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 Interiors

Up in the mountains

My love story with mountains started when I was a month old and precisely when my mother took me at the foot of Monte Rosa.

While I am waiting to get my annual mountain fix, I have decided to show you an hotel that sits perfectly amongst the Dolomiti peaks, in the Madonna di Campiglio’s skiing area.

The 5 star Hotel Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti was designed by Studio Apostoli and it won Hospitality Design Award 2020, promoted by Hotel & Tourism Forum.

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.

(Photos by Mattia Aquila)

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 Color Inspiration, Furniture, Interiors, Ispiration, People

Powder shades and a great use of (a small) space.

This place attracted my attention for the use of color: pink, a pinky terracotta, a powder pink, a powder beige-pink. The different areas and rooms are unified by the use of all these shades that the eye perceives as variations of the same pink color, when in reality they are all different colors; these shades also look more intense or more brilliant according to the amount or quality of light coming through the windows as well.

At a second glance I was hooked by the sapient division of the space.

This is a 48 square metre apartment, basically a big room divided according to functions, an entryway and a bathroom (of which no photos were published because they are probably too small or with no windows). The owners are a Swedish couple that managed to transform a problem (the lack of space) into an opportunity.

The laying of the wooden floor and the colors help separate and unite the areas at the same time.

The bedroom is cleverly closed by a 3/4 plasterboard wall and framed glass windows and doors, to let the light flow in but also makes it private when necessary (is that a stripy curtain, the one I can see to the right of the window door on the third photo from the top? I am pretty sure).

Overall it is a place full of good bits to copy, including the kitchen with its cabinets in pine plywood.

A few years ago I published another example – more industrial- of how to divide the space with glass windows,  a Paris apartment by Studio Moc.

Photos by Jonas Gustavsson for Elle Decoration Sweden through Planete Deco

in Arts+ Crafts, Interiors, Ispiration, People

I ♥ Fabio Viale (and you will too)

In Fabio Viale‘s hands marble becomes malleable and weightless but also urban and irreverent.

Fabio Viale makes sculptures as sophisticates as the classic ones but then he covers them with busy tattoos;  he creates paper planes made of marble, real boats, or lorry wheels.

In his hands marble becomes the most versatile material ever, it becomes paper, wood, flesh, plastic, rubber. Fabio Viale used marble as never before.

in Furniture, Interiors, People

Snoopy Limited Edition Matt Black

I know it could sound like I am fishing for presents for Christmas (I wish!) but I can not mention the fact that Flos has produced the matt version of the Snoopy light to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary.

It is a Limited Edition of 1700 numbered pieces of the iconic table light designed by the Castiglioni brothers 1967, identical but for the matt powder finishing snout-shaped lampshade, inspired by the most famous dog in the history of cartoons.

This light is exactly like the version found in the catalogue but the snout-shaped lampshade is matt with a powder finishing instead of glossy.

A must-have for collectors and design-lovers and a sound investment.


in Arts+ Crafts, Interiors, Ispiration

Centrale Montemartini: a power station with roman sculptures

One of the places I am most affectionate with in Rome is a place that not many people know about or have visited, it is the Centrale Montemartini which is in the cool Ostiense area and very close to the pretty Garbatella where I live.

The Centrale Montemartini is a former public power station built in 1912 and is now a museum hosting numerous classic artwork.

In 1995 some sectors of the Musei Capitolini were renovated and many Roman pieces were moved to the power station for a temporary exhibition. The contrast between the dark, gloomy, powerful industrial machines and the sinuous white marble figures was so striking that the City of Rome decided to keep them there and make the space a permanent museum.
I have been to the gallery a number of times but I am yet to enjoy one of the jazz concerts or dinner parties are sometimes organised inside this structure.

Off the most obvious touristic tracks, you can combine a visit to the Centrale Montermartini with a visit to Basilica San Paolo (one of the most popular churches in Rome according to Trip Advisor), and take a stroll around Via del Porto Fluviale and marvel at the cool graffiti and have lunch or dinner in Testaccio. S.Paolo and Piramide subway stations are almost equally distant from the museum.

The beautiful photos in this post are by Susana Porteiro, a young Portuguese photographer and post-producer. Keep an eye out for her.

in Furniture, Interiors, Ispiration

New hexagonal tiles

Hexagonal tiles have been a big trend in the last two years and a clever way to add pattern to walls or floors.

When I work on a project I always decide first which materials I am going to use. Sometimes the materials have already a big personality (for instance marble) so you don’t need to add much color. In this case, I like to add pattern, introducing differently shaped tiles or wooden boards.

Introducing a pattern in the scheme, allow you to keep the rest quite neutral without falling into boring; you can do that going for tiles of natural materials in different shapes.

Here are some examples of what you can do with hexagonal tiles. You can go for a mixture of wooden and marble floor tiles like in the top photo (Oak and marble floor by Idee & Parquet by Gazzotti), or simply go for simple grey tiles but in a hexagonal shape and combined with copper faucets (interior by Ambert Interiors), propose a wooden spectacular 3D wall (Timber Alexander tiles by Giles Miller) or provide a natural stone background to your bath like in the Porcelanosa catalogue.

If you feel braver, you can copy the solution in the bottom photo picturing the Cups Nine Cafè in Greece, and let the hexagonal tiles invading the wooden floor.

in Color Inspiration, Furniture, Interiors

Noglu in Paris: marble, pink and gold.

I really like the shade of pink used at the restaurant Nogluit is always an option when I am in the process of deciding which colors to use to decorate a house. I like the white Carrara marble, I like a simple look with eye-catching details like the golden metal sheet that covers the unusual curve of the arch and the port-hole. I like the pendant lights like clouds in the sky. It is no a surprise then that I have decided to write about the new restaurant Noglu in Paris (there are three in the French capital and one in New York) designed by the talented and sexy Mathieu Lehanneur.

Normal people have social icons on their website,  Mathieu Lehanneur has a Ted icon, linked to the speech he delivered in 2009 for Ted Ideas Worth Spreadin, just to give you an idea of how cool he is. He is a wide-ranging creator who uses technology, industrial design, a human approach and natural elements to create objects that trespass the idea of furniture. Have a look at his website, to better understand his universe.

The pendents Clouds are part of his lighting collections and, when in group, look really beautiful.

I also like the name of the restaurant, it sounds almost oriental, when actually is NO-GLU(tin). It is a name that works well in many languages.

All in all, this space reminds Sketch in London designed India Mahdavi (look at some images in my post); in that case, the pink velvet of the chairs was combined with polychromatic marble floors, copper details and black and white illustrations on the walls.

in Color Inspiration, Interiors, Ispiration

Interior Design Trends 2017- my contribution

The prestigious website The Lux Pad  has asked me, together with some influential bloggers, what the interior design trends will be in 2017.

This is my contribution:

“In 2017 people will display a more conscientious approach to consumerism, preferring more quality solutions and natural materials. Plants are going to be the must-have decoration for the house and they will inspire the colour palette for wall paint together with Africa (ochre, rust, burgundy). Wood will be widely used, counterbalanced by materials like marble and plexiglass. The Nineties are back with velvet, geometric shapes and tartans”.

Read the entire article here.


Image from www.vtwonen.nl