What’s the Point of the Turner Prize? 10 Things You Need to Know

To celebrate last week's Turner Prize news, we wanted to look at

the key facts about the famed British art prize ...

1/ It’s organised by Tate but named after English painter J.M.W. Turner who, surprisingly, was quite controversial in his day. He wanted to leave a legacy to help struggling young artists but the Turner Prize didn’t actually get going until 1984.

2/ It’s awarded annually to an artist who meets the Turner Prize requirements; under the age of 50 and born, living or working in Britain.

3/ The winner receives £25,000 and each runner up gets £5,000.

4/ The prize isn’t awarded for the work you see on display at Tate Britain’s Turner Prize exhibition. Each artist is nominated for an earlier show and judged purely by that.

5/ And the 2016 nominees are …  Michael Dean, Helen Marten, Josephine Pryde & Anthea Hamilton.

6/ The prize is awarded to a visual artist working in any medium - this includes painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video or even a publication.

7/ And the 2016 Winner is ...

Helen Marten

8/ Each year there is a new panel of judges, chaired by the Tate Britain’s Director. This year the panel was:

Michelle Cotton, Director, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn

Tamsin Dillon, Curator

Beatrix Ruf, Director, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Simon Wallis, Director, The Hepworth Wakefield

9/ If you want to see the show, Tuesday is ‘pay what you can’ day!

10/ This year’s show runs until 2nd January 2017.

Now for a few things you don’t really need to know …

Yoko Ono was doing ‘Bottoms’ in 1966. Eat your heart out Anthea Hamilton!

Tracey Emin was a loser - she was nominated in 1999 but the bed she exhibited made her famous.

The ‘Turnip Prize’ is one of many spoof art awards inspired by the Turner Prize. The Stuckists make their own annual prize in protest; ‘The Real Turner Prize’, which is awarded only to painters.

The Wonders of Sir John Soane's Museum

We find Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields one of the inspiring places in London. Aside from being filled with fascinating artefacts, the architectural details are exquisite. Sir John Soane was a famed Neoclassical architect and his home reflects his remarkable talents. His best known public work was the Bank of England and Dulwich Picture Gallery where top-lit gallery design would go on to be a major influence on museum planning. 

In 1792 Soane bought three houses on the site, which he demolished and rebuilt entirely. The distinctive facade of white Norfolk brick still dazzles today. Inside is a beautiful array of eclectic objects and artworks, among them are his many plaster casts and Roman marbles. It's interesting to note the unusual way in which objects are displayed - rather than curating them in a chronological or geographic order, Soane instead opted for a creative display based purely on aesthetics. 

Since 2011 there has been a major restoration project to improve the museum to both develop the existing space and open up lost spaces which weren't seen before. If you haven't yet discovered Sir John Soane's Museum, now is the perfect time to explore the building and the exciting collection of artefacts.

Jane Wilkinson, head of conservation at the museum, said “we view the actual spaces as works of art” - an approach which has a powerful resonance with the way we approach the spaces we work with.

Inspired by Palma's Rialto Living

Today’s blog comes from Palma de Mallorca and is inspired by our visit to the fabulous Rialto Living and their Mallorcan fabrics and colours.

The Rialto Living building is itself a beauty to behold with its own interesting history; it originated as an 18th Century palace and in the 1920s became Palma’s legendary Rialto Cinema. In 2007 it re-opened as an interiors and lifestyle shop which now focusses on carefully-sourced local and European design pieces. They also have a relaxing cafe which is situated on the old theatre stage.

While their fabrics and furniture are sourced from across Europe, they blend beautifully with Mallorcan designs and colours and we love their current sea-blue inspired themes. The details below like the rug, ceramics and lampshade, are key items that can both inspire an interior and tie together a room's colour schemes.

There is a sewing workshop within the shop, where their in-house seamstress can tailor any of the fabrics or furnishings to suit your interior. We love this personalised approach as we often recommend that our clients go for bespoke options to make sure they get the perfect look and feel for their interior.

A little history of Mallorcan fabrics …

The Ikat cloth designs you see across Mallorca have their roots in the East. It is thought that travellers on the Silk Route stayed in Mallorca along their journey, where the Ikat fabrics they were transporting were seen by locals. There are now a handful of Mallorcan companies who still produce these designs, supplying them to the island to continue this heritage. One of these is Teixits Vicens - we love their blue designs below as they are reminiscent of the seaside setting.

Botticelli Reimagined

For this week’s art fix we visited the V&A’s hotly anticipated ‘Botticelli Reimagined’ exhibition. The V&A has triumphantly succeeded in affirming Botticelli’s enduring impact on artists and designers throughout the years.

While he is undeniably considered one of the greatest artists of all time, the V&A reminds us that his work was largely forgotten for 300 years before we rediscovered it in the 19th Century. Since then he has informed the work and imagery of artists to come.

What makes this exhibition so remarkable initially, is its sheer quantity of work, from painting to fashion to film and photography to sculpture and tapestry - it’s got it all! There are some truly breathtaking works like Rosetti's La Ghirlandata, pictured below left. Rosetti even owned work by Botticelli, one of which is featured in this exhibition, a true testament of his love of the Renaissance master.

While we loved seeing the traditional works on dimply, one of the highlights for us was seeing the contemporary piece and how Botticelli’s Venus has been utilised and subverted in contemporary art. The photograph in the centre below uses pieces of trash and junk, remoulding it into Botticelli's iconic composition. The beauty of the images lies in Botticelli's Venus icon to survive amongst its mishmashed context - an interesting metaphor for its endurance in contemporary culture.

Hilma af Klint: Painting the Unseen at The Serpentine Gallery

This weekend we visited an extraordinary exhibition at The Serpentine Gallery of a Swedish artist called Hilma af Klint. Who’s Hilma af Klint I hear you ask? … If you have heard of Hilma af Klint I am guessing it was only recently. While this exhibition has attracted a huge amount of press, prior to this show she was virtually unknown in the UK.

Being a woman, producing pioneering and unconventional artwork such as this, is probably the greatest reason for af Klint's exception from history. In some sense she was lucky to have grown up in Sweden, a country that allowed women to train as artists well before the rest of Europe and as a result, she studied at The Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm between 1882-1887. She began her career by painting landscapes and portraits and gained some recognition at that time. It was her protestant upbringing and studies of Theosophy however that was the pivotal inspiration for her abstract works - this was also the first religious group in Europe to accept women in senior positions which must have empowered af Klint herself. Between 1906-07 she created her most revolutionary paintings which derived from automatic drawings she produced during seances - some encompass swirling abstract patterns, others follow geometric structured diagrams.

She painted the work below in 1907, years before Kandinsky or Mondrian or Malevich had ventured into abstraction. Looking into her colourful swirls, bold splatters and geometric shapes painted in the early 1900s it is undeniable that af Klint is a true pioneer of abstraction. 

Hilma af Klint was certainly a complex and creative character, drawing on spiritual experiences and unconscious thoughts. While her work and history remain a little mysterious there is no denying that she was a truly remarkable woman, painting abstract works well before the likes of Kandinsky and Malevich. This is an unmissable exhibition and an important step in making sure that she gains recognition - open until May 15th 2016 - see it to believe it.

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse at The Royal Academy of Arts

‘Painting The Modern Garden’ at The Royal Academy of Arts is undoubtedly one of London’s most stunning exhibitions of 2016. We visited last week and were truly taken aback by the beauty of the paintings on display. While Monet is at the centre of this exhibition, there are works by Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Matisse and Klimt to name a few. The exhibition promises to help you see ‘the garden in art with fresh eyes’ and its doesn’t disappoint.

Interestingly the natural garden subject seems to have enabled many of these avant-garde artists to work with a greater freedom than before, freeing their palettes and their brushstrokes. Throughout he exhibition you are greeted with Monet’s stunning gardens until ending in a grand finale; Monet’s great pastel coloured waterlily paintings.

The exhibition opens with a beautiful comparison - Monet's 'The Artist's Garden in Argenteuil' (pictured below left) is placed beside Renoir's painting of Monet painting in the very garden in Argenteuil (pictured below right). This sets the tone for the exhibition, an affirmative statement about the impact Monet had on his fellow impressionists and hints that he influenced not only the garden subject matter but the act of painting en plein air.  

There are some beautiful works by a less famous name, Spanish artist Santiago Rusinol. His paintings are more structured than the Impressionist works on display and convey spectacular modelling of light, like this work below which evokes the brilliant glow of sunset. 

We thought it would be lovely to also share with you some images of Monet's garden in Giverny. These are the gardens Monet spent nearly forty years in his house in Giverny, a period many argue were his most creative. In 1883 he and his family rented the house with its 2 acre land and by 1890 he had saved enough to buy it and the surrounding land. As an avid gardener himself, Monet worked alongside his gardeners and created precise designs and layouts for his garden's planting, resulting in a stunning display. Over time he built up the land, eventually buying a water meadow which he plated up with water lilies. These became the subject of his best known works and the water meadow is now one the garden's most popular features. 

Pelham: The Public and The Private sale at Sotheby's

Last week Sotheby’s held a spectacular sale, auctioning what they describe as one of the finest groups of antiques to be sold by them in recent years. The lots for sale were all from the collection of Alan Rubin of Pelham Galleries. The Pelham Galleries in London and Paris are known for their exceptional quality of English and Continual furniture and works of art, their galleries have also helped to form some of the best known private and museum collections. Following the decision to start a new chapter of dealership, focussing on antique instruments, Alan Rubin is auctioned a range of items from the Pelham Galleries and personal collections in this sale.

We’ve chosen some of the items that stood out to us the most, take a look at our top picks …

This George III breakfront bookcase (c. 1780) instantly caught our eye for its grand stature. It has been made in satinwood, harewood and tulipwood which gives a beautiful finish and perfect tonal balance. We love the classical details of the bookcase which features a cornice with inlaid pilasters. The inlaid oval medallions on the lower section perfectly balance with the astragal enclosing glazed doors. It is thought that this originally belonged to Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston for Broadlands House as it was listed in the Broadlands House inventory from 1786.

Estimate: £40,000-60,000

This lacquered and parcel-gilt cabinet (c.1750) was a slightly more unusual piece for us to chose, we were drawn to its impeccable detail and vibrant colouring. The doors doors are decorated with in the manner of Jean-Baptiste Pater with scenes galantes. ‘Scenes galantes’ or ‘fetes galantes’ were typical of the Rococo era and were initially developed by Watteau, they depicted aristocratic figures in lush landscapes enjoying celebrations. Pater was a student of Watteau and was strongly influenced by this style, borrowing both his themes and Rococo pastel palette. As well as these painted scenes, the interior of the cabinet features architectural coastal scenes within red and gold borders. An item of furniture like this could instantly enliven a sitting room or bedroom. While it would suit a classic interior, it could also add character and charm to a contemporary interior with muted tones. We enjoy mixing contemporary interiors with antique items and a piece like this would certainly become a talking point.

Estimate: £12,000-18,000

Lot Sold: £28,750

Continuing our colourful selection we also were drawn to this pair of Italian gilt wood and polychrome mirrors (c.1770). The mirrors each feature a beautiful central cartouche painted with scenes of putti. The decoration around each mirror plate features finely carved, polychrome floral garlands, scrolls and acanthus. These mirror originated from the Palazzo Butera in Palermo and are wonderful examples of High Rococo design. Their rectilinear shape and moulded cornices were designed to merge with the architecture of their surroundings and were often found in large salons in Palazzi and estates around Sicily. Placed in a classic house or apartment these mirrors could enliven and open up the space while merging with existing architectural features.

Estimate: £30,000-50,000

Lot Sold: £35,000

We were also struck by these interesting George III mahogany hall chairs (c.1760). They feature magnificent shell shaped backs and seat above cabriole legs. Their dark mahogany colouring and shell shaped design give them a real richness and these would suit a classic interior. Their backs are painted with the crest of the Elwes Baronets - John Elwes reputedly being the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ character of scrooge!

Estimate: £10,000-15,000

Lot Sold: £11,250

Flower Power

For this week’s blog we were inspired by a recent article about contemporary art and floristry in the Financial Times magazine. This floral art sees artists working with flowers to create incredible, blossoming structures that blur the boundary between floristry and sculpture. Often vast in form, utilising this natural, delicate material creates a truly poetic balance.

Daniel Ost is perhaps the best known floral artist. He has been creating floral art for over forty years and continues to mould his craft to suit contemporary trends. His current work integrates elements of contemporary design, with custom built structures that allow flowers to be weaved, hung or displayed around.

We were struck by this orchid canopy structure, pictured below, which Ost created for King Baudouin of of Belgium’s 60th birthday. The canopy integrates both contemporary design and natural orchids.

Another inspiring floral artist is East London based Rebecca Louise Law. She trained in Fine Art but her interests in nature preservation led to create floral installations. Speaking about her work she says that the ‘physicality and sensuality of the site specific work plays with the relationship between man and nature’. She transforms public spaces bringing in her floral creations to create a stunning display of dazzling natural beauty.

If you’ve been inspired by these floral sculptures there are more permanent ways of integrating floral features in your home. Looking at the floral sculptures reminded us of de Gournay’s wallpapers. De Gournay specialise in hand painted wallpaper, fabrics, furniture and porcelain. Their wallpapers are based on 18th century Chinoiserie designs and always incorporate stunning floral designs. 

Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire Auction at Sotheby's

This March Sotheby’s in London is auctioning the collection of furniture, objects, artworks and jewellery owned by Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire. Deborah (1920-2014) was the last of the Mitford sisters. The ‘Mitford Sisters’ were six sisters renowned for their social celebrity status and contentious political alignments.

Deborah was somewhat less politically controversial than some of her sisters and was a great patron of the arts. Her collection is a portrait of her interests and friends, most of whom were writers and artists and there are some charming pieces on sale. We’ve chosen a selection of our favourite items …

This portrait of Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire was painted by Duncan Grant. We loved the colour palette and post-impressionistic style. Grant was a member of the Bloomsbury Group and was influenced by both the work of French post-impressionists and his fellow Bloomsbury painter Roger Fry. Grant was co-director of the Omega Workshop with Vanessa Bell whom he shared both a personal and creative relationship with. We are often drawn to the colour tones of the Bloomsbury Group and even drew inspiration from their work for our previous project in Ireland - which you can read more about by clicking here.

Estimate: £2,000-3,000

We also liked these three pairs of George III armchairs (c. 1790). Each have a moulded square back with in swept arms and square tapering legs, and are all in pastel painted beech and cane. They are elegant in their simplicity of design and now have a more rustic feel with their antique paintwork. They were most likely designed by James Wyatt.

Estimate: £1,200-1,800 (per pair)

We were struck by this drypoint portrait of Consuelo Vanderbilt, Duchess of Marlborough by Paul-César Helleu whose work we greatly admire. Helleu is known for his drawings of beautiful society women of the Belle Époque era. He has a real sensitivity of style in both his drawings and engravings. The balance between the subject’s detailed face and more impressionistic clothing create a beautiful harmony.

Estimate: £4,000-6,000

This next piece, a Regency black painted and cane settee was rather striking. Made after a design by Gallows the black frame has ebonised and gilt-line painted decoration. The back features three cane lunettes and segments painted with cherubs. There is a beautiful balance between the rich detail and geometric design which results in a an elegant piece of furniture which could be a real centrepiece in a sitting room.

Estimate: £2,000-3,000

Bonham's Gentleman's Library Sale

This month Bonham’s held a fantastic and intriguing sale of rare items. As the title tells us this is a sale dedicated to ‘gentlemen’s’ pieces, which seems to cause both bemusement and irritation from reviewers. Nevertheless, the sale hosts an array of spectacular items of furniture, objets d’art and unique, rare items.

With love in the air and Valentine’s Day just around the corner we’ve selected a few of our favourite items which could be perfect gifts for your loved ones!

We loved these two heart-shaped silver mirrors. Both mirrors are Victorian pieces and they are embossed with leafy scrolls, large flower heads and cherubs and are delightfully romantic. We also loved this diamond-set Art Deco box by Van Cleef and Arpels, below centre. The lid features diamonds and rubies. These items would all make lovely Valentine’s Day presents

For people who like to entertain in style, these gorgeous Edwardian silver candlesticks would perfectly compliment an elegant table setting. They were designed by William Hutton & Sons Ltd in 1904 and feature bases with shell corners.

We were also drawn to these elegant silver Art Nouveau picture frames. They would look lovely grouped together to display your family photographs. The frame on the left features enamelled flowers, while the frame on the right has delightful details of twisting scrolls and flowers.

For the young at heart or anyone looking for retro inspiration, this vintage amusement machine could be a real conversation piece to brighten up your home. It is coin-operated and features a spiral ball-bearing track and eleven winning shoots … dig out those old one penny pieces!

This item below also makes for an interesting conversation piece and could be a great purchase for the sailor in the family. The set of marine signal flags and pendants can be displayed in their case on unfurled for greater decorative impact.

Finally we thought this painting would be perfect in a townhouse or holiday home with a neutral colour scheme. It was painted by a member of the English Primitive School in the 18th Century and shows a view of upper Mossley with Alderman’s Hill in the distance. It is a calm, rural scene with a beautiful, subtle and muted colour palette.

William Morris Gallery

Last weekend we visited the beautiful William Morris Gallery in London. William Morris is perhaps the best known proponent of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. His contribution is particularly marked with the revival of traditional textile arts.

Alongside his textile design, he was also a poet, novelist and social activist. The Arts and Crafts Movement developed in the 19th Century as a result of artists concerns over industrialisation. The Movement placed value on materials and design, advocating art reform.

The gallery is situated in a Grade II listed Georgian house, itself a lovely building. The Walthamstow house was William Morris’s family home between 1848-1856 - he would have been only six when he moved in. Walthamstow was at that time a country village and many have suggested that Morris was later influenced by his time spent there, surrounded by natural forms. Going against industrialisation, Morris’s designs are rooted in nature, drawing inspiration directly from natural forms including flowers, leaves and branches.

For Interior Designers, the Arts and Crafts Movement can be particularly influential as its designs featured throughout household items from wallpaper to furniture and the architecture itself.

The London Art Fair 2016

As you know, the team here at Devas Designs love making sure we keep up with London’s latest arts and antiques fairs and exhibitions. We source a variety of items for clients from works of contemporary art to antique treasures, either as part of a project or as a one off. We are therefore always on the look out for exceptional pieces for our clients and make sure we keep track of the latest trends in the market.

This week we visited The London Art Fair held at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Split into various sections, the fair had a wide and electric selection on display including both young, emerging artists and established big names like Damien Hirst.

One of our favourite displays was the ‘Coast’ exhibition curated by the highly regarded Jerwood Gallery. They were displaying key works from their Jerwood Collection which included some of our favourite British artists such as Barbara Hepworth, John Piper and Ben Nicholson. Although we source international work and have a diverse knowledge of international art, we enjoy being able to collect British works for our clients. Often these works of art sit beautifully in British homes as they can reflect their landscape.

The works on display at ‘Coast’ all displayed how the British Coastline has influenced a selection of British artists - it reminded us of our past interior design project on the Irish West Coast, we took inspiration from the colours and atmosphere of its surrounding and focussed on a palette of pale greens, pale blues and greys. You can read more and see photographs of this project by clicking here.

Jean-Etienne Liotard at The Royal Academy of Arts

We used our time over the festive period to catch up on exhibitions and cultural events in London. One of the most striking exhibitions we visited was The Royal Academy of Arts Jean-Etienne Liotard show. Liotard beautifully captured the Enlightenment period across Europe and beyond. He was a painter in high demand at the time, producing distinctive portraits for the aristocracy and royalty.

The beauty and distinctive character of his portraits come from this enlightened approach. The age of Enlightenment was of course a time of thought, reason and science. Rather than focussing on his sitter’s wealth, as was always the focus in portrait painting, Liotard depicts subjects who are inquisitive and open-minded. Many of them are dressed in Turkish clothing, showing interest in cultural crafts or are actively engaging, reading a book for example.

Liotard was a well travelled artist, taking his paints as far as the royal courts of Constantinople. His work also helped to encourage the increasing trend for Oriental art, objects and textiles.

For us, the textiles portrayed in the portraits we truly inspiring, we loved the rich velvets and jewelled detailed in the portrait below. The colour schemes of an artwork can provide you with inspiration for your own interior. If a work of art really appeals to you, try picking out its three main colours and matching details such as cushions or a rug to build a cohesive and balanced colour scheme.

Goya: The Portraits at The National Gallery

Goya is undoubtedly one of Spain’s most compelling artistic characters. The National Gallery’s exhibition of his portraiture is a striking display. Having visited Jean-Etienne Liotard’s exhibition the same week, it was incredible to see how these two painters approached portraiture and turned convention on its head. Goya is of course known for his nightmarish scenes from his ‘Disasters of War’ and ‘Black Paintings’ series so it was spectacular to see an altogether alternative exhibition of Goya’s work.

His portrait patrons grew rapidly after a portrait commission from Spain’s prime minister Count Floridablanca, and he began painting portraits of Spanish figures from royalty to intellectual to military figures.

The impact of Goya’s portraits lay in his ability to manifest his sitter’s psychology. There is a beautiful and poignant realism in his work, there is no attempt to prettify, Goya painted what he saw. There is an informality to his work which we like, very disparate to the pompous portraits of the earlier 17th Century.

We were also struck by his sensitive and hazy touch in many of the paintings, such as this self portrait below. There are almost impressionistic touches, particular in his background which balances beautifully with his stronger stance.

Bonham's Period Sale

Bonham’s Period Design and Period Art is a regular sale which is filled with treasures and inspiration. It includes a selection of 18th, 19th and 20th century furniture, works of art, mirrors and rugs from across the world. This month we’ve been busy sourcing items of furniture for various clients and Bonham’s Period Design sale was top on our list!

This blue john urn from the 19th century caught our eye immediately. We particularly like its design with its banded decoration and circular support atop a square marble base. The elegance of this design perfectly highlights and exhibits the beautiful material and its natural colouring. Blue-john began being exported during the 18th Century to France and was used for luxurious objets d’art which were adored by collectors including Marie Antoinette. This semi-precious mineral has retained its luxurious regard and its vivid colouring remains lucid.

Estimate: £2,000 - 3,000

We were also intrigued by this beautiful George III tub back bergere. Its body is made from a richly coloured mahogany with square section tapering legs. Its pastel upholstery balances perfectly with the richness of the wood and this chair would look lovely in either a sitting room or bedroom.

Estimate: £600 - 800

This pair of French 19th century mahogany fauteuils would be lovely in a classically decorated sitting room. Each one has lotus leafed clasped arm supports and square splayed legs, their design is a classic Restoration style from 19th century France. Their solid backs convert a real presence while their soft colouring and fluid arms create a beautiful sense of elegance.

Estimate: £1,000 - 1,500

As well as these wonderful items of furniture, there was a stunning selection of rugs on sale at this month’s Period Design sale.

The Khotan saph below is from East Turkestan. Khotan was an ancient Buddhist kingdom that was on a section of the silk road. It was the first place outside China to begin making silk and Khotanese carpets remain a highly prized export.

Estimate: £2,000 - 3,000

We also loved this Agra carpet, pictured below, which comes from North India. Agra rugs are highly sought after as their material and technique makes them highly durable. Their pattern, design and colours are beautifully detailed and vidid. In the past we have taken inspiration from textiles such as rugs and used this is a basis to form an interior’s colour scheme. If a piece like this really catches your eye it can become a centrepiece and dictate the look and feel of your interior.

Estimate: £3,000 - 5,000

The Fabric of India at The V&A

‘The Fabric of India’ is a stunning exhibition currently on at the V&A in London. It is the first major exhibition to focus on the skills, craft and workmanship of Indian textiles from the 3rd to 21st century.

We take inspiration from crafts, traditions and trends from all over the world so this exhibition was of course unmissable for us. Textiles can provide interior designers with a huge source of inspiration; their colours, textures, design and pattern can all inform the basis of an interior’s look and feel.

The exhibition is both a historical journey and a celebration of an ancient craft being vibrantly kept alive today. As you enter the exhibition, you are first taught about the fundamentals of Indian textile production including dying and colouring techniques of silk, cotton and wool.

It is fascinating to discover how the natural plant based dyes can produce such rich colouring that has stood the test of time - many of the pieces on display are centuries old. These dyes come from a range of natural sources including turmeric (yellow), lac beetle secretions (earthy red), indigo plants (blue) and chay root bark (red).

There is a section dedicated to political textiles, as co-curator Divia Patel said “Fabric was also very tied up with the resistance movement. It was a key symbol of power and protest”. Gandhi's Swadeshi movement, for example, encouraged handmade fabric production as a way of rejecting foreign goods. 

Alongside historic items are contemporary pieces, like this women’s ‘Ajrak’ jacket below which was designed by Rajesh Pratap Singh in 2010.

There is also this extraordinary “moveable palace”, pictured below, which was Tipu Sultan’s (the Indian ruler of Mysore) 18th century tent.

The exhibition is on until January 10th 2016 so catch it while you can!

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.

'Made in Britain' // Sotheby's

This month’s ‘Made In Britain’ sale at Sotheby’s had an impressive collection of works from Britain’s leading artists, designers, photographers, ceramicists and printmakers. The sale aimed to celebrate the diversity and innovative spirit of these British artists and really succeeded. We had a difficult decision choosing just a few of our favourites, but take a look at some of our highlights and let us know what caught your eye!

Howard Hodgkin’s work always catches our eye for its expressive colouring. The work below, entitled Moonlight (1980) is a beautiful lithograph printed in colours with additional hand-colouring. Hodgkin is one of Britain’s most important printmakers and painters and his bold style is completely captivating. Since the 1970s expressive patterning has dominated his work, combining printmaking techniques, bold brushstrokes and bright daubs of paint to produce punchy abstract works that would instantly enliven a room.

There is a finely balanced tension that we find interesting in Victor Pasmore’s work; the balance of saturated colour and fine black strikes. We were drawn to this piece entitled Senza Titolo (1991) for its unified hue. A work like this can really inform a colour scheme if you are designing a new interior, or help to tie together an existing colour scheme. We are inspired by works of art and their expressive colours and often use them as starting points for a new project’s colour scheme.

There was also a fantastic selection of ceramics on sale. The four pouring vessels by Rupert Spira, below left, are beautifully elegant in their shape and blue glaze. We were also drawn to the ceramic pieces on sale by Lucie Rie. The footed bowl, below centre, has a beautiful matt blue glaze and bronzed rim. On sale were also ceramics from one of Britain’s most respected and influential potters, Bernard Leach. The fluted bowl, below right, is made from porcelain with a celadon glaze. Its size, form and neutral glaze give it a sense of timeless elegance that would sit beautifully in either a modern or classic home.

We were also struck by the painting on sale by Mary Fedden. Fedden’s work is characterised by her use of bold, often contrasting, expressive colours. The vivid colours in the painted still life, below, left, with reds, purples and greens would really bright a vibrant splash of colour to a neutral room. We often enjoy pairing vibrant works of art with interiors that have muted colour schemes, and tie it in with details like cushions that work with the colours.

With the Tate’s major retrospective on this month, we were also looking out for works by Barbara Hepworth. The lithograph printed in black and yellow, below left, is beautifully harmonious and would perfectly compliment an interior with a muted and subtle colour scheme. The screen print, below right, by Ben Nicholson has been printed on woven silk. The delicate quality of the material blends beautifully with his subtle and sensitive colour scheme. Whether your interior is modern or classic, works of art that are elegant and subtle like this piece can really add charm to your home.

The Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair - Autumn 2015

As you might have noticed from our recent blog posts, we’ve been going to every antiques and art fair this summer in London.  This week we had a lovely time this week visiting The Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair in Battersea, their 30th fair. Here are a few of our favourite pieces.

We’ve featured items from Hugh Leuchars before, he specialises in 18th Century continental furniture, particularly French furniture, so we always seem to find a piece that catches our eye.  We like the charm of his pieces, while they follow classic styles they often feature playful elements like the pieces below. 

Shane Meredith’s display was also full of intriguing and beautiful pieces of English and Continental furniture. We particularly liked this late 18th Century commode made from yew and walnut woods.

We were pleased to see Dominic Everest and his collection of stunning Ziegler carpets. Dominic set up his business at the age of 22 and has continued to make a name for himself, supplying carpets to iconic British estates. The Ziegler carpet, below right, from 1880 has a beautiful colour scheme, combining reds and greens. As well as artworks, we have also used carpets as inspiration for an interiors colour scheme. If a centrepiece like this really catches your eye, its colours and patterning can act as a starting point when deciding colours, textures and decoration for an interior design project.