Oh how I love a good dose of Scandi-chic – it can inject a real calm, streamlined feel to interiors, whether it’s through the simple fabric in pretty red and white check, chic alpine flower prints or bold statement textiles that scream sophisticated style.
Having lived in Holland for a couple of years, I have long loved Dutch designs but more recently I have cast my net further afield and have caught a whole new generataion of Scandi designers that I just have to tell you about. As such, I have taken it upon myself to create a mini guide of designers to watch, places to find these gems and a couple of local haunts to try if you are on the hunt for a dose of Scandi –love (and we’re not talking strapping Swedish hunks in the sauna).
The good, the old and the ones to watch…
We can’t really talk about Scandinavian design without mentioning Verner Panton and Arne Jacobsen. Panton, made famous by his chair of the same name, used rich colours and soft lines to create his signature look, while Arne Jacobsen’s striking design and architecture is embodied by his famous Swan chair.
As for the young Scandi upstarts worth keeping an eye on, Sofie Refer and Jacob Staer – are two budding designers that are currently gaining a great deal of press thanks to their jaw-droppingly exquisite lighting accoutrements – in particular their glamorous chandeliers while René Hougaard who goes under the name of Dnmark – is definitley worth noting.
I have also fallen hook line and sinker for the Lily light by Janne Kytanen and Jiri Evenhuis. This is part of a new collection by Freedom of Creation called Materialise while this quirky Yes/No pillow by Nicolette Brunklaus is simple yet striking. See her unusual lampshade designs, reminicent of a Dutch Deborah Bowness
However, we must now move swiftly on to more of the good stuff:
As your first port of call in the Scandi design trail, it is worth checking out The Scandinavian Design Centre this website which has a good overview of Scandi design, however, if you are after fabrics with a difference, Finnish company, Skandium, runs its own sumptuous fabrics and daring design shop called Marimekko – a regular haunt for me – the only problem is deciding which fabric to choose from the extensive collection – I defy you not to love them all. Here a re a few of my pickings:
This Hetkiä fabric with black and grey pattern makes perfect wall candy art. Designed by Maija Louekari, it is very on trend – see my previous post on doodling and illustrations.
Try Unique Interieur for great lamps –
this delicious one, clearly inspired by Panton, looks good enough to eat!Likewise, this happy horse oilcloth, by Susanne Schjerning
is one of my latest finds, she is a serious contender for my top list of all-time great inspirational designers.
While this spring-influenced oilcloth, entitled family tree, by Trine Andersen can be snapped up through Ferm Living (which Trine founded) at around €25 a pop, I reckon it’s a bargain – I expect to have one gracing my kitchen table before too long.
And there’s more…
Nordic Style has all sorts from chairs and tables to fabrics and is great if you are looking for a starting point
Filippa and Co – despite a shop closure, they are still up and running and have a host of original pieces of furniture to tempt the pounds out of your purse
Dutch by Design is one of my faves
Absolut Form offers Danish inspired design
95% Danish, is another one worth favouriting – a fantastic cutting-edge Scandi designers’ site
Elias and Grace have the cutest toys for kids in the signature Scandi style
Scandi Living – another good resource with a host of links and info to designer sites
Ferm Living, as mentioned earlier is a veritable smorgasbord of delicious design treats to get your inspiration flowing…
So there you have it (for now). There are of course plenty of other fab places and if you happen to live in the south west then I recommend a visit to ‘Hanzel und Gretel’ on Brock Street in Bath.
Walking into the shop stuffed to bursting with cookoo clocks is the first treat, as well as the hand-crafted Austrian lace and other fripperies but if you go down stairs there is a little grotto type coffee and strudel bar where the Sound of Music plays and the lights twinkle…a secret space worth visiting.
I advise you to favourite these little beauties so if you are ever in need of a serious dose of design, you can get your fix!
I may have touched on this subject briefly in an earlier post but having just received the latest Cath Kidson catalogue through the post, I was amazed at the amount of products they now offer. Initially I was OK with the pretty fabrics and made-up bits n bobs such as the peg bags, laundry bags, and sofa coverings as they are the natural progression for a fabric designer (after all that is what she is, is it not?)
However, then along came the crockery. Cotton candy sweet knives and forks, gazebos, kitsch camping gear for festival luvvies who wouldn’t be seen dead in anything from Millets, God forbid! Then came the seasonal goods (I always worry when seasonal goods come along – it smells of saturation).
And now, she has gone and committed (in my opinion) the cardinal sin: her own range of toiletries.
So imagine, a day-in-the-life of a die-hard Cath Kidson fiend:
She showers using her Cath Kidson shower gel before stepping out wrapping herself in her Cath Kidson towel, before slathering on her Cath Kidson body lotion and slipping on her Cath Kidson bathrobe. Of course, she selects a pretty floral Cath Kidson tea dress and slips on her Cath Kidson cutie-pie pumps (I don’t think she does underwear – yet).
She then proceeds to prepare a yummy lunch using a range of Cath Kidson crockery and glass ware, which sits atop her Cath Kidson oilcloth tablecloth, along side matching napkins and chair coverings. Before the guests arrive, she gives the dog his dinner, and he curls up in his rather flowery Cath Kidson dog basket. The guests arrive into a flurry of roses and dots, cowboys, stripes and stars. When everyone has gone home, she can put everything in the washing machine to be washed with the new range of Cath Kidson laundry products. Phew.
Ok, so maybe you wouldn’t have EVERYTHING Cath Kidson, but you could if you wanted, and that’s the point. I compare this to Ikea overkill: you know when you visit someone and you notice that flat-pack aura that radiates from every piece of furniture, the lighting, the rugs, the kitchen, the bedroom, even the plant pots have that ‘cloned’ look.
Ikea used to be a good place for getting really cheap and simple looking furniture – great for those kitting out a new home on a budget, but it’s not about being individual. How can it be when you can walk into a million homes across Europe and see the same print hanging on the wall, the same saucepans boiling away on the same cookers. It’s just not what good interior design is about.
I take the pick n mix ethos: if there is something you see that you like, sure, go ahead and buy it. But stop there. Put down the vase. Replace the storage box thingy on its shelf and walk away. Ask yourself if you really need it. You probably don’t.
Now I’m not critising the spirit of enterprise, but I can’t help feel a little dismayed. I picture the creative team at Cath Kidson sitting around the meeting room table. Someone has noticed that there is a new niche in the market for Cath Kidson wine. Yes, imagine it, says the product design manager, it would go really well with the gazebo – it matches and what’s more, it completes the picture of a rural ‘vintage’ idyll.
Well, thankfully this hasn’t happened yet, but I’m betting my bottom dollar that it has probably popped up in the design meetings at some point. So where do you stop? I fear Ms Kidson is saturating the market with sickly sweet ‘pseudo vintage’ loveliness and in doing so, the charm of the original fabrics disipates, and with it goes style, credibility and, my favourite, individuality. No one wants to have the same as everybody else.
So I have one last question: when’s the fragrance out?
Shhhhh! I have stumbled across the most delicious fabric websites and can happily declare my love for Japanese prints! I found a website called reprodepot.com which is a really good resource for quirky prints and for bag makers like myself, will be a really good place to snap up textiles that others will coo and ah over but not be able to find! Don’t tell anyone, ok?
Just scroll down for more beautiful images…
Flower power – with their retro influence, these will make the most beautiful and eye catching cushions. I plan to buy a few yards and get some summery influenced bags stitched together too.
These bunny prints make me feel like spring is sprung! Indulge in Easter madness…
Yet more flowers: these remind me of the wallpaper in my old Sindy house. Really kitsch.
And the baby blue cloud fabric would make the most fabulous pillow cases….dreamy.
This one even has a cute name: Bupu and Pupu.
Ok, so I am a writer by trade, but heavens above, I am LOVING the new typographical textiles and interiors inspired by the written word and the quirky anime-style illustrations to be found imprinted across furniture and wallpaper.
This is not a new concept and many textile designers use words and doodles to inject a dose of cartoonish creativity into their designs. But there is a new focus on fresh and quirky art such as this fab wallpaper from Graham and Brown, called Scape.While Cole and Son’s range by Italian designer Alberto Fornasetti is so beautiful and unique.
Emily Readett Bayley has become well known for her ‘posh graffiti’ and with the likes of Banksy commanding millions for his quirky and somewhat political statements, this rough and ready, spray painted look is set to be hot in the world of interiors this year (though if you are like me, your home is already stuffed to bursting with little adages, quirky illustrations and celebrations of writing).
In the latest issue of livingetc, they have showcased a number of wonderful illustrative items inspired by arty doodlings.
Another designer to catch my eye is the oh so fabulous Deborah Bowness. She creates these wonderul photo real prints on fabric and wallpaper – which will make a stylish addition to any home. I am currently coveting the book images for my office – I can but dream…
Spring is sprung (well practically) and I have been looking about for some inspiration that is on trend for the season but also fantastically feminine and floral. Fortunately, as the title of this post suggests, bows, blooms and butterflies are all HUGE in the world of fashion and interiors this season. If you fancy jazzing up your spring wardrobe with something that is a key piece for Spring, then you can’t go far wrong pinning on a huge corsage – while there are lots dotted about in the high street shops, I have found some good sources – check out VVRouleaux for luxe ribbons and flowers – ok so you may pay a bit more but it will totally be worth it. They also have these pretty boxes of butterflies – another hot fave this season.
Another prettiness you can’t fail to notice are our feathered friends who are appearing on everything from dresses to wallpaper. Dutch by Design have captured the essence with these beautiful bird Salt and Pepper holders designed by Chris Koens and if that wasn’t enough beautiful bird cup set by Bud Design are just too cute.
While Ohs and Bows (see top image) are a great source of ribbons and corsages but as a US company, you will have to pay shipping.
My advice is to take advantage of this feminine frivoity before sludgy greys and neon brights take over again. Why not nip out with your camera and snap your own inspiring images, after all nature is the originator of most things in fashion and interiors.