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Maison & Objet Asia 2014: An overview

Maison & Objet, the authoritative interiors trade fair held biannually in Paris, had its first ever session in Asia this month. It was a great excuse to head over to Singapore and see what was on offer.


Some 270 exhibitors, mainly from Europe, displayed their offerings to 10,000 plus visitors during the course of four days. Having heard so much about the Paris fairs over the past few years, I realised in hindsight, that had unrealistically high expectations. I had thought that it would take me a couple of days to ‘do’ the fair, by that I mean, see what was on offer, talk with the manufacturers and assemble information. The truth is that my 3pm on the first day I was pretty much done. Despite this, I discovered some gems.

The most interesting and inspiring overall stand was Design Philippines which showcased some gorgeous pieces by an array of Filipino artists including Kenneth Cobonpue, who was named as Maison et Objet Asia’s Designer of the Year. For me the one stand-out piece of furniture of the entire fair was the Gregoria chair by Ito Kish. When I strolled over to the display, I found myself chatting to the charming Kish. It was wonderful to talk directly with a designer, who ironically are usually not present at trade fairs. We chatted for sometime about working in South-East Asia, his designs, influences and manufacturing processes. Stay tuned, I am sure that the Gregoria chair in white will find its way into a project of mine sometime soon.


Above: Ito Kish’s Gregoria Chair, Santamaria Stool in synthetic black and white rattan which doubles as a lidded storage basket (r) , Basilisa Geometric Stool (l)


Above: Detail of Ito Kish’s Gregoria Chair

It was also a delight to meet Inga Lukaukiene, the owner of the Lithuanian company, LinenMe, who produce superb quality linens. Despite Linen Me only being established in 2007, Inga is the 3rd generation working with this versatile textile. Her training at London’s KLC School of Design is evident in the stunning array of colours, textures and thicknesses designed for a variety of purposes from home to clothing. I am looking to use these linens for a beach house project, on which I am currently working, as well as for curtains in my own bedroom.



Ochre, a perennial favourite of mine, presented a corner of a room. It was elegant and the dark walls showed-off some of their designs beautifully, especially their Seed Cloud Chandelier, which is even more stunning in real life. Each rain drop is individually lit creating a subtly beautiful effect.



Ochre at Maison & Objet Asia

Serax, like most other companies represented at Maison & Objet Asia, mainly showcased their range of home wares. I would have loved to have seen more of their furniture and was delighted to stumble across the Vintage Chair by Casa Honore, which I have loved since featuring Anne Geistdorfer’s apartment back in August 2012 and did not know whose design it was. 


Above: Background Vintage Chairs by Casa Honore for Serax




Above: Concrete Lamp by Renate Vos for Serax

The gigantic vases and glassware by German company Guaxs combined colour, texture and light and looked incredible. It’s difficult to fully appreciate the scale of these pieces as they are shown here and its their size which is partly their attraction.



Besides these gems there was a keynote by Tom Dixon and a Q&A with Paola Navone, who has since become my favourite designer. More about these two events soon . . .

The beauty of simplicity

I have been in Singapore this week to attend Maison & Objet Asia. Given the reputation of the Paris fair I had high expectations,  in hindsight far too high. So, in all honesty it has been a bit of mixed week. There were certainly some highlights which I am excited to share with you in upcoming posts, but mainly my Singapore sojorn became an opportunity for some much needed solo time.

With all the busyness of my life I have become unaccustomed to being with myself and by that I don’t mean being alone, but  existing without distractions. Raising a child, growing a business and the myriad of other domestic and social responsibilities are all things I love dearly, but my life is filled to the brim.

In Singapore staying in a conveniently located but soulless hotel was a constant reminder how vital interiors are to our mental health and happiness. Instead of checking-out I decided to seek my inspiration elsewhere and last night I took myself to Waku Ghin, Tetsuya Wakuda’s Singapore restaurant.


When this dish was presented to me it took my breath away. A combination of sea urchin, shrimp and caviar, it was possibly the most beautiful thing I had seen all week.

I vividly recall the first time I ate Tetsuya‘s food: the favours and combinations were unlike anything I had ever tasted. It was a transformative. My husband and I even bought his cookbook and prepared many of the recipes. Surprisingly, they were incredibly easy to make and depended on simplicity: the freshest of ingredients prepared with great care and delicacy.

Last night, I decided to set myself the challenge of enjoying a 10 course degustation menu without any distractions: no book or  magazine, no iPhone, pen nor paper or company. Instead, I was to do nothing except the task at hand of eating. Sounds simple, but I had my doubts about my comfort doing this.

You see, like most of us, I have become a master at multi-tasking. I listen to podcasts while I drive, I unpack the dishwasher as my husband and I talk about our day, I brush my teeth and remove my make-up while my son is in the bath, I am on the phone while I prepare dinner, I am reading emails on my phone as I walk to work, lunch is eaten while I answer emails. It is efficient, or at least I kid myself it is. But is it a pleasurable  or gratifying way of living?

What struck me last night was this. My sensory experience was heightened. I could tell you about the texture of certain dishes, the coolness of the marble counter, the finely textured paper of the wine list, the warm hue of the lights, the sound of sizzling olive oil,  the concentration of the chef as he placed the lobster tails in the shiny copper pan and exactly how he gracefully cleaned the hot plate . . .

It made me reflect upon how much of my life I am not fully savouring, because I am distracted, because I am kidding myself that life is too busy to just to be doing one thing at a time.

Is this just me or is this a modern affliction?

A super-sized chrysanthemums mural

Floral wallpapers on the whole can look really twee and old-fashioned  and not necessarily in that funky retro kinda way. But, they don’t need to. Recently I added this incredible mural to the main wall of my bedroom and it is stunning.


The image is an enlarged and cropped version of a 19th century Japanese photograph by Ogawa Kazuma. The much smaller original is part of the collection of one of my favourite places in the world: the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. For years that wall was blank. I didn’t know what to do with it. It was the first thing I saw when I woke up in the morning and it left me uninspired and some days even unhappy. Not a good way to start the day. And then I stumbled across Surface View . . .


Surface View is a UK based company which owns the copyright to numeorus impressive collections. You can select what you like and have it custom sized to fit the specifics of your requirements. The mural came in three large panels and the expert craftsman and decorator, Matthew Collins, installed it. The walls were painted in Porter’s Paints Triple Led Grey in distemper, which has an incredible velvety chalk-like texture.


Two warnings though, Surface View is totally addictive and you can fritter away hours on their site and once you discover distemper there is no going back to low-sheen, wash-and-wear finishes. But that is the subject of another post!





Am I happier now? Absolutely! But the right wallpaper and paint can do that to me.

Styling Emilie Smith

Photos Kate Challis and Emilie Smith

My Love for Interiors Magazines: Australian Vogue Living January/February 2014

I love interiors magazines: World of Interiors, Belle, Living etc, Real Living, Dwell, Elle Decor, Lonny, Adore, Wallpaper, (inside), House & Garden, Inside Out, Architectural Digest . . . you name them and I read them or, more aptly, I read them!

A year ago I invested in an iPad mini with the idea that I would subscribe to these publications online and have access to inspiring material whenever I needed it. What happened instead was that my 4.5 year old took charge of “Mummy’s Eye-a-Pad” and it’s now full of Pixar movies, Ninjago games and reading apps. For him 30mins of screen time is a treat, for me the last thing I want to do when I am relaxing is to look at a screen. I know it is terribly old-fashioned, but I take more pleasure in flicking through a magazine and earmarking pages I love. Most e-mags don’t let you tag images and import them into Evernote, or app of choice, for later reference. While I assume the publishers’ reasons for this is to limit the digital dissimilation of their products in the hope that consumers will pay for content rather than download it for free. The problem with this way of thinking is that it prioritises the suppliers’ needs above that of the consumer. So, in the short-term I am sticking to hard copies of magazines. I also love that I can give them away to friends or my local op-shop for someone else to look at and be inspired by.

Given the relatively small size of the population in Australia, we have a disproportionally large number of interiors magazines on offer. In fact, Australians read more magazines per capita than any other nation. I do my best for the country and help out as much as I can and one of my favourites is Vogue Living Australia. When I recently returned from overseas the  January/February edition was waiting for me and here are my highlights

A stunning flower photo shoot styled by Glen Proebstel . . .


The North Fitzroy home of metal worker artisan Anna Charlesworth . . .


A lush mood board of foliage . . .


An iconic Dale Frank painting in the Perth of Chris Lyon . . .


A breath-taking renovation of  a 19th century house in a coastal town  in Victoria by Tim O’Sullivan of Multiplicity which superbly combines the old and modern, sleekness with texture, history and nature. Known as the Drift House, it is a rental property. It has inspired me to find an excuse to go to Port Fairy for a long weekend for a visit.


A simple Scandi kitchen of Danish jewellery designer, Charlotte Lynggaard . . .


A breath-taking display of De Gournay wallpaper in the home of Wheels & Dollbaby founder, Melanie Greensmith . . .


A masculine, earthy, 19th century inspired study  . . .


Rushcutters, a restaurant to visit when next in Sydney . . .



This is not a sponsored post. I wrote about the January/February 2014 edition of Australian Vogue Living, because I adore it and wanted to share some of the love.

What do you like looking at for inspiration? Blogs, magazines, pinterest, instagram? All of them? None of them? Or something completely different? I would love to know.


The elegance of black window frames and white walls

Recently, I have been experimenting a lot with with the use of black and dark greys on walls. The results are a topic of an entire blog, but what I have learnt is that it can be a very difficult look to live with and pull off, especially if a room doesn’t have a lot of natural light. If you are interested in moving away from the safe (aka boring) white-on-white look  and shaking things up then try painting your window frames dark.

Crisp white walls with contrasting black window frames can make an otherwise monochromic room look stunning. I am particularly enamoured with the contemporary edge of black industrial metal frames. It is a technique I am going to use for an office refurbishment project on which I am currently working.


The offices of fashion label Becksöndergaard, via The Style Files


vía Caribbean Living


The home of fashion designers Keld Mikkelsen and Marianne Brandi, via A Thouch of Luxe


via pinterest


via pinterest


The Maison Rika guesthouse in Amsterdam, via We Heart


Villa Amelie, St Barts via Saint Barts Villas


via pinterest