My pick of Decorex 2016

My design week began on a high hearing Christine Van der Hurd in conversation with Hatta Byng. She told her remarkable story, explained her creative process, how the designs are realised in Nepal and gave us the story behind awesome (both in size & ambition) carpets such as the one she designed for 'Annabel's' nightclub.

 Vanderhurd flatweaves

Vanderhurd flatweaves

 Ottoline

Ottoline

 Annabel's carpet by Vanderhurd

Annabel's carpet by Vanderhurd

 'Song of the Nightingale'

'Song of the Nightingale'

Ottoline, a new Dutch company by Ottoline de Vries, creates wallpaper & fabric inspired by famous art work or a combination of them. My favourite, 'Song of the Nightingale', is from her Ballets Russes collection, and inspired by ballet costumes  created by Matisse.

Soane
 Soane Musuem

Soane Musuem

 Stony Point 1972

Stony Point 1972

soane flower

Sir John Soane's Museum display was curated by interior designer & architect Ben Pentreath. His signature plaster casts, the interesting plant in a terracotta pot & decorative coral were all there. I particularly enjoyed his amusing list of design pit-falls in his talk on 'English Houses', amongst which were, 'hotelitis' (leaving a pile of hand-towels for your guests at home), building in technology (in his example, to accommodate a particular vacuum cleaner) and using beige (so as not to offend anyone, and pleasing no-one either). He said it!

 

 

Common Room launched their new wallpaper, 'Stony Point 1972' designed by The Grantchester Pottery, (a collaboration between artists Giles Round & Phil Root). The line-hatched style brush-marks are The Grantchester Pottery's translation of an artistic technique used in the early twentieth century by the Bloomsbury Group in their interiors. Then, in 1972 Jasper Johns used this technique in his paintings made in his studio at Stony Point, New York. 

 The Water Monopoly's 'sherbet' bathroom

The Water Monopoly's 'sherbet' bathroom

I'm all for the return of pistachio bathrooms, but The Water Monopoly have gone one better and created 10 coloured ceramics for bathrooms, including baths, basins, taps, mixers and lavatories. 'Sherbet' and 'Powder' were beautifully curated at the show.

 Naomi Paul

Naomi Paul

Naomi Paul's crocheted lights can be custom made to any size and come in a range of beautiful threads. Simple and elegant- I'm a fan. 

 John Boyd Textiles 

John Boyd Textiles 

Ever original, John Boyd Texitles, weavers of horse hair.

 Fine Cell Work

Fine Cell Work

More interesting threads, from the very fine social enterprise, Fine Cell Work that trains prisoners in creative needlework.  

John Boyd Textiles

And to finish, a rug from Swedish Company Vandra Rugs, and braided jute runners in gold threads and geometric shapes by Élitis, distributed by Abbot & Boyd

 Vandra Rugs

Vandra Rugs

 'Sequoia' and 'Itasca' runners by Élitis

'Sequoia' and 'Itasca' runners by Élitis

Between the Taygetus and the water

Artemis Cooper calls it, 'A Monastery built for two'. To me, Paddy and Joan Leigh Fermor's house in Kardamyli, Greece is also perfection. Five years on from Paddy's death, the house is gathering funding to make repairs and run the writer's retreat that he and Joan intended it to become when they left it to the Benaki museum in Athens. For the time being, the Leigh Fermor's kind and devoted housekeeper Elpida Beloyannis opens the house to visitors. Suspended in time and awaiting for life to return and blow through it, it is still the embodiment of lives well lived, and a place of magic and great beauty. 

Last December, my Greek husband and I and our two young daughters anchored our trip to Mani in the Southern Peloponnese around a visit to the house. We arrived late on the afternoon of the 23rd December, and thanks to Elpida's generosity, were able to take as much in as the light would allow.

Paddy and Joan had searched South West Greece for a piece of land on which to set down, work, entertain and end their nomadic lifestyle.  Here, under the great hulk of the Taygetus mountain that for centuries kept Mani isolated and remote from the rest of Greece, they found it. Paddy, describing it to Debo Devonshire wrote, 'Not a house in sight, nothing but the two rocky headlands, an island a quarter of a mile out to sea with a ruined chapel, and a vast expanse of glittering water, over which you see the sun setting till its last gasp. Homer's Greece, in fact.'

 Homer's Greece

Homer's Greece

Taking the coastal road from Kalamata that runs to Aeropolis in the inner Mani, you reach Kardamyli and then drive out of it again onto Kalamitsi, before dropping down onto a dirt road that leads to the house. Paddy is responsible for the confusion- he didn't like the sound of Kalamitsi (meaning place of the reeds) in English, so always referred to their location as the larger village next door. Following the Benaki's instructions, we arrived at those unprepossessing double grey doors at the appointed time. My husband had stood there once before, then aged 18.

 The entrance

The entrance

Elpida met and led us into this place of remarkably natural, simple beauty. One where every detail is the result of two creative, kind, erudite, urbane, exacting minds. 

The garden is generously layered; it leads you places and then brings you out somewhere new to sit in wonder at the immensity of nature before you. The paths and verandas are all laid with patterns of smooth pebbles, many designed by Paddy, and the steps and ledges are made with off cuts of marble that he brought back from a nearby quarry in the truck loads. Encircling it all are the olive groves and cypresses.

 The house catching the late afternoon sun

The house catching the late afternoon sun

Evidence of friends and their personal journey are built into the fabric of the house which was designed together with the architect Nikos Hatzimichalis. The main artery of the house is a cloister-like gallery of carved stone arches that leads onto the main rooms of the house, and the eye out to the cypress rimmed cove where they would swim. It is reminiscent of a Byzantine monastery, perhaps because Paddy was fortified by his periodic writing stays in monasteries across Europe, and they provided him with pause from the great speed and exuberance with which he led his life. In this open gallery, a faded mural of a cat is set in an alcove, (stray cats were always welcome), drawn by their friend Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, as were others about the house.

The bedrooms are simply decorated with beds and two-tiered side tables all made out of wicker, the best and most elegant of materials in my opinion, and I hope that they remain during the house's next incarnation. Joan's corner bedroom is particularly wonderful as the windows look out onto the cove, and it is light and airy. The back of her bathroom door is pasted with postcards and other scraps of inspiration.

The idea of visiting the house derived from my desire to see for myself the central room of the house - what John Betjeman called, 'one of the rooms of the world' - a sitting room/library/dining room. I was especially interested in the sunken turkish seating area that forms a part of it. The interior designer, Jaime Parlardé (he and his wife were great friends of the Leigh Fermors), whom I had long admired, used this part of the room as inspiration for his own house in Marbella. The room within a room, flanked on three sides by square framed windows, overhangs the garden and gives you the illusion that you are perched above the sea. It invites conversation, reading, drinking, and to simply lie there floating. It also seems to me that this 'hanging glass box' was built perhaps with the memory of the room he slept in during his memorable stay in Plovdiv recounted in The Broken Road. There he describes, 'a low wide divan reached by a shallow step', 'bright squares split up into many panes through which the sun streamed', 'a cigar-box lid ceiling', and 'a secret, calm, airy world'. 

 Jaime Parlardé's Marbella sitting room inspired by the Leigh Fermors

Jaime Parlardé's Marbella sitting room inspired by the Leigh Fermors

The rest of that luminous and remarkable room extends up and out from this cosy area.  It seemed to me that the room takes much of its energy from the outside that flows in through the long tall windows, and that it was as elemental as its setting. There are great long bookshelves set into the wall either side of the windows, a white divan covered with cushions in Ikat and Suzani fabrics running the length of the far side of the room under windows and books, and another cigar box ceiling. The armchairs are loosely covered in pale blue ticking fabric, the lampshades brown paper or pale yellow card. The stone fireplace with its rounded plaster chimney, like the one in his study, is modelled on the ones Paddy saw at Baleni in Transylvania. 

The room also served as a dining room, with a heavy circular table beautifully inlaid with coloured marble in the form of a sun. One of my favourite details is that the books nearest it are all reference books, to support theories and discussions and settle disagreements over the table. 

Leaving the serenity of this setting and the well-being that overcomes you here was challenging, and next morning we returned via the path that links the house to the Kalamitsi Hotel and on to the village of Kardamyli. The hotel is still run by Paddy and Joans' friends Theano & Nikos, the kindest and warmest people imaginable, who opened up our room for us and put on a fire when we arrived a day earlier than I had reserved in my broken Greek a few weeks before. Over a breakfast she sat and told us about her friends, the immense fun they had had, and what lay before us in the inner Mani, (Kardamyli is considered outer Mani). 

 The towers of Mani

The towers of Mani

Out of the hotel garden, we took a small grassy path bordering the sea and cypresses and shaded from the winter sun by olive trees. We crunched enormous shiny acorns underfoot and just before reaching the house, come across the  fortuitously consecrated chapel of  'Aghios Michalis' (Paddy was known as Michalis in Greece). Here, the saint and Paddy's name-day always were celebrated.

 The path between the Hotel Kalamitsi and the Leigh Fermor's house

The path between the Hotel Kalamitsi and the Leigh Fermor's house

 Aghios Michalis

Aghios Michalis

The house and garden inspired me like no other. Possibly because Paddy does too, but either way it is masterpiece, and rightly considered the most beautiful house in Greece. Before leaving for Gerolimenas my husband took a walk on the little private beach, and brought back for me a beautiful, smooth, pale grey stone. It now sits on my desk as a talisman.

A beautiful, pale grey stone lifted by my husband from the cove in front of the house now sits on my desk as a talisman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A space of their own

Creating a room for a child is a study in joy. It's about creating a place for them to feel happy and safe. And it goes beyond the element of surprise, that all good interiors contain, to invite a touch of magic. 

I love the tender colours that Laura Fantacci has used in her daughter's room below. I'm not a fan of colour gendering (who is?) and prefer this kind of subtler, more interesting colour palate. 

 Laura Fantacci's daughter Greta's room (Laura Fantacci of Wearing It Today & Wardrobe Icons). 

Laura Fantacci's daughter Greta's room (Laura Fantacci of Wearing It Today & Wardrobe Icons). 

 On the right is the Liberty Tana Lawn Claire-Aude fabric 'L' that Laura used. I recently used the same fabric in violet tones for a client's daughter's room.

On the right is the Liberty Tana Lawn Claire-Aude fabric 'L' that Laura used. I recently used the same fabric in violet tones for a client's daughter's room.

The Liberty Clare-Aude fabric is a lovely choice for the cupboard - it reminds me of Beatrix Potter's watercolours. Hanging a curtain up in place of a door also softens the look of the room, as too many doors can be claustrophobic. 

 Detail of Greta's cupboard, and her friend Coco's original hanging space created by her mother Sarah Tomczak, editor of Red. For a small but beautiful hanging space, find a branch and hang it up with cord!  They can use it for fancy dress costumes when they are older. 

Detail of Greta's cupboard, and her friend Coco's original hanging space created by her mother Sarah Tomczak, editor of Red. For a small but beautiful hanging space, find a branch and hang it up with cord!  They can use it for fancy dress costumes when they are older. 

I find the bold & brilliant use of fuchsia shelves and canary yellow braided chairs from Mexico refreshing in this room for two boys, Antoine and Oliver. 

 I adore the bright yellow chairs and fuchsia shelves giving this space bags of character

I adore the bright yellow chairs and fuchsia shelves giving this space bags of character

As well as surprise,  familiarity also plays an important role in a child's room. In my own daughters' rooms I hung wooden, German 'Hampelmänner' of Max & Moritz (from the eponymous book by Wilhelm Busch). They were mine as a child and allow us to talk about German books and characters, as well as creating a sense of continuity and story. 

 My own daughters' bedroom in our old home. The light-switch is from Nuline and you paint it yourself.

My own daughters' bedroom in our old home. The light-switch is from Nuline and you paint it yourself.

 The painting above the fireplace hung in the girls' father's room when he was a child. 

The painting above the fireplace hung in the girls' father's room when he was a child. 

Mushkane is a wonderful French/Nepalese company that creates colourful pieces using boiled felt, perfect for a child's bedroom. I use their storage baskets for my daughters' soft toys.

A room that is uncluttered and can easily be tidied away is also high on my wish list. I find the simplicity of the room below inspiring because each element has been chosen with care & creativity. A child could go from toddler to teenager in a room like this. 

 I love the simplicity of this bedroom - the rug on the floor, the quirky chair, the clever storage for toys. It is peaceful and inspiring.

I love the simplicity of this bedroom - the rug on the floor, the quirky chair, the clever storage for toys. It is peaceful and inspiring.

My favourite of all has to be this children's room as a 'house within a house', created by architect Alberto Marcos Flores of Estudio AMPS for his three daughters in their Madrid home. Here the kids can explore their own relationship with the space around them. 

  Photo by Pablo Zuloaga

Photo by Pablo Zuloaga

 LH photo by Pablo Zuloaga. Coffee cup light by Ingo Maurer, painting by Alberto Corazón, chair by Vitra and mobile by Pablo Saiz.  RH photo by Maria Primo de Rivera. 'Mouse Table' by Alberto Marco Flores for  Ninetonine. 

LH photo by Pablo Zuloaga. Coffee cup light by Ingo Maurer, painting by Alberto Corazón, chair by Vitra and mobile by Pablo Saiz.

RH photo by Maria Primo de Rivera. 'Mouse Table' by Alberto Marco Flores for Ninetonine. 

Alberto also designs wonderful children's furniture such as the 'Mouse Table' above, and the 'Desk House', created for Ninetonine (ninetoninekids.com)

  Photo by Jara Varela

Photo by Jara Varela

 Photo by  Maria Primo de Rivera. 'Desk House' & 'Caterpillar Stools' by  Ninetonine , designed by Alberto Marcos Flores.    

Photo by Maria Primo de Rivera. 'Desk House' & 'Caterpillar Stools' by Ninetonine, designed by Alberto Marcos Flores.

 

My pick of Decorex 2014

 Blackpop's stand, showing their 'Duprez' and 'Reader' fabrics and wallpaper. I didn't know them before the show, but will keep an eye out now for where I can use their vintage inspired designs. 

Blackpop's stand, showing their 'Duprez' and 'Reader' fabrics and wallpaper. I didn't know them before the show, but will keep an eye out now for where I can use their vintage inspired designs. 

 My favourite designer, John Stefanidis. Among many things, he's a master of blue and designed these cushions for Fine Cell Work

My favourite designer, John Stefanidis. Among many things, he's a master of blue and designed these cushions for Fine Cell Work

 Fermoie's by now familiar, but ever fresh selection of lampshades. 

Fermoie's by now familiar, but ever fresh selection of lampshades. 

 Wonderful Vanderhurd fabrics. May suggest to a current client with plans for a Mexican/Moroccan feel 

Wonderful Vanderhurd fabrics. May suggest to a current client with plans for a Mexican/Moroccan feel 

 I loved Nina Campbell's Tini Table Boler Shagreen in red lacquer. £275.  

I loved Nina Campbell's Tini Table Boler Shagreen in red lacquer. £275.  

 Jennie Moncur, 'Pink Admiral' in progress

Jennie Moncur, 'Pink Admiral' in progress

 My favourite piece from the show has to be this huge Saharan mat sourced by Luxeform. The price tag is just as big because there are now so few in circulation. 

My favourite piece from the show has to be this huge Saharan mat sourced by Luxeform. The price tag is just as big because there are now so few in circulation. 

 Amy Kent's delicate new carpet design, 'Waterfall' in wool & art silk. Would fit happily into either a traditional or contemporary room.

Amy Kent's delicate new carpet design, 'Waterfall' in wool & art silk. Would fit happily into either a traditional or contemporary room.

 John Boyd textiles weave horsehair. Best of all is the glorious effect when it is used for walling.  

John Boyd textiles weave horsehair. Best of all is the glorious effect when it is used for walling.  

 I'd quite happily live in a room decorated in C&C Milano's 'Apecar' fabric in orange, just as their stand was. 

I'd quite happily live in a room decorated in C&C Milano's 'Apecar' fabric in orange, just as their stand was. 

 

 

 'Reader', 'Casa Cielo' and 'Chapelle Noon' fabrics & wallpaper. www.blackpop.co.uk 

'Reader', 'Casa Cielo' and 'Chapelle Noon' fabrics & wallpaper. www.blackpop.co.uk 

 Bridie Hall & Ben Pentreath (Pentreath & Hall)'s 'Falling Cubes' & 'Tetrahedron' trademark designs for Fine Cell Work

Bridie Hall & Ben Pentreath (Pentreath & Hall)'s 'Falling Cubes' & 'Tetrahedron' trademark designs for Fine Cell Work

  Liberty's 'Nesfield Collection' - their latest range of furnishing fabrics inspired by British landscape architect William Nesfield.     The sofa is covered in Floral Mawston Meadow Cottom Velvet in Velvet Pollen. 

Liberty's 'Nesfield Collection' - their latest range of furnishing fabrics inspired by British landscape architect William Nesfield.

The sofa is covered in Floral Mawston Meadow Cottom Velvet in Velvet Pollen. 

 I didn't know Rapture & Wright's fabrics (sold by Redloh House Fabrics) before yesterday, but I'm already a fan.

I didn't know Rapture & Wright's fabrics (sold by Redloh House Fabrics) before yesterday, but I'm already a fan.

 New comer 'A Rum Fellow' has a beautiful aesthetic and an admirable story of social enterprise.   They work with skilled weavers in Guatemala to create vibrant and intricate designs that personally I like best as cushions, but which can also be incorporated directly into furniture. 

New comer 'A Rum Fellow' has a beautiful aesthetic and an admirable story of social enterprise. 

They work with skilled weavers in Guatemala to create vibrant and intricate designs that personally I like best as cushions, but which can also be incorporated directly into furniture. 

 These tapestries by British artist, (& creative director of Vitsoe), Jennie Moncur, were stunning. Here, 'Orange & Lemons' & 'Peaches & Cream'.   See www.jenniemoncur.com for more of her work

These tapestries by British artist, (& creative director of Vitsoe), Jennie Moncur, were stunning. Here, 'Orange & Lemons' & 'Peaches & Cream'. 

See www.jenniemoncur.com for more of her work

 Luxeform's meltingly beautiful wild silk carpets. Their wonderful sheen is a completely natural result of the silk used. I'd have them all in a heartbeat! 

Luxeform's meltingly beautiful wild silk carpets. Their wonderful sheen is a completely natural result of the silk used. I'd have them all in a heartbeat! 

 Eley Kishimoto won 2nd prize for best stand at Decorex 2014. It really was v striking.

Eley Kishimoto won 2nd prize for best stand at Decorex 2014. It really was v striking.

 I would never tire of Bert & May's splendid tiles.

I would never tire of Bert & May's splendid tiles.

 De Gournay's lovely set piece

De Gournay's lovely set piece

 Thanks for another great show. See you in 2015!

Thanks for another great show. See you in 2015!

This great apartment in Athens...

I am hugely looking forward to sharing these photos with you. They were sent to me by a friend looking for a shoot location in Athens, and who came across this extraordinary apartment.  

 Entrance to the apartment through a beautifully crafted door. I adore blue ceilings - its as if you are walking into the sky.

Entrance to the apartment through a beautifully crafted door. I adore blue ceilings - its as if you are walking into the sky.

 More and more I enjoy the humility of  simple kitchen cabinetry. I feel that it somehow would ensure that I always cook simple, wholesome food. Kitchens date so quickly - but not this one, I'm sure. The floor is one often seen in Greece - small pieces of stone laid together and then polished. 

More and more I enjoy the humility of  simple kitchen cabinetry. I feel that it somehow would ensure that I always cook simple, wholesome food. Kitchens date so quickly - but not this one, I'm sure. The floor is one often seen in Greece - small pieces of stone laid together and then polished. 

 It's not the floor in the photo above, but rather the kitchen of my aunt's house in Paros, Cylcades. But it gives you an idea of how it is made. 

It's not the floor in the photo above, but rather the kitchen of my aunt's house in Paros, Cylcades. But it gives you an idea of how it is made. 

 Again, it is the simplicity and humility of this room that strikes me- the muted colours, and the beautiful lattice work of the window. 

Again, it is the simplicity and humility of this room that strikes me- the muted colours, and the beautiful lattice work of the window. 

 The wooden herringbone floor and blue hive shaped ceiling is so much the character of this room

The wooden herringbone floor and blue hive shaped ceiling is so much the character of this room

 I love the detail here- the glass shelf on top of the radiator, the quiet accessories & mirror, exposed copper pipes and the black tile trim

I love the detail here- the glass shelf on top of the radiator, the quiet accessories & mirror, exposed copper pipes and the black tile trim

 The terracotta walls, the dappled light and sparse furniture makes this an infinitely relaxing bedroom

The terracotta walls, the dappled light and sparse furniture makes this an infinitely relaxing bedroom

 If you want a room to appear larger, try hanging the curtains across the whole wall either side of the window, as here. 

If you want a room to appear larger, try hanging the curtains across the whole wall either side of the window, as here. 

Zagoroxoria, Greece

Here's more from the Easter trip I wrote about last week. From Metsovo we climbed further & higher into the Pindus mountains, close to the borders of Albania. The region of Zagori, northwestern Greece, contains 45 villages that are collectively known as Zagoroxoria. The charm of these remote and therefore largely untouched stone villages is already beyond imaginable, but is further intensified by the natural beauty of the Vikos gorge. The reserve is vast, dramatic, cut by crystalline waters, dotted with small chapels and monasteries, and like its villages, refreshingly unspoilt by the trappings of tourism. 

 Climbing above the Vikos gorge. Down below our flower carpeted picnic spot

Climbing above the Vikos gorge. Down below our flower carpeted picnic spot

 Vikos gorge. My husband couldn't resist the freezing turquoise waters, and jumped right in

Vikos gorge. My husband couldn't resist the freezing turquoise waters, and jumped right in

 Papingo, Zagoroxoria

Papingo, Zagoroxoria

An exhibition of portraits by Leonidas Papazolglou, taken over a century ago, was a lucky find in the village of Monodendri. His photographs, 2,500 in all, document the people of Kastoria and its vicinity at the time of the Macedonian struggle. I love the way this couple hold themselves, and each other. Plus their dress of course.

 Portrait by Leonidas Papazoglou

Portrait by Leonidas Papazoglou

 Door ornament, Zagoraxoria

Door ornament, Zagoraxoria

 Icon & incense holder outside a church above the Vikos gorge 

Icon & incense holder outside a church above the Vikos gorge 

 The traditional pathways of Zagoraxoria, 'Monopatia'. After which the hotel at Ano Pedina is named.

The traditional pathways of Zagoraxoria, 'Monopatia'. After which the hotel at Ano Pedina is named.

We stayed at Monopatia Resort- a cluster of buildings owned by one family and now restored by a descendant into one large, lovely hotel. 'Monopatia' refers to the stone footpaths (literally, 'single path') that are typical of the villages. The food that they serve here is truly extraordinary, (the owner previously ran a celebrated restaurant in Athens), with much of it foraged from the surrounding areas.   

 Mushrooms & 'greens' foraged from around the Vikos gorge

Mushrooms & 'greens' foraged from around the Vikos gorge

 Our room at Monopatia Resort

Our room at Monopatia Resort

 Breakfast by the fire

Breakfast by the fire

 Beautiful hand-painted tray hung on the wall, Monopatia Resort

Beautiful hand-painted tray hung on the wall, Monopatia Resort

 Wonderful, evocative painting on wood, Monopatia Resort

Wonderful, evocative painting on wood, Monopatia Resort

 Ano Pedina

Ano Pedina

 Flowers planted in feta pots, Ano Pedina

Flowers planted in feta pots, Ano Pedina

 The woods surrounding the Vikos gorge

The woods surrounding the Vikos gorge

 Abundance everywhere

Abundance everywhere

 Love these sunny colours

Love these sunny colours

 Papingo, the highest and last village

Papingo, the highest and last village

Metsovo, Greece

A few years ago my Greek husband, small daughter and I went on a magical trip that took us from Athens, passing through Delphi, Karditza, Meteora, Metsovo, Zagoroxoria, Ionnina and finally on to visit family in Corfu. In the next three blogs, I will write about that trip taken over Easter, and of the wonderful colours, light, fabrics and ideas it introduced me to.

The village of Metsovo, high up the in the Pindus mountains in northern Greece, is famous for its embroidery, cheeses and wine. It's those traditional fabrics- dark, thick, turgid, rough to the skin and quite clearly of cool, mountainous climes- that I've posted here. The fabrics and colours typical of Metsovo followed us on to Zagoroxoria (next week's blog). Used liberally in hotels, they are clearly representative of a whole region, but derived from this small town.

 The heart of Metsovo 

The heart of Metsovo 

I lost myself a good while in the upstairs shop of Boúbas Apostólis. He sells a large variety of antique fabrics and clothes from different local sources, all with a good tale behind them.  

 Boubas Apostolis' shop is cave of fabulous textiles

Boubas Apostolis' shop is cave of fabulous textiles

The Katogi winery owned by the Averoff family should not be missed. We spent a luxurious night in the adjoining hotel; a huge room complete with a bottle of their celebrated house red for drinking by its fireplace, and these beautiful cushions and throws, typical of Metsovo. 

 Bedroom at the Katogi Averoff Hotel & Winery

Bedroom at the Katogi Averoff Hotel & Winery

Here are some more wonderful examples, albeit appallingly photographed! 

 Metsovo rugs

Metsovo rugs

 Patterns that echo those of the Caucasus 

Patterns that echo those of the Caucasus 

 Subdued colours 

Subdued colours 

Here is my absolute favourite- a couple of ottomans used in hotel in Zagoraxoria. They are fashioned in a Metsovo style using the same thick wool, but presumably customised using brighter colours than would traditionally be used. I have looked long and hard for their source of origin! Any ideas? 

 Custom-made ottomans using Metsovo-inspired fabrics & techniques 

Custom-made ottomans using Metsovo-inspired fabrics & techniques 

Annabel Emson

A brilliant painter: here are some recent works by Annabel Emson. 'Sun spot', the first below, is actually a smaller canvas from an artist that loves to work at a large scale. I get lost in the paintings, first down one path, following one story, and then having to haul myself back out again to look at it from a difficult angle. And again and again and again.

 Sun Spot

Sun Spot

 Happiness

Happiness

 Wish you were here

Wish you were here

 Alina's Sun

Alina's Sun

What's your poison?

A table or a cupboard laden with drinks and mixers is an open invitation to unwind. And one that can be very beautiful in its own right with its alluring glassware, ornaments, and vials - whether permanently on show, or tucked away in an armoire like the one in an Argentinian Estancia I visited that was opened by its owner every evening like clockwork. Either way, for me it is synonymous with the warmest of welcomes home. 

 John Stefanidis bar with multi-coloured Venetian and coral made out of glass

John Stefanidis bar with multi-coloured Venetian and coral made out of glass

 Drinks tray in Bloomsbury home

Drinks tray in Bloomsbury home

 Drinks cupboard in Roman flat

Drinks cupboard in Roman flat

 Drinks armoire in Argentine estancia

Drinks armoire in Argentine estancia

 Drinks trolley- what a setting!

Drinks trolley- what a setting!

 Greek taverna trays by Stefanidis for serving drinks 

Greek taverna trays by Stefanidis for serving drinks 

Leave no map unturned

Maps fascinate me. Illustrations and embodiments of discovery, unique views of our world. They are also beautiful decorative objects, whether hung delicately in isolation, split across multiple frames, or expanded on a vast scale.

 Striking use of a map set within panelling in Will Fisher's South-East London home

Striking use of a map set within panelling in Will Fisher's South-East London home

 Ben Pentreath's home with an exquisitely framed print of John Roque's, 'Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster, and Borough of Southwark', 1746.

Ben Pentreath's home with an exquisitely framed print of John Roque's, 'Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster, and Borough of Southwark', 1746.

 Charles Booth's 1898-99 London Poverty Map

Charles Booth's 1898-99 London Poverty Map

 Soane's framed version of Charles Booth's London Poverty Map

Soane's framed version of Charles Booth's London Poverty Map

 Tiled map of Shelter Island in this Long Island kitchen.

Tiled map of Shelter Island in this Long Island kitchen.

Dennis Severs' house, 18 Folgate St

Bright shutters can be so inviting - arms stretched wide.

 18 Folgate Street

18 Folgate Street

At Dennis Severs' house in London, that's an invitation worth accepting.

It is a house where a family of silk weavers might have lived, when waves of Huguenots came over to the East End in the 18th Century.  Severs created a time capsule for just one such family and lived in it until his death, creating ever more intricate storylines for his imaginary housemates. It is a whimsical mix of theatre, museum and life, charting the family's fortunes as they rise and recede. The experience is utterly magical, and made more so by the care of Mick Pedroli who will welcome you over the threshold, cherishing his dear friend Severs' work of love and art. 

 Fournier Street

Fournier Street

 Doughty Street

Doughty Street

 Fournier Street

Fournier Street

A soft bag of ornamental material

A cushion can be a thing of great wonder. Exotic, beautiful, unique. The whole story turning on the smallest detail.

In London, I'm willing to make an absurdly large detour for a wander round Rifat Özbek's 'YASTIK' on Holland Street, W8.

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I adore these canvas cushions by my friend the inspirational Colombian/Egyptian designer, Yasmin Sabet

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And here are two wonderful, custom-created & painted cushions by Rome-based artisan Zazie Gnecchi Ruscone

Lord Alistair McAlpine

Alistair McAlpine passed away this week in Italy. Some years ago, I spent a few days at his beautiful 'B&B' (if you can call it that) in Puglia, Convento di Santa Maria di Constantinopoli, with him and his Greek wife, Athena. The Convento has stayed with me as a source of enormous inspiration for all these years, and will continue to be so. His was a very 'complete' home full of colour, texture, light, collected items and art, and generously provisioned with the simplest and best luxuries: home-grown food, company, music, warmth, crisp linen beds and Penhaligon bath oils. In this month's World of Interiors you will find the garden belonging to the Convento, which is an equivalent botanical wonder. 

Alistair was deeply engaging and charismatic. And eccentric. I particularly liked the Guardian's description of how, 'on arriving in Venice, he bought a small castello behind the Arsenale, had his own motor launch and would meet guests at the airport dressed in a black coat and black broad-brimmed hat in the style adopted by an earlier Venetian resident, Frederick Rolfe, "Baron Corvo".

A fine, inspiring man. 

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Stefanidis – a highly Developed Eye

For me, John Stefanidis, is a source of endless inspiration and the designer I most admire. No matter how formal the setting, Stefanidis is always fresh, never staid, never obvious. Above all it is his use of colour – stunning, balanced and light – that really gets my heart going. His spaces are always so thought–provoking in their totality: I always want to see more, be able to step inside, take everything in. 

Every now and then in his blog, The Developed Eye, he will send through a photo of his design mastery from the archives – I recommend being on the receiving end. 

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Georgians Revealed

I recently went to the 'Georgians Revealed' exhibition at the British Library. I particularly loved these colour plates showing the emergence of choice – albeit for just a small section of society – of mass produced furnishings and imports such as those of the East India Company.  Here are Messrs Morgan & Sanders furniture shop in Catherine St Strand, and Messrs Pellatt & Green's lighting and fine glassware shop in St Pauls church yard. On till the 11th March 2014.

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