What colour to paint…Christmas shoes.

I’ve finally finished the last triangle of Toblerone so I now have time to reflect on some of the gifts bestowed upon me over Christmas.

I’m a firm believer that shoes MUST fit well and be comfortable so as not to encourage broken ankles or prevent you from running at maximum speed should you find your self in a situation where a swift exit is paramount (being chased by a bear for example). A pair of shoes, therefore, is a difficult present to get right so I was rather surprised to receive not one, but three pairs over the holiday season.

Who would possibly take on such a responsibility?

I certainly wouldn’t. I know a corrective shoe or a pair of crocs would be comfortable and practical but they grossly lack the kind of design I would want to give someone – conversely the ones that look amazing often have the potential to ruin your feet. I was quite pleased my sister braved the task first.

Taking on the challenge of replacing my beloved retro Nikes (this love goes deep – I bought two pairs so I had a back up should anything happen to the other pair but eventually I wore both pairs out, that didn’t stop me wearing them though). Despite the holes and marks, I wasn’t ready to let go. I was shocked and ashamed when I opened the boxed and felt ready to let the others go and have a party in the wheelie bin. The box fresh pair in deep forest green with an underlying blue stole my heart. The Nike tick in the ever so on trend hint of mint with a flash of bright yellow neon on the tongue and heel. Well done Chloe.

Nike trainers

Not sure how I’ve never owned a pair of Vans given they are a staple in a large proportion of my friend’s wardrobes but I haven’t. My friend Robin decided it was about time I did (mainly to smarten me up I’ve been told by a third party) so he went on a mission to find ones I couldn’t help but want to wear. He must know me well because I now have limited edition paint splatter Liberty Vans. Again, colours are particularly on trend –  bright positive pastels reflecting the optimism of the changing economy with a touch of black to ground them. The pattern is also bang up to date – mirroring many of the painterly fabrics I saw during Paris design week this January. Gold Star Robin.

Van's liberty print

Finally, a pair to make my Mum happy after she had sighed and exclaimed ‘Not more trainers!’ on Christmas morning. Brogues. Smart shoes I could wear to work. Boring? I hear you cry. Actually no…. they have a bright blue rubber sole that makes me smile every time I attempt to be a little smarter. They are not the black I first thought. They are a deep chalky navy. Even better.

Bold blue beautiful brogues.

Bold blue beautiful brogues.


I can categorically say shoes make everything better so if you weren’t as lucky as me you should definitely go and treat yourself!

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What colour to paint….a 3D sketch.

_DSF4812You can be forgiven for thinking this is a flat, two-dimensional sketch because that is exactly what it looks like.

When I followed a small sign through a plain looking door off Greek Street I wasn’t really sure where I was going or for what reason.

I’d stumbled upon a modest gallery with an interesting collection of exhibits, one of which played havoc with my eyes for a good few minutes. See above.

The piece is actually a sketch that was printed on a 3D printer and each ‘line’ is hung with a series of invisible threads from the ceiling. Even when the threads catch the light and logic dictates that what you are seeing is 3D you still have trouble trusting it. The sensation is a bit like one of those pictures that is both an old and a young lady, once you see one you suddenly can’t see the other. For that reason I took a few extra pictures to try and prove the additional dimension but it’s still a push for the brain – especially on a Sunday!




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What colour to paint…hüttenpalast.

Two, maybe three, years ago I read about this hostel in a report about innovative use of space. The owners had taken on an old vacuum cleaner factory in Berlin and filled it with old style caravans and ‘cabins’.  I wanted to stay there.

Two, maybe three, years later  I had booked flights to Berlin and suddenly remembered all but the name of the hostel. Doh. Then I remembered it’s the 21st century and we have Google. Search: ‘cool hostel with caravans in Berlin‘ et voila! HüTTENPALAST (www.huettenpalast.de).

From the styling alone you can tell Hüttenpalast is located in the young and creative district of Neukölln. An eclectic mix of modern, mid century and damn right old furniture and bits and pieces gives this unique retreat a warm, homely feel- despite the industrial shell. The owners have cleverly positioned everything so whilst you feel you have your own space you are also subtly encouraged to socialise, should you wish.  The palette is mainly whites, greys and natural pale wood with injections of spirit through traditional ceramics and books combined with colourful patterned Ikea fabrics.

Take a peek for yourself…

Ingenious use of an old door - definitely trying this one out!

Ingenious use of an old door – definitely trying this one out!

Cosy corner by our cabin.

Cosy corner by our cabin.

This cabin can sleep two people inside and two people on top.

This cabin can sleep two people inside and two people on top.

A great space for preparing for the day ahead or reading if it's tipping it down outside!

A great space for preparing for the day ahead or reading if it’s tipping it down outside!

The cobalt blue of this shelf really gives this cow some standout.

The cobalt blue of this shelf really gives this cow some standout.


These silver birch trees help with the outside inside experience!


The classic mirror shot…

Wake up to morning coffee and mini crossiants, served under a tree central to the factory.

Wake up to morning coffee and mini crossiants, served under a tree central to the factory.

If my enthusiasm for this place still hasn’t sold indoor camping to you they also have private hotel rooms so you have no excuse not to visit!

HÜTTENPALAST is also a cafe and a garden space, if you happen to pop in for breakfast I would definitely recommend the granola with fresh fruit and yoghurt – it was bigger than my face and totally delicious! The staff were welcoming and incredibly helpful, recommending places to visit that were outside the usual list, one such recommendation led to a very interesting sauna experience…but that’s another story  ; )




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What colour to paint…geometric update!

Not sure if anyone remembers but a while ago a masked a pattern on the wall of a bar…IMG_4580

This week I popped back to take a pic so as promised you can now have a look at the finished piece below! I used a series of cool greys neutrals in order to keep it clean and sophisticated, the varying tones creating a slightly 3D effect…

I’m off to Berlin this weekend – Yipee! – so will have plenty of beautiful images to share on my return!

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What colour to paint…super cool doll’s houses.

As a child I was never drawn to the doll’s house.

Give me some materials (Lego, egg boxes, ice cream tubs, shoe boxes etc)  and I would make the doll’s house but didn’t really see the playing potential once built, unless it was to build another and another until I’d created a whole estate.

These doll’s houses are different. They were first exhibited at London design festival but I only found out about them by chance when a very good friend took the time to alert me of their existence.

They are not only different but off the miniature design scale.

The master minds behind this project are the Cathedral Group who instructed 20 contemporary architects and designers, in collaboration with artists and other creatives, to design and build a contemporary dolls’ house. The dolls houses are being auctioned to raise money for the children’s charity KIDS (http://www.kids.org.uk/) so each creation includes at least one feature that makes life easier for a child with a disability.

You have until 11th November to make a bid with all funds going to an incredibly worthy cause. If you can’t afford your own house let alone one for a doll you should still take a peek – find a few to tempt you below…

all 20 can be viewed at http://interactivefundraising.co.uk/adollshouse/

domasAMODELS – Creative architectural model makers

make architectsMAKE ARCHITECTS-Award-winning international architectural practice


2b-large-600x450ALLFORD HALL MONAGHAN MORRIS -RIBA Award winning architects.




duggan_morrisDUGGAN MORRIS ARCHITECTS – In collaboration with Unit 22 Modelmakers


zaha hadidZAHA HADID ARCHITECTS – Internationally renowned, award-winning architects


All images from: http://interactivefundraising.co.uk/adollshouse/

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What colour to paint…uplifted basics.


I can’t lie, I get a strange satisfaction from peeling up to 7 potatoes so have come to appreciate the benefits of a good peeling tool. My current favourite has a ceramic blade with a standard looking black handle – plain, boring and peels like a dream.

BUT, have you ever seen a potato peeler and excitedly thought, ‘that would look GREAT in my utensils drawer’?

If so, it would appear you are not alone. ‘Uplifted basics’ was a key theme I noticed over the September design festivals. Simple, forgettable, everyday objects given an injection of the special whilst retaining their functional properties.

A few seasons ago the humble paper bag from French company Perigot (https://www.perigot.fr) was given a facelift with a block white stripe and upgrade to Tyvek (an incredibly durable paper used by the likes of couture designers like Hussein Chalayan). My uplifted basic of choice was to be found at Maison et Objet ; a shallow fruit crate with gold tinted mirrored sides – have a look at top right image in the tile above. The uplift can be achieved through colour, material and/or shape. Joseph Joseph, Aktion and Seletti are just a few of the bigger companies getting involved.

Following the economic crisis over the last few years we currently feel anything we spend money on should be an investment or a treat. This has encouraged designers to think about basic everyday items and add beauty to previously function driven products like the simple frying pan. Using a considered beautiful product makes the owner feel special so if it means I start to slightly enjoy mundane chores I’m not going to argue!

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What colour to paint…lighting.

I suddenly feel like it’s getting darker. Last time I checked it was still light at 11pm so how is it now dark at half 8?

I don’t mind it getting darker, in fact I quite enjoy it. I like being cosy with a bit of ambient light whilst it’s dark and rainy outside. I like the way ambient light makes things look, colours seem softer, faces less weathered.

This might be why I enjoyed the rapid increase in the lighting selection throughout Paris and London design week. Colour plays an interesting part too, whether in the material, the bulb or the effect on the colour of surrounding objects.

I think we have advances in LED technology to blame for this. Thanks to them lights and lighting are being reconsidered, whether they are using the technology or not.  I have compiled montages of some of the most interesting lights I found….


There were a lot of designers having fun with light, I particularly enjoyed the table light (bottom right) that your drink becomes part of when you set it down on the coaster. Origami, frosted matt glass, jars, tumblers and excess printer cartridges were all recognisable influences but my favourite is still the cuddly chandelier that looks like it has been made from flamingoes.

lighting 2

The image to the left is from Design Junction. It is filled with ceramic shapes that both diffuse the light and draw you to it. Bottom right is a light that blows bubble. Yes a bubble light – the bubble grows until it pops and then another forms – strangely addictive and it is almost impossible not to reach out and pop the bubble as you watch it.

lighting 1

Above we have Sebastian Wrong for Hay – displayed in a beautiful private Georgian Residence, the modern shapes were  perfectly juxtaposed against the traditional decor. Other examples show light incorporated into furniture and the wicker, outline and knitted trends we’ve been seeing.


Another favourite on my ‘how to create ambient light’  list is the old classic, the candle. Maison offered the virtual candle that slowly burns down on the screen of your tablet as well as the LED flame that mimicked the movement of a flame surprisingly accurately. Design Junction, 100% Design and Tent bought us the latest in candle stick chic, with stackable wooden pieces, simple monochrome and slick glossy geometrics. The Poundshop (there is a pop-up store in Selfridges at the moment) also had some unique candle based treats including concrete look tea light holders and a pop and click make it yourself wood and cooper number.

This installation at Maison et Objet in Paris encouraged visitors to walk towards a beam of coloured light in an otherwise completely pitch black room. Despite barely being able to see, visitors were entranced by each colour and shape the projector offered up. Even though it tells you not to look straight at the light source I just couldn’t help it – why is that?!!

Hope that provided a bit of ‘light’ relief.

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What colour to paint…Paris design week – the best bits.

Planes, trains, buses, boris bikes and my faithful feet have all taken a beating as I trawled the shows and events at Paris Design week and London Design Festival with a little bit of London Fashion week thrown in for good measure!

This is the first post of several bringing you my best bits.

Let’s start with Paris.

I love visiting Paris, as soon as I stepped off the train I got my favourite Paris feeling – the one where the extraordinary is suddenly more likely and magic actually exists. After eating my own weight in croissants and that delicious french bread with strawberry jam I felt ready to take on Maison et Objet, from there I headed to Perishing Hall off the Champs Elysees for a presentation. I scoured St Germain and made my way to the docks to see Now!Le Off, a small show full of emerging design talent.

Below you will see two of my favourite examples of elastic storage – as seen at Now!Le Off, these two pieces combined natural pale wood with neon/bright elastic to give flexibility and support for any objects you wish to store.photo[5]photo[6]

The strength of the digital world’s influence is evident in this piece of furniture where craftsmanship and tradition meet pixels! photo[8]

I saw this inky pattern on anything and everything, especially in this season’s appropriate inky blue! This is a step on from the painterly water colour trend we’ve seen over the past few years. It also represents a softening in some of the graphics we’ve been experiencing.

Marquetry. Where did it go? Not that it matters…..because its back! Seen below with strong geometric shapes, the age old craft has returned and is being used in new and interesting ways. The honey tones and hues of the wood being key in order to create maximum impact through complex patterns. photo[4]

I saw a real trend for up lifting basic objects (eg. potato peelers made from gold) but this example turned that theory on it’s head giving the classic chandelier, a comic and fun twist – colour and material playing an obvious roll in the transformation.


These images represent about 0.1 % of the wierd and wonderful pieces I saw but fear not! Design Junction, Tent, Decorex, Focus and much more still to come!

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What colour to paint…dip dye – my top 5.

During 2011 the cool kids started dip dying their hair.

Bring on 2013 and everyone is dip dying something. I prefer to do something that not everyone is doing but I’ve been doing the paint equivalent of dip dying for the last 18 months. Give me something in natural wood and I’ll half spray it before you’ve blinked.

Dip dying, also referred to as ‘ombre’, is a colour gradient fading from dark to light and now graces anything from walls to nails, furniture to clothes. So what is it about this effect? and why now?

It’s new, easy, quick and looks great (most of the time) and after a few harsh years economically speaking, we’re looking for things that are soft, things that have an easy and gradual transition, things that are simple but provide interest and lets not forget the Do It Yourself/ Maker trend that is so popular right now.

The results of this effect can be wildly different depending on the colour used and the speed of the transition between light and dark. It’s a great way for injecting a brighter colour into a space/item and although this is a statement in itself, you’re gently led in or out with a slow fade of colour making it much easier to stomach than a solid hit. Small accessories; cushions, ceramics and ornaments look fantastic with this simple treatment and are a quick and non-permanent way to get involved with the trend.

Lounge 4

I’ve just been working on the VIP lounge area for New York fashion week and have combined a classic nautical navy and white with a bright yellow ombre effect. Much to the contractors surprise I insisted they ombre the natural jute rugs I’d specified with the same yellow paint.Lounge 16

So we can look back and remember why it was we did this in ten years time I have compiled my top 5 dip dyes below. Enjoy!



This Ercol seat was one of the first examples to hit the market and has remained a firm favourite ever since!


As seen in House and Garden June 13 edition (UK) an amazing example of how to stretch the trend to include pattern.


Love, love, love! this simple cutlery that popped up during Milan Design Festival 2013.


Taken from http://www.housetohome.com this is a great example of the effect you can achieve on a wall.

table clothimagesAnd finally…fabric, love the colour used on this table cloth (www.care2.com) and I couldn’t do a report without including at least one cushion (www.justalittlejoy.com).

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What colour to paint…Latvia.


I wanted to pop to Russia for a weekend but the visa required pushed it a little out of my budget…. Hmmm. Where to go instead?…….

Latvia? suggested my colourblind friend, Dan. We booked some tickets.

I could already feel the grey before we left the airport – What can you expect from a country still bearing deep scars from Soviet rule?

Every colour I encountered was the faded version. I mentioned this to Dan. Turns out Dan’s whole world looks like Latvia because he’s colourblind. I started to feel guilty for the times we’d made him colour in the sea green in year 8 geography.

Faded terracotta, orangey yellow brick and pale green the colour of the soap in your grandma’s house were at every corner so I went out in search of something BOLD.

I found this:


And this:


And this:DSC_0966

And this:


Despite its drab appearance, I found, if you look, there are pockets of colour all over Latvia and many colourful characters whose faces tell the stories the language barrier prohibited.

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