A ‘Bali’ view on spirituality

All you hear about Bali is that it’s a deeply spiritual place. Everything is ‘spiritual’ there, all has a secret meaning, it’s all connected to their Hindu religion or ancient practices. I myself keep saying it to everyone asking me ‘How is Bali?’ – well it’s a magical place, it’s very spiritual. However, as I kept repeating these words I noticed how they become shallow and empty and lose their value and fail to express the beauty of the island. In the end what is it so ‘spiritual’ about this place? What does ‘spiritual’ even mean to begin with?

Like any other mental notion, being spiritual has become a label we stitch to ourselves, to situations, gatherings, spaces etc. We wear a ‘flower of life’ sign, crystals, clean the chakras, do yoga and puf! we become spiritual. And little by little we end up attaching to this form, working towards the goal of being spiritual and miss the whole point. We go running for another image, this time with unicorns and lotus flowers to look for comfort and the feeling of adequacy we long for. It’s not wrong. It’s, by all means, what we need as humans in search for a deeper meaning. But what I’d like to do here is to look at the core of what being ‘spiritual’ means through the lens of the Balinese culture. Is it all just a show off or are they really onto something? And we also have pictures.

First thing that strikes a visitor in Bali is the beauty of … pretty much everything. Nature, of course is astonishing. Coconut trees, frangipani flowers, rice fields and every thread of grass is overwhelmingly beautiful. It’s a space where people worship Agung mountain as their cradle of civilization and home of the gods and use the fruits of nature to make offerings for those gods. Little baskets with flowers, incense sticks are seen at literally every step, door and statue. On my first day I learned from a lovely yoga teacher that Balinese people feel so grateful for being born on such a rich island that they feel it’s their duty to decorate it and create an even better place. As they believe, man must be in complete harmony with the Universe – the gods, the humans and the nature surrounding and thus their offerings.

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Gratitude and harmony. For us Westerners it’s not easy to learn these words, it’s like exercising an unfamiliar muscle. But being here, in this vast beauty we may leave our ego and anxieties behind and take a deeper breath, look at colors more intensely and pay attention to what we normally do not. And maybe, after a few days, give thanks for simply being.

It’s true, Bali and especially Ubud is filled with vegetarian restaurants, yoga studios, SPA centers and gifts for the soul. It’s already an industry of spirituality but all this proves that people on the island have devoted their way of making money to improving the human condition physically and emotionally. Clean food and healthy body are just another way of showing love and gratitude to oneself.

And isn’t this is the very core of being spiritual: self love, self improvement and being in harmony with all that is? By inviting us to look at the beauty around us and engage into harmonizing activities and ceremonies the Balinese culture helps us create a mental space where we can refresh our perspective and engagement with… well, life itself.

 

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Take me back to Thassos

 

I know, it’s frustrating. Outside we’ve got -15° C, the city is frozen in icy snow and the year has just begun so no chance for holidays too soon and I’m posting pictures from the lovely Greek islands. I’m ok with winter and all but let’s admit it, each of us has a happy place to go to when things or weather become too harsh. And today I choose to go to my place of summer, chill and love – Thassos.

As I look again at the photos taken there I remember that British woman , somewhere in her 40s working at a bar at Aliki beach. She came there every summer, spent the days serving people in scorching sun and when asked, she said that for her this was heaven. I was watching her going from one customer to another on the burning sand asking in her beautiful accent: ‘You ok love, shall I get you anything’, making it comfortable for all those tourists packed on the small beach, resting every now and then with a cold beer on the restaurant’s porch laughing and chatting with the locals. And it struck me that heaven was not just the sun and the lovely scenery but the very condition of being human, of serving others with kindness, of enjoying the moment immersed in conversation or gazing at the sea.

Thassos is not your typical paradise island. It’s beautiful and strange in the same time. The beaches are rather small strips of land, some with a fine golden sand such as Golden Beach here below, some are rocky and rather unfriendly. You have to feel the thorny bushes, hot pebbles and pieces of shells under your feet to get to the fine sand and the clear waters. Even then the surrounding mountains remind you that it’s not your environment, you’re only a guest.

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Greek taverns are mostly about simplicity of design in favor of taste. In a place where you eat for comfort, shrimps and ice cream and fried squids are the celebrities so the decor is almost always rather plain and rustic. We found a tavern that took the French chic elements to inspire tourists for a longer stay and have more wine than beer.

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The funny thing about going to natural wonders is that when you look at pictures on the Internet you get this expectation of a wonderful out of this world place where you are one with nature. And it is so, but one little thing extra: it’s packed with people! Giola, the natural pool created by the sea in the rocky shores of Thassos is such a place. As with any amazing spots on the island, you must walk for about 2 km on an otherwise unfriendly road to reach the place that has indeed a stunning beauty. That’s why it’s full with people at any time jumping in the waters, taking selfies, videos and making a lot of noise.

Once there you still don’t feel safe. Nature has created a soft spot in its harshness allowing man to play with it for its amusement. The rocky environment around feels anything but benign, there’s a strong wind blowing there threatening to sweep you off the shore and the wild and deep sea around the rocks may give you nightmares. However this places puts a spell on people who love pushing their human limits and jump in the natural pool from higher and higher points with a lot of technology to capture the moment.

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Marble Beach – no recliners, no big straw umbrellas for shade, no cocktails brought to you while chilling in the sun. Just yourself on a towel and the white pebbled beach, the turquoise waters and of course, hundreds of other people 🙂

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Those summer sunsets as well as sailing in the sea around the shores can get you in quite a meditative state. That’s when material accumulation seems unimportant, dysfunctional relationships are miles away and competition becomes absolutely pointless. Just by looking at the pastel colours of the sky or feeling the depth of the sea under the boat the mind seems to stop chattering and one is merely in the present moment.

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It’s not easy to go up whether in career, personal development or just hiking on the mountains of Thassos. It’s rocky, bumpy, dusty and there’s always the danger of falling back to square 1. On the way however it’s not just rocks and effort. Life puts little wonders meant to show you are on the right track. Signs are everywhere if you know where to look and how to listen. A red flag sometimes, a hidden cascade, people showing up to help or offering you walnuts honey – one is never alone in the quest.

We’ve taken the toughest road to the top which was actually closed and forbidden for tourists and after driving the ATVs through the forests along the steeps we found ourselves on the highest point of the island, at 1200 m above the sea.

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The view from above is beyond words. It makes one feel small and whole at the same time. It’s been quite a struggle to get there and the little vegetation sprung out from the rocky cliffs has a stubborn beauty like everything arisen from barren and harsh environments.

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When done with the adventure of climbing you remember you’re hungry, thirsty, the sun is burning your skin and there’s no shade up the mountain. That’s when you becoming anxious to see the villages on the way back where there’s food, water and most importantly the comfort of being back among people, civilization.

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Let’s talk about trends (2)

Before we go on with the 2016 forecast I’ll tell you a little secret about trends and styles: there’s no really such thing as in and out of fashion when it comes to interior design. After seeing so many trade shows, pictures, articles, exhibitions etc etc I came to one conclusion – everything is allowed, everything can be reinterpreted and time is just a matter of perspective. And that because as I mentioned before design can balance our inner worlds and we choose to express this through colors and shapes.

However, every year some really important guys decide what is more in the now than the previous year and draw subtle directions that we call trends. We’ve seen in the previous article  the comeback of retro patterns, romantic and ethereal expressions as well as a celebration of world traditions and crafts.

Today we look towards the sky and into nature for inspiration, we let the universe expand into our homes and learn that standout colors can be friends in the right mix.

High contrasts

Vibrant colors are still a focal point in 2016. Chromatic brights mingle with dark glossy tones to create an environment for the daring, self-confident personality. There are no boundaries in mixing and matching: tropical orange, greens blend in with neon yellows and fuchsia. The walls are superstars with heavily patterned  wallpaper and contemporary abstract art.

This trend takes it’s inspiration from Asian eclecticism, futurism and modernist artists such as Mondrian, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo or Roy Lichtenstein.

These spaces activate the sense with playful combinations of colors, textures and pattern and add drama with extravagant statement pieces such as sofas, coffee tables or hanging lamps.

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source – Pattern Creator
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source Pattern Curator

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source Mec Interiors

 

We’ve got the blues

The way I see it, blue will always be the darling of interior chromatic no matter if they put it on the stage or not. It’s easy to mix, it’s soothing, it can be playful and toned down so of course we can call this an ‘evergreen’ trend. Blue is the common point for both the old and the new. It can take us on a journey to the ocean with clear hues, cobalt and navy tones or take us to a world of innovation with electric, petrol and neon colors.

What’s special this year is the ‘blue on blue’ technique, adopting layers of different tones in the same space without the fear of creating a cluttered effect. On the contrary; this brings a certain kind of depth, almost like a place of meditation.

Otherwise it can easily enhance other styles through pieces of furniture, rugs or wall art and works beautifully with the ones I will speak about below.

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up right – LaSelva Studio’s Cosmo sofa by Missana
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source – Creative life blog

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Metallics, marbles, minerals

Some would split in two the metallic accents and the minerals. I chose to put them in the same category because both have an incredible impact when used together in interiors. Metallic finishes and stones might seem rather cold and unwelcoming but the truth is they create a sophisticated and glamorous touch to any space. Metallic accents have been used before but this year’s mix and match with stone surfaces benefits every design.

The cutout surfaces like crystals blend in with glass, copper, brass or silver for a luxurious touch. We notice a comeback in matte tableware and materials such as cobalt or marble become focal point in design pieces. This trends takes its inspiration from stones and minerals by adding prints and patterns on wallpapers, fabrics and pottery.

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The Universe inspires

Last, but not least my personal favourite comes with inspiration from the outer space.

Mineral formations, planetary hues, starry prints and futuristic shapes take over our interiors for an intergalactic experience. We’ve all been amazed by the Hollywood productions like Interstellar, The Martian and the latest Star Wars movie so this design style comes at the perfect timing to properly appreciate the beauty of the outer space applied to our interiors. We hold a certain fascination for the vast and the unknown and perhaps this is a way of bringing it closer to our inner universe.

Patterns come with digital pixelations, Aurora borealis blends of colors, star dust motifs. Fabrics play with iridescence, shine, plastic, metal, fluid shapes. Dark tones of blue, cobalt, greys and black mingle with earthy tones and more softer shades of pink and yellow. Wallpapers recreate the space frontiers, decoration items come in planet and star shapes and furniture is designed as space ships ready to explore.

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left – Valentino pre-fall 2015
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source – Pattern Curator
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Tom Dixon creations

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A magical Bucharest

(special thanks to my dear friend Rubama who made me see my city with different, more appreciative eyes)

When creating this blog my intention was to write and share the experiences on travel and design I have when being abroad. However it seems I have neglected a part that is so representative of my own culture and has been my teacher in appreciating beauty and art – my home city Bucharest. Having always compared it to the more glamorous, better organised and promoted Western cities poor old Bucharest never stood a chance in making it to my blog but the truth is that despite it’s many shortcomings this city has been flourishing in terms of design and culture in the past few years. So much that this December every weekend we’ve had design and handcrafted gift fairs all competing for people’s attention and generosity – fashion, hand made jewelry, pottery, interior design and many many others.

In the pictures below you’ll notice the huge comeback of Arts and Crafts style represented in the works of most Romanian designers. It’s not just the handiwork and the raw, natural materials but mostly the use of traditional motifs from textiles to furniture and ceramics. We’ve seen a growing trend of appreciation for Romanian traditional design with brands becoming mainstream such as Iiana, Iutta, Demetria and many others. The Christmas fairs I chose to show here are the ones that celebrate the most this new trend – Made in Ro and Marché de Noël both being located in posh locations in the city.


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My favourite piece was the unconventional eco Christmas kit, a beautiful alternative to cutting down the real trees. It’s created by ‘ The Little Things’ workshop and it’s made of 6mm wooden plaque tree and re-usable wooden Christmas balls. Although it’s 100% Romanian design it has this minimalist Nordic feel and was probably no 1 attraction at the Made in Ro fair.
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Cloud lamps, happy stickers, stuffed toys and clay figurines create a playful atmosphere that isn’t just for children.design2

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Also one of my favourite pieces – wooden sculpted magnets and Christmas tree decorations. I couldn’t leave the booth without getting a few for myself._DSC0678 _DSC0674

Talented craftsmen use their skills to recreate in clay the Medieval architecture of Transylvanian houses._DSC0670

I see a lot of interest growing for design ceramics and hand painted objects. Rather then getting full Ikea dining sets people prefer acquiring objects with a story. It’s a beautiful way to get some distance from the consumerist move that’s been swallowing our buying habits and encourage young artists to pursue their talents especially in a developing society such as the Romanian one. It’s a sign of social maturity from people turning from buying high street brands and hyper market products to investing into art pieces no matter how small.
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Next stop – one of my favourite places in Bucharest –  Acuarela Bufet. Yes it’s not a Christmas fair but it’s very representative in terms of design and your artists. And they have amazing food!

The design is a window in the communist era when Pepsi bottles were being kept not thrown away, when people would listen to vinyl disks and military leather bags were the high fashion. Acuarela is a mystical place evoking times that many of its customers born in the late 80s or 90s don’t remember or haven’t even lived. These are times we try to remember not for the scarcities but for the simplicity of everyday life.
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Unconventional Christmas tree made of tubes and lights design and crafted by my super smart and creative friend Florin 🙂 I’m getting one for next year!

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Acuarela’s focus point: the romantic table setting on the ceiling – an art installation designed by Andrei Argaetic.

The final stop – Bucharest Christmas market. With flavours of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and pies this year’s market was probably the best we’ve had so far. Beautiful handcrafted products from all over the country, young artists showing their works, live concerts and many many Christmas lights!

And the good news: it’s still open until December 27th!

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Wreath in time for Christmas

I wrote my first post on Christmas decorations last year talking about the styles and steps of decorating a beautiful holiday tree and promised myself to write next year even more. Christmas is my favourite time in terms of designs because it practically allows one to do anything without the fear of being tacky. There’s even the kitsch trend in decorating for Christmas so hey, anything is possible!

But since my time is so limited and I hope I’ll have time to finish the 2016 trend series before 2016 actually comes, here’s just a small peek into the Christmas styles through the simple and lovely wreaths.

What’s amazing about this piece of decoration is that it can fit pretty much anywhere and it’s styling can go as far as your creativity desires. It’s the perfect solution if your home can’t host a proper tree because of little space, kids, cats and other reasons. It creates a welcoming space in the entryway or other rooms than the privileged living room. It’s a way to exercise different styles and use decorations that didn’t make it to the final of a Christmas tree.

As you will see the below, there’s no limit in the objects and fabrics used and any style can be represented through a wreath. From traditional garlands of holy and pine leaves to quirky DIY crafts it’s all about expressing the joy and color of the season.

Frosty bits - a frosted look can be achieve through using white pine cones, birch bark or white ribbons in a usual green wreath.

Frosty bits – a frosted look can be achieve through using white pine cones, birch bark or white ribbons. Faux flowers can set the frosty mood and give an elegant feel.

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Traditional with a twist – Traditional wreaths don’t have to be all about pines and holy. Decorate using roses instead of poinsettia, apples, dried oranges or cinnamon sticks . Make it special by filling only a part of the wreath or instead of the well-known circle make it a star, a 3 letter word or hanging garland.


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The Scandi style is all about representing nature and simplicity. Use just a few decorations and stick to pine and cranberry branches. Rams and pine cones are the only attraction points to an otherwise austere setting.

Princess wreath

Here’s a wreath for every princess! Beads, feathers and plumes, lace and tutu fabric, pearls and ribbons – nothing cannot be used to make Christmas a little more glamorous.

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Not an ordinary wreath – Pinterest is full of DIY ideas for Christmas decorations so I chose a few examples of how we can use ordinary objects and create piece to stand out. My personal favourites are ones made from cork, jar lids and painted light bulbs.

Frame it

Just like everything looks official with tiny leaves around it, any wreath can seem a work of art if put in a frame. Use it to write Christmas messages or to create a setting on a mantelpiece and it will rival the Christmas tree in getting the attention.

Glitter lovers

A wreath for any home – why limit to winter inspiration when you love the sea? The marine decorations can work just as well. Family photo frames, apples, Christmas balls, peacock feathers and sequins, candies and bells  – any embellishment can work to adorn the home in style. The minimum requirement is creativity and a large dose of the holiday spirit.

 

One hour in Padova

It’s not the best weather I could get in this trip to Italy. It’s been pouring from the sky for 2 days and even as I write in my hotel in Florence outside I can hear the rain falling heavily on the pavement. After looking at so many pictures with beautiful sunny Tuscany my mental image of these places is a bit confused with this grey scenery.

It makes me appreciate a cloudy but steady sky while you can at least take out a camera and capture the surroundings. And that is precisely what I did in Padova where I stayed for less than two hours until hopping on the train to Florence. I genuinely have no idea what I saw, what are the names of the places in the photos so please be kind and don’t expect a tourist short guide to the city. It’s just a bunch of pictures taken on a grey morning with a fixed Nikon 30mm lens in a town I may never see again. Enjoy!

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Let’s talk about trends

Fresh trends to pick up, everyone! Come and choose ya favourite, the bunch is ready and curated in trade shows and showrooms and magazines all for every taste and style.

So yes, this autumn I’ve been very busy attending Maison & Object in Paris and Intergift in Madrid and checking out what the biggest players in home&deco industry have to offer for next year. Many new ideas for 2016 in interior design and some other reinforcing 2015 trends (you can check in a previous post here) so I had to choose the most prominent ones and group them in little stories.

Pictures come from the great Internet and some taken by phone, unfortunately these shows are very strict about copyright rules so going about with a camera on was not really an option. I’ve placed them in collages with other inspiring settings and products so you’ll get the idea.

So! 2016 is all about home as an expression of the heart. Whether you’re looking at the vibrant 70’s influence, the botanical opulence or the simplicity of a hand crafted setting, 2016 trends have something to offer for every soul.

The 2016 Pantone expresses confidence with bold mid tones, romance with milky pastels or takes us to exotic retreats of blue hues and spicy colors.

 

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source Mec Interiors

                   

That 70’s show

Just like fashion, the home design trends take a step back into the 70’s to bring in the bold patterns and innovative structures of furniture and design objects. It’s all about vibrant yellows, hues of mustard, turquoise and toned down with greys.

We see a comeback of the famous pieces of great designers like Ann Jacobson, Ray and Charles Eames, Marcel Breuer, Kazuo Motozawa or Richard Sapper.

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I personally wouldn’t go all retro, but choose the flashy patterns for cushions or a rug in a plain Scandi interior to bring life and color to the place.

 

Midnight Garden

Taking its inspiration from the ethereal world of fairy tales, this trends highlights romanticism, emotion and the beauty of nature. I spoke of the influence of Botticelli’s work in this interior design style some while ago and it seems we won’t say goodbye to it in 2016 either.

A brilliant way of putting the style into contemporary art was in Maison  & Object show in Paris. Team Lab created the ‘Floating Garden’ from over 2000 flowers hanging from the ceiling blooming inside a specially prepared room. When the viewer entered the room the flowers close to the viewer would rise upwards all at once leaving the viewer free to move around. The floor had special sensors which allowed the flowers installations to rise creating a hemispherical space around the viewer. As I entered the place I felt immersed in the flowers and felt deeply connected with them.

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Team Lab source

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Selfie in the garden 😀

Pastels are the main color schemes for this trend but this time combined with darker hues of earthy green, black and blue.

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source Pattern Curator
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source Pattern Curator
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source Pattern Curator

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Artisan’s workshop

As you may have noticed, there’s a global tendency to going back to Arts and Crafts style where handmade, eco-friendly and locally produced are the key words. Actually this trend brings in the traditional works of different places on the globe to anyone’s home. It’s a way of celebrating the cultural diversity and enhancing the globe trotting preferences of us many.

Used materials: clay, rough wood, hemp, stone, forged iron, mohair, wool, paper, hides. There’s a mix of neutral hues inspired by earth and nature with vibrant colors coming from the Indian or Arabic styles.

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source Pattern Curator
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source Pattern Curator
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source Mec Interiors

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Soft neutrals

“Dusty, chalky versions of pastel tints are being accepted as the new neutrals… The neutral story is going away in home furnishings, but the palette will shift slightly.” Stacy Garcia for Home View

The washed out colors and soft pastels are prevalent in 2016 and designers continue to build upon grey. The style inspires feminine energy, tranquility and gracefulness. It’s highly adopted by the Scandinavian design style but can also be found in minimalist or contemporary spaces (for example Kelly Hoppen design style is based on neutrals). I was talking in a previous post about the serenity feel it brings to those trying to escape the dynamic world and go to a peaceful and unpretentious place.

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It uses mostly natural fabrics: wood, linen, hemp, wool, cotton, iron and copper details. It inspires a place in nature undisturbed and unchanged by the human hand. For a more contemporary look it can be heightened by lustrous finishes and metallic surfaces.

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source Mec Interiors
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source Home Design Bible 2016
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source Home Design Bible 2016

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(to be continued…)

 

Small guide to spending a weekend in Hamburg

I was one lucky girl, everyone told me. Such splendid sunny days in Hamburg are rare and not just sunny, but warm and filled with the frenzy of locals enjoying the weather. So instead of visiting Miniatur Wunderland and other indoor stuff, I just took the city by foot and ferry to discover touristic and not so touristic sights.

I stayed over Reichsof Hotel, near the Central Station – a symbol of Art Deco style in design and glamour. Location itself was fantastic being so close to the train station to get to the airport or other cities and just a few minutes walk away from most of the sights.

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Just like most cities crossed by rivers, Hamburg benefits from the charm given by its dark and somehow scary Elbe. It’s got countless bridges (more than Venice I heard), old warehouse buildings across the channels still used as storage places, a beautiful harbour and a man-made beach to make a perfect getaway for hot days.

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The red brick buildings are historical warehouses used to store carpets, tea, spices and other trade products brought in along the river Elbe. Even now some are still kept as such but most have been transformed to offices (I’ve been to such an office visiting one of my business partners there), residential apartments (with ridiculously high rents) or museums. The modern architecture has blended beautifully with the old buildings.

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As I was pondering in previous posts, the scenery must have an influence over people’s behaviour and spirit in general. Because no matter what kind of a day one had, no matter how much work and pressure and challenges, an evening stroll in Landungsbrücken by the river watching the ships in the harbour should be enough to wipe it all off. The sunset light and people relaxing on the stairs creates the most romantic feeling.

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Can you believe the Alster river is no more than 2.5 m deep? You’d imagine a no end depth for a lake full of yachts and boats. It seems to be a central point in relaxing activities in the city with so many things you can do around there: have a picnic or jog in the park around it, take a boat and row along or just grab a drink in a laid-back set at Jungfernstieg.

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We can’t move to the next topic without talking at least briefly about the merry quarter of St Pauli – Reeperbahn. So basically this is the ‘Red District’ of Hamburg – night clubs, prostitutes, rock bars, people in quirky clothes – it’s a colorful landscape protected by the old building of the police office. I personally dropped there for a few hours just to take some pictures and left quite fast, I had a very uneasy feeling of wandering the place all alone…

11904643_10207217220849866_235845872206159532_nDSC_0329 DSC_0299_01 Reeperbahn-by-night-IKs-World-Trip-Flickr DSC_0306 Now, straight to my favourite place of the city – Strandperle. It’s not a tourist place so if you don’t know about it from locals it’s terribly hard to get there. Most hotel receptionists have no idea nor do the information officers. Otherwise it’s quite easy. There’s ferry no 62 taking people from Landungsbrücken to Övelgönne/Neumühlen every 20 minutes.

The beach is a small strap of sand along the Elbe which suits locals perfectly for a sun-soaking experience. It’s a rather strange, Nordic experience bathing in the river or laying on a beach towel while watching the big container ships from all around the pass in front of you. Adding to the beauty of Övelgönne is the romantic architecture of houses, their gardens and the parks around. These people give a new meaning to the phrase ‘living on the beach’…

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The architecture is impressive: the warehouse district, the new Opera House or the romantic Judenstil buildings of Spanish quarters, it’s all blending in beautifully. I loved the vast parks and green places around residential areas, hip cafes and nice restaurants and  the nice friendly people. Loved their style, their attitude and it really felt as though they were proud to Hamburgers. So I’ll leave you to some photos I took along the way with no particular subject just to give a final feel of the city.

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On how design can improve our personality

It’s generally accepted that a good design especially for home interiors can improve our fleeting moods and even though we might not be able to explain why a certain style or object influences our spirit, we cannot deny it’s importance in our lives. But from changing a mood to making us better people – how is that possible?

Well, we start from the general acceptance that our personalities are shaped by the environments we grew up in, the emotions we feel, the relationships we build and value, the things we do or do not like. And it’s also generally accepted that just as fashion and lifestyle choices speak about who we are, so does the design we choose for the places we call ‘home’. There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ design, there is no space identical with another just as we are all unique in our sense of self. But there is one thing we all hold in common and hope to achieve through the space we create around us: the need for balance.

No matter the conditions of our upbringing and current lives we all feel a lack on the inside that we hope to compensate with the things we are attracted to. Let’s think about how we love to re-create the raw, undisturbed feeling of nature in a 50m² apartment in a busy city. Some crave the cosy shabby space of their grandparents homes when over exposed to this fast paced modern life; others, though belonging to the Western cultures decorate with Buddha statues and Asian zen inspiration.

Although not always taken into consideration, the choices we make when deciding how our home will look affect our subconscious and can deepen that need of compensation or bring us closer to the serenity of living. In the following articles we’ll be going through some of the most important interior design styles and see how they can become our ‘therapists’.

1. Scandinavian style

 

source - Pinterest
source – Pinterest
source - Vogue Living Australia
source – Vogue Living Australia
source - Pinterest
source – Pinterest
source - Designist.ro
source – Designist.ro
source - Designist.ro
source – Designist.ro

With it’s minimalist colors and few decorations, the Scandinavian interior design style focuses on function and comfort rather than aesthetics. It’s highly fashionable today adopted by most interiors in cafes, restaurants and even hotels. With its washed out colors and rugged furniture it’s dedicated for those who want to escape the modern, high tech world and go to a peaceful and unpretentious place.

How can it help us become better people? By shifting the focus more on utility and comfort and less on the poised, free of imperfections look we become more indulgent with ourselves. We start noticing what really matters and less what it should look like. We create a space where we can experiment with textures, creating objects with different purpose, throw a blanket or a fur, not worrying about too many colors to mix and match. Natural fabrics, unpretentious furniture and light shades – the Scandinavian design style teaches us how to be gentle with ourselves.

2. Minimalism

 

source - Igloo Media
source – Igloo Media
source - Designist.ro
source – Designist.ro
source - Designist.ro
source – Designist.ro
source - Pinterest
source – Pinterest
source - Fresh Home
source – Fresh Home
source - Pinterest
source – Pinterest

modern-minimalist-design-awesome-ideas-on-modern-ideas-1Unlike the gentle Scandinavian, minimalism shows a great attention towards details, perfectly balanced aesthetics and quality of materials. It’s a sign of a person excruciatingly trying to bring order to an otherwise cluttered, agitated mind. It’s a style that describes perfectionism, high expectations, desire to make it all look and fit perfectly. This comes with a great price for the peace of mind so a minimalist space might be just what the doctor ordered: coming home to an environment that breathes peace, soothing lines, no piles of misplaces objects is like meditation for a busy mind.

Blueprinting out the right angles, shapes, lighting requires wisdom and great concentration. Resisting the temptation to add a few more decorations, a couple more colors and sticking to only what necessary requires great discipline.

‘Less is more’, said Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Minimalism reminds us that the fullness sometimes resides in simpleness and just a few, but efficient and well designed objects.

(to be continued…)

 

 

A French-chic brunch in Birmingham

Going for brunch on a lazy Sunday morning isn’t just about waking up and eating late. It’s more about becoming Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha meeting up in a fancy design space preferably on a high-street venue, indulging in creamy lattes and sweet crepes because what the hell, gossips go better when they are sugar coated in deserts.

TV shows have planted this idea of fabulous brunch so most cafes are now turning into design spots rather than just a place to grab a latte and a croissant. The French have irreversibly influenced the way a coffee shop must look like and it’s no wonder that the most attractive are those recreating the French chic style.

Madeleine is such a cafe located in the heart of Birmingham, inside The Cube building. During my stay there I passed by every single day wishing to spend my morning there but I was supposed to work and couldn’t afford to linger more than half an hour. So I delayed and delayed the pleasure until my last day and gave the verdict. The food, the place, the people – it was worth it.

It’s the first place where I took more pictures of the food rather than the space itself but seriously – it was either this or ordering from all cakes.

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Right… now that we’ve naturally increased the glucose level let’s go back to the pretty place and increase it some more. There’s a reason the place design is called French chic: it looks like a Parisian cafe down the Seine and it’s chic. It’s like a vintage-looking dress you discover in a high-street store and don’t mind paying 100 EUR to look as though you stormed grandma’s wardrobe.

Madeleine is pour les connasisseurs a beautiful representation of French country style. The delicate white furniture, high counters, pots, fruit baskets on the floor, big vases – all these are prominent features. There’s something very typical about this style: there are no perfect boundaries between indoor and outdoor and especially when it comes to having breakfast, dinner or…brunch.

I loved the rough wooden shelves softened by delicate porcelain and the big silver pot with flowers working perfectly as the centerpiece.

Here’s a typical French country interior and below my own pictures of Madeleine.

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source – Dwell Candy

 

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What’s missing to have a true country decor are the textiles: natural fabrics with flowered and antique patterns, toile de Jouy and handmade touches. I think the place could’ve had a more authentic feel with different floor tiles or some carved details above the cabinets but overall Madeleine got it right. It wasn’t just it’s delicious gourmet food but also they’ve managed a space that is inviting and different from the urban metropolitan feel of Birmingham’s city center.