Category: peep show: funky interiors

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.

The Organic Farm Shop

I have long been on the hunt for some pretty block printed bedlinen that doesn’t cost the earth or look like I spent too long travelling in India. There is a happy medium, and I have finally found it – courtesy of The Organic Farm Shop.

I always like it when searching for something specific leads you to a bigger picture that is a thousand times more exciting, and this farm / workshop / B&B / textile store does just that. Run by Will and Hilary Chester-Master since 1990, the farm has always been organic and environmentally sustainable and sits alongside a garden, a shop and a cafe as well as a cute little shepherd’s hut and yurt where adventure seekers can hole up for the night.

Often visited by schools and keen green fingered souls, it is a brilliant and inspiring example of a sustainable organic community. And if you are unable to visit yourself, the veggie progress and happenings are wonderfully recounted on the Veg Garden blog, while on the news pages you can find info on special goings-on such as a weekly documentary night at the farm, updates on produce and planning, updated menus and info on new courses. (You can choose from textile workshops, green woodworking, cheese making, willow courses or cookery workshops and all can be incorporated into a camping holiday on site).

Which brings us nicely on to the textiles: beautifully printed cottons in perfectly blended colours, made from organically grown cotton. It is sourced by Hilary in India, who has set up a small workshop in Rajasthan which has been managed by the same two hand block printers for the last 21 years. Their pretty range of table cloths, duvet covers, quilts, handkerchiefs and sponge bags all feature traditional Rajasthani prints without being garish or over the top. And at such honest prices you would be mad not to snap them up.

Hilary says, ‘Our family has used these duvet covers for over 20 years now, and we are just starting our third set. They do fade, but the cotton is strong and very very soft. Once you have experienced sleeping under it, you might not want to sleep under anything else.’

I am all for some weathered, faded charm, and currently debating between designs. I think the best bet is to plan a visit so I can take in the whole Organic Farm Shop experience in all its colourful glory.


nestify meets Valeria Ruzzon, founder of Costa’s Barbers Casual Wear

London’s southern borough of Battersea may be overlooked as a destination for stylish and curious restaurants and cafes, but nestify’s resident design snoop Zoe thinks this is all the more reason to shout about and enjoy the places that flout this assumption…

Costa’s Barbers Casual Wear is one of these treasures, tucked away on 165 Battersea High Street, a little market street – a wonderful one-stop antiques-styling-props haven all under one roof. The vintage furniture, mainly from the 50s and 60s, is available to buy or loan for shoots, and with a cafe at the front where you can enjoy a cup of tea in true retro style, it is well worth a visit. (Particularly if, like us, you are experiencing a sudden wave of unexpected nostalgia after watching My Week With Marilyn).

We enjoyed a chat with owner Valeria Ruzzon to ask how it came about:

When did the shop open?

Costa’s Barbers Casual Wear opened in August 2009.  It’s based in the old barber’s shop on Battersea High Street. I fell in love with the 1950’s shop window and the red and white ghost sign, so I decided to keep the name – it’s as random as the eclectic collection in the shop.

The coffee shop gives people an opportunity to engage with the pieces without fearing a hard sell. Some sit quietly in a corner contemplating something specific, others simply love sipping coffee surrounded by wonderful, unusual things.

 What kind of products do you feature in the shop?

I am not fixated on a specific era, style or look. I buy things that I am drawn to here and there and slot them in together. I don’t try too hard to match – I find many interior retailers over-styled and contrived. Beautiful things find their own harmony and create their own stories.

I buy 50’s and 60’s pieces but only if they stand out. I find that a lot of mid-century furniture can be quite ugly, but because they are still such fashionable and culturally defining decades, everything is thrown in the mix.

(Saying that, I am addicted to Mad Men – the styling is breathtakingly good).

How did you come to open the shop?

After a long career in the city, I moved to project management in interior design for Monica Lupi, a great interior designer and antique dealer based in Florence.  Monica is a great friend and inspiration and she gave me the courage to go solo.  My style is a reflection of my personal, eclectic taste, all I know is what I like.

What is on your Christmas wishlist?

On my Christmas list this year is the perfect addition to Costa’s Barbers: a little four legged friend. And I promise, I won’t call it Costa.

Can you tell us anything fabulous (apart from Costas) about Battersea?

The best thing about Battersea is Battersea High Street, one of the few remaining cobbled street off the beaten track in the heart of London. The perfect spot to watch the world go by, and not a chain shop in sight.



Autumn at Burford

Last week I passed by Burford garden centre in Oxfordshire and couldn’t resist stopping for a quick coffee and retail runaround. I have only ever been there briefly, running in and out on busy Saturday mornings for compost with my sister who lives nearby, so I relished the chance to wander round in peace and quiet and check out their autumnal offering. With beautiful floral displays and endless, thoughtful ways to accessorise and personalise your home and garden / allotment / window boxes etc, it is the place to go if you need a hit of colour and inspiration.

My favourite find was a lovely range of furniture made from reclaimed Indonesian fishing boats, reincarnating weathered wood and bright pastel colours into simple yet beautiful tables, benches and cabinets.

There is also a lovely selection of colourful Persian kilim furniture – a jumble of wild and eccentric tapestries, chairs and sofas that plunge you into a colourful, chaotic bazaar.

I also spotted some little wooden teepees for kids which look very cute, as well as a ready-to-go shepherd’s hut (for just over £12k) complete with lighting, electrics and bright floral interior.


But I myself was frugal and only bought some tumbling ivy to fill my long-empty hanging pots.

For more information and their online store visit

Luardos: Mexicana kitsch reigns supreme

My friend Simon Luard, from Luardos Mexican street food, just had his Citroen H resprayed and it looks very cool: pink, sexy, and kitsch to the hilt.

You can hunt it down for yourself at markets around London. Specialising in his signature Baja Fish Tacos, it’s where you want to be. They’re delicious.

His other van, no less exciting but with a slightly more down-played Mexicana vibe, serves London’s yummiest burritos every weekday on Whitecross Street.

Go forth and gorge.

New season at Graham & Green

I just got through some images of the new season collection at Graham & Green, available next month, and think it has some lovely pieces. I am especially excited to see the back of bone-enamelled chests and the small beginnings of Baz Luhrmann retro kitsch.

The animal nightlights melt my heart.

People we’re loving: Kelly Wearstler

I may be way behind the times, because after a little bit of research I see she is more or less a household name, but I recently came across American interior designer Kelly Wearstler and am a big fan.

Although she mostly does hotels and public spaces, she also does the odd house – mostly on the West coast – and I like her unusual, slightly risky combinations of colours, textures and styles – graffiti wallpaper and wrought iron stairs, pink marble and tribal rugs… it shouldn’t necessarily work but it does.

She also has a fun photo blog called my vibe my life, charting what she gets up to and what inspires her, and her children are very cute.



Peep show: the coolest bank in the world

This is the first ever concept bank, in Place de L’Opéra in Paris, courtesy of BNP Paribas and architect Fabrice Ausset.

Banking has never looked so fun.

Peep show: Fiona Apple goes retro

Holed up in bed with a broken leg, Zoe has found great joy in passing the days watching retro music videos on youtube.

As a special Peep Show post, and for want of anything better to do, she has selected the perfect products to recreate Fiona Apple’s dark, suggestive apartment from her video for the single Criminal.

A 70s throw back style apartment is the backdrop to Apple’s laid-back early nineties music video, with its unapologetic dark wood finishings creating a distinctly masculine edge. The iconic Cassina Le Corbusier LC2 Armchair, first designed in 1928 and originally produced in 1965, stands out amongst the heavy weight pieces of furniture – and is as stylish now as it was in the late sixties:

The few props featured in the video work together perfectly and there are some really original pieces – including the bed sheets, which I particularly like. Orla Kiely has designed a range of bedlinen with a similar colour scheme (prices start at £80 for a single duvet cover), although the design is a little more feminine:

I also like Tom Dixon’ s Fat Spot (£290) as an alternative to the table spot light:

Finally, the green shag carpet and the mosaic bath, fit for two, complete the perfect setting for Apple’s salacious hit.

Give your hallway some love

Saidos de Concha on Flickr

When I moved into my flat in the summer, I couldn’t have cared less about the hallway. The word and the space seem to belong to big rambling houses, not little urban hideouts.  Say ikat cushion or hand thrown mug or anything Bang & Olufsen and my ears will prick up, but say hallway and I will find it hard to care.

This could be to do with the fact that mine is a damp, cold, foot of a staircase which leads to much more colourful and exciting things, but I think it is also indicative of the fact that in general not many excited new home makers care about this odd and transient space. But when it comes to urban living, a hallway where you can fit anything larger than a set of keys and a coat or two is gold dust. And it should be maximised.

So  – partly in an effort to find out what to do with mine, and partly because when I think of my friends’ houses I realise I am not alone in the hallway wilderness (the worst are mostly male-tended but that’s no excuse) – I scouted out some of my favourites. The first, above, packed with robins and colourful gourds, is perfect while autumn hangs on in there.

Apartment Therapy

Saidos de Concha on Flickr

Living Etc

Living Etc