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This is the second post from my trip round the Les Arts Decoratif in Paris on Sunday, but as an Art Deco fan, I just wanted to share a few snippets of the world’s finest collection…

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It’s quite difficult to find a quiet spot in Paris, particularly a quiet spot attached to megamuseum The Louvre, but, ah ha, there is the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. I went to see the Hussein Chalayan retrospective and ended up wandering into an exhibition looking at the work of Czech toy designer Libuše Niklová. From the Sixties to the Eighties, she made some seriously cheerful playroom friends. Click through for an outrageously cute lamb and a rather pensive lion.

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It was hard not to get a little bit emotional at the human endeavour in Paris yesterday, as 160 or so cyclists crossed the finish line of the Tour de France, after 3,430.5km up and down some of Europe’s steepest mountains. Had a tear in my eye, but muscle and lyrca whipping past at 45 miles an hour will do that to a girl. More of the actual reason I was in Paris in the November issue of Livingetc, plus the Hussein Chalayan retrospective and a brilliant exhibition on plastic toys to follow on this here blog…

Where Close to Watford, just half an hour outside London, at the end of the Metropolitan line you’ll find yourself in the luxurious grounds of The Grove.

The look Super sleek and polished, with plush velvets, gilding and chandeliers that still look cool – we loved spending time in the Blue Room. And if you have any musical leanings, the grand piano is there to be played on.

USP This summer’s sculpture park is a cut above, with an ambitious collection of art tastefully placed around the immaculate lawns of the old manor house. Wandering around the grounds after a lush buffet lunch in the Glasshouse, we came across some great pieces in surprising places – the Red Rope Ball by Colin Rose sits precariously atop an ancient 80ft tree, Lucy Unwin’s dancing ladies made in steel make a joyful addition to the kitchen garden and Mathew Lane Sanderson’s Lou II is splashed out in the pond.

While you’re there Don’t miss out on the signature treatment in the Sequoia spa, three and a half blissful hours of exfoliation, honey wrap, massage and facial – we were so relaxed we were horizontal. If you’d rather stay outdoors, the 18-hole golf course is renowned for its exciting layout.

Black + Blum are two london-based designers, Martin Blum and Dan Black, specialising in taking the most mundane of products and turning it into an object of lust – their High & Dry dishrack is almost sculptural in its appearance, while the Heavy-Weight tape dispenser is industrial chic at its best. Their latest product is the Hot-Pot BBQ, an ingenious take on a summer staple that we might not want to have on show at all times – with Black + Blum’s version, the grill part is cleverly disguised like a plant pot, with herbs growing on the top…

What was the thinking behind the Hot-Pot? We wanted a solution that fits into urban outside spaces like roof terraces. The English summer is notoriously short, so we wanted a BBQ that looked good and blended in with its surroundings when not in use. We also stuck to very strong, durable materials that won’t rust – unlike most BBQs.Barbecuing can be a very alpha male activity.

If you fire up the Hot-Pot at Black+Blum HQ in Oxo Tower, who takes charge? The inner pot that holds the charcoal is purposely shaped so you don’t need to be a boy scout to light it. There is no need for the usual puffing and blowing.

Any quick-fix recipes for a day around the coals? As the grill surface is made from a thick gauge perforated stainless steel, it’s far more versatile. You can grill any size food without having to worry that it will drop between the usual wire rods. It’s even easy to grill stuffed peppers or a fragile fish fillet!

Tell us about the new products you’re planning to launch? As most londoners without daily access to cars, the shopping trolley sounds particularly great! Our shopping trolley design is only one of many we are working on. The aim is to come up with a bag that can be carried like a tote bag, squeezed under your arm when empty. When you start filling it up you can wheel it. We want it to become an accessory that you are not ashamed of wheeling around – male or female, young or young at heart. Read the rest of this entry »

Here at Livingetc, we love a macaroon. And we love a bit of fashion, too. So we’re exicted that , in one of those rare fashion-meets-food moments, the princeling of colour and pattern, Matthew Williamson has collaborated with Ladurée , Parisian purveyor of the finest fancies going, to create some rather swish new limited edition packaging. Some might say its just a biscuit box. We say it’ll be worth keeping long after the final meringue-y crumbs have been devoured for stashing dressing table trinkets trinkets.

The box (£13.40, containing 8 macaroons) will be available from September 16 in Laduree shops in London for ten days, then nationwide from September 26.

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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