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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 . . .

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.


Dieter Ram’s 606 Universal Shelving System: A Design Classic

I have recently fallen in love with Dieter Ram’s 606 Universal Shelving System, or shall I say, I have fallen in love again. Growing up in Germany in the early 1980s, I remember these in the houses of most of my parents’ friends. Now, I am finding that I am including these shelves in many projects on which I am currently working.



One of the things I love about Dieter Ram’s shelving (apart from the sleek elegant aesthetics) is that they are incredibly practical. They  are the preultimate “kit” so you can totally tailor it to your needs and space and they can be easily reconfigured. They work just as well in kitchens, living rooms as they do in bedrooms and offices and even retail spaces as shelves, workstations, display cabinets, sideboards and storage.









The only draw back is their cost. Like anything which is superbly designed and made, they are expensive. As I’ll be insist on taking them with me to my nursing home I’m planning on getting a lot of use out of them.

In the meantime, I am installing some in my office combining a workstation, drawers, filing unit and shelving and would love to do the same in my husband’s office, but he isn’t convinced. Growing up in Australian suburbia in the 1970s, he says the shelves feel too institutional.

Is furniture something you have for a life time or is that way too much of a commitment? Do you like the simple post-war aesthetics and practicality of Dieter Ram’s design or is it too austere for your tastes?

All images Vitsoe


Dare to go do pink walls?

I used to have a metallic pink dining room. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of it. But, I loved it. It was sophisticated and stunning and inspired by the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the oldest picture gallery in England, which opened its doors to the public in 1817. It is also a colour favoured by Mexican architect, Luis Barragan and can be found in everywhere in India, most notably the Pink Palace.


The Dulwich Picture Gallery


Luis Barragan via DecoArq


The Pink Palace, Jaipur

It’s been only 60 years since pink has been so strongly associated with girls. In fact, in 1918 a trade publication for  American department stores advised its readers that “the generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Another reason was that the Virgin Mary is traditionally in blue and hence it was thought to be a feminine colour.

It is sad that pink is now exclusively associated with little girls, because people are frightened to use it. A few years ago, I purchased an amazing raspberry Madeleine Weinrib rug at a tag sale. The reason why I managed to nab it was because another woman who loved it was concerned that her husband would find it too girlie and not want it in their home. So she opted for the beige version. Her loss was my gain.

I have show-cased pink before on urban kaleidoscope: Betsey Johnston’s apartment, Trish Pinto’s apartment and an ode to pink and I am doing it again because it is just so fabulous. Those who dare to use it are rewarded.


Lilly Pulitzer‘s Store in Palm Beach Gardens, FL created by Print & Pattern via The Selvedge Yard


via haute mama’s faves


The Office of Ines de la Fressange via Girl Whimsy


via absolutely beautiful things


Kim Beck’s art installation HolyMoley Land via Ideal Cities


Bisazza via Vintage Modern


Liza Bruce’s living room in Jaipur, India via Elle Decor


via Fresh Homes

I am using an incredible pearlescent pink-purple paint for a job I am currently doing. It’s the wash-basin area of an exclusive hair salon in Melbourne. The 2nd coat of paint is being sprayed on as I write this and I can’t wait to show you the results.

Have you ever gone pink?  Or would you?