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This year’s Milan Furniture Fair provided the launchpad for another ‘Fashion guru collaborates with iconic interiors brand’ moment, when Christian Lacroix revealed his new range for mosaic maestros, Sicis.

As you’d expect, the king of haute couture’s very Baroque homeware works OTT embellishment, colour and vibrant pattern, all at the same time. Whimsical, magical and mad, but in a good way.

M. Lacroix found his inspiration for the collection in Empress Theodora, the Byzantine stunner captured on mosaic walls in Ravenna.

Crumbling palazzo to accommodate it all in, not essential…


Designer, Droog collaborator and Moooi founder Marcel Wanders, resplendent in suit jacket, baggy trousers and graphic-print trainers, pulls up a chair to discuss modernism’s great lie, career-defining footwear and why less is never, ever more

Marcel, how do you do what you do? There are so many designers who make way more than me, ten times more than me, twenty times more. And much of that is lost. But I make one thing, and you will see it, because I focus all my energy on it. We’re continuously surrounded by things people have designed, and yet we don’t give the items a second thought. I don’t want that for my work, I want it to be seen and enjoyed, so I make less.

What’s the Moooi studio like? We have a huge space, really big, and about 30 people. It’s a very energetic group. A lot of the team come from other countries, and are strangers to Amsterdam, so we become their Dutch family and friends. I feel it’s my responsibility to give them that. We love to have parties, and even have a Moooi studio boat, which the team can use any time they like. We also have the ‘English Alert’, which must be called if there’s Dutch being spoken around people who can’t understand it – everyone must speak English.

When did you become aware of design? I was always making stuff in the attic of my parent’s home when I was a child. If something got broken round the house I would take it up to my workshop and fix it. And I would take things apart to put them back together, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. When I was 14 I started growing lots of plants in our greenhouse and thought, ‘maybe I could be a landscape architect’, so a few years later I went to study it at school. Then I found out I would have to wear these awful, ugly boots –Moi?! Suddenly there was no way I was going to be a landscape architect. I had heard a bit about studying design, but bear in mind this was 1975, ‘design’ wasn’t a normal career. But after a year, I knew ‘this is my job forever’. I studied night and day, seven days a week to get it right.

What makes you happy about your work? As a designer, you have a box with a million jigsaw pieces inside but no picture, and if you can solve that puzzle, find a solution, then that’s magic. Sometimes it’s a little easier than other times. The box might be smaller because of certain constraints or you might have a client looking to add their pieces into your box. Good design is like giving someone a good gift, because two things that the recipient will feel are the same – ‘wow, I never would have imagined this, it’s perfect for me.’ And, ‘of course, this could only have come from him, it’s what he does.’ Good design celebrates the relationship between the maker and the audience. I have to be recognisable in the piece, or someone else should have done it. I love being part of that relationship.

How did the collaboration with centuries-old French silverware company Christofle happen? The process began two and a half years ago when Christofle approached us to design something for them, but it took us some time to work out what kind of product would be right. We tried a few things, but nothing seemed to be the correct style or there were technical issues. But I think cutlery is the right thing. And using embossed engraving really shows the character of the material. I wanted the Garden of Eden collection to be an experience to use, yet completely timeless.

How did you find common ground with such an historic company? When I design, I design for longevity. I think about this a lot. We live in such a throwaway society, because, generally, we have a disrespect for the past. Design wants to talk about tomorrow, the future, and yet because products are designed today, by tomorrow they are irrelevant. If you continually strive to be ‘contemporary’, your work will be redundant very quickly. So in my work, in everything I have designed, I place a reference to the past. That is essential to me, and obviously heritage and tradition is also essential to a company such as Christofle.

Form follows function. Discuss. The philosophy of modernism is a lie – that function should be at the fore. You could buy a very basic item, use it, and so it has completed its role. But it’s actually the job of the designer to give more; to give emotion. You buy a functional spoon because you want to eat soup. You buy a beautiful spoon because you want more than that. It becomes an experience. Of course good functionality is essential, but I never want to talk about it, because if I can’t do it as a designer then I am terrible designer. My inventiveness begins at the point where functionality is taken for granted.

For me, this idea of function being so celebrated goes back to the Industrial Revolution, when it was decided that machines would make things. But the machines were really clumsy. So, naturally, the items that were mass-produced were basic. However that shouldn’t have been the blueprint for the 20th century – this idea of ‘basic’ being good enough, and that people should be content and grateful for it. I don’t know who came up with the idea that less is more, but let me tell you, look in the dictionary, it is not right! It’s a fucking lie!

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This button and badge-art brilliance is the work of Hello Geronimo – London’s finest one-woman embellishment queen. And we love…

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Life.Style.etc is being a very good auntie and sending her niece one of these super-cute little chocolate-filled Plush bunnies from Planet Organic. Several million Auntie Points coming her way…

Holly Becker, editor of beautiful interiors blog Decor8 on finding inspiration, her first foray into the world of print publishing and her unashamed love of pop music (quite right, we say).

Describe your studio/workspace. Currently, it is in a small room in the back of our flat with a huge window, white walls, and high ceilings. I have a white wooden desk, a Vitra ergonomic chair, a Muuto wood lamp by TAF Architects, some etsy art prints framed on the wall, a vintage white bench from Sweden where my interiors books are stacked, and a rolling metal cart with wheels, in white, for storage. The main colours are white, natural wood, blue and yellow.

What’s on your desk right now? My Mac G5 and a MacBook Pro along with a natural wood stapler, a white Panasonic phone, JBL Creature Speakers in white and a vintage cup with big yellow flowers on it where I store my pencils and pens. I also have a few magazines stacked in a white leather tray – Essen & Trinken, Real Living and the new issue of Livingetc (of course). Read the rest of this entry »

In a chapter of the book Matter in The Floating World: Conversations with Leading Japanese Architects and Designers called Presence of Absence (what a lovely phrase for a Monday morning), groundbreaking architect Kengo Kuma says, ‘Any new project is my dream project. No matter how small it is, it’s a space for dreaming.’ Kuma is one of twenty Japanese design innovators interviewed by Blaine Brownell, who was looking to root out the substance of their work, how they combine elegance with functional pragmatism, and artisan craft with modern materials. Fear not, though, this is not a dry, expert-only book – the images and the words are poetic and inspiring, and provide a opportunity to step into the minds of these great designers.

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Victoria Suffield, founder of smart, stylish homeware and fashion store The Hambledon on what the best dressed home will be wearing this summer, the delights of Winchester and poltergeists in the men’s section.

Where does the name of your shop come from? My mum has a shop called The Hambledon Gallery in Dorset, so it’s a homage to her. It’s named after a hill.

Why did you decide to open The Hambledon? I used to have a mailorder business called House, and we had a really weird concentration of customers around Winchester so I thought we should open a shop there. That honestly was the full extent of my market research.

How do you decide what to sell? I knew that I was interested in fashion but not to the exclusion of homeware or kids’ stuff or books or beauty, and I wanted to have a go at selling it all. I thought we could have a kind of department store vibe but super edited.

What’s your favourite thing in the shop right now? Pied de Poule plates [see above and bottom]. It’s such a simple idea – vintage French china which is then refired with a pink fluoro stripe or flash. Read the rest of this entry »

Yes, it’s in Milan, but that doesn’t mean the Salone Internazionale del Mobile is a wholly Italian affair. Far from it. At this year’s show, the British design flag was flying high with contributions from a spectrum of talent, ranging from new product from Benchmark and Jasper Conran for Wedgwood at the UK-focused Design Junction to funky design installations from stylist Faye Toogood.

1. Simen Aarseth’s oak Puck stool for Benchmark. 2. Faretto lighting from Nigel Coates3. Barber Osgerby‘s Ton Ton chairs for Vitra4. The +Stone range, part of a collaboration between Portuguese stone maestros Sienave and British design partnership, Michael Sodeau5. Jasper Conran’s Mosaic chinaware for Wedgwood. 6. Pearson Lloyd‘s  adjustabl Fixie stools, for Tacchini7. Tom Dixon‘s fantastic Fan Chair. 8. Mrs B dining table with painted leg by Pinch for Benchmark. 9. Jasper Morrison chairs for Cappellini 10. Benjamin Hubert‘s Maritine chair for Casamania

While all the established movers and shakers head out the the main Salone del Mobile exhibition centre, it’s the complementary activity around Via Tortona, and in particular the Superstudio, which attracts a younger, more experimental crowd and has a much funkier vibe. In fact, checking out Superstudio is more like wandering around a museum of fun and unexpected curiousities than traipsing from exhibition to stand to exhibtion stand. The fact it’s housed in an aptly monikered ‘Temporary Museum for New Design’ merely adds to the Pop-Up vibe.

This year, Superstudio and its offshoot, Innovation – Imagination, comprised over 50 exhibitors, ranging from the innovative to the quirky, the experimental to the practical. Highlights included…

Floor to Heaven

Traditional patterns, shapes and production techniques are still inspiring modern designers to reinvent, revisit and reinterpret. Last year’s Eastern European folkloric thing moves into a new dimension that’s equally striking. This season, let’s call it, I dunno, Ethnic Funk. There was a lot of it about. One favourite was the floor couture by German carpet maestros at Floor to Heaven where a 21st-century bright palette breathed new life into ancient Moorish patterns.

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You simply cannot beat a black-and-white stripe. And on a doormat? SO much nicer than a bit of old coir. Thanks for brightening the world’s doorsteps, BoConcept.

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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