In love with Valencia

It was Valentine’s Day when I was in Valencia at the beginning of this year but one needs not such a special occasion to fall in love with this stunning city. From the moment I checked in to my hotel in the streets of Barrio del Carmen I could breathe the life and scents of the place and say ‘Ay, mi querida España!’.

There’s a lot to say about Valencia and it’s incredible heritage but I’ll let the pictures do the talking. One thing that photos cannot express is the kindness of Valencian people. Their openness, their joy of life despite having been through difficult times in the past years – those are gems that make a tourist appreciate an experience there better than the baroque buildings, the great food and the possibilities of entertainment.

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Palm trees, palm trees everywhere! What a beautiful contrast between the baroque buildings and the exotic feel of palm trees

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Botticelli in interior design

500 years later and we still hold a deep fascination with the Renaissance and what it represented for the social awakening of Europe. From the sumptuous lines in architecture to the candid representations of people in paintings, the Renaissance has taught us that it’s ok to dream and fantasy can come to reality with colors and shapes.

This year you will notice that both fashion and interior design have taken their inspiration from the Florentine artist Sandro Botticelli, known for his allegorical paintings, mythological characters and references to antiquity.

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The Birth of Venus

 

So what is it so attractive about Botticelli’s work that we keep re-inventing up to this date?

I believe that aside from the skillful technique and allegorical meaning it’s this world of fantasy that he created through naturalistic details, the ethereal colors and elegance of figures – a general poetry in images. He tells stories of re-birth, of hope, of being one with nature. We all long for these notions so little to be found in our daily lives. We cannot buy a Botticelli art work but we can create a space to balance the fast paced modern life with its precision, technology and somewhat brutality.

Designers love to play with patterns and in a previous post I showed you how they chose this year to create a vibrant scenery, using mostly floral and nature inspired motifs. As a way of creating our own world of dreams in our homes, this trend is easy to adapt to interiors by choosing the right items and blending in the rich patterns in mild shades.

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Wallpapers are great to give structure and opulence to a simple interior.
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source – www.digsdig.com
Purple-whimsical-living-room-with-botanical-accents living etc
source – Living etc magazine
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source – House and Garden
Country-bedroom-with-pastel-bedlinen-and-floral-wallpaper Living etc
source – Living etc magazine

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Because it’s all about ‘revival’, this interior goes best with retro chairs or shabby-chic furniture inspired by the Early Renaissance.

 

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Roccoco style chairs found on Pinterest
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Retro lines with bold prints and colors can have a magical effect. And if you are really lucky to find a neo-classical style chair (down right) then keep it as a treasure

 

The easiest way to give the Botticelli feeling to a space is using textiles: change the bed sheets, throw in a cushion and put on new curtains. Also, small decorations and tabletop items can create the land of mythology with cost-effective results.

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Wings and coral decorations from Joss and Main. The placemat art is from One Kings Lane
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I love the Anthropologie dinner set, on the left. Or get the summerish feeling with the oyster plates from One Kings lane or the dessert set from Williams Sonoma
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Decorations from Joss and Main
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Talk about dream-like bedsheets! The one on the up-left side is from Pottery Barn, the one below from Sew a Little Love blog

 

 

Paris when it sizzles

Oh what a feeling when in Paris! No matter how many postcards, films or songs you see and hear there’s no way you can understand the fascination with this city until you get to see it.

Many have been said and many iconic images have been seen from this stunning city so there’s little I can add to it. And yes, this time I’ve been a proper tourist, checking all the cliches attached to a visit in Paris: pictures on Pont Neuf, climbing up the hill at Sacre Coeur, having brunch in Saint Germain neighbourhood and of course – crowding in with tourists at Tour Eiffel.

They say you either love or hate Paris. They say it’s smelly, packed with tourists, too much of a diversity, people are not particularly helpful and rather dirty. And yes, you can choose to see all that or you can choose to be amazed by the majestic buildings, inspired by art and design or enjoy the food and kaleidoscope of colours and scents.

In future posts I will bring to you the charm of design neighbourhoods of Saint Germain and take you on a tour at Museé d’Orsay and I also plan a more elaborate post on Art Nouveau but for the time being let’s just enjoy a few pictures taken on my strolls around the Parisian streets.

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The Library of Birmingham – a hip place for the mainstream readers

When we think of a place to hang out and relax on a rainy Sunday afternoon the library never really comes to mind. In fact most of us connect the image of a library with student-hood, with papers, preparing a thesis, exams and all the hard working part of being in university. I personally haven’t set foot in a library since I graduated and honestly didn’t think I’d do it again. Until I visited the Birmingham earlier this year and had a different perspective on what a library should mean for city and its community.

Opened in 2013 in the center of Birmingham, the new construction looks like a pile of large gift boxes one on top of the other. The outside design can be mistaken for a new shopping mall like the Bull Ring or another business center but in fact the interior is an enchanting paradise of calm.

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Let the people of El Born sleep

When visiting a city such as Barcelona a tourist cannot help but marvel at the beauty and scale of architectural jewels and enjoy to the fullest the attractions and nightlife it has to offer.

El Born barrio is no exception. It’s now one of the most fashionable places in Barcelona. The cafes and restaurants are packed with people, the streets filled with music. It’s a good destination for shopping from small private boutiques selling quirky stuff like hair wigs to old photo cameras. And of course let’s not forget the cultural satisfaction one can get by visiting the ruins of the medieval center of Born, the textile museum or the beautiful cathedral Santa Maria del Mar.

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Thoughts from Costa Brava

I wasn’t very into the idea of visiting these particular business partners and it kind of bothered me that they weren’t located in Barcelona and I had to take the train to reach them in this small ‘pueblo’ of Sils, Girona. So with a heavy heart and runny nose I went to see them today and to my surprise their location is right where the beautiful resorts of Costa Brava begin.

There is little to say to describe the beauty of this place. It’s Spain. And the sea. The sea and Spain so that should be enough. The people are not just nice, but warm and kind and laugh straight from the heart. Crack a joke, say something in Spanish, ask them about their Catalan culture and they become your best friends. So I can’t help at wondering: does this beautiful scenery they live in influence their easiness on life? Or is it just the upbringing?

Living in a city like Bucharest, having to deal with traffic, pollution, noisy neighbours and a rainy dirty winter makes me think that maybe the reason we are somehow colder, always in a hurry,  a bit angry with life is because we were not blessed with such an environment. Maybe the reason people can be open and kind is because the weather and landscape is kind to them in the first place. Maybe the troubles and obstacles are easier to bear just because there’s the option of taking a walk to the beach and feel the warmth of the sun.

I’ve always tried to find that connection with the world surrounding and it seems so much easier to do it in a place like this. There is little effort in shutting down the mind, there is peace in the present moment so there is kindness, compassion, laughter and happiness.

So perhaps we should be more understanding with ourselves, those living in the hectic and maybe not-so-pretty cities of the world. The real challenge of connection with our source is here – waiting in traffic, walking down a crowded street, shopping or taking phone calls every 10 minutes. And find cherish the moment’s peace whenever we get to be in a blissful landscape like the one below.

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All German and neat

Frankfurt is not really a tourist destination. For most of us foreigners is the place to be with business since it hosts some of the largest trade shows in Europe in the great halls of Messe. So even tough you’d rather be in a sunnier Madrid or a more bubbly London, you are stuck here hoping to do something else than walk from the fair back to the hotel and go out to eat.

Shopping is an option but not if you’re working long hours as everything closes by 8 PM. Some restaurants are still open and truth be told, I haven’t checked the clubs to pass judgement. But I cannot be unimpressed by the beautiful modern architecture blending with the old German style and Gothic churches in the middle of contemporary looking neighborhoods.

I’ve gathered below some photos taken one day of strolling around downtown. The Bahaus influence is visible on most buildings and I love this 80s look in metro stations and along the streets. Feels as you we are again in a wave of culture and change, making a difference and standing out from the cliche corporate lives of today.

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2015 trends in home textiles

Busy, busy beginning of new year so it’s been a while since I last posted. However I’ve been working to gather new and hopefully interesting material to share with you and today I’m giving you the freshly baked trends of 2015 in home textiles.

Every January Frankfurt hosts the biggest trade show dedicated to the textiles industry – Heimtextil. From big brands such as Esprit, Desigual or Joop to manufacturers of Asia this fair covers all aspects from producing the goods to presenting the designs and future trends.

So what’s hot in 2015?

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A cloudy afternoon in Veliko Tarnovo

Struck by a little inspiration this morning, I decided to end the year writing about the last road trip of the year – last month in Veliko Tȃrnovo. It’s one of the new places I discovered in 2014 that brought old and new friends in my life, new experiences, learning to love design even more and I became a happier, better version of myself.

This little medieval town located in northern Bulgaria is easy to reach and perfect if you want to travel for a quiet weekend away from the big cities. It’s got a big church, old city ruins up the hills, narrow paved streets and old houses and most importantly the feeling of a place stuck in a different age.

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7 Design lessons we can learn from Istanbul – Be creative

Lesson 7 – Just be creative

Each time I come to Istanbul I have my own favourite spots to eat or have drinks but I also love discovering new places that never disappoint. In the past years the central area of Istanbul has been filled with boutique designer shops, hip bars and restaurants, underground electro clubs that show you a different side of Turkey, not just of Istanbul.

It proves the great creativity of this people, the Western influence adapted to their own style, the explosion of new artists that this decade has to offer.

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