of Nest magazine’s printed life lasted 26 quarterly issues. And it closed 10 years ago with its autumn 2004 issue. So why’s it worth remembering now?

The first issue. In mint condition, it might set you back over $1,000. Other issues are affordable!

The cover with orangey glitter glued over the cat litter trays in the featured room

It could be said that any quality magazine is part of a home’s interior (or any magazine despite the quality, if you’re not interior-conscious or perhaps a doctor’s surgery). There’s a reason a living room might have a coffee table or magazine rack. Just look at James Fox’s London gangster aligning the straight edges of his Playboy and 60s glass-top table in the film Performance for confirmation. (There are many other things to remember in that film, from slow motion shooting under the bed clothes to an acid attack on a Rolls Royce to a three-way gender-mixed-up relationship that includes Anita Pallenberg and Mick Jagger, but Fox does adjust his magazine, take my word.)

Nest was an interiors magazine with two differences that made it stick out, though: its content and its look. You can’t ask for more.
This issue had a laser-cut through the entire issue. Because you can

The magazine didn’t concentrate on designer or aspirational interiors. None of that well-groomed-model-in-a-kitchen-of-brushed-metal-surfaces, or reading-in-white-jeans-in-a-hammock-by-a-picture-window rubbish that blights people’s concepts of a lovely home. Nest took real homes – real nesting places – and celebrated our making of living spaces.

A spread from the feature on the interior of a low-income house in South Africa

It included a range of homes, and often fashioned by genuine characters. Whether they were architects or aristocrats, artists or even, strictly speaking, homeless. (For the latter, an ingenious living space made by one homeless man out of coke-bottle crates which he used like breeze blocks, complete with built in coke-crate shelving.) Or whether the spaces were small New York apartments, in traditional concentric-circle buildings in China, a longhouse in the Brazilian Amazon. Or for that matter, whether the interiors were in prisons, brothels, nuclear bunkers – or toilets.

This issue was contained in its own zippered plastic bag

A ribbon-tied – the ribbon stamped with NEST – and die-cut issue

Presenting them all in a magazine that wasn’t necessarily even cut square – trapezoid, rounded, laser-cut page or packaged in zippered plastic were all options for various issues. (Others included an issue tied with a ribbon and one with glitter stuck over the cat litters on the cover photograph – pictured above.)

The background design to the pages on an aristocratic home in the US

It’s possible your own home may not be as glamorous as the five-inked, full-colour, specially-cut issue itself. But among the pages, there were real homes, not structured as an anonymous interior designer had dictated, but subject to the wider vagaries of character, history, custom, individuality and finances. Alongside revealing worlds of architecture, ideas for interiors abounded, without so much as a how-to suggestion: cut-wood lined hallways, words duct-taped onto walls, mosaic-ed erotica in a country home. Or the polaroids of everyone who visits filmmaker John Water’s home.

Don’t expect all this to be presented necessarily with taste, by the way – one cover was a nude couple with scratch off underwear, another was a toilet with fifth-colour piss stains grungily yellow splattering the page. It was brought together – and self-financed – as a clear labour of artistic love by editor and publisher Joseph Holtzman. (In one attempt at a media consultation, in case the magazine would move under the auspices of a  publishing company, Holtzman is quoted – in Media Life Magazine in 2001 – as saying, “I walked out of the office. I thought, why would I listen to them? It was an ugly office and they had bad suits.”)

For magazine collectors or lovers, the run was a treasure and a joy. Apart from the physical “extras” of the magazine’s actual cut, the layout was idiosyncratic (wallpaper-patterned backgrounds and frames to pages, abundant use of colour behind or surrounding text generally). At first sight, I wondered if this worked. But once you became accustomed to the layout (one issue would do that) its strengths shone through.

What Nest said was, basically, “Your home is lovely”. Even if, in one article, that home was the final resting place of Napoleon’s penis.

By the way, if you are a magazine collector, as I write, the first issue (cover: the bedroom of a teenage fan of Farrah Fawcett-Majors) is now on sale from one secondhand book seller for $1,250. Other issues are available secondhand on the US eBay for around $15. Better get my first issue aligned properly with the coffee table – if only I had a coffee table and the issue didn’t have a value-deflating mark on the back.

Words & images: Andrew Pothecary