Design Sale at Sotheby's

This November Sotheby’s has an exciting and refreshing sale; Design. Their Design sale has an incredible collection on sale from influent 20th and 21st century designers. There is also a specially curated collection that charts the history of lighting design from the 1920s to the present day.

While it was hard to chose just a few, here is a selection of the pieces that were truly eye catching.

Among the wonderful lighting pieces on display was this piece by London based Dutch designer Tord Boontje. He is widely known for his famous Garland light that was a sell-out Habitat high street piece. As well as his belief in low-cost luxury and design, Tord wants to stress that modernism doesn’t always mean minimalism. His work blends traditional methods and design with contemporary technology to create sensory pieces. The ‘Ivy Shadow’ Chandelier on sale at Sotheby’s is made from laser cut aluminium and brass, then hand-painted in a ‘forest white’ finish. The details of this light has a beautiful fairytale like quality, while its pale colour and laser cut precision maintain a contemporary elegance.

Another ceiling light that caught our attention was this piece by Pierre Chareau called ‘La Fleur’. It was made in 1924 from alabaster, patinated iron and nickelled metal. French architect and designer Chateau is credited for building the first hour win France using steel and glass; the Maison de Verre in Paris. He favoured strict lines and pure design, two focuses he carried throughout his architectural work and lighting and furniture design. The geometry of his ceiling light design is beautifully balanced by the softness of the white alabaster.

Alongside some extraordinary lighting designs are also a wonderful selection of ceramics. We’ve written about Lucie Rie’s work before, her Japanese inspired ceramics are stunningly sophisticated and their subtle colouring really compliments a simple and modern interior. The bowl below is porcelain with a manganese glaze and inlay.

This rug made from hand flat-woven wool by Barbro Nilssen also caught our eye. Swedish designer Nilssen was inspired by nature, the sea and folk art for most of her designs. For past projects we have taken inspiration from rugs for a colour scheme. If you see an item like this that really appeals to you, think about using its colours and hues to inform the colours of your furnishings. Taking a subtle colour scheme like this rug below can help to create a harmonious balance in your interior.

PAD London Art & Design Fair

Last week we visited PAD London Art and Design fair in Berkeley Square. PAD specialises in 20th century art and design with a spectacular array of modern art, photography, design and decorative pieces on display. Their exhibitors come to London from across Europe, America and Asia which promises an eclectic selection for sale.

If you’re interested in buying modern art or design pieces for your home we always recommend visiting renowned fairs like PAD. If you’re unsure on what to chose, make sure you get talking to the exhibitors as they’re always on hand to answer questions and help you find pieces that work for your home. We also recommend taking photos of pieces that catch your eye and think about them when you return home.

We wanted to share some of the exhibitors and pieces that interested us, here's our favourites  …

Chahan Minassian brought some exquisite pieces over from his showroom in Paris. Chahan works as a designer, interior designer, antique dealer and gallery director so his eye for elegantly designed pieces is finely tuned. Inspired by luxury materials like bronze, lacquer and tortoiseshell, Chahan has designed his own line of furniture and lamps.

The simplicity of his designs combined with the luxury of materials gives his pieces an elegant timelessness that could work in both modern and classic interiors.

We were also taken by the pieces on sale from Magen H Gallery who were over from New York. They specialise in French post-war designers with an emphasis on craft mediums that merge art and design.

Their display included this dining table, below, by Sido and Francois Thevenin from 1970. The French husband and wife design team worked together labouring intensely over hand-forged pieces from wood and metal. 

Another exhibitor over from Paris was Jacques Hervouet who runs a gallery in Paris and custom designs furniture and accessories. For his custom pieces he enjoys mixing eras and blends both historic and contemporary designs, creating a style he calls ‘Radical Chic’. There is confidence and boldness that pervades both his collections and custom pieces which we love.

London Design Festival 2015

We’ve loved seeing design installations popping up across London over the past week for this year’s London Design Festival. Its mission to pronounce London as the design capital is clear and compelling and with so many hundreds of young and established designers proving their talent, we’re close to a win! There are some fantastic and dynamic events taking place until the end of the month, so we’ve picked some of our must-see spots to make it easier for you.

First up is designjunction  from furniture to lighting to product design, designjunction is packed with inspiring designs. Staged in Victoria House and the old St Martins college building in Holborn, the designjunction flagship had a hugely dynamic range of exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge brands, new labels and design pop-ups.

If you’re a Londoner reading this, you’ve probably already seen you twitter feed clogged up with photos of Charles Petillon’s Heartbeat installation in the Victorian and iconic Covent Garden Market. Petillon has created a 54 metre stretch of white balloons with gently pulsating white lights to evoke a heartbeat. They appear almost cloudily and beautifully poetic.

Speaking of the work Petillon said: “The balloon invasions I create are metaphors. Their goal is to change the way in which we see the things we live alongside each day without really noticing them. With Heartbeat I wanted to represent the Market Building as the beating heart of this area – connecting its past with the present day to allow visitors to re-examine its role at the heart of London’s life.” The installation is completely free to walk around and up until September 27th.

Somerset House is also taking part this year, hosting a series of exhibitions and talks. Among them, one of our favourites is their 10 Designers in the West Wing exhibition. They’ve teamed up with the London Design Festival organisers to showcase 10 leading international designers including Nendo, Faye Toogood and Ross Lovegrove.

We particularly enjoyed Faye Toogood’s display of English drawing rooms, redrafted as charcoal sketches on translucent plastic sheets that line the walls. She creates an atmospheric space to relax in.

There’s also a focus on new digital technology, with Tino Schaedler of Optimist Design joining with United Realities to take us on a journey in exploring both physical and virtual spaces and their connections. Free and open until September 27th, more info here.

Another of our favourite’s to visit in Decorex. Held in the stunning and historic Syon Park, its surroundings are suitably luxurious. Inside is a wealth of design and craft, with over 400 exhibitors, both emerging and established, showcasing their finest pieces.

Have you had a chance to explore design in the capital? Let us know which pieces you’ve seen and what’s been inspiring you.

Clerkenwell Design Week 2015 Showrooms

As well as the myriad of pop-up design stands and exhibits at Clerkenwell Design Week 2015, Clerkenwell is known for its impressive array of design showrooms. We visited a few of our favourites that were open during CDW.

West One Bathrooms always intrigues us for their display of both classic and often surprising bathroom designs. One of the ranges that caught our eye was the Vir Stil collection (below left) for Kallista designed by New York designer Laura Kirar. Kirar’s collection was inspired by different design periods including Danish Modern and traditional Japanese forms. From these inspirations she’s created an elegant collection that retains a classic sense of refinement together with subtle modern touches and materials. The console top comes in Calacatta Borghini marble with finishes in bronze, chrome or nickel. 

We also took a look at bulthaup’s showroom, which never fails to impress for its focus on perfect design and innovative kitchen solutions combined with a real sensitivity for the existing architecture of a building. We really liked the bulthaup b2 kitchen workshop (below) which really is designed to be functional and spatially economical.

We were also intrigued to see their arrangements of vintage tools and furnishings. In line with the young designers from our previous blog post, bulthaup also seems to be harking back and drawing influence from classic and older design sources.

Havwoods certainly went for a standout display method, their collection of exquisite wood floors was showcased atop an old fashioned Routemaster bus. Havwoods flooring can really transform a room, their exquisite quality and range of finishes would suit both a classic and modern interior.

Clerkenwell Design Week 2015

Clerkenwell Design Week was a truly inspirational festival, a real celebration of craft and design. CDW2015 showcased both established and emerging designers and companies. There was a really refreshing variety of work, but what we were most struck by was the shared sense of nostalgia. There seemed to be a focus on looking back to historic design movements for inspiration as well as keeping craft alive.

We spoke to the designers and craftsmen at TedWood about their work. Started by Ted Jeffries, TedWood uses sustainably grown British hardwoods for their contemporary wooden furniture, which is not only stunningly designed but holds a family value and history. They'd brought their working bench from their studio in Sussex to exhibit alongside pieces of furniture and lighting, having been passed down from Ted's grandfather and father who both used it. It's exciting to meet young designers who really are keeping this traditional craft going, but reworking it with their own contemporary designs. The leather shades on the lights (below right) were made by Ted's mother, a true family collaboration.

This Robin Day chair (below left) caught our eye as soon as we walked in. Day undoubtedly transformed British design and high street furniture, his 'Polyprop' stacking chairs has become one of the best selling chairs of all time. It was his postwar modernist furniture though that has been so influential to contemporary design as he developed low-cost but sensitively designed items.

His influence was evident in Stellar Works 'Utility' range (below right) which centres on this idea of function and efficiency. Their return to industrial design is counterbalanced by their use of soft leather and smooth woods.

Stellar Works Laval desk (below left) is a collaboration between French furniture maker Laval and Danish design studio OeO. The collection aims to merge a sense of French elegance and simplicity with a more modern need for comfort and utility.

Tomas Alonso’s Offset Table (below right) designed for Maxdesign responds to the need for flexibility in modern working home offices. The table can be broken down and customized for varying lighting, cable and size requirements. Alonso describes it as ‘a place to eat, a place to work and a place to meet all at the same table’.

It was great to meet the team at James UK as we really value their emphasis on British craft. All of their furniture is made in the UK by a team of skilled carpenters and upholsterers. The Norton Cove sofa (below left) is a larger take on the typical armchair.

Furniture brand H were inspired by a belt-making loom found in Oaxaca, Mexico for their Loom chair (below right). They've been collaborating with a textile designer whose colour choices perfectly balance with the hardwood frame.

Thonet's iconic range has been updated to suit contemporary interiors. Their display focussed on their design history showing the evolution of Thonet’s curved wooden designs to Marcel Breuer’s curved tubular steel designs.

Philippa's Philosophy and Design Tips

Philippa Devas is the Founder and Managing Director of Devas Designs. Here, she tells us a little about her design philosophy and offers some top tips.

What philosophy do you think shapes your design style?

I think it’s important that interiors are interesting and aesthetically beautiful. Above all, my philosophy is about creating elegant and practical spaces where people feel comfortable and enjoy entertaining. My passion for art, furniture and textile design has always inspired my work. I love to work collaboratively with clients to discover their ideal living space and develop the most perfect environment for their lifestyle.

Do you think there are certain things we should never compromise on when creating an interior? If so, how can we save money at the same time?

The areas I believe one should never compromise on are; the interior architecture, the structural work and the services – if your spaces don’t work (proportionally or practically) then the interior will never feel right. When it comes to saving money or if you’re working to a tight budget I think it’s possible to create an interesting interior by focusing on one or two exceptional features. Using neutral, inexpensive materials alongside them can really set off these key pieces. I often introduce splashes of colour that tie in with cushions or a rug, which can create a really striking effect.

When it comes to luxury finishing touches, what are your go-to pieces?

My favourite luxury detail is beautiful linen, new or antique. Whether it’s linen sheets, a tablecloth, napkins or hand towels, they always feel and look wonderful.

Phillips Design Sale April 2015

This week we attended Phillips evening and day Design Sale, the first design auction at Phillips new Berkeley Square location. The two sales were auctioning some truly exquisite pieces from top designers from the 20th and 21st Century. With over 250 lots, the sales showcased pieces from almost every major movement during these times, with some classic items and cutting-edge, contemporary designs. Here's a few of our highlights from the two auctions.

While Jean Royére revelled in rich colour and jewel tones, we loved this organic oakwood dining table (below left) from c. 1955.

Est. £70,000-100,000

This folding campaign bed (below right) came from the private collection King Georg V, Royal House of Hanover c. 1800. Its designer is unknown but undoubtedly holds a great deal of history. The combination of forged iron and maroquin leather give it a real sense of elegant luxury.

Est. £30,000-40,000

Sold for £35,000

This pair of wall panels was designed by one of Art Deco's finest lacquer artists; Jean Dunand. They were originally designed for the smoking room of the French Embassy Pavilion at the world renowned L'Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925. Executed in lacquered wood and silver leaf they are a true testament to Art Deco design.

Est. £70,000-90,000

Sold for £80,500

Marc Newson's Lockheed Lounge (below left) c. 1990 was a major talking point at the auction. Newson has become one of the highest selling designers at auction of all time. This piece shows his Biomorphic influence and with its organic curvature and fluidity and really is a spectacular piece of design that could become the unique centrepiece of any room.

Est. £1,500,000-2,500,000

Sold for £2,434,500

Shiro Kuramata's rare two seater sofa uses copper-plated steel mesh and copper-plated steel. Its lattice effect gives it an airy lightness despite its use of durable materials.

Est. £40,000-60,000

Zaha Hadid always triumphs with her modern elegance and purity of design. This white Aqua table below instantly caught our eye. The fluidity of its design is typical of her design and architectural work.

Est. £40,000-60,000