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Guest blogger Sophie Conran on Lord Snowdon and the South Downs 17 March, 2010

Posted by sophieconran in mydeco guest blogger.
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sophie conran

I started the week with an amazing sunny walk on the South Downs with my friend Emma and her two dogs, followed by the first lunch in the garden of the year, with roasted vegetable salad, sliced venison fillet – shot and butchered by my gardener – and yummy cheeses. Then I did a little tidying up in the garden and hopped in the car to London, stopping off in Barnes at the amazing Tobias and the Angel, which is a treasure-trove of antique textiles and homewares. I left with some lovely embroidered English tablecloths, which I am going to sew together with different coloured thread for the garden table.

On Tuesday I had a marketing day at Temple Guiting, our country retreat in the Cotswolds, where we do bespoke country house parties.

Temple Guiting, image credit: Sophie Conran

We showed the guests around the estate and the stunning gardens, gave them a lovely lunch and did a tasting of champagne Henriot, which all seemed to go down very well.

On Wednesday we held a launch party at my flat to celebrate and introduce the cutlery range I have designed for Arthur Price. We filled the flat with 100s of fabulous tulips and entertained Editors from the UK’s homeware magazines (and some from mydeco!). I had to make a speech, which I hate and am terrible at, but thankfully it seemed to go down better than I had expected.

The garden at Temple Guiting, image credit: Sophie Conran

On Thursday, and remembering it was Mother’s Day on Sunday, I arranged for my lovely mum to be sent a huge mixed bunch of Spring flowers: irises, daffodils and red tulips. I stomped across Hyde Park in the sunshine but freezing wind to visit Lord Snowdon’s House. My friend Koto Bolofo is doing a book of photographs of the great man, his life and works, and found a stunning cabinet that he had made in the 60s. I thought I might be able to help having it remade. So I introduced him to Sean Sutcliff, who runs Benchmark, my dad’s woodworking company. We all met for elevenses at Lord Snowdon’s amazing house, to see if the project is viable. It looks like it is, which is very exciting.

My mum then called to say she was in the market for some new sofas, as everyone keeps sliding off the old, uncomfortable ones. So I hotfooted it down to the B&B Italia showroom, where we swooned over a pair of cream-coloured, calf-skin sofas, but decided that the dogs might pee on them and that would make mum cry. So after much deliberating, she decided on a really stunning component sofa that is comfortable but very elegant. Good choice mum.

Friday was a day in the office editing the Junior piece I have written for June’s magazine, working through some of the wedding plans, putting together story boards for the new Portmeirion collection and generally catching up with all my emails with lots of cups of tea.

Teapot by Sophie Conran for Portmeirion, image credit: Portmeirion


Guest blogger Sophie Conran on spring bulbs and her new cutlery range 9 March, 2010

Posted by sophieconran in mydeco guest blogger.
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Hello, I am Sophie Conran, home body and mum of two gorgeous kids. Over the next four weeks, I am going to be writing a blog and I really hope you can join me!

Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

I write for two fabulous magazines: Junior, for whom I have been doing the yummy food pages for about 3 years, and more recently House Beautiful, which is really great fun – check out the current issue for some special Mother’s Day ideas.

One simple gift idea is to group together a collection of white vases and jugs and fill them with irises and daffodils – the bulbs are really easy to plant and the colours look stunning. For something more subtle, try filling them with white narcissus and hydrangeas. Have a look at Candida’s blog on my spring bulb workshop for more tips and inspiration.

As well as writing, I also work with a number of businesses as a designer. I have created a range of tableware with Portmeirion, some wonderful wallpaper with Arthouse and a range of elegant cutlery with Arthur Price, soon to be launched at John Lewis:

Image credit: Sophie Conran

I’ve been working closely with Tony and Simon for the past few months and am really excited about the launch.

Next week, I will be talking about my countryside retreats, so watch this space!

Wallpaper made for wallflowers 2 March, 2010

Posted by Nicola Wilkes in mydeco guest blogger, Uncategorized.
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Image credit: Michael Angove 2010

Being a huge fan of wallpaper it’s not easy to single out specific designs. To be honest, if I had enough walls in my house (and if I thought it was a look I could get away with) I’d have a different print or pattern on every wall. But I don’t – and neither would I get away with it, so that calls for a bit of favouritism…

Image credit: Michael Angove 2010

Having first stumbled across Michael Angove’s stand at 100% Design two years ago, and fallen in love with the delicate patterns of a unique wallpaper designer who looks to flora and fauna for design currency, I’ve long since had his work at the top of my interiors ‘wish list’ …not to mention the fact that Michael himself hails from a town only a few minutes drive from my own South Wales home. Which is why, when the Welsh designer announced that his newly revised website was live and ready for business last week, I was scrolling pages of chinoiserie-inspired gold and platinum gilded wallpaper within milliseconds.

After all, what more of an excuse does one need to browse page after page of wallpapers so aptly named as Wisteria, Magnolia, Clematis, Fir and Lilium? And no, nothing unique in the names I agree, but one look and you’ll see that the designs themselves are far from ‘standard’ with print descriptions such as ‘Sprawling Wisteria heralds from the Peak District and is loved for the exquisite butterflies from the aviary at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Blue Sacra beetles and a very discrete and delicate praying mantis lie within the design. A shy butterfly will only be found by the most patient’.

Image credit: Michael Angove 2010

Look even further and you might discover a delicately camouflaged butterfly, beetle or ‘nimble spider’ that Michael suggests might be trying to hide from us… as the designer explains that just like in nature itself, you never know what could be hiding behind the leaves.

Storage solutions with style 21 February, 2010

Posted by kiadesigns in mydeco bloggers, mydeco guest blogger.
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One of the biggest problems for my clients is storage: where to put it, how much to have, what to use it for…  So in my hunt for different and stylish storage I have spotted some top finds.

Image credit: Yanko Design

These fantastic “book pills” have been designed by Je Sung Park and make a really flexible storage solution.  The inner colourful material is flexible so the book ends can be moved around to suit your mood, and since they are modular you could put together as many as you need!

Image credit: Nest

Image Credit: Coroflot

Shelving like this would be wonderful in a study or in a kids’ bedroom, as it allows you to see everything at a glance.

This storage system is a little different from your average bookcase:

Image Credit: Fresh home

This bookcase really would be a statement piece! A little bit of fun for a TV room maybe?

Low-priced art is an investment we can still afford 16 February, 2010

Posted by emilyjenkinsonmydecoblog in mydeco guest blogger.
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Now in its 11th year, the Affordable Art Fair is going from strength to strength with low-priced art proving an increasingly attractive investment for homeowners contending with a still-shaky economy. According to its founder, Will Ramsay, last year’s October fair was the best attended ever, and the third best for sales out of a total of 17 London fairs, with £4million worth of art bought. In a recent interview with The Good Web Guide, Will said that, this year, he predicts “further pick-up as confidence returns.”

Will Ramsay, founder of Will’s Art Warehouse and The Affordable Art Fair

It’s a prediction that bodes well for this year’s Spring Affordable Art Fair, taking place in Battersea Park between 11th – 14th March, where 120 galleries will be showing an array of contemporary art, priced from just £50 up to a ceiling price of £3,000 and ranging from firmly established household names such as Sir Peter Blake, Jann Hanworth (solo show currently on at Woverhampton Art Gallery), Billy Childish (solo show currently at the ICA) or Scottish painter John Bellany to hot young talent on show at stands including My Life in Art, Mauger Modern, Bo-lee, Olivia Connelly and Sesame Gallery.

Jann Haworth, ‘Mickeyangelo’, Oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm, £2,850, Olivia Connelly

If it is the new talent that you’re after at this year’s Affordable Art Fair, be sure to visit Land without a Map,  a showcase for emerging artists, curated by jotta, the online and offline community of practicing artists and designers borne from the University of Arts London, which provides visitors with the opportunity to snap up artwork from one of tomorrow’s brightest stars.

To read the full interview with Will Ramsay, founder of The Affordable Art Fair, click here.

And to snap up 2-for-1 tickets, click here.

Adopt a bot 8 February, 2010

Posted by kiadesigns in mydeco guest blogger.
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These wacky designs are “orphaned” robots that are waiting for a new home, made from old hold house equipment including pencil sharpeners, coffee machines… you name it and it’s probably in one of the bots.

Image credit: Adoptabot at Etsy

My favourite is Dipper who is descriped as “…is not the sharpest tool in the shed but he is a lot of fun hang around. Ask nicely and he might even fire up his jet powered fan blade and take you for a wild ride! ”
At only 13 inches tall we probably won’t be taking that ride but he still is gorgeously sweet!

Image credit:Boxheart

Also by artist Brian Marshall are some of these amazing feature lights. Brian on says he picks up pieces for his artwork from “Garage sales, flea markets, metal recyclers, ebay, junk yards, the side of the road, and sometimes they just show up in my classroom (anonymous donations).” 

Image credit: Boxheart

Where can I use one of these? 1 February, 2010

Posted by kiadesigns in mydeco guest blogger.
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I have recently been designing a living room for a client in London who has asked for the room to have a slightly New York style apartment theme to it and I stumbled across these fantastic chairs – although not great for this project they would be fantastic for a home office or even as funky chairs for a dining room!

Image credit: Bel&Bel

Image credit: Bel&Bel

Plus they are from re-cycled vespa’s so are carrying on my New Year’s eco resolution.

Working on an interior design project in London? Finding the choice just too much? Have the inspiration but don’t know where to start?
Our first consulation is completely free and our interior design service takes the project through from start to finish!

Kia Designs

So you thought the shopping for others was over? 27 January, 2010

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With Christmas come and gone the sales are usually a time to think about buying yourself all the things that you have been holding off for.  However, what about all those wonderful people (my husband included – whose birthday it is today!) who have their birthdays in the month of January?

Well here are a few items that will come as a wonderful surprise after the melee of Christmas gifts that have already been thrown at them!

Image credit: Olive shop on Etsy

This cute Postcard Pillow that is available from Olive’s shop on Etsy is a great personalized present. Each gorgeous pillow is customized to your specifications so it will make a lovely personal gift. Plus it’s made from Eco white bamboo cotton so it’s even great for Eco buyers!

Image credit: Ecocentric

This is the perfect gift for the house (especially if you have those friends that are always saying “is it just me or is it a bit cold in here?”)…

Image credit: Ecocentric

These are simple yet beautiful and will light any room with a wonderful glow – definitely needed in this cold January weather!

Eco friendly gaming 25 January, 2010

Posted by kiadesigns in mydeco guest blogger.
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Image credit: Autodesk

Having a 17 year old brother can be a bit of a pain, you get used to the monosyllbic answers (Big sister – “How is college going?” Little brother – “Alright”). However, one thing that you do get is to constantly be told about the newest “cool” thing on the block.  Most of the time it’s something that really doesn’t interest me but little brother has come up tops with this one – RetroFits Online Game.  This game is free and fun, and bound to take up some of that “free” office time you might have.

It is designed to help people “make buildings better“. Designed by California based software company Autodesk, it has been made in response to the news that most of American’s green house gases actually come from poorly designed and built buildings. It takes you through all the simple steps that can change a building into an Eco friendly building!  With some really startling facts thrown in!

A new year and new cushions 18 January, 2010

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Image credit: Niki Jones

The new year always brings revelations and my most recent one has been that I NEED to update my cushions, they are simply looking tired and worn.  Updating accessories is the easiest, quickest and usually the cheapest way to completely change the look of the room.  Here are a few of the items on my wish list!

I love these cushions [above], they are hand embroidered and take their inspiration from Uzbek textiles from North Afganistan.  They have a wonderful look to them and will add all the right colours in to the room, gorgeous deep plums (very this season), wild yellows (gonna be big in 2010) and my current passion – fuschia!

Image credit: Soap Studiooos at Etsy

Also dogearred (no pun intended) are this sweet and very fun Pigs and Dachshunds Pillows.  Since I am not allowed to get a Dachshund till after we come back from honeymoon in April these will simply have to do and it $35 each they will be a fair amount cheaper too!  I simply must have one of these but with four gorgeous designs it is going to be very tough to choose!

Image credit: Niki Jones

And as it usually happens, I have started looking at the gorgeous cushions and have seen a beautiful rug!  This piece is made from felt (a very Eco friendly materia) and uses a fantastic cut out design.

Image credit: Niki Jones

And this chair would be the highlight of my home office – and guess what?  It comes in fuschia – it was clearly meant to be! – Now where’s my credit card…