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Latest News – Matisse Exhibition, Tate Modern, April – September 2014

The Cut-Outs exhibition at the Tate Modern explores Henri Matisse as a pillar of modern art and alternative design.

This momentous show takes you through the final chapter of his career in where deteriorating health led him down a new creative path of ‘carving into colour’. From this, his series of remarkable cut-outs was born; a decision that arguably ensured his legacy became a household name and his style a triumph in modern design.

Blue Nude

Brief History
In his late sixties, when illness prevented Matisse from painting, he began to cut into painted paper using scissors. As time passed, and popularity for his new work increased, Matisse chose to work with these innovative cut-outs instead of painting: he had invented a new form of modern art. Initially conceived as a unified whole, London celebrates the first time in 50 years that the works have been united.

The Show
Showcasing a stunning array of 120 works made between 1936 and 1954, the exhibition allows you to get lost in his thoughts and methodology. Featuring footage of the master at work, the show illustrates each piece in detail. Daring and energetic, the cut-outs combine a simple concept with a fascinating idea. This exhibition marks an historic moment where these glorious pieces from around the world can be seen side by side.

Footage of Matisse at work

The exhibition is cleverly arranged to complement his work; The Snail 1953 is shown alongside its sister work Memory of Oceania 1953 and the exhibition boasts the largest number of Matisse’s famous Blue Nudes ever exhibited together.

Memory of Oceania 1953

     The Snail 1953

Hosted in the iconic Tate Modern, London will exhibit the collection before it travels to New York in September to the Museum of Modern Art. After this, these fabulous works will be returned to galleries and their private owners from around the world.

 

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RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014

Chelsea Flower Show has taken place every year (bar a few during the World Wars) since 1913 and on Friday we were lucky enough to visit this prestigious and world famous event. Battling our way through the crowds we managed to make our way around the magnificent show gardens and also experience the wonderfully vibrant displays on offer in the Great Pavilion.  Below are a few of our favourites.

On entry we were immediately struck by The M&G Garden, designed by Clive West, with its contemporary take of a paradise garden.  We are informed this is a space that uses water, shade and planting for sanctuary and contemplation and was in invented by the Persians more than 2,000 years ago.  It is certainly a place we would like to escape to!

Simplicity and relaxation were also top of the agenda for the Telegraph Garden with their take on an Italian garden.  We loved the clean straight lines of the grassed area, contrasting against the curves of the hedges and angular chairs.

We were then drawn to the jewelled colours of the delicate flowers and stone sculpture of the Himalayan Rock Garden.

Many of the gardens incorporated water features within their designs and one that grabbed our attention was the semi-circular water sculptures in the Positively Stoke-on-Trent garden. We also loved the clean lines and high tech materials used.

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Designs of the Year 2014

Each year the Design Museum unveils its nominations for the Designs of the Year – showcasing exceptional international design which ranges from fashion and furniture to digital and graphic innovation. We couldn’t wait to head down and see the cutting-edge talent on show this year.

This year 76 nominees were chosen to present their designs. The diversity between each is astounding and truly represents the best in global creativity. Nominees include world-renowned designers as well as start-ups and university students; the diverse range of designs include ‘The Dumb Ways to Die’ app which encourages rail safety to sustainable floating schools. Some of our other favourite entries include:

The PET Lamp Project, designed by Alvaro Catalan de Ocon, makes use of discarded plastic bottles that have been washed down the Amazon River and are then weaved into lampshades.

Shoes designed by Tracey Neuls aim to be casual, dress shoes and sports shoes all in one. They are made with a piece of reflective material which turns them from classic day and work shoes into an additional safety tool for cyclists.

The Totemic Collection, designed by textile graduate Sadie Williams, consists of an array of stiff A-line dresses that are made out of a textile that she developed, known as ‘Jumbo-lurex’. Williams transformed the normally flimsy lurex by heating, printing and embossing the material.

The Lego Calendar is a wall-mounted time planner intended for a studio. Designed by Adrian Westaway, Clara Gaggero, Duncan Fitzsimons and Simon Emberton, the idea is that the colour-coded bricks represent time spent on projects. The calendar can also be programmed through smartphones to sync to online planners.

The Designs of the Year 2014 exhibition runs from 26th March through to 25th August. Category winners will be announced next month and then the overall winner chosen in May. With the immense diversity of innovative, forward-thinking design we certainly would not like to be the ones to choose a winner!

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Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith, Design Museum

Seen by many as a living, breathing embodiment of what British design is all about, it seems long overdue that Sir Paul (as he’s been known since 2000) has his very own retrospective at The Design Museum at Shad Thames. We headed over last Friday to see what more we could find out about this quirky design demigod.

Upon entering the exhibition space, we were greeted by hundreds of images of not only Smith’s work but also his inspirations – ranging from drawings and notes to magazine spreads and photos taken by Smith throughout his career. Covering the walls from floor to ceiling and stretching far down the length of the room – this entrance space acts as a real assault on the senses, the sheer size and vibrancy of this space highlighting a career that is as long as it is varied.

The exhibition invites the visitor right into the centre of the design process, providing mock-ups of studios and offices, as well as providing spaces that act as a representation of the designer’s mind. Curators have reconstructed the interiors of seminal spaces, such as his first Nottingham shop (opened 40 years ago), the Parisian hotel room where he held his first fashion showcase, as well as his personal office and studio spaces. Brilliantly chaotic in its (dis)organisation, the latter two rooms are filled to the brim with unusual objects and paraphernalia that Smith has amassed over his years in the industry, including Warhols, Hockneys and all manner of eccentric prints making several appearances throughout too.

After marvelling at the detail of these mock-ups, we got a glimpse of the ‘Collaboration’ space, where Smith’s famed collaborations with leading British and international brands were documented. Smith isn’t just a fashion designer – he’s worked on a huge breadth of products, ranging from David Bowie vinyls to tennis rackets, Mini cars, and even teapots for Thomas Goode. A diverse range of products, united by his signature playful approach to colour and pattern.

The ‘Collaboration’ space and the mock-up rooms illustrated how Smith is inspired by the entire world around him. However, it is fashion that he’s best known for, and it is the fashion that’s at the heart of this exhibition. We were guided down an illuminated corridor that served as a runway of sorts for Smith’s designs, dating back to the start of his career, which then transitioned into a darkened room where an immersive film – ‘A day in the life of a fashion show’ showcased the sheer enormity of scale for a Parisian catwalk show.

 

With ‘Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith’, the visitor is given a unique and highly personal insight into one of the giants of British design. After attending the exhibition, it felt like Smith had been in the room with us the whole time, guiding us round with his wife Pauline (to whom the exhibition is dedicated to, almost like a love letter!) Whilst some designers can often seem distant and hard to reach, this exhibition reveals the personal pleasures and inspirations of a Nottingham boy, who, even after 40 years in the industry, still gets giddy about modern design and mischievous uses of colour.

We don’t doubt for a second that Sir Paul will still be surprising us all for many years to come.

‘Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith’ is open until June 22nd 2014. 

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Pearls Exhibition at the V&A

Last month we visited the Pearls exhibition held at the Victoria & Albert museum in London and were completely blown away!

On display were over 200 pieces of jewellery and works of art showcasing the extraordinary variety of colour and shape of natural and cultured pearls. The exhibition examined how pearls have been employed over centuries in both East and West as a symbol of status and wealth, how tastes vary in different cultures as well as the changing designs of jewellery with pearls. It really was a sensational exhibition.

A rare selection of natural pearls from the Qatar Museums Authority Collection

Most recently, we have seen a resurgence of pearl finishes influencing fashion trends from 2013 going into 2014. Just look to Alexander McQueen’s Autumn/Winter 2013 runway show featuring pearl embellished masks and fabric and Thakoon’s intricate Halloween Skull Mask made exclusively for a Vogue charity auction in October 2013. It was only a matter of time before this trend started creeping into interiors.

Designs from Alexander McQueen’s AW13 Collection

As we look to the trends for the rest of 2014, we expect to see a lot more pearlescent and metallic finish fabrics alongside in-laid mother of pearl furniture pieces. Use pearl in your home to add glamour and a subtle shimmer that will exude elegance and sophistication without being overbearing or in any way tacky. The trick is to not be afraid – pearl is a natural product with a tone that suits any interior scheme. Try introducing accessories with a pearlescent finish e.g. lighting and mirrors, this is a great way to highlight the trend in your home in an understated way.

Organised in partnership with the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), the exhibition explored the history of pearls from the early Roman Empire to the present, and is a highlight event of the Qatar 2013 Year of Culture.

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Hillgate’s Winter Window

With Christmas only a few weeks away (yikes!) we thought we’d get into the spirit of things with the latest Shutterly Fabulous competition. Their ‘Winter Window’ competition asks us to decorate a window in a home or office with a festive Christmas theme. Post an image of it on your blog, and let them know by either:

• Tweeting @Shutterly with the link to a post, including the hashtag ‘#shutterlyxmas’

• Post the link to the Shutterly Fabulous Facebook wall

The entries are all available to view on Shutterly’s Pintrest board – http://bit.ly/1iCm0g7 and are being judged by the lovely Zoe Brewer and Ellie Tennant

Here’s our attempt – we used Shutter samples to create a sort of ‘feature window’ and accessorised them with baubles, fairy lights, a mini Morsø stove and Yankee Candles to make it extra Christmassy. What do you think? Don’t judge us too harshly!

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LDF13 – In Conversation with Richard Rogers at 100% Design

In between milling around stands at 100% Design, we were fortunate enough to listen to legendary architect Richard Rogers in conversation with ICON magazine editor Chris Turner.  Coinciding with a retrospective of his work at the Royal Academy, the event celebrated Roger’s most important works and examined his influences. It also explored the criticisms he’s faced as an architect, and asked what the future holds for the modern city. Here are some of our favourite moments…

  • Rogers believes that his Dyslexia, whilst hampering his reading and writing, had given him an acute sense of spatial awareness, and it was this heightened sense that makes him good at what he does.

Millennium Dome

  • Before designing the Pompidou he was mainly designing single story buildings, not too dissimilar to his famous Wimbledon house that was built for his parents.
  • Rogers explained how it was his business partner and friend, Renzo Piano, who convinced him to enter the competition for the Pompidou at the very last minute.

Pompidou Centre

  • We heard how President Mitterrand said to him at the time of building that the Pompidou would be regarded as completely French if the Parisians loved it, and if they didn’t – “we can blame the foreigners”.
  • Rogers’ primary concern at the moment is sustainability, and has huge concern about the housing crisis in London, which he describes as ‘the worst since 1945’.

Leadenhall Building

  • He also spoke about his associations with the Labour Party and working with Ken Livingstone in London. Aware of the feeling within the audience that there were a series of ‘lost opportunities’ when it came to the Labour Government and housing, he spoke at length of the success of redeveloping brownfield sites in the capital, and thinks this has to continue.
  • When it comes the future of London, Rogers predicts more bikes, with cars banned from the centre of the capital (cars will also run on oxygen!) More parks and green spaces will be cultivated as a result of a car ban, and a green ‘web’ will spread across the city.
Lloyds Building

As the conversation drew to a close, Rogers was asked which of his projects was his favourite. ‘They’re like my children, so I could never possibly answer!’ was his reply, but interestingly, he mentioned the Pompidou – his first ‘big’ project – and thought the creation of public space was particularly important.  So maybe it’s not so much the buildings he creates, but the spaces he invents that are – for him at least – his greatest legacy?

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LDF 13 – Hillgate at The Dock

Heading down to iconic interiors destination ‘The Dock’, we were excited to see what the West London canal-side had to offer for this year’s LDF. First stop on our mini trail was the Etsy pop-up marketplace which showcased a lovely array of handmade goods by six British Etsy designer-makers from graphic jewelry to stationary and geometric patchwork pouffes.

Tom Dixon Shop

Entering the world of a pioneering British designer, our next pit stop was the domain of Tom Dixon. Trailing down the steps to water level, we were first introduced to the latest collaboration with adidas which premiered new typologies in luggage, footwear and apparel. Eagerly we then continued our journey into the shop; here we were met with a fantastic cross section of the best and most iconic Tom Dixon furniture, accessories and lighting pieces as well as some new innovative launches such as the new Y chair display.

Tom Dixon Lighting display

Tom Dixon Accessories

Wishing we could purchase each and every item, we especially loved the new solid brass finish of the Beat Light along with the plastic Fresh Fat chair.

Tom Dixon – Beat Light

Tom Dixon – Fresh Fat Chair

Exclusively represented in the Tom Dixon Shop, Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek’s new collection of recycled steel and wood production pieces also impressed and would make an amazing focal point in any room.

Piet Hein Eek at Tom Dixon

Our final stop was Moooi’s showroom for their ‘Unexpected Welcome’ exhibit. Guiding you through 4 different room settings, the interior scenery was furnished with items from the current collection as well as some gorgeous new pieces. The playful Altdeutsche Cupboard from Studio Job caught our eye thanks to its intricate display of hand painted symbolic images and the Farooo Lamp from Marcel Wanders reminded us of a beautifully oversized chess piece, making us feel a little like Alice in ‘Through the Looking Glass’!

Moooi – Altdeutsche Cupboard

Moooi – Construction Lamp

Moooi – Set

Moooi – Farooo Lamp

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LDF 13 – Shoreditch Design Triangle

Heading out in the rain might not have been the most inspiring way to start our evening at the Shoreditch Design Triangle, but we endured, and it was definitely worth it. Here’s what we discovered.

SCP – The Special Relationship was all about celebrating a new wave of American design.  Here we witnessed lush bean bags by Donna Wilson, beautiful leather stools and simple shelving units by Lostine, and a fantastic variety of lighting by the likes of Bluff City, Superordinate and Rudi.

Donna Wilson Bean bag

Having finished our Shoreditch Triangle branded beer and small plates of chilli, we headed off in search of the Very Good & Proper (VG&P) showcase at Two Columbia Road.  Here we checked out the sleek designs of VG&P which were positioned alongside an eclectic mix of 70’s inspired furniture. We loved the Alfred Hendrickx rosewood sideboard, Scandia slatted chairs and an amazing light which took centre stage in the showroom window.

Alfred Hendrickx Sideboard

Two Colombia Road Lighting Display

Last, but by no means least, we headed over the road to Decode, who had taken up residence in The Looking Glass Cocktail Club.  Here we were met by a ‘ring master’ who unveiled a secret mirror fronted door, which lead into the main exhibition space and bar.  New works from VW+BS, Samuel Wilkinson and other leading London designers were dotted around the room, but our focus was soon distracted by the equally inspiring cocktails from their amazing mixologists.

Decode Window

If only we could have stopped time and managed to get around all of the 50 venues taking part. At least there are still a few more days left for us to take another stroll and see what else is on offer.

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Maison et Objet Paris 2013

Last week we were living the French lifestyle as we visited Paris for Maison+Objet.  This was a unique opportunity for us to gain insight into the latest trends in decoration, furniture, home furnishings, and much more.  But as time was of the essence we had to be strict with our schedule and we were not disappointed with what we saw.

Having pre-planned the halls we wanted to visit, we set off ready to discover and explore.  Our first stop was Hall 5a, which was full of interior decoration inspiration.  Here we were transported a few months as we found ourselves in the middle of the festive season.  Below are a few brands we visited.

Yankee candle – Mirroring their American heritage the Yankee Candle stand was looking very fresh with a crisp white backdrop and hints to America.  They also kept to the Christmas theme though their delightful Red Apple Wreath candle which definitely made us feel as Christmas was just around the corner.

Riviera Maison – With Christmas music playing, and an amazing Christmas tree taking pride of place, the Riviera Maison stand displayed how to make your home warm and cosy through mixing textured sofas with luscious cushions and throws.  They even had small snow globes on offer for those making purchases.

Sia home fashion – Known for their faux flowers, we were drawn to the huge arrangement of flowers to the side of one of their displays.   Other arrangements were also on show, but we loved the colours of these ones (insert picture)  The stand also mirrored the reoccurring theme of pairing wood and natural materials across their homeware collections.

Loving all things to do with the kitchen, the next stop was Hall 3, Cook & Design.  Here we found we wanted to come away with everything from every stand.  Below are a few highlights

JosephJoseph – if only we could always have a kitchen looking so organised and colourful.

Revol – This French company knows how to create a stir.  The products are beautifully designed, functional, innovative and colourful, and we would love to show them off at our next dinner party.

Royal Crown Derby – showing how to impress your guest when entertaining the Royal Crown Derby stand looked remarkable.  We also loved being able to see the full Royal Baby collection.

Other favourites were Mauviel, Iittala and Le Creuset – who were showcasing their new colour collection.

Finally on our list was Hall 2, Home Textiles, which again did not disappoint.  From subtle natural shades to bright stripes, there was something to please everyone.  A couple of brands that stuck out were:

LinenMe, a small third generation Lithuanian company that still uses the family weaving loom that has been passed down through the generations for certain products.

Linum, a lovely Swedish company that has designed, developed and produced textile items for more than 40 years. The brightness and collection on the stand drew us in and put a  smile on our face.

All in all it was a long, exciting day, were we saw magnificent design, shared insight and walked A LOT!  January can’t come quick enough as we await the next show.  Until then, we will just have to enjoy the delights coming out of the London Design Festival!

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