Monthly Archives: October 2013

Lighting Up with Dutch Design – Stef van der Bijl

With the dark days of winter creeping up on us, it’s a good time to show you some of the creative Dutch light fixture designs as seen at the Woonbeurs 2013 show in Amsterdam. Today’s post, the first of three, introduces you to the work of Stef van der Bijl.Stef van der Bilj Chickmaster Flashdrill LampFormerly a discarded vintage drill, the desk lamp shown above is from Stef van der Bijl’s “Chickmaster Flashdrill” series. The drill’s original on/off switch is still functional. It controls the light bulb. I think that the lamp’s unexpected context, sleek shape and polished surface would add industrial chic to both contemporary and traditional interiors. Stef van der Bilj Squirtmaster LampCan you guess what the light featured above used to be? The name of the design series provides a clue. It’s from the “The Squirtmaster” series. The designer created it using refurbished antique fire engine parts. A copper fire-hose nozzle holds the tube lamp and the fire-hose wheel acts a dimmer switch. The lamp is both functional and a conversation piece.

Stef van der Bijl’s inventiveness includes more than lights. For his “The Time Traveller’s Watch” collection, he creates watches from old camera parts, Steampunk style. He once turned a rusty Art Deco stove into a smart storage cabinet and even converted a 1967 Volkswagen T1 van into a travelling beverage bar and DJ booth. He also designs entire living and work spaces. You can see more of Stef van der Bijl’s work, including his own studio/home loft, on his website.

What I like most about Stef van der Bijl’s creations is that they are unique, handmade and support sustainable product design. As such, they are excellent examples of the new definition of “luxury” that is prevalent in Dutch Design today.

Tricia Guild: Colour Deconstructed

Day one of the Meet the Blogger conference that I recently attended wrapped up with an exciting visit to the Designers Guild showroom in Amsterdam. Entering the showroom was like stepping into Aladdin’s treasure room. The furnishings, textiles, wallpapers and accessories were a colourful treat for my eyes. After a long, yet enjoyable day, I immediately felt my energy-level perking up. The prosecco and nibblies, so generously offered by the agency’s employees, added a much-needed pick-me-up too. Thank you!

Pink Orange Mauve Grey

Top: L) Orsoglio Fuchsia cushion, Monceaux Saffron throw. R) Caviglia Fuchsia fabric. Bottom: L) a macro view of Zambelli Damson fabric R) Regent Ivory cushion, Stothard Teal and Alexandra Amethyst fabrics from the Royal Collection

There were a number of colour stories displayed at the showroom. They included shades of blue; emerald green mixed with accents of fuchsia and bright yellow; and a classic combination of black, grey and ivory. I am sharing a few of my favourites with you.

This “living room” beckoned me to sit and stay awhile. The graphic stripes and bold floral accessories bring energy to the relaxing warm-grey, muted-green and soft-purple colour scheme. Do you like the burst of mustard yellow on the one cushion? I think that it adds a nice bit of zing.

Tricia Guild Colour Deconstructed

Top: Cushions from L: Caviglia Moss, Astrakhan Noir, Padua Noir, Alesandria Amethyst. Bottom: L-Roncioni Moss Velvet Fabric on Chair Back; R-Padua Amethyst Cushion

One of my favourite textiles from the new Designers Guild collection is the ‘Roncioni‘ velvet in Moss. It’s the fabric seen on the back of the custom ‘Julep’ chair in the above left photo. The seat is in ‘Cheviot,’ a felt. This yin and yang mix of colours, textures, a solid and a pattern is one of the things Tricia Guild and her team at Designers Guild do so well.

Of particular interest to me is the company’s use of new technologies. I appreciate things made-by-hand and the artists, artisans and craftspeople who make them. At the same time, I think that digital technology can add to the creative process. Tricia Guild mentioned that all Designer Guild digitally printed patterns start as hand-painted designs. The Kashgar, Alexandria and Patio patterns shown below in the “blues” grouping are digital prints; a dynamic combination of the artists’ skills and cutting-edge production techniques.

Designers Guild Tricia Guild Colour Deconstructed

Top: Kashgar Cobalt Cushion, Alexandria Lapis Wallpaper. Bottom: L) Designers Guild Savine Cobalt Wallpaper, R) Patio Pattern from Christian Lacroix Carnets Andalous Wallpapers Collection for Designers Guild

My reaction to the colour combinations presented in the showroom reminded me of a statement Tricia Guild made earlier in the day during the conference:

“Colour makes the heart sing, touches the soul and gives joy to the spirit. Searching for this special feeling is my life’s passion.”

Indeed, colour has a transformative effect on our psyche. Yellows can excite or agitate (perhaps read my earlier post about Van Gogh’s love of yellow). Neutrals can soothe or bore. The secret is finding the right mix of colour, pattern and texture. Interior design books such as Tricia Guild’s latest,”Colour Deconstructed,” help us to find what works best for our unique personalities and spaces.

As part of the showroom event, Tricia Guild was on hand to personalize copies of her new book. Meeting Tricia Guild in person was a great experience for me. I admire her work and adore the Designers Guild line. Well-known for her impeccable sense of design and style, Tricia Guild is also a savvy business woman.

I purchased a copy of “Colour Deconstructed” (or in my case, “Kleur Ontrafeld,” no, I don’t read Dutch, although perhaps I will one day) at the event and am quite enjoying it.

To start, the book is beautifully constructed. I appreciate the attention to detail Tricia Guild gives to her books. This one has a colourfully stitched binding and brightly edged pages. So far, I’ve taken note of three different cover photos. The English-language version features indigo shibori; the German, a blue floral; and the Dutch, a red and blue floral, with touches of orange. Isn’t the ombré end-paper fabulous? It has the look of the Guild’s ‘saraille’ wallpaper.Colour Deconstructed Tricia GuildTricia Guild fills “Colour Deconstructed” with design inspiration and insights. Our responses to the different environments and images presented in the book offer clues as to the design elements that we would most enjoy having in our own homes.

We see how a few special touches create that “wow” factor. The interior layouts mix contemporary with classic, botanicals with stripes and concrete with linen. Tricia Guild skillfully combines colour, pattern and texture in a way that suits the space; merging her clients’ preferences with her unique style.

Perhaps best known bright palettes and bold patterns, Tricia Guild balances these elements with neutrals and solids. Here are some snippets from inside “Colour Deconstructed.”Colour Deconstructed BlackTricia Guild Colour Deconstructed BlueColour Deconstructed Tricia Guild BlueTricia Guild Colour Deconstructed Turquoise and Pale GreenColour Deconstructed WhiteIsn’t the photography in the book stunning? James Merrell is the photographer.

Colour Deconstructed Tricia Guild Texture Photo

The text translates as: texture, plaster, driftwood (according to google translate “wrakhout” is wood wreck, google image showed driftwood, a picture is worth a thousand words, or in this case, a better translation), marble, stone, decayed, glory and patina.

Inspired by book, I put together a photo collage for a home decor project that I’m contemplating. A bit of reverse engineering since I already have the textiles and searched through my photo files for shots that tell the story of the fabrics. Colour Desconstructed CollageThe purple-blue and white colours of the Passiflora caerulea or Blue Passion Flower are symbolic of heaven and purity. Poetic stucco and iron-work are sharply contrasted by the geometric lines of the shutters and shadows. A glorious rainbow cuts across a soft, yet stormy spring sky and a patch of sunlit landscape beckons us. The luxurious bolts of velvet are Designers Guild’s Varese, a wonderfully thick cotton velvet with a luxuriously dense nap. I’ll be combining the velvets with the vintage Japanese silk textile to create something (undecided what that something will be – suggestions?). In Japanese culture, the crane is symbolic of longevity and good fortune. The flowing water reminds us that life is fluid and ever-changing.

It was fun putting the collage together. I hope you create one (or a dozen) too. After all, the premise of this blog is to explore the world and bring beauty home in a way that is meaningful to you.

Additional Blog Recommendations:

Here are a few more posts about Tricia Guild and “Colour Deconstructed” that I think you’ll enjoy:

  • Stepping it Up (elliecashmandesign.com) Ellie Cashman, wrote her blog post before attending the Meet the Bloggers Amsterdam event. I came across her gorgeous moody large-scale floral wallpaper design on Pinterest months before meeting her.
  • DESIGNERS GUILD…(mademoisellepoirot.com) Carole Poirot is a gifted writer and photographer who also attended Meet the Blogger. Her passion for all things related to interiors, cuisine and craft is beautifully reflected in her blog.
  • Book Review: Colour Deconstructed by Tricia Guild (starrybluesky.com) Rhiannon Connelly is a talented photographic artist and entrepreneur. Her background is in textile design. Before focusing on photography, she created hand-painted textiles carried by Liberty of London among others.

Amsterdam in Red, White, Blue and Fuchsia

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” -Pablo Picasso

I’ve been an avid blog reader for years and a novice blogger for two months. The event that prompted me to leap into the world of blogging took place in Amsterdam two weeks ago.Amsterdam Boat named Amsterdam Back in July, I read a post by Victoria Smith, the editor of sfgirlbybay, about an interiors and lifestyle blogger event she would be speaking at in Amsterdam. Wow, I said to myself, I should sign-up. Amsterdam is relatively close by. It would be a great opportunity to hear Victoria Smith in person and visit a cool city. After all, I had been thinking about starting a blog. The event would be a chance to meet and learn firsthand about blogging from talented bloggers. Plus, Tricia Guild, the founder of Designers Guild would be presenting her soon-to-be-released book “Colour Deconstructed” (I’m a colour junkie, the least evil of my addictions). Within minutes of reading the post, I purchased my ticket to Meet the Blogger Amsterdam.

A few days later, I learned that I actually needed to have an active blog to attend. After experiencing a deer-in-the-headlights moment (okay, week), I got to work creating this blog. It’s been (and still is) a steep, but rewarding, learning curve. Having worked in a very left-brained career for years, this blog is definitely exercising my right-side. In my quest to learn, I’m now reading many more blogs and am “meeting” many talented people from around the world. My appreciation of blogs and the bloggers who write them has increased tremendously. I’m shifting from being a passive reader to an active one. The 2.5 month countdown to the conference passed in a flash.

I arrived in Amsterdam a day ahead of the conference to do some sightseeing and gather content to share with you on the blog. Thankfully, at the last-minute, my husband’s schedule allowed him to join me. His photos are far superior to mine and often capture the quirky-side-of-life. We spent a beautiful autumn Sunday walking, walking, and walking about the city. My advice to you if you visit Amsterdam: rent a bike, your legs will appreciate it the next day.

Below are some red, white, blue and fuchsia themed photos that we took. One charming custom that we noticed – as the sun starts to set, people (and their pets) get together and cruise around the canals while nibbling on appetizers and enjoying a glass of wijn. It reminded me of the after-work sailing I did when living in Toronto. The workday stress quickly vanished once we were out on the lake. Proost!Amsterdam Canal Boat Wine Dog Golden HourAmsterdam Canal Boat Golden Hour Amsterdam Selwyn SenatoriAmsterdam Berries and Red DoorsAmsterdam Red ShuttersAmsterdam Locks on Bridge Amsterdam 1904 BuildingAmsterdam Fuchsia BikesAmsterdam Brains Travel on Bikes Amsterdam is a great city to visit and per the people whom I met, a great one to live in too (not packing just yet, however, I did mention my nomad reputation earlier). It’s beautiful, creative and lively. Everyone was easy-going, warm and welcoming.

p.s. When reading up on Amsterdam, I came across a humorous blog about Dutch culture and an interesting fact about The Netherlands’ national flag. The flag colours were once orange, white and blue. Check out the blog post noted below for the story.