I have been coveting some new china recently so this week I set about tracking down some of the pieces that have caught my eye.
I’m a big fan of Emma Bridgewater and her polka dot range is just super sweet – John Lewis stocks the entire collection as well as the rather swish Guzzini crockery – crisp white ceramics with a dash of coloured perspex to brighten it up.
Another cute piece I rather like is the Janice Tchalenko blue flower jug again you can pick one up at John Lewis.
Now I am a Flickr obsessive, I have found some amazing crockery collections: here are some of the inspirational images that make me go mmmmmmmmmmm:
And of course you need some cool coasters to put your pretty mugs on, ne c’est pas? Pedlars has some uber funky vintage versions – but I have my eye on the record coasters – totally retro – sit one of these cool letter mugs on top and you’ll be rocking.
So we have our china, now we require a table cloth –Lisa Stickley does a beautiful range of textiles – I particularly love this red floral oilcloth and these unusual ‘Posh Note’ napkins…
All I need now is some tea and cake…
Phew, that’s nearly it, for now. I just want to add a couple of ladies into the mix.
Charlotte Perriand was perhaps one of the most influential furniture designers of the early modern movement. She has been credited with bring the industrial age to the world of furniture design and was one of the designers involved in the creation of Le Corbusier’s chaise lounge. She also designed the infamous ‘Stacking Chair’ seen around community centres, bars and bistros the world over.
Patricia Urquiola, a Spanish designer, cut her teeth amongst such purveyors of fine design as Achille Castiglioni and Eugenio Bettinelli and now designs such delights as the Fat Sofa for B & B Italia below.
Ok, Shin’s a fella, but together with Tomoko, this Japanese twosome have produced some of my favourite all time products (though not all of their creations are furniture) however, I love the way that they ‘zjuj’ up everyday objects, such as lights and salt shakers, with elegance and humour. I find the simplicity of their wire chair inspiring (though perhaps it doesn’t make me want to veg out in front of the telly, more sit uncomfortably and comptemplate the difference between a line and a curve. Hmm.
Bigging up the Brits
Of course I can’t forget my own kind – yes, fab furniture is not just for the Fins, Danes, Germans, Italians, French and Spanish. No siree bob. Us Brits are coming, so hold on to your spanners and bendy bits of plastic…
Jasper Morrison is a cheeky cockney designer renowned for his ascetically elegant, quietly humorous style . I am totally digging’ his Cork chair.
Likewise, I quite fancy sliding my bottom on Ron Arad’s weirdly erotic Voido Rocking Chair– spotted one at Heals. Rather! The architect designer (who is actually Israeli but let’s call him an ‘adoptive’ Brit) is well known for his quirky shapes and use of various materials.
Here’s one more for you: Ross Lovegrove. His Go chair is reminiscent of something you would find Sigourney Weaver straddling in Alien. Almost bone like. But I love it!
There are of course countless designers that have contributed to the richness and diverse products that have gone on to inspire modern design, so this is just a smattering. However, these are my personal faves. Hurrah for chairs!
If your appetite has been whetted by my mini-history of chairs, below are a couple of websites worth visiting:
Welcome back to the second installment of my short history of chair design. I have also found a great little chair blog that is worth visiting for up to date info on, well, chairs over in the old blogroll, so check it out.
Back to business…
Charles Eames was a clever bugger. Not only did he revolutionise how we see furniture today but this American designer was the creator of the rather famous Lounge Chair 670 and Ottoman 671. In fact many of the most recognisable chairs around are regurgitated variations on his original creations. He also championed the use of moulded plywood as seen in his beautiful Eames 670 chair.
Arne Jacobsen was one of Denmark’s most influential 20th century architects and designers. His exquisite Swan and Egg chairs, were testament to his passion for modernism and his love for Scandinavian simplicity. He also created one of the most recognisable chairs in existence, the Series 7 chair, and his Egg chair made a memorable appearance in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In fact, he was such a prolific designer, chances are you will either own a Jacobsen-inspired piece or at least covet one!
Verner Panton must’ve had a penchant for hallucinogenic drugs as his futuristic designs couldn’t have been created by a-two-pints-and-a-packet-of-peanuts man. Verner was a total master of plastic and his furniture has been studded across popular culture since he bent his first bit of the bright stuff. Naturally, he was a Dane (see a theme developing here? I tell you it must be something in the water.) Although I cannot afford one, I would just kill to get my paws on an original. Sadly it will never be so I’ll have to settle for a reproduction – fortunately, Purves and Purves sell them in five delicious colours for around £165.
Hans Wenger has also made him name synonymous with outstanding furniture design. Having begun his career as an assistant to Erik Møller and Arne Jacobsen, Wegner branched out on his own and created such classics as the Wing chair seen here.
Moving into 21st century design
Following up such inspirational design icons was always going to be a challenge and thankfully there are some real contenders for the modern furniture design crown such as the charming Terence Conran, who not only founded Habitat back in the 1960s but produced a load of talented offspring who are also a dab hand at the old design malarky. And lest us not forget the imitable Philippe Starck, whose Louis Ghost chairs can be seen adorning the chicest of boudoirs.
Other designers that float my boat include Peter Karpf who dreamt up the awesome the Tri Chair – both ergonomic and sustainable as it is formed from one entire piece of wood, ticking all the must-have green boxes required in modern design.
Described as one of the most European of Japanese designers, Toshiyuki Kita is famous for his ‘Wink’ chair which was typical of the loud design aesthetic popular in the 1980s.
We had to get a Spaniard into the mix, and who better than Molina. This designer has created a whole host of iconic pieces, perhaps none more so that the nature-inspired, Leaf Chair.
San Giovanni Piretti is an amazing Italian furniture designer, Piretti crafted the now ubiquitous ‘Plia’ folding chair – I was bought one for Christmas in the 80s and never realised what a design classic it was.
What can I say about chairs? Well. We sit on them – a lot. We whine about them at work. They can give us so much comfort, yet they have been known to cause some serious aches and pains – so why do we have such an ongoing love affair with the humble chair?
I have long been an admirer of ‘la chaise’ and cannot pass a furniture shop without stopping to drool over the latest ergonomic offering, so with this in mind, I have decided to compile a short modern history for all you furniture fans out there, to give you the low down on the all time best bottom candy.
To begin at the beginning…
Many years after we swapped the hard rock for the patch of moss, some bright spark decided that we were getting a bit grubby on the floor, and it was playing havoc with granny’s lumbago and the chair came into existence (I would just like to point out that this is not historically accurate) and thank God it did.
All hail the Bauhaus
The 20th century was awash with designers, many of whom came from an architectural background, and all were fixated on designing the most fabulous chairs. For the uninformed, Bauhaus is the name given to the particularly pertinent era of design which began in Germany in 1919 and ended in 1933. This design school created a number of amazing furniture designers and sparked a period of experimental and innovative design which has clearly inspired the majority of contemporary furniture creators.
Gerrit Rietveld never actually attended the Bauhaus but was one of the architecht / designers that inspired many who did. He was an early member of the Dutch Modernist Design Movement (De Stijl) before going on to create the Schroeder House in Utrecht, Holland. However, he is probably most famous for his Mondrian-inspired Red/Blue Chair – very stu-stu-studio line ‘n looks a bit of a beast to sit on!
Luwig Mies van der Rohe worked in an architectural firm before turning his hand to furniture, and good job he did as we wouldn’t have the fabulous Barcelona chair as seen propping up the bums of the entrepreneurs on Dragons’ Den. He was actually the director of the Bauhaus from 1930 until it closed in 1933 when the war kicked in and he scarpered to the US.
Marcel Breuer – Hungarian Breuer was a top architect and is famous for his rather quirky steel designs such as the Cesca chair below. A firm favourite of executive types that like to play with stress-bustin’ office gadgets while musing the movements of the stock market.
Le Corbusier an architect by profession is for many the most influential yet most maligned architect of the twentieth century. Famed for his ideas on urbanisation, he was a true modernist and many of his ideas were used to inspire the post war regeneration efforts. I love his Basculante chair below and of course his celebrated chaise lounge…
Alvar Aalto was a bit of a revolutionary and yep, you guessed it, a Scandinavian, well Finnish actually. His work typifies the best of 20th-century Scandinavian architecture, and he was one of the first to depart from the stiffly geometric designs in favour of a more ergonomic expression. I love his simple stool which is as popular now as it has ever been.
Eero Saarinen is more well known in design circles but your average Joe may not be familiar with the name. Another Fin, Saarinen – not to be confused with the evil overlord from LOTR – created the beautiful Tulip Chair below – simple yet beautiful.
Stay tuned for Part Deux – women designers and Brits. Vive La Chaise!
It’s spring (apparently) and I have been getting that outdoorsy vibe – which is certainly helped along by the fact that there are suddenly loads of knats in the garden, slug trails appearing over my lovely tulips and flies buzzing about the place. To this end, I have been looking about for insect-inspired interiors and have come across some great little finds…
Another great buggy find is from Thornback and Peel who do these delightful tablecloths and such delights as cabbage-printed tea towels…and I am also hankering for these rather quirky etched glasses which fit snugly into their own special holder – I know they aren’t strictly insect inspired, but get a nice sticky shandy in them and you’ll soon attract some friendly garden ants! They are from Garden Trading and if you hurry, you can take advantage of the discount on offer until midnight – a generous 20% off – just enter E003 at the checkout.
The Pier also has a good range of outdoor accessories like this beautiful glass wasp catcher – so no more swatting your scones in a panicky fluster as the bugs attack your cream tea. They too are offering a 20% discount all week.
I absolutely love this Helena V & A apron which makes me want to make jams just looking at it, and of course, to complete the country kitchen look, a good dose of gingham works every time – C & H is an excellent source for buying cheap but quality dress making fabrics – gingham, is only £3.99 a metre! They have a reasonable haberdashery to boot.
I have also had my eye on this rather fetching oilcloth shopper (below) which is great for drizzly old Blighty but I have only managed to locate it at Hippy Chix Shop – which is (of course!) a US site but it’s a snip at $15. So you can’t argue with that. Simply divine!
So there you have a small dose of insect-inspired interiors for your delication…I will of course add more as I find them but for now, enjoy what little sunshine we are having…