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There’s something about cherry blossom that is so pretty. Agree? Then head to The Conran Shop, with its windows filled with cherry blossom trees on a carpet of more than two million fabric petals. Each day from 24 February to the end of March, the team at each store will add more than 50 buds to each tree until they are heavy with blossom – finally coming into full bloom on 3 April when the windows will be changed for summer. That’s devotion for you.

Flame-haired Minna Parikka, the Helsinki-based creator of seriously playful and very beautiful shoes, gloves and bags worn and carried by global style mavens and sirens, talks Lady Gaga, orange mock-croc and living in a doll’s house.

How does your working day begin? With a huge pot of fresh ginger and lemon green tea and 100 sit-ups. No day is the same, though. I travel a lot for work and, besides designing, I get to do everything that is needed to run my own brand. So that could be a photo shoot, tradeshow, meetings, decorating my shop window, braking shoes and making masks out of them, accounting, drawing or booking flights for my next trip.

What’s your studio like? I have spent 10 days in Helsinki in the last two months and I will be moving to London for a while in March. So my studio travels with me wherever I am.

Do you like working with other people in a buzzy environment, or do you prefer going solo? I do all the design work and creative directing on my own, I have never even had a design assistant. I like to have my own space and be with my own thoughts. On the business side, I definitely prefer it buzzy.

Describe your signature style. Fun, flirty and feminine. Strong use of colour combined with playful themes and dominant detail.

What’s your process, where do you tend to look for design inspiration? I travel a lot, meet other designers, love shopping for designer clothing, go to museums and galleries, hang around with my friends, enjoy cities as well as nature activities. Active life gives the best inspiration for me to create new things.

Who have you seen wearing your shoes and you’ve thought, ‘yes, that’s who I design for’? I love it that there is somebody like Lady Gaga who is doing something over the top in this time when many things seem so mediocre. It was such a privilege to make a one-off shoe mask as well as design the official double platinum award for her. But my main line is more for a woman like you or me who wants beautiful things with wear ability to cheer up her day.

You’ve known since a teenager that you wanted to be a shoe designer, when was the point that you thought ‘my dreams are coming true’? Firstly when I moved to England to study shoe design in 1999, secondly when I started my own company in 2005 and thirdly every time when somebody tells me that they are a fan of my work.

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These otherworldly oil paintings by Jonathan Zawada – in his Over Time series – are not of any existing place, but they’re not just plucked from the artist’s imagination either. Zawada manipulates data through a ‘3D fractal programme’ to create these psychedelic landscapes. Thanks for sharing, Miss Moss, we love…

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The magical voice of Ólöf Arnalds has certainly captivated her fellow Icelanders – soft as it is bold, playful as it is melancholic. And further afield, Rolling Stone describes her songs as ‘fragile as tiny china swans’ – nice – while Mojo cuts to the chase with ‘Reykjavik’s answer to Kate Bush’. Now, we know we know design, but we also know a beautiful song when we hear one – just listen to forthcoming single Surrender (guest vocals from another brilliant female Icelandic vocalist, yes, that one). And where does this enchanting classically trained multi-instrumentalist find inspiration? Here are three places…

The album, Ho! #1: Roady Music from Vietnam ‘I came across this collection of road music from Vietnam when it was released in 2000 by Trikont. I became totally obsessed with it because it was so different from any music I had heard before. This was before music from all over the world became so accessible online. A few tracks from this record have stayed with me, some because they are so funny and strange, but the songs that moved me most did so because of the unrestricted expression of the voices.’ Listen here.

The composer, Skúli Sverrisson ‘Skúli and I started to collaborate when working together on his music for his record Sería, which came out in 2006. Through my collaboration with Skúli I found my own voice as a lyricist and a singer, which lead me into writing my own songs, too. Skúli has been my main artistic advisor for both of my existing records and he has influenced me deeply as a musician and an artist. He will be producing my next album that I plan to record in the summer.’

The book, Proust was a NeuroscientistThis was the first book I read about art and the brain. This particular book, by Jonah Lehrer, is very inspiring for artists as it validates the significance of creative search from a new point of view. It basically traces how artists from different fields through the ages have, through experimentation and self discovery, come to important conclusions about the human brain that later have become known neuroscientific facts.’

The latest Anthropologie brochure has just hit Livingetc offices and it does not disappoint. Our favourite section is entitled ‘Bounty’, which conjures all kinds of treasure-themed notions, but we love the oil painting references in the styling and photography. See what we mean?

1. Still Life with Letter to Mr Lask, 1879, William Michael Harnett; Breadfruit bag, £158. 2. Apples and Moroccan Vase, Félix Edouard Vallotton (1865-1925); Tacked Vines T-strap sandals, £138. 3. Still Life on a Marble-topped Table, William Mason Brown (1828-1898); Flights and Fancy plates and bowls, from £8. 4. Still life: Dessert 1923, James Paterson; Palisadoes Hobo bag, £448.

All prints are available from Easy Art.

Jennifer, style assistant

These amazing lumps of neon acrylic gems remind me of the set in the final scenes of that shocking Superman film from the Eighties. Except, these are not kryptonite and they would look incredible on a mantelpiece against a dark-grey wall. Manhattan-based artist Phillip Low, you’re our hero…

Every time we click onto brilliant Australian paper art website Upon A Fold we find beautiful things. Remember these? So, it should have come as no surprise that we promptly fell for something new this afternoon, and it’s these paper (yes paper) Airvases. They come flatpack, as seen below, and are transformed with a bit of gentle manipulation.

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These Hidria vessels, designed by Stefania Vasque for Diamantini & Domeniconi, are the stuff of legend, Greek legend that is. They’re inspired by ancient water jugs, updated in exaggerated shape. Available from Aria.

Three Swedish designers – Helena Svensson, Karin Widmark and Josefin Hellström Olsson – have come together to create a rather cool capsule collection, with music as its inspiration. Symbols and high hats translated into furniture – It’s only rock’n’roll, but we like it…

 

Love this sculptural piece as seen on Patternity. What is it, though, any ideas? I hope it’s a sofa… It reminds us of this lovely bunch.

As the team behind Livingetc, the UK’s leading magazine for modern interiors, we’re always out and about, scouting for inspiration. And when we see something that makes our design minds flutter with joy, we’ll share it with you here. To purchase the digital version of the magazine, click here.

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We’re always looking for inspiring houses, full of clever design tricks, to feature in Livingetc. If you think your home is what we’re after, email pictures to our houses editor, mary_weaver@ipcmedia.com.