I have been sitting on some ideas for furniture design, I need to find the courage and the time to create them. In the meanwhile, I admire brands like Beeline Design that with a strong vocation and a lot of passion, have succeeded in creating a beautiful collection of furniture.
Adam Brislin and Lucy Grant have been creating beautifully crafted stools, tables, beds, lighting features and homewares since 2010. Each piece is produced in their workshop in Melbourne, Australia, using sustainably sourced timbers and quality materials. Adam has 15 years experience as a wood artisan and they are both incredibly passionate about what they do and what they create.
I love September. I love its golden light that enhances colors and shapes, I love the clear sky and the cooler evenings. I love the sensation of calm and regeneration that I carry after the holiday, the positive attitude and hopeful vibe that my contact with nature has left me with a slower pace after the summer months. I relish the fact that September is the end of the summer in Italy and yet is not quite the start of the cold season unlike many other countries in the Northern hemisphere. I like the nostalgic feeling that is floating on the air and the proximity of another holiday, Christmas.
I love spending time by the sea in September and in the autumn in general: contemplating the immense blue sea when most of the tourists have departed is for me a treat that not many get to revel in.
Of course, it is even better if you can do it in a charming place, with a lot of personality and an attractive views. Hotel La Minervetta in Sorrento is the perfect retreat for my September mood. I love how it has been decorated with marine colours and patterns and a well-balanced combination of local artisan pieces and eclectic art and photography. This explosive and color combination makes the hotel unique and snug.
Stripes, chevron, checks, pois and classic tiles patterns decorate walls, floors, chairs, sun longes and beds; the use of mainly two colours, red and blue, makes the look cohesive.
I love the liquid floor tiles in the living area, it makes the space look like it is floating on water. I love the extensive, worldly collection of objects and furniture, it all combines to create a marine, joyful contest that celebrates the beauty of the Costiera Amalfitana where the Hotel La Minervetta is based.
Photos by Bernard Touillon, courtesy of Hotel La Minervetta
At the foot of Monte Rosa (which means pink mountain because of its color at dawn), in a sort of valley scattered with rocks spread out like crumbs from the rocky walls surrounding it, there is a cute refuge built in 1925 and re-decorated in the 1980’s (hence the formica tables), the Rifugio Zamboni-Zappa.
I spent a night there in July with Alex and Giulio and I took at least thirty photos with my smartphone. Waking up in such an outstanding location and having breakfast in such a unique refuge, it is an experience in life.
The refuge is set in a valley on the East side of the imposing Monte Rosa, The refuge is set in a valley on the east side of the imposing Monte Rosa, offering a unique perspective of the mountain. To get there, you have to take two chair lifts (or walk it, depending on your legs) from Macugnaga, ascending panoramic paths and crossing the glacier, it normally takes about an hour.
The refuge, run by a lovely, friendly couple, is open during the good weather season and hosts people for the night or just for lunch.
I recommend you sleep there (don’t forget to book).
When at the end of afternoon the last group of tourists leave, you find yourself in the shade of Monte Rosa‘s peaks, surrounded by the force of nature and an epic solitude and this beautiful refuge is the perfect place to experience it from.
Italy is famous all over the world for its exquisite craftsmanship passed on from one generation to another, as well as its creativity and ability to design timeless pieces. In Italy there are a lot of family businesses that manage to reach across the world. Versace, Brunello Cucinelli, Trussardi, Natuzzi are only a few of the family run brands in our country: everyone knows that Italians are family people. These companies have managed to succeed, survive and make a name for themselves because they managed to preserve the quality of what they produce but also to embrace the future and identify and collaborate with the right talented professionals.
Fornace Brioni was created in 1920 by the Brioni family and since then it has produced terracotta floors. The factory is near Mantova, in Gonzaga and is still run by the fourth generation of the family (Alessio and Alberto Brioni). Fornace Brioni is having a period of extreme popularity thanks to its history in making terracotta floors and its partnership with Italian architect Cristina Celestino, creative director of the brand since 2007. Cristina Celestino has designed some special collections for Brioni: Scenografica that takes its inspiration from the work of the set designers during the Baroque period;Giardino delle Delizie inspired by the grottoes in the Reinassance gardens; Giardino all’Italiana based on the idea of drawing nature. Here are a few images of Fornace Brioni collections designed by her. No wonder they are everywhere on Instagram.
The architecture is inspired by the local houses and it converses harmonically with the surrounding territory through the numerous spectacular windows in the spa areas, in the living areas and in the cosy rooms.
Angelot -a patisserie shop in Xiasha in China– was born from the experience and vision of two young but very experienced Chinese architects, Yan Zhang and Jianan Shan, founders of Say Architects studio.
The architects managed to solve some evident architectural disadvantages, like the recessed front door and the fact that the full height window inside that face a nice view. They didn’t try to hide these disadvantages, they made them focal points, strengths. The entrance, covered in customized tiles, is curved and it accompanies the clients inside, revealing the dining area slowly, like a surprise. In order to make sense to the two different heights between entry level (very low) and dining area (very high), they created a changing clearance along the route.
They used customized GRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete) to soften the wall and the semitransparent curtain to block exterior view but keeping the sunlight.
Some lemon tree add color and bring nature in the interiors, the cherry on the cake.
Photographs by Hao Zhang, courtesy of Say Architects.
A few weeks ago we spoke about the Tommaso Spinzi Design collection Origini and about how much Tommaso’s design work is directly influenced by his experiences and passions. Origini is a collection inspired by the rediscovery of his city: Tommaso recently moved back to Milan having spent a few years working as an interior and furniture designer in Switzerland, Australia and New York. It seems he has returned brimming with energy and numerous new projects up his sleeve.
Last week Spinzi Design has presented three collections live –Lamè, Planar and Meccano-at the Digital Design Week for the Fuorisalone (from 15th to 21th June, the digital version of the Furniture Show that couldn’t take place because of Covid-19).
His designs are limited edition, made with a number of different materials but they are all very sculptural. Palladium, for instance, the stool and occasional table that you can see pictured below, is a very graceful intercourse of a straight and curved line, of a steel rectangle or disk and a steel stripe. It is one of my favourite Spinzi designs for its understated elegance and its versatility.
Casa Hoyos, a boutique hotel in San Miguel De Allende, has been owned by the same Hoyos family for 4 generations. The hotel occupies a typical colonial Spanish manor in one of the most historical city in Mexico and it has been designed by AG Studio.
The 16 rooms hotel focus around the courtyard and its archways tiled with the colours of the family shield, black and peach, contrasted by walls tiled in a pungent yellow.
The choice of furniture is original, the colours and shapes of the pieces, many of which were custom designed for this project, are sapiently mixed. The result manages to be innovative and traditional at the same time, preserving the spirit of the place.
We know that IKEA has always been upfront in design research and has always worked to find new environmentally friendly solutions for packaging and producing but this time they have outdone themselves. On United Nations International Bee Day, May 20 IKEA’s research and design lab SPACE10 has teamed up with design studio Bakken & Bæck and industrial designer Tanita Klein and they have launched Bee Home, a free and open-sourced design that allows everyone to design your very own Bee Home in just a few minutes.
This is how it works: “Step 1: Design. Visit Bee Homewebsite and design your own Bee Home based on predefined parameters. This means you not only select the size, height and visual expression, but also define if you want to place your Bee Home on a rooftop, a backyard or on a balcony. This makes the design process fun, intuitive and easy enough that it can be done in a matter of minutes. Step 2: Fabricate. When satisfied with your design, you download the design files instantly and for free, which you then forward to your local makerspace and have them make it locally and on demand. On https://www.beehome.design/ you can find a list of makerspaces in your local area. Step 3: Place.The final step is to place your Bee Home and plant some flowers.”
Bees are under increasing threat of extinction, as Myles Palmer, Project Lead at Bakken & Bæck explains: “To reconnect with the many bees in our environment, we need to give back what we have taken from them: their homes. By designing new interactive experiences, we can create a more sustainable manufacturing process for doing so: one that is truly open-sourced, informed by local living and customisable for many contexts and uses.”
I have known Kate Wesson for a few years now. We have spent some lovely weekends in Rome together walking around and eating delicious food. Kate is a keen food explorer, a curious eater and passionate about all things related to food and its presentation . It is not a coincidence that she has had so much success working as a food stylist and food writer, she boasts a long list of brands and agencies that she has collaborated with. I love Kate’s instagram because it shows her passion for beautiful food. She posts images of what she cooks on a daily basis; her Instagram makes you salivate! Her style is honest and attractive, as food should always be.I recently asked Kate a few questions about her work and how to make this lockdown more yummy.
When did you decide to become a food stylist ?
“I made the transition from chef to food stylist fairly early on in my career at the age of 25. Working in the food industry back in the early 2000’s the hours were long poorly paid and tough. I had always enjoyed the visuals of food as much as creating something that tastes amazing. I love the different visual texture and colour combinations you can create and I recognised that the plating of dishes was often where I felt I was able to express myself the most.”
What’s been your most interesting jobs as a food stylist?
“As a very small scale micro influencer I was flown out to the Italian island of Pantelleria to document the food and culture of this beautiful place to help promote the film A Bigger Splash starring Tilde Swinton and Ralf Finns that was set on the island. I had 2 great guides who took me around and we visited the local producers, made fresh ricotta and visited the terraces where the famous pantelleria capers are grown. The island was quiet as we were out of season so we had some restaurants opening especially for us serving some delicious local dish’s cooked only for us. I loved hearing the story of how certain dishes have come about and meeting the producers who have such a passion and finding a way of documenting this through a series of images was a career highlight.”
How do you find cooking these days without being able to pop to the shops whenever you want to get ingredients?
“I’ve always been a creative cook but the current situation has really pushed me creatively to try new combinations out and I am often substituting ingredients with success (but not always!) sometimes I’ve had some real wins. The main ingredient that seems to be difficult/ near impossible to get hold of is wheat flour, it seems the only flour often left on the shelf is buckwheat and I have enjoyed using this although I am missing making pasta as I’ve run out of 00 flour now.
I have never liked food waste and recently I seemed to have stepped this up a gear too and I don’t seem to waste a single scrap any more. All stems, cores and cheese rinds are kept in a big tub in the freezer and when amassed made into stocks perhaps with a chicken carcass or left over bone from the freezer. Left over chicken skin from a Sunday roast is rendered off for its fat and the left over crispy skin is used to top a ramen or crumbled into a salad. Any peelings like potato, carrot or artichoke are crisped in olive oil and salt and eaten as a snack. This morning I found 3 bruised overly soft pears in the fruit bowl normally I would have thrown them out but instead I whizzed them up in my blender with some maple syrup, mixed spice and melted coconut oil and used this mixed to make delicious granola by mixing it with some oats, whole nuts and seeds and some chopped stem ginger. I love this new found thrifty behaviour and it seems to be spreading I hope when this is all over its something we all still manage to keep hold of.
Ive also been foraging outside when I’m out for our daily 1 hour of exercise at the moment I can pick up nettle tops, wild garlic and wisteria.”
Can you recommend interesting places to shop online for interesting table ware?
“As stylists we often go to the London prop houses to source and hire tableware/linens background surfaces and all things food related these places are like an Aldines cave full of treasures. When shopping for home or an extra special piece for a photo shoot :Kana Ana, David Mellor, La Tuile a Loup, Texit Vicens, Volga Linenare a few of my favourite places to source from.”
What’s your favourite cuisine?
“I love to explore many different cuisines, food in the UK is very encompassing and London has some amazing restaurants from all around the globe. I find my taste change all the time, we are loving south American food at the moment ceviche and tacos have been something we have cooked a lot recently. I am also enjoying fermenting vegetables and experimenting with this technique which is handy to keep foods for longer during the lock done days.”
All photographs are taken and styled and all the food prepared by Kate Wesson, as the amazing Japanese Okonomiyaki Pancakes Recipe is that you can find below.
KATE’S LOCK DOWN JAPANESE OKONOMIYAKI PANCAKES RECIPE
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g Finely shredded Chinese cabbage
A handful of finely shredded kale
A handful of shredded left over- chicken, chopped ham or grated cheddar cheese
2 spring onions finely chopped
1 tsp minced ginger
70g finely chopped kimchi or sauerkraut or other fermented vegetable
sunflower/rapeseed or groundnut oil
4 tablespoons of okonomiyaki sauce or make your own by mixing together the following: 2 tbsp. Ketchup ,1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce ,1 tbsp. Honey, 1 tsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp. of mayonnaise, ideally from a squeezy bottle.
Extra optional toppings:
A tbsp. of toasted sesame seeds/ black or white or both
Finely sliced spring onion
1 tbsp. pickled ginger
sprinkle of chopped chilly
1 tbsp. siracha hot sauce
A sprinkle of Bonito flakes
A sprinkle of finely shredded nori seaweed
A handful of chopped herbs such as chives or coriander
Place the flour, baking powder and a good pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Crack the eggs into the bowl and whisk in with 150ml of water until you have a smooth batter.
Stir in the remaining ingredients, don’t be afraid to substitute with what you have left over as ingredients are very interchangeable but always making sure you include the cabbage.
Heat a tbsp. of oil in a medium sized non-stick frying pan over a medium heat; spoon in half the batter to make 2 large pancakes and cook until golden, carefully flipping to cook the reverse side and repeating the process with the remaining batter. Alternatively you can make several smaller ones by spooning in the batter and cooking in batches.
When the pancakes are cooked on both sides, brush the top with a little of the okonomiyaki sauce until lightly glazed. Slide the pancakes onto plates and drizzle with the mayonnaise and a little more of the okonomiyaki sauce, sprinkle over the optional extra toppings and devour!