Month: March, 2012

Five minutes with Gudrun Sjödén

Last night I went to the launch of bohemian Swedish design guru Gudrun Sjödén’s UK flagship store on Monmouth Street in Covent Garden. I have long been a fan of her colourful floral patterns and laid back Scandi style and I was particularly excited to see how they translated into a standalone store.

As soon as I walked in, the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden seemed miles away (and this alone is reason enough to pop by and check it out): bright greens, warm pinks, deep crimsons and Jodhpur blues all jostled from every wall and surface in a whirlwind of prints and textures, and I loved it.

From Gudrun’s S/S 2012  lookbook

While fashion remains Gudrun’s mainstay, the interiors line is hot on its heels. Brimming with Indian-inspired florals, warm overdyed shades and soft, thick organic cotton, it is perfect for creating a warm, eclectic, summertime feel, with flowered cushions, soft patterned bolsters, colourful lampshades and lovely thick table linen at the core of the collection. “I like to use the same colourways in the clothes and the homewares because it is about more than just individual pieces – it is about a lifestyle”, says Gudrun. “You wear a certain style of clothing, and you decorate your home the same way.”

And the results are pretty yet versatile, with quilted covers and brightly woven dhurries that delicately complement a colourful dress or scarf creating a complete little world in which you can escape to the bohemian dream. Conveniently, you can also buy her fabrics in the store by the metre, so you can tailor them to your own designs at home.

The flagship store

With her floral and folk-inspired designs clearly rooted in nature, Gudrun is known for having championed organic cotton and natural fabrics ahead of the curve. “We print most of our fabrics in India, and all our dhurries are woven by hand in Rajasthan. Where we do not use organic cotton, we use man-made natural fibres, including silk, bamboo, viscose etc. People are still focusing on buying things at a cheap price but I think we are slowly realising that it is better to have fewer things that are made sustainably and which support traditional artisan methods. I think it is more important than ever to keep these crafts alive, and we currently work with a design school in Gujarat to this end”.

In the same vein, the furniture in the store has all been upcycled, and Gudrun and her team have painted and revamped every piece themselves. Big baskets full of flowers perch on top of pastel coloured chests and cabinets, and they have even let the creative juices flow on the concrete floor, which is replete with flowers and swirls and folksy motifs.

The flagship store

On her site, you can see some of Gudrun’s sketches that inspire her designs (she paints every morning at 7am and will stop at nothing). It is well worth a visit, and the store is as pretty and homey as any I have seen.

Top 5 water bottles

For months I have been refilling the same old Evian water bottle. But today I decided, for three reasons, that it is time to invest in a proper aluminium one. Firstly, I have finally fallen prey to fears of BPA and its harmful effects; secondly, I want to reuse where I can; and thirdly – and most excitingly – I want to sip from something beautiful while I do so. With so many fun designs around I thought I would share my top five: I was tempted by Celia Birtwell but in the end I have gone for Gaiam – I always love their products and know they have been responsibly produced. Happy hydration is just a delivery away…

Anemone water bottle, £8.95, by V&A

Silver damask water bottle, £8, by Gaiam

Thoughtful Gardener water bottle, £9.95, by Wild & Wolf

Folk print water bottle, £13.95 (with carry case),  by Wild & Wolf

    

Floral water bottle, £9.95, by Celia Birtwell

The sweet life

Greenwich

I recently came across these quirky little Sweet View sketches of London boroughs by London-based artist Jack Noel and was struck by how colourful and lively they made the city seem. In these grey end-of-winter days, when we are all longing for more colour and warmth, they seem to instantly uplift and brighten the London horizon.

Kensington and Chelsea

Hackney

Camden

Southwark

Each image is printed in a run of 200 and comes framed and signed by the artist himself for £28. Pick your favourite borough and see the Big Smoke in a new and shiny light.

Glorious graphics by Holli Zollinger

As I was recently given a sewing machine by my mum (my first, and I am very excited), I have been scouting out rare and wonderful fabrics with which to plan my dream textile creations. Amid lovely new offerings from Liberty and others, I stumbled upon these striking patterns by US artist and graphic designer Holli Zollinger and fell immediately in love. If her name alone does not seduce you, her beautiful patterns definitely will. Big, bold and tribal, they are a calming and welcome antidote to this season’s busy graphic prints.

You can buy them on her website, along with other prints and designs. She also has a lovely blog where she showcases new designs and irresistibly sweet photos of her little boy.