in Arts+ Crafts, DIY, Interiors, Ispiration, People

Alfhild Külper’s deep work

There are some books that have the power to ignite awareness. When you finish reading them, a seed has been planted and a new awareness has been introduced . These books become part of what you ultimately are.

At the moment I am reading “Deep Work” by Cal Newport. I don’t know yet if it is going to be part of the books that make me but I can tell you that it has already given me food for thought.

Deep work is what we do when we focus and concentrate for a stretch of time. It is quality, on-task work produced in a state of total focus. It is what artisans do all the time: they devout their attention to what they are creating, every step is important, every distraction could compromise the final result. It is what Alfhild Külper does when she makes her beautiful wool creations. With a busy, frenetic job as a head of design at a luxury fashion house, Alfhid was looking forward to engage in something more hands on and felt the urge to make something intricate and soft.

She has started creating beautiful, hand knotted rugs inspired by nature. Each piece require many hours of patient attention, many hours of deep work.

Alfhid Külper rugs are pieces that last forever, that combine tactile and visual emotions.

(Photographies courtesy of the artist)
in DIY, Furniture, Interiors, Ispiration

8 items to always buy at Ikea

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I read somewhere once that Ikea’s founder Feodor Ingvar Kamprad, one of the greatest entrepreneurs ever, had a simple but ambitious dream when he founded Ikea at the age of seventeen: he wanted an Ikea piece in every house. He has actually almost fulfilled his dream, Ikea is the most popular furniture and house product brand in the world.

I have selected 8 items that I believe are always worth buying at Ikea, classic designs at the usual affordable prices by the Swedish brand. They all look good in most homes and they are very practical.

Stilren is a pretty slim stoneware vase that looks amazing against a bright wall.

I liked all of the Sinnerlig collection by Ilse Crawford, launched in 2015, and I regret not having bought more of the pieces because some of them are not available anymore. I use the Sinnerlig pendant when I need a big affordable light that creates a soft glowing luminosity.

The Billy bookcase has been for years one of the very few budget bookcases that isn’t very deep. It has a very simple design, it tends to disappear which is want you want from bookshelves that are not high design.

The Ribba frame is used all over the world by artists and designers which says it all.

I generally use Hol table when I need some hidden storage for my clients, I have never really used it as a table. I usually have some hinges fixed so that the lid becomes a door and sometimes I get it painted.

Stilren vase
Gronodal chair
Sinnerlig light
Lustigt tool box
Ribba frame
Billy bookshelves
Lohals rug
Hol storage/table
in Arts+ Crafts, DIY, Furniture, Interiors, Ispiration, People

The spirit of macramè

Behind these beautiful macramè creations, there is a young woman called Carla Rak with a lot to say and a very promising brand Aprile Textiles, just launched.

We have interviewed her to find out a bit more about her story, her inspiration and her designs.

You have years of experience as a photo-editor.  How did you switch from working with images to designing?

For years my main job was photography. I worked as a Photo-Editor for Contrasto while I was studying for my degree in Sociology and my PHD in Communication and carrying on my visual research; I have received awards from the Italian Institute of Philosophy and the Benetton Foundation. Since 2011 I have taught Editing and photojournalism at the ISFCI of Rome.

After I finished my studies, I left the agency and I have followed a more artistic path, exploring themes that are important to me and using various techniques and instruments that I have chosen and learnt according to the content that I wanted to express.

In my work I mainly use photographs, collage, texts and textiles. A few months ago, my book “Eyes as Oars” was published in where I experiment with archive images.

My involvement with textiles started when I taught myself embroidery and crochet: I have never considered these two techniques as instruments for making useful things like jumpers or similar things. In fact, I have always used them to express concepts and states of mind.

For instance, I made some textiles masks, a huge crochet hand that was shown in Milan in 2015, some textiles collages, embroidered or filet crochet objects; they are all an expression of my vision.

I have taught myself macramé at the beginning of 2019 and soon after I launched Aprile Textiles.

I like techniques that allow me to create an almost infinite number of different possibilities. A needle, a hook or, like for the macramé, just my hands. Compared to some of the others, this is an easy and quick to learn technique; the challenge though is finding a coherent and versatile language.

The home is an important place to me, a symbolic space where you can surround yourself with intimate and durable objects rather than industrially made and short-term things. Macramé tapestry has a simplicity to it, but it can make a statement and become the main feature of the room. Above all, thanks to the complexity of its knots and the pattern of the cords, they can make a space more intimate straight away.  

Your creations revisit the macramé technique, which is part of the Mediterranean tradition, in a very elegant and contemporary key. Where does the inspiration for your pieces come from?

When I work with images, for instance when I make collages, I realize that I move day by day towards the abstract and towards a geometric purity. Macramè can be a very decorative technique and it can be used to create complex and lavish patterns. My goal is to respect this fact but also to create more linear, more minimal and cold designs. Find a balance. It is a never-ending experimentation: I often use different cords for different projects and I have to get to know each cord, each cord reacts differently when knotted and often this means that the project can take a new route  and develop into something different during the creative process.

Each job is the result of a clash between what you had in mind and the technique that you are using. In other countries Macramè is really trendy, especially for fans of boho look which is far from my aesthetics. My references are geometry and a harmonic coexistence between shapes. I get a lot of inspiration from my city (Rome), there are so many historic gates, balconies, palaces entryways, public pavements that were decorated for the sake of making something beautiful.

Today it isn’t considered necessary and it is not budgeted for, but I believe we need beauty around us. I have a inspirational sketchbook that includes photographs of patterns and features I see on the streets.

The Aprile tapestries are handmade and their shapes and knot designs can be totally customized; they are perfect for decorating a space in many different ways. How are they mainly used by your clients?

Up to now they have mainly been used as wall tapestries. Macramè though is a very versatile technique and it can be used to make seats, lampshades, room dividers, rugs and much more. In these cases, a certain level of customization is required to meet the clients needs.

Your creations are mainly black and white. Have you ever thought about using another colour or more colours?

In the last piece I made I introduced a hint of colour. We will see. I would like to experiment in so many different ways that I would need numerous lifetimes to do it all. I am planning to make other designs with different techniques as well, as a part of Aprile. These new projects (at least in my head) have plenty of color.

(Photo courtesy Aprile)

in DIY, Interiors, Ispiration, People

+deco, this year it is the 9th best trending interior design blog!

I started +deco a few years ago, during a transitional period of my life when many things were changing . I started to write the blog just after I had given birth to my son and after I had left my full time job to start my free lance career. Whilst writing and designing +deco, I have learnt a lot about technology, graphic design, people and myself. Somehow, +deco and myself have grown together and I have gained much more confidence as a woman, a professional and a blogger in the last few years.

I have always been the kind of person who can manage to get by without much effort. I finished university with full marks , I managed to build a nice life in London even if I couldn’t speak English much when I moved there and I had never studied it, I have always done ok at sports because I am tall and lean, I have always been able to do ok without committing too much to anything.

But at some point in my life I discovered that if you want to have control over your life, you need more, you need to know what you want and be persistent in achieving it. What you want can be whatever you like, what you enjoy or simply something that attracts you. Now, I still have a bit of road to do professionally but I have definitely become the person I wanted to be and I hope this reflects on my blog.

The full list of the Best Trending Interior Design Blogs, here.

in Arts+ Crafts, DIY, Furniture, Interiors, People

Train your eyes

The best part of having an established blog is that designers from all over the world get in contact with you to say hello and present their designs (I have already spoken about this in a previous post about the designer Valerio Vidali) .

Last week, a lovely young Chinese designer, Yingjie Chen, wrote me an email and I discovered her furniture collection.

Despite her young age, her CV is impressive.

Her pieces are beautiful and they are foldable and can be disassembled which makes them shipping easy (as well as a reduced environmental impact).

I asked Yingjie Chen a few questions about her approach to design and inspiration:

Have you always been interested in designing objects?

I was interested in designing objects when I started my bachelor’s degree in industrial design. I enjoy problem-solving, the potential problem in the existing products and also exploring the possibility of the user’s interaction with products.

Who are the designers that inspire you?

I have been inspired by a lot of designers and architects. The person I was inspired by the most was the French Designer, Philippe Stark. His designs range from a small tooth brush to a boat and they have very strong characters. I was also inspired by I.M Pei, Renzo Piano, Frank Lloyd Wright and so on.

What everyday object do you wish you had designed?

“I wish I could have designed some cookware products, such as the blender, cooking pot and utensils. I enjoy cooking and sometimes, I realize a well-designed cooking product that could give users a more comfortable interaction and feeling.”

What is your advice for young designers?

“Train your eyes! Explore everything around you, from nature to buildings, to animals and to products. I think as a designer, you need to have a good eye to find out the beautiful things in the life and be inspired by them. What is good about being a designer is that we have the power to create functional and aesthetic products, which will improve people’s daily lives.”

You now live in Usa, what do you miss about China?

“I have studied in the USA for four years and what I miss the most is definitely my family, they have always supported my studies and career. I also miss Chinese food!”

I am sure the sweet and talented Yingjie is going to have a brilliant carrier and I hope that when in Rome she will give me a call for a coffee and so we can talk about design and Chinese food!



in Color Inspiration, DIY, Interiors, Ispiration

Piero Lissoni Color Collection

Three years ago we saw many blue walls, two years ago many black walls and last year we saw many pink walls and burgundy walls.

Lets hope in 2018 we will see many natural and bio-friendly painted walls.

We can start with Piero Lissoni Color Paint Collection for Kerakoll for instance; they are water based, odour-free and free fromVOCs, formaldehyde, alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEO), coalescing agents, plasticizers and heavy metals. It also comes in 100 beautiful shades.

This is the future of paint, I hope.

I really like the green, terracotta red and metal blue in the first three photographs from top in the chalky extra-mat finish @GEL PAINT.

Piero Lissoni –art director for prestigious brand like Alpi, Boffi, De Padova, Lema, Living Divani and the designer behind some iconic pieces of furniture- knows what effect, performance and quality is looking for when picking a paint for his projects, so who better than him could have worked with Kerakoll for a new line?

in DIY, Furniture, Interiors, Ispiration, Outdoor

Cinder blocks DIY ideas

I have seen a cute coffee table made with cinder blocks in a bar a few days ago which has inspired me to collect some ideas about cinder blocks DIY furniture for you.

Cinder blocks come in standard sizes and they are often use in buildings because of their low cost. A block costs around 2 euros (these days 2 euros is roughly 2 pounds and 2 dollars, just to give you an idea).  The holes make the blocks lighter without compromising the mechanical strength. If you like the industrial look, cinder blocks can be used as legs for beds or tables and in many other creative ways, some of which are shown below. I like the idea of using them as planters.

Cinder blocks are already quite a statement so if you decide to use them, remember to keep the decoration of the surrounding simple and according to the style. For instance, concrete goes really well with aged wood.

For more inspiration about how to use concrete in your house, check all the posts related to the subject in my blog.

Image credit : Maiko Nagao

Image credit : Design Tripper

Image credit : Dwell

Image credit: FANCY!

Image credit : Little Miss Momma

Image credit : Wise DIY

Image credit : Home Edit

in Color Inspiration, DIY, Interiors, Outdoor

Hueso restaurant, a brother affair made of bones

Hueso is a restaurant in Guadalajara, in Mexico, designed by Ignacio Cadena from Cadena+Asociados and run by the chef Alfonso Cadena. It is two brothers running a business made of bones!

At a first glance the inside seems dominated by the color white and the warm color of wood. It needs a bit of time to fully understand and appreciate the complex decorations. Most of walls are enriched by animal carcasses, bones or skulls, different objects painted and stolen from the kitchen, scraps of paper or fabric, drawings of animals, boxes used as frames, pieces of wood used to frame anything. Everything is religiously painted in white. This second skin covers almost every inch of the walls up to the ceiling of this beautiful 1940’s building in the western state of Jalisco. A similar concept but in color is proposed by Davide Dormino in his amazing studio.

I let you decide if you like the bones but apart from covering the walls with objects painted the same color as the walls, it is a good alternative to putting up many different pieces of art work, in various shapes or sizes.

I love the staff apron as well (worn in the photo the chef and manager Alfonso Cadena). Again an idea to copy.

The outside of the restaurant is unadorned, covered with white squared tiles decorated by simple black lines inspired by Aztecan patterns.

Ceramics by José Noé Suro, tiles by C+A produced by José Noé Suro.

Photographs by Jaime Navarro.

in Color Inspiration, DIY, Furniture, Ispiration

+deco business cards ready for Milan!

It is that time of year again, the Salone del Mobile has opened and from tomorrow I will be in Milan, ready to spot the news in the world of design and furniture!

The mission this year will be finding what is really original at the Salone del Mobile, not an easy task in this year sharing era!

I will post some images in the next few days. Do not miss the future posts!

Below there are some photos of +deco business cards, painted by me with splashes of colors (black, pink, forest green and red).

in DIY

Exposed pipes, ideas

Hello, I hope you had a fantastic weekend!
It has been raining quite a lot here, I had a quiet one, organizing a few things for next week and spending time with some old friends that I don’t get to see really often.
One of them is actually thinking about re-doing her bathroom
She would like to enlarge her kids’ room ‘stealing’ some square metres from the adjacent bathroom. The idea is to move into a bigger apartment eventually so she doesn’t want to spend much on this job understandably.
The vintage look and the unfinished finishings are in fashion, she is lucky. She could go for exposed pipes like in one of the below photos? They look cool and they are very economical. 
If well polished and well positioned, they become the focus point of the bathroom. For a more ‘precious’ look, opt for brass or copper
I love the idea of running the exposed pipes down the wall and put a source of light behind a mirror like the photo below (second from top). 
Ciao, spero che tu abbia passato un weekend fantastico!
Qui è piovuto quasi sempre, il mio è stato tranquillo, l’ho passato ad organizzare alcune cose per la settimana prossima e con alcuni vecchi amici che non riesco a vedere spesso. 
Una di loro sta pensando di rifare il bagno. Vorrebbe allargare la camera dei bambini rubando alcuni metri quadrati dal bagno adiacente. L’dea però è quella di trasferirsi prima o poi in un appartamento più grande prima per cui non vuole, giustamente, spendere tanto per questo intervento. 
E’ fortunata perchè in questo periodo il look vintage e le finiture ‘non finite’ sono di moda. 
Perchè, ad esempio, non optare per tubi esposti come una delle soluzioni nelle foto qui sotto? 
Hanno carattere e costano poco. 
Se ben lucidati e ben posizionati, diventano il punto focale del bagno. Per un look più ‘prezioso’, sceglili in rame o ottone
Mi piace l’idea di far correre i tubi  e creare un punto luce dietro lo specchio, come nella foto qui sotto (seconda dall’alto).