living rooms

in Interiors

The Green Box

I hope you have had a nice September!
I love September (read the post about the amazing La Minervetta Hotel for a complete September praise) and I am full of meaningful resolutions for the new year (my head is still set on scholastic years) most of which are based on time and energy optimization.
Almost two years of pandemic have left me and, I suppose, many other people, with a decreased ability of focusing due to the amount of time spent at home in an environment that push you to multi-task and be connected for too long. The book Deep Work by Cal Newport has really helped me to reflect on some aspects of our increasing inability of focusing and pinch down what I want to improve in my daily life regarding time management.

To illustrate with an interior how important is to use your time well, I want to show you a project where the space has been used notably and where a green box has became the focus and the core of the project.
The project by Ester Bruzkus Architekten is refereed to as The Green Box for obvious reasons. As Ester Bruzkus founder of Ester Bruzkus Architekten has explained to us:
“Before we transformed the top-floor apartment into a cozy home for a Berlin couple living a vegan lifestyle, the empty apartment had floor- to-ceiling windows on two sides and exposed concrete walls on the other sides. It was raw and cool and open – and there was something nice about that to hold onto in the new design. So rather than create a series of conventional rooms that would close off the sense of openness, a single millwork box was positioned away from the walls to make rooms between it and the existing walls. The box, lacquered in a deep green, works with warm golds and violets and brown tones to play off the cool concrete ceiling and wall, contrasting materials and colors, and carefully crafted details to make a home that is at once cool and cozy.”
I am very impressed by the choice of the green: it is the perfect shade for such a prominent feature, not ordinary but not too loud either.

“The kitchen takes up one of the long sides of the green box (hidden within is also a roll-out modular sauna!). Sheets of natural green-and- violet quartzite work with the lacquered wood. The cooking island combines the quartzite and the lacquered wood with black-tinted glass, and is covered by a playful and sculptural lighting by PSLab, who provided all of the lights for the apartment. An important detail of the green box is that the ceiling is part of the box and is held away from the concrete ceiling. In this way, the “box” is not just a freestanding object but it makes rooms.

“The kitchen counter, back and shelving are made from natural green- and-violet quartzite. The millwork on the green box is lacquered wood, some of which is detailed to have a strong rhythm of ribs.”

In addition to the deep green of the central millwork are a rich palette of other materials – travertine, marble, limestone, quartzite, glasses of different characters, brass, stainless steel, and rich colored fabrics. Because the owners are vegan, no animal products were used – for example, the carpet is hand-tufted from botanical silks.

The bathroom occupies the space between the green box and the existing wall. Sinks are made from green marbles, black steel and pink basins; the shower and bathtub are made from a pale limestone that harmonizes with the other tones. The design also uses the simple geometry of the circle in a number of ways: in the design of handles for the cabinetry, in an oversized round mirror, and in a circular skylight that was built above the shower.

“The headboard is an exuberant design by Josef Frank (produced by Svenskt Tenn). The bedroom is located between the green box and a floor-to- ceiling glass wall to an outside terrace.”

I love this project. It is functional, elegant and with plenty of personality; these very important characteristics ultimately the most important aspect is how rational is to space where you live. A bit like my days…

(Photos by Robert Rieger, courtesy of Ester Bruzkus Architekten )

in Arts+ Crafts, Furniture, Interiors, Ispiration

Masculine, zen and original

sergey manho, plusdeco blog, plusdeco, ukrainian architecture, zen architect, kiev aparments, kiev manho apartment, kiev modern houses, manho studio, +deco blo, plusdecoblog, architettura manho, architettura kiev

The Wabi Sabi Apartment by Ukrainian architect Sergey Makhno presents so many layers of interpretation that focusing on the fact that the project brings together Japanese aesthetics and Ukrainian traditions seems to be reductive. The penthouse in Kiev, designed for the architect’s family, puts together successfully earthy elements (branches, clay walls), industrial features (concrete ceilings, a grey stern kitchen, a metal bed), natural details (the vertical garden, the bonsai plants), more decorative choices (the green in the kids bedroom, the back and white tiles in one of the bathroom) and numerous interesting pieces of furniture.

Wabi Sabi Apartment is very masculine, very zen and very original at the same time; it is very urban and very Japanese but full of Ukrainian artistic taste’s references.

Images courtesy of Sergey Makhno

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

Living in a museum

palazzo federico, palazzo contefederico, palermo, palazzo palermo, palazzo contefederico palermo, interior design palermo, places to see palermo, plusdeco blog, elena giavarini, conte alessandro federico, cool places palermo, must see palermo

Palermo is one of my favourite cities in the entire world. It is a magical, fascinating, exotic, elegant place where life seems to be so sweet that you almost feel compelled to move there. Every time I go, I discover new incredible things and my love for the city grows a bit more.

One of my recent discoveries was Palazzo Contefederico, a few steps from from the buzzing Ballaro’ market. This sixteenth century palace is still inhabited by the Count Alessandro Federico and his family; one of Alessandro’s sons guided me around the marvellous rooms of the Palazzo Contefederico. The fact that the tours are led by a member of the family and the fact it is still their home make the experience unique.

It is a very inspirational visit for the interior design lovers with colourful original tiled floors, beautiful pictures and frames, precious wall-coverings and numerous delightful glimpses into another world.

Also unmissable is the majolicas collection at Le Stanze al Genio, that I wrote about some time ago.

Unfortunately the vintage shop Mercurio & C that I photographed last year closed down (see the post). A boring jewellery shop opened instead (even if originally it was a jewellery shop).

(Photographs by Elena Giavarini)

in Color Inspiration, Furniture, Interiors, Ispiration

Save yourself

joanna laven, swedish interior design, swedish interior designers, plusdeco blo, +deco, interior blogs, interior design, swedish apartments, elena giavarini

This year seems to have started well. Nobody I know has mentioned the word “SALES” yet, which makes me hope that people are becoming a bit more conservative; Emanuele Farneti, Vogue Italia’s editor in chief, has decided to not publish any photos in the magazine’s January issue and replace them with illustrations, “in a nod to the need to take action to save the environment”; and at the Golden Globes a vegan menu was served, a sign that finally the mainstream is beginning to realise that some choices can have a massive ripple effect environment and therefore have a more positive influence. Things are moving in the right direction at last. 

I am in this mood as well: save the planet, save yourself from frusrtating consumerism, save your brain from too much internet connection.

One of the best discovery I made this year it is that I can set time limits for apps, categories or websites on my iPhone. For instance if you put 15 minutes as a time limit for Instagram, after that time frame your phone asks you if it is ok to close down or if you want to to ignore the limit and continue browing. This function gives you a concrete idea of how much time you spend zoning out in front of a screen, navigating through too many images and too much incomplete information. It also suggests that it is probably time to stop and that you could be doing something else. I am also making a conscious effort to look at the sky more. I have noticed I walk most of the time looking down or at eye level (when not looking at my phone screen). I look at people, at shops, at the floor, at houses or buildings but rarely up. When I do look at the sky, I find it soothing. It is almost a little massage for my eyes.

Joanna Lavén‘s interiors are consistent with my 2020 mood: elegant and somehow sustainable because they are timeless. I love the light in this apartment and the subtly serious, very tasteful use of colors. 

in Furniture, Interiors

Customisable Schneid Studio lights

The naked light bulb trend is still pretty big but I am honest I would never use industrial looking lights bulbs in my interiors anymore.

I would use Junit lights from Schneid Studio though. You can assemble different shaped wooden pieces and different coloured cords to make your original light or get the combinations that Schneid Studio proposes and that you can see below. According to the pieces you use to assemble the light, the lamp can be taller or shorter because the pieces have different measurements. The cords come in 8 colors (white, grey, black, blue, teal, mint, red, yellow). The cable cups, in white or black, are made of soft plastic material (PVC) so that they fit tight to the ceiling. The curated version (already set) costs 249 euros each. The custom made version starts from 145 euros: the price varies according to the pieces and how many pieces you pick.

The wooden pieces reminds me of the Memphis Group geometric and colourful shapes. Schneid Studio has also some other interesting lights; for instance see the images below of the Eikon Circus series with choice of three shapes, different color and material to combine the wooden base and lampshadeCust (349 euros per lamp).

If you want to see some unusual light bulbs, look at +DECO post.

in Furniture, Interiors, Ispiration

La Plus Belle, the perfect mirror to get dressed with


How are you? In Rome we went from wearing woolen jumpers to 30 degrees in a few hours.

I had to pack the winter stuff and take out the summer dresses and sandals in a hurry.

I took the chance to throw away a few things; like most people, I have quite a few pieces of clothing that I keep but I don’t wear, for some obscure reasons. I like them but not enough to wear them, evidently.

I also don’t have a good full-figure mirror which makes wardrobe-related decisions more difficult. The long mirror I have makes me look shorter and fatter (I hope). Sometimes, when I need an honest image of myself, I use the mirror in the lift, how ridiculous.

Flos has recently released a 205 cm mirror that would serve this purpose well, La Plus Belle designed by Philippe Starck.

It is a long oval with a led light incorporated and an optical opal silicone diffuser. The aluminium frame is available in polished gold, polished copper, polished bronze and brill fumé. La Plus Belle would add interest and a nice soft ambient light to any entryway or corridor.

Do you have the right mirror to see yourself?

in Color Inspiration, Interiors, Ispiration

Please let me use Nuvolette wallpaper by Fornasetti

It is hilarious, I have been trying to use Nuvolette wallpaper by Fornasetti for years but every time I propose it to a client along with other options, they never go for it. They all recognise that it is gorgeous but they find it a bit unsettling, perhaps too nostalgic or simply too tempestous.

Don’t get it me wrong, I wouldn’t use it all around a house, I would put it on a wall or a entryway but it is the same for the wallpapers I love, better in small dozes.

A part from that, it is a classic, a safe choice because it is above fashion and it will never become outdated. It has a repetitive, strong motif and the fact that it is white and grey makes it very elegant.

Nuvolette was designed by Fornasetti , it is produced by Cole&Son and distributed by vary suppliers; it comes in different colors or intensity (for instance darker or in light blue) but my favourite is the classic version in light grey.

I would advise anyone to use it in small quantities on walls large enough to appreciate the design or contiguous walls.

Another wallpaper my clients like but don’t dare pick for their homes is Calico, designed by Rachel and Nick Cope.

And you, what do you think? Do you like Nuvolette by Fornasetti? Would you have it in your house?

in Furniture, Interiors, Ispiration

The future of design

On one hand the future of design will make a more and more sophisticated, creative effort to present new shapes, and on the other hand it is going to be about improving the performance of  furniture and spaces.

In the last half century, the production and sale of objects has increased massively and the thirst for new things has intensified vertiginously.

Images circulate extremely fast these days with the inevitable consequence that they get ‘old’ within a short period of time.

When in the past the development and the popularisation of a new design used to take years, now a new product is in front of everybody’s eyes and available to buy within minutes or, we should say, clicks. Trends come and go so rapidly that being trendy is a full time and expensive job.

Because in the last few years we have been immersed in images and products and we live in a fast devouring society, being original has become very difficult.

In fields where aesthetics need to meet functionality, like interior design or fashion, coming up with a new concept or idea is even more challenging.

Design, fashion, architecture are not like music that offers an infinite combination of notes; they need to take into consideration the use of an object, they need to pursue a certain standard of comfortability and performance.

So what has the future of design got in store for us?

I believe that in the next few years designers will concentrate on inventing new shapes or looks and they will focus on giving objects, furniture, houses and clothes new functions.

Designers will stretch the limits of functionality as much as possible in order to present fresh looking and more efficient products.

We will see houses that barely look like the houses we have seen before, furnished with tables with incorporated touch screens or beds that can react to the needs of your body. We will buy textiles that don’t need to be ironed and don’t burn or shrink and it will be normal to turn the oven on using our mobile phones.

Natural elements and vintage objects will compensate this compulsion to have or experience something new all the time.

We will have wooden floors, plants and some pieces of furniture from the past in our houses to remind us of what we are, in a society that moves too fast and produces too much.

The future of design will push the concept of evolution and ponder the fact that too much evolution can turn in devolution.ù


This blog post is a part of Design Blogger Competition organized by CGTrader, link to this page to get more info the project.

If you want to read my interview about the Interior Design Trends 2017, click here.

The Frame by Samsung, a television that looks like a framed photo.

The Frame by Samsung, a television that looks like a framed photo.

The new look of an every-day object by Bonnemazou Cambus.

The new look of an every-day object by Bonnemazou Cambus.


Two images of the Origami house by AGi Architects in Kuwait, a building that out-dares the concept of house as we are used to think about.

in Color Inspiration, Interiors

Velvet sofas

It is incredible how things come back in fashion but with a different twist. Twenty, thirty years ago, sofas upholstered in velvet were very common but the colors chosen were mainly beige, brown-yellow and some shades of blue. My mum has just re-upholstered with a white fabric her grandmother’s sofas and armchairs, previously covered with the original blue/green silky velvet (I will never forgive her for that).

Velvet is back in fashion but the tones have changed. The new velvet sofas are pink, bright yellow, dark green, purple; they aim to stand out and not to disappear and they infuse color in the space.

Velvet is not a fabric, it is a weave. The most common type of velvet is made by cotton threads but it can also be made by silk threads, or a mix of them or be made by artificial fibers. It is generally a very soft covering, not too hot and quite durable. It can be dry-cleaned (only if specified so on the label though) or, for a quick fix, it can be swiped clean with a moisten cloth (the sooner you do it the better).

Silk velvet is shinier of the others and more expensive. It was largely used in furnishing antique palaces for its precious look.

My favorite colors amongst the sofas that I selected for you below are pale pink with a wooden frame ,bottle- green with a concrete floor  (first and second photo from the top) and a red brick on a classical sofa (third photo from the bottom).

And you which ones do you like best?


deco_velvet-sofa_11 deco_velvet-sofa_10deco_velvet_sofas_12deco_velvet-sofa_9deco_velvet-sofa_7deco_velvet_sofas_7deco_velvet_sofas_10deco_velvet_sofas_14deco_velvet_sofas_16deco_velvet-sofa_1

(Images from Pinterest)

in Color Inspiration, Interiors

A tip on how to decide your colour palette

I was flicking through the December issue of Living Etc when I saw the Spacecrafted rug by Jan Kath, pictured in the photos above, and it was love at first sight. The hand-knotted rug, available at Front London, replicates, using up to 60 colours, the impression of gas clouds, asteroid nebulae and depth. It took Jan Kath and weavers working with him almost 15 years to realize his vision; consider that the rug has more than 150-200 knots per square inch, we are speaking about an excellent quality artifact.
The decoration of this house, lived in and created by the architect
Rory Macpherson, is built around a few singular, distinctive pieces like the rug and the photos; the result is elegantly simple, fresh and timeless modern. 
The preponderance of white is interrupted in the living areas by hues of strong colours and unified by accents of blue.
Decorating a house can be overwhelming if it is not what you do for living (and sometimes even if it is). If this is your case, I advise you to start from a piece you love -a rug, a painting, a vase, a light- and get inspiration from it. Let the objects that you want to be in dominant positions in your house inspire the colour palette, as in this beautiful example by Rory Macpherson.