THE DESIGN SEEKER

The Ultimate Luxe Guide To Interiors, Travel & Style

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Ned, London - Design seeker's hotel search


I have been travelling to London for work (mainly) a few times a year for about 5 years and I’m always on the hunt for a really special hotel. I have a few favourites (which I’ll be covering soon) but I’ve recently found my number 1.

My perfect hotel, which I have found in The Ned, has to have an interior architecture and interior design that is stunning and inspirational in a way that I am awed and want to live in it! Hotels increasingly market themselves as a home away from home and I expect that homely hotel to nail my Pinterest pins and then some. Like restaurants, hoteliers’ interiors teams are at the forefront of international design and so rightly, we can expect to see innovative uses of materials, the latest trends in terms of styling, colour schemes etc and inspired designs. And hotels are total room porn as you run the gamut from the bar to your bathroom!

The Ned has been developed by two of the worlds industry’s heavy weights – London’s Soho House and New York’s Sydell Group. It was a huge project and it is a huge hotel – redeveloping a landmark bank into 9 restaurants, a club and 252 bedrooms and costing over £200 million apparently. I typically lean towards boutique hotels and their personalised touch and cower from monster hotels until I went to The Ned. If you have a penchant for historical interior design then you too will be was bowled over by the sheer sense of magnificence and Regency luxury interior design. I felt immediately apart of an authentic Great Gatsy set.


The Ned radiates historicity from the moment you set your eyes on the enormous, Grade 1 listed building, designed in 1924 by Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens. Don’t be put off by its location (I never go to The City due to the overwhelming visual of corporate life), but firstly on entering the vast interior hall you are transported to the Golden Age and secondly, the eighth-floor rooftop has been converted into a heated lap pool lined with Italian marble and a drinking and dining terrace with views over St Paul’s.

If you too love that Hollywood Regency and 30-40’s style, you’ll find the attention to detail in the furniture and furnishings is executed beautifully in your bedroom and bathroom. Once I started noticing the vintage mini bar, heritage fabrics, William Morris prints and art deco and nouveau furniture and lighting, I realised there was nothing that was not sincere and researched to the nth degree.



The bathrooms are completely wonderful featuring white marble with art deco detailing, 40’s style mirrors and art deco lighting and Thomas Crapper sinks and toilets. The bedroom and bathroom especially is my favourite home away from home hotel and I will certainly be bringing some of the hotel magic home with me.




I won’t run you through the restaurants because I was only able to try one before I whizzed sub basement to the Vault for cocktails in Ned’s Club. Accessed through the original 20-tonne door, the club is lined with over 3,000 original silver safety deposit boxes. This room featured in the 1964 James Bond film, Goldfinger and it oozes that dangerous and ostentatious Bond mood.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

The gallery wall is my best art work trick

(Left) I love this gallery wall by Abigail Ahern - intense colours & captivating images stand out against the dark walls. (middle) is a nice example of turning a boring beige doorway into an interesting gallery. (Right) I curated a number of gallery walls in Bellinter House using a selection of antique frames & pictures that capture Meath and the historical setting. 

The gallery wall is one of my design staples and rarely on a residential project will I will not want include it and here’s why. A gallery wall is essentially more than 4 pictures/photos/objet d’art placed on the same wall; anything less isn’t really a gallery. The goal is to curate a gallery that is unique, inspiring and stunning to you personally and in consequence brings that area to life with (*your awesome) style.

Gallery walls work really well in living rooms, bedrooms and stairwell, which are typically large blank spaces so this is a great option if you don’t have a large picture to compliment the dimensions and fill the space. I also regularly use gallery walls in small or ignored areas like corridors to bring them to life and get you to stop and look! Rather than making that disregarded wall or room feel smaller by filling up the wall, you’ll make that area special and full of interest. 

There are endless ways to curate a gallery look - Pinterest has very helpful layouts but the starting option is to choose between a grid or mis-matched design. This really depends on whether you prefer your aesthetic to be visually organised or you have a more organic, playful style. Here are some ideas for both:

(Left) I love the squared design and the wood frames soften the look. (Middle) These family photos work really well with the grass backdrop and give the images so much colour and life. (Right) Framed botanics have a traditional appeal and the large white borders do well to break up the rather overpowering striped background. All images from Pinterest.

I chose these photos from Pinterest as they illustrate a looser style of curating a wall gallery, which I love best. In each setting, the images are striking but not connected but you'll notice whilst the frames aren't the same there is a colour scheme, in both the images and the colour of the frames, which ties the whole gallery together.
You also don't have to just frame paintings and photos as I said earlier - you can use mirrors, taxidermy, clocks, signs, and any object that's not too heavy, which can be wall-mounted. Here are a few images from Pinterest:


One thing to consider is the frames - whether you want them to be matching to create a homogenous look, which works in a grid pattern or if you have lots of different images and you want to pull the gallery wall together. If you have a mix of frames, it allows you to grow the gallery wall more organically and chose frames to match pictures. 

Contrasting contemporary images with antique frames and the other way around can work really well so don't be tunnelled into choosing the obvious frame. Look around for awesome frames, especially if you're going to plump for one frame colour. Here are some frames choices I really like: 


And lastly don't forget to use a level so the pictures hang straight and picture hanging strips because even professionals make mistakes and nail marks are a pain to fill. 

Above all, a gallery wall is a wonderful opportunity to appreciated photos and pictures you love and also to get into art and images. If you have your own gallery wall, I'd love to see it!

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Do you mix, match or mash up? Your guide to using pattern

There are guidelines that I practice when mixing patterns and it’s worth being smart with your patterns because it’s frustrating to come home with a new patterned piece and it doesn’t gel. Introducing patterns into a scheme is a creative process that goes hand-in-hand with integrating colours, materials, styles and the like. I’m not suggesting you be too restricted by rules but use my tips to create a sense of cohesion and avoid a look of random styling.

My signature style leans towards colour blocking not only with pattern but also with colour to create a balanced, meaningful design. So following this, my first rule would be to introduce a design or pattern you like in a pronounced way. Patterns can get lost so either go for an obvious block or introduce the design multiple times. A wallpaper or big piece for example or scatter a design on a number of pieces so that your eye will follow around the room.

I love room is designed by Kit Kemp from Pinterest. I love this hot pink armchair and as all the cushions and tying in on the rug and paintings. 
On the left there are are a few patterns (palm leaf in the cupboard and shade, chinoiserie cushion, ikat cushion and chevron floor but the colour scheme is restricted to 3 colours. On the right the wallpaper flourishes because of the curved lines of the sofa and matching colour scheme.  


I love to use different patterns and switch up the scale of the pattern sizes to create style, but a coordinated look is nailed and pattern overload avoided with a curated colour palette.  Patterns will really pop on their own and tie in together if they look like they are from the same colour family. You can really explore lots of patterns you like in fabrics, wallpapers, rugs etc within the same few colours.  

There are a lot of patterns in this livng room on the left designed by Kit Kemp but the patterns and colours are all complimentary. Even in this room on the right by Thibaut with multiple patterns works because of the curated colour palette.

It is also a good idea when introducing patterns to stick to colours of a similar intensity whether they are pastels OR brights. It makes sense when you pull patterned fabrics together - the ones where the colours are very similar will bounce of each other and blend beautifully into the same scheme even if there completely different patterns. 

The left image is from Thibaut and illustrates the strong colours of a maroon/purple and a zingy grass green paired softened with white and grey. On the right bright blue, orange and gold is brightened with glowing side lights. The wallpaper is Cole and Son and the mirror is by Bunny Williams.
If you are considering a really dramatic pattern or using a pattern on walls which visually dominates the room, I would set the stage for it to shine by making the strongest colour in that pattern dictate the colour scheme and going for solid/unpatterned materials elsewhere. If you start mixing in patterns with one very strong pattern you might find that the pattern will just not accept competition

These images are from Pinterest. I love the Gubi teal chair and accents of gold, white and red to tie in with the wallpaper. On the right, the parquet black tiled wall is enhanced with gold taps & white tiles which you almost don't notice.

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ARTIST FOCUS: Tancredi

Left image from Pinterest & right from Tumblr & middle of me!

I absolutely adore Venice for the beautiful 14-16th century art that utterly envelopes you from every angle, every step. It is to its core, brimming with artistic heritage yet on this trip I was hell bent on seeing the works of contemporary artist, Tancredi Parmegianni in the flesh. Born in the late 20's, his abstract expressionist pieces are so wonderful and as you can see: alive with colour and pattern and have you entranced. He was an absolute favourite of Guggenheim’s and was the only artist besides Pollock whom Guggenheim placed under contract. 

So whilst I stood there absorbing Tancredi's paintings, I reminded myself to do art trips more often and look around to absorb the colours and patterns out in the big wide world. I find it hard not to tunnel vision on a project and research explicitly in interiors, but there is no better way for me to enrich my mind and feel inspired than stepping into the wider circles of creativity and appreciating the basics.

So here is Tancredi in a nutshell:
He moved to the city of mobile light and shifting waters in the early 50’s at a time when the figurative masters who had dominated Italian art was firmly out of fashion and abstraction was the style de jour. The names to know are Mondrian who believed the world could be reduced to pure forms and primary colours and the Spatialists, who wanted an art that both reached into and reflected the entire cosmos. Peggy Guggenheim brought Tancredi into her palace where he was surrounded by Pollock’s dynamic and wild abstract paintings.

Images from Archimagazine
 Tancredi’s own style evolved to illustrate his sense of the world as an intangible arc and the “point, insofar as it is the smallest space the mind can contemplate”. Over the next two years he developed his abstract, mark-making style through his looking glass of Venice. An artist who had found inspiration in the world, he was plagued with demons and torn between his desire for beauty and an awakening social conscience. In 1964, aged 37, Tancredi drowned himself in the Tiber river in Rome.

Some of the above information is taken (to remind me of the facts) from a good article, which you can read for a really good background on Tancredi: http://www.guggenheim-venice.it/img/pdf_press/295_pdf2_Press_Kit_Tancredi.pdf 
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SUZIE LOVES: Fornasetti


Piero Fornasetti’s ‘brand’ as a designer, if I can use the word brand given he was born in 1913, is amongst the most iconic I can think of.  Perhaps it’s the ladies eyes on the ‘face plates’, which capture and hold your gaze that make them unforgettable. There are many reasons to absolutely love his witty, classical and visionary illustrations that transform common objects into works of art.

The face plates (called Tema e Variazioni), which he made between 1950-1988, feature the 19th-century Italian opera singer Lina Cavalieri. Asked what inspired him to create more than 500 variations on the face of a woman, he replied, “I don’t know. I began to make them and I never stopped.”


He was definitely a character! The personal history of this inspired ‘style creator’ is brimming with stories including being expelled from the Brera Art Academy in Milan in 1932 for insubordination and spending 3 years ‘designing’ in Switzerland during World War II.

His designs are unique, surreal and captivating. Cavalieri’s ancient Greek-esque look imbues Fornasetti’s style with a classical look, which is enhanced by the monochrome colouring. The designs have been inventively applied to chairs, tables, trays, crockery, candles, wallpaper and much more, creating inspired ways to bring the brand into your home. Watch this space my friends, for Tema e Variazioni coming to Dublin! (fornasetti.com). 
All images from Pinterest

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Model home

Image from British Vogue 
I knew I was going to love Kate Moss’ home, which she decorated, when I read an interview (prior to seeing the photos) where she discussed her design inspirations, which seemed to come mainly from her very cool lifestyle. I was already hanging on every word knowing she'd collaborated with my favourite wallpaper designer, de Gournay. It is impossible not to be awed by the beauty and level of artistry of every single de Gournay hand painted wallpaper.

Back to that interview – Moss was talking about her hands-on role designing Anemones at Light for two key rooms in her house (which is now part of de Gournay’s permanent collection). This wallpaper of "cascading flowers overlapping shards of solar radiance" was designed in silver and blue for her living room because dusk is her favourite time of day “when everything goes silvery blue from the light of the moon”. For the bathroom, Moss changed the colour scheme to pastels and neons to create the mood when the sun is just coming up at a festival, and you have that glowy light.
Image as above 
 She is just effortlessly cool and can only hope I love daybreak’s glow at festivals when I’m 43! Only this inimitable icon with mega style can visualise a traditional wallpaper with psychedelic streams of colour flashing through it and nail it.

Inspired by the bathrooms from old Hollywood movies (which is one of my favourite styles) she put in a claw-foot tub, a crystal chandelier and a chesterfield sofa. Where Kate and I part is her additional planning - to create a fabulous bathroom for friends where they can end up at her house parties.

The supermodel debuted her talent for interior design in 2015 with a luxury home project (5 barn houses) in the Cotswolds, in a collaboration with the design company YOO (the owner was her good friend). The results were impressive and whilst Moss used the skills of interior designer Katie Grove—incidentally, her ­former personal assistant for her own house, she takes the credit for most of the designs and ideas.
 
Image from My Domaine 

The overall look of her home chimes with the Kate Moss we all recognise – who masters eclecticism, colour and an effortless mix of fabrics, patterns and design styles. Her home is utterly stylish and beautifully done. I can't say I wasn't nervous it might be a bit try hard (because some celeb homes are) or self-indulgent with images of herself or famous people. She's done herself proud and her interior design is very much a harmonious extension of her stunning wardrobe.
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Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Design seeker colour focus: Greenery


I find colours generally come in huge tides on Pinterest and just as I might be coming around to the colour because its every other image I see, it’s disappeared. Pantone’s annual Colour of the Year stays prominent a lot longer because they’re the colour gurus with kudos (even if I find their reasonings behind some colours incredibly verbose and sometimes obscure).


Pantone's shade of 2017 as we all know by now is Greenery, which blends lime and apple green. I like lime and apple green especially in holiday locations and bright airy flats and definitely in fashion, but I confess to putting up a bit of resistance to Greenery in interiors. I tried to get my head around Pantone's theory (above) that if my living room walls were zingy green, a sense of emotional grounding might be created in our frenetic social media and political world..... Hmmm....

There is a 'however' coming and I have taken to it now I know the tips & tricks to mastering Greenery.

The first tip is to look at the natural light in your space before you create your scheme with Greenery. If you have a light, open space, I can't recommend a monochrome palette of greenery with either white or off-white/palest pastels, more. The contrast is refreshing and zingy, a little bit like when you pop your cucumber in your Hendricks ;-) The combination of natural light and expanses of neutral tones is a lovely, calming look, but strategically layer bright shades of green as well as foliage and you will add the fresh contemporary edge, which will transform the room from mmm, lovely to oooh wow. 



On the other side of the coin is using Greenery where you don't lots of natural light or if you like a moodier palette. Here is where I think Greenery really comes into its own as the dynamic pop in a way that in the past fushcia and red was used and now are the too obvious choice. Greenery has a richness and zing to it that lights up beautifully with slate, navy, teal and moody shades. Rather than a startling contrast colour (e.g. red, yellow, white etc), Greenery adds colour and focus without throwing the palette up in the air! 




Greenery is a trans-seasonal shade that and adds vibrancy and life to any decor so if you thought that it was best suited to holiday pads as I wrongly did, don't worry about upholstering large pieces. I actually think Greenery looks best on individual pieces where it can stand out proudly. I have seen these pictures of this green velvet sofa and it's to die for. I'm a fan of colour blocking rather than scattering a few colours here and there, and Greenery is certainly a colour to go loud and proud with.


 

Essentially Greenery symolises the outdoors so there are 3 brilliant ways you can work this colour into your home to great effect. One is working the forest combination of green palette into a room. Unlike archetypal dark interiors, which can be dramatic, brooding and it is difficult to build up layers because navy, charcoal and the like absorb light and are quite 2-dimensional; tones of dark green have depth, richness and light. Think of a woodland and the way all the tones blurb naturally from lime and olive through greenery to bottle and the deepest greens.



The last and most obvious way is go big on the grass pot plants, get a Birds of Paradise plant or cluster huge banana leaves in a vase. Scale is key.



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Marchesa Country Wedding

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Its all about Bohemian chic for a garden that goes well into winter



I know we’re coming to the end of summer but September is my favourite month for sitting in my garden in Sandycove and I’ve been visiting gardens both in Ireland and abroad all summer (doesn’t everyone?) so with that garden inspo in your pocket, now's the time to revisit your garden. It's so important to maximise your ‘garden’ meaning outdoor space, which absolutely includes a balcony, to give you a space to enjoy and use all year round. Summer is easy in that respect, but winter brings a whole new dimension when you transform it into a cosy, inviting & interesting space. 

My favourite style of garden is bohemian chic, which looks effortlessly stylish, welcoming, a lil bit eclectic, and brimming with plant life. Here are some of my tips to hone the look:

1) Make a really pretty seating area so when you walk into your outdoor area there's a big area for lots of people to sit down in an enchanted setting. See the pictures above for some inspo of easy and inexpensive ways to create a dreamy, boho chic seating area including fairy lights and festoon lights, which can be hung on trellis, plants and wrapped around shapes as above. Look for old mirrors, shelves and pots and decorate with plants and bring in a mis match of cool chairs.

2) The foliage wall is an immediate focus of greenery. If you have a small garden, bamboo is brilliant as it stands against a wall and takes up minimal space on the floor. Wall to wall greenery sounds like you're eating into the precious garden space but it really doesn't take space and weirdly makes a garden look bigger and it really has a fabulous effect, leaving you to simply add seating and stand back.

3) This leads me on to bringing in as much greenery as possible and be as creative as possible! These images show just a few of the ways you can use the floors, walls, ceiling and furniture! Go to garden centers, improvise with Ikea, buy trellising and use anything you can find!


4) Rattan furniture has got to be the boho's favourite outdoor furniture and it beats boring contemporary woven alternatives! My feeling with furniture is to oversize, which despite logic will make your garden seem bigger and give a generous, inviting feel. Here are some super cool options:


5) Its been all the rage for a while and I can't help but wax lyrical about critall (steel windows seen below). They're architectural, traditional & slick yet equally rustic and industrial. They let the maximum amount of light into your home and in reverse you can view your awesome outdoor space to its fullest, (encouraging you to use it!)


6) A bit of an extravagance, but a fire pit is just the most awesome warming focal point and all my friends and clients say it means you can genuinely use the garden year round.


7) Whilst lots of colour is 'bohemian', you know I like to colour block so for a Bohemian chic look, I would recommend a restricted colour palette. I'm currently all over black, white, greenery and wood and you can see from these images how cool it is! 



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Monday, August 28, 2017

Gucci is imminently launching an inspired, decorative home ware line!


Drum roll please…. in less than 2 weeks Gucci’s first home ware line - Gucci DΓ©cor, will be landing in the shops. I don’t understand why there hasn’t been a fanfair for this unveiling, for any fashion and interiors aficionados like myself will be absolutely smitten. I’ve been privy to the new collection and it is utterly joyful, bursting with the contemporary spirit of Alessandro Michel, the label's creative director. 

Alessandro Michele has made his love of interiors abundantly clear during his tenure at Gucci and so this homeware collection is no suprise. I noticed a sneak peak of this collection at his Resort 2017 show held inside the Cloisters at Westminster Abbey in London (the first time any fashion house has been granted access to do so). I found it incredible that the images that flooded the fashion industry’s Instagram feeds from this historic show were the hand-embroidered cushions placed on each seat!
 The collection includes tasseled pillows, plates, upholstered chairs, wallpaper (in silk, vinyl and paper), silk screens and other furnishings all featuring the designer’s now signature design motifs—tigers, snakes and Gucci Garden florals. 

There are also scented candles, metal trays, and small porcelain pieces by Richard Ginori, a Florentine porcelain-maker established in 1735. With more than 30 eclectic pieces, the prices range from $190 (for candles and incense trays) to $30,000 for beautifully printed silk screens. 

Here are my favourite porcelains:



The collection will not have a dedicated space in stores, instead being integrated with clothes and accessories, "the idea is not to prescribe a particular decorative look, but to provide elements that allow for living spaces to be customised," the house said.


I like this playful but also modest approach of styling out your interior with a couple of awesome pieces, which is all you’d need to show off Michele’s current romanticism style that I absolutely love. My shopping list includes these pieces:


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WEDDING STYLE

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