Wednesday, 30 April 2014

notes à la mode 47

The summer wardrobe: the blue (chambray) shirt
I wouldn't call myself a big shopper, because (luckily) with age I have learned that it's better to think matters through before buying. I like keeping a list of things that I need with a few I-want pieces at the bottom. For this summer I have already added two pieces to my wardrobe, two very different kimono blouses that I believe I will wear for years - I love the lightweight of both. One of them has more volume and almost looks like a coat. On my list of things that I need are a pair of ballerina flats and a blue shirt, either linen or chambray. For some time I have been gathering inspirational images so I thought, why not create a post with some thoughts.

Light blue linen shirts always appeal to me but this year I'm thinking about going for a chambray (the first three images show a chambray: a plain weave fabric / criss-cross weave). There is something about the softness and lightweight of the chambray shirt that appeals to me, much more than the denim shirt (a twill woven fabric / woven diagonally).
Last year I added a blue linen Massimo Dutti shirt to my wardrobe, a classic piece that I hardly took off. I wore it so much that there is now a slight tear on one of the sleeves. I would love to buy another one that has the same cut but it's no longer available. I wore it without ever rolling down the sleeves, which makes me wonder if I should go for a short-sleeved shirt this summer. When I saw that Madewell chambray shirt, in the right photo below, I immediately fell for it.

Last weekend I was doing some shopping when I saw a blue cotton and linen shirt in H&M for a very good price. I cannot find it on their website but the one Gisele is wearing has the same vibe. Shirts like these are timeless and you can pair them with pretty much everything.
I have a similar mustard yellow clutch and pairing it with a blue shirt, in any shade, never fails.
Depending on how picky you are, finding the right shade of blue shirt can be tricky. This winter I actually did roll down the sleeves of my Massimo Dutti shirt and over it I wore an oversized navy V-neck. Sometimes I felt the colour of my linen shirt was just a bit too light for winter, or there was too much contrast between its tint and the navy. I like the slightly darker colour of the shirt designer and stylist Natasha Goldenberg is wearing below. It's a colour that works well for all seasons and I would like to see it in my wardrobe. I wouldn't exactly call it an I-need item but definitely I-want!
photo credit:
1: Elin Kling for Marciano via Rowe / 2: Gilles Bensimon for Glamour US, January 2014 | Elsa Hosk wearing a chambray shirt by Calvin Klein, styled by Anne Christensen / 3: Madewell / 4: Madewell Spring 2014 lookbook via Pinterest / 5: SplashNewsOnline via Tumblr / 6: The Sartorialist / 7: Style du Monde

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

house tour: a writer's retreat in Vietnam

Have you ever been invited to a home where you enter through the roof? This retreat in the northern part of Vietnam, outside the hill town Tam Dao (as in the Tam Dao National Park), belongs to writer Nguyen Qui Duc. He built the house, a New York-style loft, to be able to escape the city life of Hanoi, where he runs a cafe and art gallery. His idea was "to recapture the feeling of the pre-war Vietnam of his childhood," as it says in the feature of the July 2013 issue of House & Garden.
Duc says the locals still ask him when he's going to finish the house. By that they are referring to a front door. To enter the house you have to walk on paths that lead you through the lush foliage on to a concrete platform, which is the roof. There is the door, a sliding glass pyramid with a trap door underneath. It takes you into the rustic living area below.
Local builders and artisans were employed to build the house. My favourite part of the feature is when Duc explains the crooked kitchen shelves, which can be seen in a small photo below. He says he wasn't around to supervise this particular part of the house and when he approached the carpenter about the shelves the only answer he got was that a shelf was a shelf. It doesn't occur to him to change them.
photo credit:
Anders Schønnemann for House & Garden, July 2013 (photos of magazine pages taken by me)

Monday, 28 April 2014

space: a minimalist living room

This minimalist and neutral living room belongs to graphic designer Tanja Vibe of ATWTP, a Danish-Swedish graphic design studio based in Copenhagen. It's from a feature in the Danish version of Elle Decoration. I find it so refreshing to see a Scandinavian home that has natural looking wooden boards, not boards that have been painted white.

I'm finishing my course today and am about to make more latte to start my final exam. I hope you're having a good start of the week!

photo credit:
Line Klein for Elle Decoration DK | styled by Mille Collin Flaherty via Jelanie

Friday, 25 April 2014

red shades pulling me down

After yesterday's dose of indigo textiles I woke up this morning finding myself drawn to red shades (I almost went through all the indigo and navy blue photos I have in my files and magazines!). Maybe I overdosed on the ethereal qualities of the blues and needed the warmth of reds to pull me down.

Lately I have been reading Laura Ashley - the Colour Book: Using Colour to Decorate Your Home, which was published back in 1995. It came to me unexpectedly. The mother of one of my son's friends brought me a bag of books. I hadn't even asked her if I could borrow any, we were just talking and the next thing I knew she had pulled some books from her shelves and brought them to me. The decorating style in the book is different from my personal style, but the information on decorating with colours is valid and I find it very inspirational.

I'm not someone who has decorated much with red. Maybe it's the dominant quality of the colour that has held me back. However, I'm always drawn to earthy reds, to the spicy reds of India and the terracotta of Italy. That top photo, which is part of a Moroccan styling by West Elm, represents these shades very well (here is another shot that shows the contrast of neutrals).

If I were to decorate with reds, for example in our living room, I think I would choose a cushion with a hint of red and a neutral colour for balance, for example this Hilltribe Pink/Red from John Robshaw Textiles. Of all the pillows in their souk section, this was the one which immediately drew my attention. I'm picturing it on our stone grey sofa with other patterned cushions in perhaps burnt orange mixed with neutrals. I doubt I would choose any red vases or bowls, I would rather choose an artwork or a rug with a hint of red.

If you are scared of using red then simply use flowers to bring some red into your home every now and then. It adds a little passion, just for a few days until the flowers start to fade.

Have a wonderful weekend!

photo credit:
1: West Elm styling via Lotus & Fig / 2: John Robshaw Textiles / 3: Jeroen van der Spek | stylist Cleo Scheulderman

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Malian textile designer Aboubakar Fofana

I have been in the mood for blue or indigo home accessories, mainly textiles. Every time I leaf through a magazine these days I seem to search for these colours for inspiration. One morning, while enjoying my latte, I was reminded of Malian textile designer Aboubakar Fofana and his gorgeous indigo textiles, which are naturally and sustainably produced.

Aboubakar Fofana was born in 1967 in Bamako in Mali and has spent most of his life in France. When he returned to Mali from France he realised that the tradition of naturally dyeing with indigo was at risk of being forgotten, so he tracked down the old masters to learn from them. Thanks to Fofana their skills - using natural indigo and vegetable dyeing - has been preserved. Later he received a grant to study with Japanese master dyer Akiyama Masakazu. It was in Japan that he worked on and refined his techniques.

He now divides his time between Bamako, where he has an atelier, Paris and Tokyo, and travels all over the world, sharing his skills and knowledge. He is a calligrapher as well, he studied the art in Japan.
The green leaves of the indigo plant produce a range of blue shades, both light and dark, which are clearly visible in Fofana's work. In the below image you see a naturally dyed indigo silk scarf. The top image shows a cloth being dipped into a natural indigo vat. First it comes out green until exposed to air, which enables it to slowly gain its indigo colour by oxidation. (If this is something that interests you then perhaps you want to read Indigo: In Search of the Colour that Seduced the World by Catherine E. McKinley.)

Each item in Aboubakar Fofana's collections is made with natural materials, combining West African craft and contemporary design. Fofana's production is sustainable, he uses no chemicals that harm the environment. He uses organic materials and fibres, preferably organic Malian cotton, spun and woven by hand. He is both the weaver and dyer, using Malian and Japanese techniques. Besides working with indigo he also works with Malian traditional Bogolan mud-cloth dye.

There is a mystical and a spiritual element to his work, where West African and Japanese cultures meet. He talks about this in an interview with Selvedge magazine:
He … likens the approach to natural indigo dyeing in Japan and west Africa as remarkably similar considering the physical distance separating the cultures. 'Japanese culture has Shinto and west Africa animism; they are exactly the same … In west Africa you say a prayer to the indigo gods to bless a new born indigo vat, in Japan you offer sake to the indigo god to bless a new vat,' he explains of the rituals that inform the process. (Jessica Hemmings)
photo credit:
1, 6-9: Lauren Barkume Photography / 2-3: François Goudier via Atelier Courbet / 4-5: via Selvedge

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

reclaimed materials in an East London home

In the Life&Style section of the latest Elle Decoration UK issue there is a 'at home' feature with British designer Lucy Bathurst of Nest Design. She lives in a 19th-century house in East London and has mainly designed it with reclaimed materials. I fell flat for her breakfast nook and bedroom textiles.

Her kitchen is made from old pine, copper panels, slate and reclaimed glazed bricks. She refers to it as her homage to a kitchen at Ardkinglas House in Argyll that was designed by Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer. It belonged to the best friend of her father.

Lucy collaborates with London-based architects and salvage experts Retrouvius, transforming vintage textiles into bespoke creations. 'It's so satisfying to see old or discarded materials used in a contemporary context,' she says. 'You can take something tired and make it sing again if you reinterpret it in the right way.' (p. 151)

In the dining room there are Mid-century chairs by Kai Kristiansen.

She designed the bedroom textiles herself. The cushions are made from Japanese kimono fabric and velvet. The headboard is upholstered in antique Indonesian textiles. Above it you see parts of antique oriental silk embroidery.

photo credit:
Jake Curtis for Elle Decoration UK, May 2014 via their Facebook page (these are not images that appear in the magazine)

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

drawing with light 34

photo credit:
Elena Gallotta

Monday, 21 April 2014

Barbour: celebrating 120 years

Are you a Barbour fan? This year the company is celebrating its 120 years in business, which started back in 1894 when John Barbour began supplying oilskins and garments to sailors in South Shields. The brand is still a family company and it has established itself as a classic; a go-to brand for those who choose quality to enjoy their outdoor living lifestyle.

If you have a Barbour story you can share it on Twitter and Instagram using #Barbour120. The price is a Barbour Originals classic wax jacket to those who submit the best entries every week until the end of June.

Every time I see images from their ad campaigns I miss my old Barbour waxed jacket. It was similar to this one and I wore it until it had become so torn on the sleeves and pockets that I had to give it a rest. I loved it!

I know some day I will buy another one (isn't it obligatory if you live in the UK?!!) and if I were to choose now I would probably go for the Barbour Belsay waxed jacket, but I could change my mind in the fitting room. What I'm sure about is the women's Barbour waxed cotton baker boy hat. I want one!

For spring/summer 2014, Barbour's Beacon Heritage collection continues its collaboration
with Savile Row tailor, Norton & Sons under the creative direction of Patrick Grant.
photo credit:
1, 3-8: Barbour / 2: Simon Armstrong

Friday, 18 April 2014

Happy Easter!

Yesterday I sat on my bicycle to get me a few things for Easter: two bouquets of white tulips, a magazine, berries and chocolate … no Easter eggs for me, thank you very much. It's a beautiful spring day in the West Midlands. I'm taking my coffee in my study room, watching the tulips embracing the sun - I love white tulips. Adding to the relaxing atmosphere in here is our male Persian cat sleeping on the windowsill.

Do you have any plans for Easter? I think I will just be enjoying some lazy days with the kids. Depending on the weather I wouldn't say no to a drive to Stratford-upon-Avon or Warwick, or both. Happy Easter!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Thursday, 17 April 2014

cherry tree blossoms on a gorgeous spring day

Today I had another spring post in mind (this will be the last in my 'mini series') but the photo above changed my mind. My son, who is only 8 years old, is the photographer. Yesterday, after a day out in the countryside (the part of Derbyshire we saw was beautiful) he was feeling a bit car sick so our friends dropped us out by his school and we walked home to get some fresh air. All day he had been using his binoculars to watch birds and he was telling me that he wanted to own a video camera. Close to our house there is this gorgeous pink cherry tree in full bloom and I had to stop to take a few photos. When he asked if he could photograph it I said sure. I adjusted the manual settings for him, told him how to keep the exposure "correct" and handed him the camera. Because of a slight wind there was some movement in the other photos he took (his composition was great) but this one was just perfect. It was a pure joy watching him with the Nikon in his hand.

Have a wonderful day!
photo credit:
1: my son / 2-4: Lisa Hjalt

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

from the Marimekko atelier

I will be spending the day somewhere in the Derbyshire countryside … think sun, walks, lake and picnic. Just wanted to wish you a wonderful (spring) day with these images from the Marimekko atelier.

photo credit:

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

space: a workspace in Mallorca

Sometimes I have such a difficulty deciding which space to feature in my Space posts. My folders are pretty much bursting and I'm adding more images every single day! I have started to dig a little deeper to reach images that have maybe been there for too long, spaces that I have almost forgotten. This is one of them, a workspace in Danish fashion designer Malene Birger's house in Mallorca. (The house is for sale.) I like the simplicity of this room, the all-white look, and how the vivid colours in the paintings grab one's attention. The house is located in the southwest part of Mallorca, in the valley of S'Arracó in Andratx. It's a renovated two-storey farmhouse. Did I mention the pool?

photo credit:
Gori Salva for Lucas Fox via Est Magazine

Monday, 14 April 2014

house tour: a 1920s Hollywood Hills charm

In my Hermès blanket post on Friday I wanted to include the above photo, and another one further below, but I couldn't separate them from this house tour that I have kept in my files for too long. This 1920s Hollywood Hills home belongs to interior designer Mark D. Sikes (his blog is a constant inspiration) and his partner Michael Griffin. I remember falling flat for that top image: the sunlight coming in through the window and the colours of the two patterned cushions styled with the neutral Hermès Avalon blanket.

Beautifully arranged bookshelves where every book and item has its place.

Sikes and Griffin have created a stylish, elegant and balanced home with attention to details. Everywhere you look there are beautifully decorated shelves, tables and trays - so many wonderful details to take in. It is exactly details like these that help turning a house into a home. They make your home more personal. Note also the chinoiserie items throughout and the striped rugs.

As I'm using images from two different sources, Lonny and House Beautiful, I couldn't include all of them and rather chose to leave some rooms out. Simply follow the links at the bottom to view more.

The breakfast nook: a white tulip table and director-style chairs.

Striped rug in the kitchen.

The kitchen island and sitting area filled with books.

The neutral colours of the living room, except for the blue and white flowerpot and garden seat, create relaxed atmosphere. The natural earthy elements - a fiber rug, a woven basket and rattan chairs - are clearly visible and on display are decorative objects and books. The faux-tortoiseshell and brass cocktail table is an Oscar de la Renta design.

The zebra rug on the floor and leopard-print cushion on the leather chair in the corner give an edge to the space. The chinoiserie cabinet and ornate console table add a contrast and complete the room.

Two of Sikes's interior style influences were the homes of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta and designer Bunny Williams in the Dominican Republic. You only have to look at this space in Oscar de la Renta's home to see the influences clearly.