Design and style from a Scandinavian perspective

Menu Concept Store by Norm Architects

I just saw these photos on Facebook and loved them so much that I immediately wanted to share them with you! I am moving next week, and my head is full of plans for the new apartment. I am going to try to keep it quite minimalist, so I'm leaving most of my vintage finds and furniture behind and opting for lots of white, accented with gray, black and different metallics. It sounds very cold, I know, but I'm convinced that my love for candles, sheepskins and cushions will make it cosy anyway.
Anyway, I was very inspired by these pictures from what will become the new Menu Concept store in Copenhagen. Designed by Norm Architects, and of course showing their signature timeless simplicity, with lots of white, simple shapes and lines and some interest added by the copper and gray surfaces. Norm's cooperation with Menu is getting stronger all the time, and it has really helped the once pretty bland brand get a new status in the design world.


The Hive 2013

So, I spent the weekend in Berlin at this bloggers conference called The Hive. Since I have been to this kind of event before, my expectations weren't really too high. I mean, I've been blogging for almost eight years now, so there isn't really all that much that you can tell me about blogging that I don't already know. However, sometimes it's good to be reminded! So, I didn't go there for the speeches or workshops, I went for the energy, inspiration and meeting like-minded people.
As I expected, most talks were aimed at beginner bloggers, people just starting their first blog not having a clue about anything. I did enjoy some of it anyway, just because the visuals were nice or the speakers were really enthusiastic about their subject. My highlights were the video blogging workshop held by Katrina Tan-Conte from Zero the One, and the speech about creating a kick ass media kit by Isa and Claudia from Haupstadtmutti. The most stylish presentation however (which I managed to miss because the previous speaker went on overtime), about how to monetize your blog, was held by Desiree from VosgesParis. You can see all her slides below, and if you want to read her notes as well you can head over here.
You can find most of the Hive 2013 presentations online here, if you are curious to learn more.

Book A Local, some highlights from a guided tour in Berlin

I have so many great pictures and places from my Berlin trip that I want to share with you, but let's start with my first day there. I booked a guide to take me around the city, through a site called Plus One Berlin. The concept is this: You tell them about your interests and how much time you have, and you get to pick your guide from their list of "locals" ( = Berlin inhabitants who are all dying to show you the best spots around the city) to take you around for a day. I found a perfect match for me, a design student named Marianna who shared my interests in architecture, interiors, minimalist style and cool urban spaces.
We started with breakfast at a cozy café called A.Horn where we made plans of what to do during our day together. I highly recommend their banana bread, served with greek yoghurt, a sliced banana and sunflower seeds.

After a walk along the river and a short metro ride we arrived in Kreuzberg where we went to Kunstraum at Mariannenplatz. It's an old hospital, later turned into an exhibition space. The halls are all decorated with colorful murals, and there are exciting things going on in every corner.

Then we took a walk along the remains of the Berlin wall, and headed for an art gallery which unfortunately was closed. But instead we found two wonderful shops! The first was Supergrau, a very minimalist space showing amazing furniture and products. I really liked their distressed tile wall, and fell in love with this table lamp with a massive marble base.

The second shop, Parkhaus, was a bit homier, with a great selection of modern products mixed with antique wooden furniture. The entire space, including the ceilings, was painted in a very relaxing shade of gray, which really made the products stand out.

After walking around in this beautiful area we had a nice coffee at Oslo Kaffebar (check out the website, as I didn't get any good pics in there), before it was time to say goodbye. I can highly recommend "booking a local", as it felt more like meeting a friend who really understood what you would want to see in this new city, than going on some guided tour. I had a great time, and I really wish this service was available in every city!
Plus One Berlin also has an apartment that you can rent for your stay in Berlin, to make you feel even more like a local. It is beautifully designed by two local architects, Paola Bagna of Spamroom in collaboration with JP Coss of CossA. The 42 sqm studio houses everything you could need in a home away from home, like a "games drawer" with ping pong rackets, a fully equipped kitchenette, flat-screen tv, desk area, and a fridge stocked with surprise food.


Iittala opens apartment in Stockholm

If you are into Scandinavian design you are probable familiar with Finnish brand Iittala. They have been making tableware, glass and cookware since 1881, and can be found in almost all Scandinavian homes. I just got the news that they are stepping in to the world of interiors now, launching several new products, amongst them a storage basket and a lamp that both look very nice. But the most interesting news is that they are opening an apartment, where you can book meetings, use it as an office and also of course try all the products. The 40 sqm studio apartment is designed by Jeanette Gostomski from Insidesign, styled by Iittala, and located just by the Iittala flagship store on Götgatan in Stockholm. I'll try to go there soon to take some more photos for you!


Vitra Campus, The Hive and Berlin

Sorry for not posting last week, it certainly wasn't my intention to go MIA, but I had such an eventful week that I simply didn't find the time to blog. I started off with a visit to the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein in southern Germany, where I held a workshop and worked together with their stylists, creating a theme for the next exhibition in the loft showroom in the VitraHaus. I can't show you any pictures from the workshop (top secret!), but below are a few from VitraHaus and the Ando House at the campus. All shot with my iphone, because I forgot my camera at the hotel. I'm such a professional blogger, don't you think? ;)
After Vitra I flew up to Berlin, to attend the big blogger conference The Hive. Two full days of listening to over 20 speakers and workshops, meeting 250 bloggers from all over Europe, and filling my head to the bursting point with new inspiration and ideas!
But before it all started I had two days off to explore Berlin, and as I'd never been there before I was very excited  about this. The city did not disappoint, as you will see in my coming blogposts...


Haussmann era Paris apartment, 3D pictures

Can you believe these are 3D generated images? Looks just like real photos to me, and very beautiful ones at that, depicting a classic Parisian apartment. The project is called Baron Haussman, after the Haussmann era which inspired the creation of the images. I'm especially impressed with the textures and lighting in the close-up of the marble fireplace in the third picture, but really the lighting and textures are outstanding in all the images.
Images: Bertrand Benoit


Follow that guy! Saša Antić

Have you seen interior stylist Saša Antić's tumblr blog Field Notes? It's one of the most beautiful tumblrs I've seen, and a great place for inspiration.


Trend Alert! Lamps in off places

Have you noticed this trend of putting lamps in the "wrong" place? I'm not talking about the work or desk lamps above the kitchen worktop that we've been seeing for years, what I mean is people placing floor lamps on tables, ceiling lights on the wall, and desk lamps by the bed, or any other place you can think of. I think it's a great way of adding some surprise in your decor. What do you think? I'll give you some examples to show you what I mean.
Clockwise from top left: Vinge table lamp by Note Design Studio, Design*Sponge Sneak Peek, A Merry Mishap, Vosges Paris.

Ilse Crawford style Stockholm apt for sale

This Stockholm home belongs to Pelle Lundquist, the Art Director behind these beautiful Alcro campaigns, and also the previous owner of this apartment that I showed here a year ago. Well, Pelle is moving again (congratulations to the coming extension of the family!) and that means that this apartment is for sale!
I don't have any "before" photos to show, but I can say that this is one of the best excecuted renovations I have seen. Everything from the original wood floors (treated with lye and white pigmented oil) and the white painted skirting covering the walls in all rooms, to the kitchen and bathroom (built in situ, designed by Pelle) with their matching tiles and carpentry works perfectly together, creating a whole that is more than a well planned concept. For some reason, probably the gray cabinets combined with the marble and brass, it reminds me of Ilse Crawford. I think she would like this place.


Giveaway: Fog Linen cotton blanket from Babyssimo

This giveaway is closed! A winner will be announced soon.
Let's start this sunny week with a giveaway! The prize is a soft cotton blanket by the Japanese brand Fog Linen Work (130x205 cm, value €99.90), generously offered to you by my sponsor Babyssimo.
Babyssimo is a webshop, based in Germany, carrying a carefully selected range of baby and child products from all over the world. Many items are only available in small quantities, as they are handmade with love by small scale producers and independent designers. But it's worth a look even if you don't have kids because they also have a category for adults where you will find beautiful interior and spa products, as well as magazines and books like Kinfolk and Cereal.
To enter the competion, follow these two steps:
1. Subscribe to Babyssimo's newsletter. (You will find it at the top of their site.)
2. Tell me in the comments below which product from the Babyssimo webshop that is your personal favorite and why.

This competition is open for one week, until May 20.

Tortus, Danish handmade ceramics

I've been having a crush on handmade ceramics lately, the kind with irregular glazes that reminds me of 70's ceramics, but better. So I was very happy to discover Tortus Copenhagen, a small pottery studio consisting of two established danish ceramists, Eric Landon and Karin Blach Nielsen.
I've always loved visiting pottery studios, there is something quite irresistable about the messy clay, little pots of glaze and pigments, the incredibly hot kilns and rows of pretty items waiting to be fired, and the thrill of never knowing exactly what the results will be like. I hope you will enjoy this small peek into the Tortus studio! At the end of the post is a short video, showing the process of throwing ceramics (don't watch if you are prone to seasickness). 


Edit pendant light by Joanna Laajisto

Interior designer Joanna Laajisto shares my passion for great lighting, and had been looking for a small and simplistic pendant for her projects (I've shown some of them before here, here and her home here), but couldn't find the perfect one. So she decided to design her own.
“When the idea of designing a light fixture started to form in my mind, I knew what it had to be: expressionless but interesting and classic but modern at the same time. Just like my aesthetic for all design.”
Although Laajisto knew what she wanted, the design process wasn't easy. The fixture required countless hours of designing, revising and editing. Hence the name Edit. Available in three different finishes and as a ceiling or wall light.


At home with Soft Gallery

Yvonne Koné and Line Klein just released a new set of pictures in their series of home visits. This time we get to peek inside the house of Barbara Hvidt, photographer and co-owner of the wonderful childrens fashion brand Soft Gallery. I love to dress my youngest in their clothes as the quality is great and their cuts and prints are really nice. And as Yvonne points out in her post, it's quite easy to see the visual connection between the brand and Barbara's home. They are both quite minimal, but with a touch of whimsy.
Photography: Line Klein


Verso Skincare, great graphics and a short review

As I wrote on Facebook, I was invited to try this new Swedish skincare line. I usually don't do those kind of things, especially not if the products aren't related to interiors, but this time I had to make an exception. The graphic design of the packaging, created by Today Creative, was too alluring, I just couldn't resist the thought of having these nice bottles on my bathroom shelf. (And I have to admit, I saved the boxes and put them on display too.) As the Facebook post was so well received and many wanted a review of the products, I figured I would do that here, where there is a little more space to write.

Verso means reverse in Latin, so as you can imagine, this is an anti aging series. I love how cleverly they used that in the graphic design, with the reversed numbers. The products contain Retinol 8, a newly developed substance that takes all the positive effects from traditional retinol (the most proven effective substance in anti aging skincare products), but without the drawbacks like skin irritation and not being able to use in sunlight. So this is what Verso promises to do:
  • The substance stimulates the production of collagen and increases the flow of nourishment  to the skin, which leads to improved skin elasticity, a more even skin tone and a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.
Before going further into this, I should tell you that my skin has more issues than Tyra, and has tried more substances than Ozzy. I have combination skin that is oily but dries out easily, it's sensitive and prone to breakouts. If I just wash my face with water from another source than my skin is used to, it's a perfect recipe for disaster. Trying new products always results in a few weeks of pizza face to start off, and then after that horrible time period I can see some improvement, or not. Strangely enough, that didn't happen this time. I've been using Verso for two weeks now and this is my result:
  • My skin is clearer, has more of a healthy glow than an oily shine, and the overall structure is smoother. Not in terms of wrinkles or pigmentation spots, they are still there, but my pores are smaller and I see fewer blackheads/whiteheads or other small irregularities. My nose got a bit dry/flaky after one week, but I think that was actually a good sign because the skin feels much better after that.
Conclusion: I need more time to see the full benefits of the products, but so far, it's all good. While Verso does claim that the Retinol 8 is eight times more efficient than other retinol products, they also say that users will need a couple of months before seeing the full effects. So I guess I will just keep on using this and see what happens!
Bonus facts: Verso products contain no mineral oils, dye or parabens, only minimal fragrances and preservatives and has not been tested on animals.

Designer Loft in NYC

Hello Mr Di Simone, can I move into your NYC loft? I promise I'd be really nice and not change much at all. Only the chandelier above the dining table. And those ceiling fans have to go. But the rest I could live with. And in case you aren't into women (I'm guessing not, because straight guys can rarely create great interior design), I'd be happy with sleeping on the couch, any one of them. Just say when, so I can book my flight. Oh and by the way, I'd be bringing my three kids, so I hope you have some spare rooms...
Via FvF
Photography: Brian W. Ferry