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Design Hunter

Gifts for Her

Helen Powell

Gifts for Her | Design Hunter

...or to be more specific, gifts for the design conscious, Instagram loving woman in your life. I've picked out the items in this gift guide not only to appeal to those who appreciate good design but also because, as anyone who regularly posts interiors pics on Instagram will tell you, you can never have too many vases, teapots or pretty throws in your life. I've thrown in a few of the beauty products I've enjoyed using this year for good measure too.

So let's start with this exquisite glass teapot which I bought from My Cup of Tea on a recent visit to Ham Yard Village, along with a lovely grey linen napkin and wooden scoop - perfect for celebrating those everyday moments with your favourite tea blend. I'm currently enjoying this one.

And for cosy Netflix nights in I can regularly be found snuggling up under this gorgeous throw* from the COSxHAY collection which I featured a few months back. It reminds me a little of the traditional Welsh blankets which I've always loved, but with a cool modern Scandi edge. I've yet to discover anywhere in our home where this doesn't look good.

Gifts for Her | Design Hunter

Speaking of Scandi if you haven't yet discovered Swedish brand Cooee Design, allow me to introduce you. You might have spotted their vases and candle holders over on Instagram (founder and creative director Catrine has the most gorgeous Instagram account - @catcooee). The ball vases are perfect for winter flowers like anemones or ranunculus which look great as single specimens. They are shown here in pink and white* but they also come in the most amazing shades of rust and plum as well as midnight blue. UK stockists include S220.

Gifts for Her | Design Hunter
Gifts for Her | Design Hunter

It can be fun to have a little knitting project on the go during these dark winter nights. Wool and the Gang have just released a new Home Collection, and it's really good. Banish any thoughts of twee, 'crafty' or old fashioned knits for the home - these are seriously cool designs. The collection includes cushions, throws, rugs, wall hangings, plant holders and even lamp shades. I'm currently knitting up this herringbone pattern cushion* which I'll share with you in another post.

Gifts for Her | Design Hunter

I love receiving bath and beauty products at Christmas and there is no brand whose products I'd be happier to receive this Christmas than REN. I gave a couple of their products a 5 star review in the Bathroom Chemistry product round up I did for Heritage Bathrooms earlier in the year and I've since been trying out their Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial*. Formulated to instantly tone and firm the skin and banish urban grey it leaves my skin feeling renewed and radiant.

For dry winter skin I also highly recommend their Flash Hydro Boost. You apply it after cleansing and then massage it in with a small amount of water to give your skin a hydration boost before adding moisturiser.  I've been using this daily for the past couple of months and it's really helped to keep my skin plump and soft at a time of year when it's usually prone to dry patches and dullness.

And who doesn't love to receive perfume at Christmas? My all time favourite is Diptyque's Philosykos - a deliciously warm, fresh, figgy fragrance that is somehow wonderfully comforting.

Gifts for Her | Design Hunter
Gifts for Her | Design Hunter
Gifts for Her | Design Hunter

Caudalie have stocking fillers covered with their Divine Baubble* which contains a luxurious dry oil that works to moisturise, nourish and brighten the skin tone. You can also use it on your hair to add shine.

Another recent discovery is the new Danish skincare brand Nuori - perfect for those who like their skincare fresh and natural and their packaging simple, white and minimal. This is definitely a range that you'll want to keep out on view in your bathroom rather than tucked away in a cupboard. I've been using the luxuriously creamy Vital Foaming Cleanser and the Perfecting Facial Oil*.

Gifts for Her | Design Hunter

I love to both give and receive candles as gifts. I rounded up some of my favourites in this post a few weeks ago, including this One Rainy Wish candle* from the Tisane collection by Tatine ( available from Curious Egg).

And last but not least, I recently received this tan leather watch* from the Timex Weekender Fairfield collection. The first watch I ever owned was a Timex - a Christmas gift when I was probably no more than eight or nine years old - so it's a brand that has a place in my memories. Fast forward to 2016 and this one has a modern brass dial design with a clean, minimalist look. The straps are interchangeable so you can easily customise the look too.

What's on your Christmas wish list this year?

Gifts for Her | Design Hunter

Styling & photography by Design Hunter.

* samples sent for review

Simple natural styling for an informal Christmas table

Helen Powell

Winter table setting | Design Hunter

And so it's December. I'm not one for putting the Christmas decorations up too early - we'll probably wait another week or two before getting a tree - but I am starting to feel a teeny bit festive. One of the things I do always like to plan well in advance is my Christmas table, so I've begun playing around with a few simple styling ideas.

Usually I like to keep things natural with seasonal foliage and fruits. You won't find too much in the way of glitter around here. Textiles and tableware are also kept fairly simple - white bone china, a plain white linen table cloth and these soft oatmeal coloured linen napkins. And then there's the cutlery, which this year will be the beautiful mirror polished Malvern collection I was recently sent by Robert Welch. I've written previously about how much I love their designs here. We already have quite a sizeable collection of Robert Welch pieces at home (you might have spotted this Alveston teapot on my Instagram feed recently), so these will make a very welcome addition to our table this Christmas.

One of the things I've always loved about Robert Welch cutlery is that it is really beautifully designed and weighted - the gently contoured pieces in this range are a joy to hold and use, so they make any meal time feel just that little bit special.

Winter table setting with Robert Welch cutlery | Design Hunter
Winter table setting | Design Hunter
Winter table setting with Robert Welch cutlery | Design Hunter
Robert Welch Malvern cutlery for festive table setting | Design Hunter

The black cast iron Hobart candlestick that I bought from Robert Welch a few years ago is a bold and solid presence that somehow anchors the other pieces on the table. It also sits perfectly alongside the black dining chairs.

Winter table setting still life | Design Hunter
Robert Welch Malvern cutlery | Design  Hunter

In the past I've really battled with the light for photography at this time of year, but this Christmas I've decided to just try to work with what's available. I actually really like the dark and moody still life feel of these shots... and I've discovered a whole new level of appreciation for pears.

Christmas tabletop with Robert Welch cutlery | Design Hunter

You can view the full range of cutlery available from Robert Welch here, and if you're still looking for gift ideas do also check out their lovely new Scribe desk accessories gift set which I've featured in my Pinterest Gift Edit.

*      *      *

Styling and photography by Design Hunter and posted in collaboration with Robert Welch - a company whose designs I use daily.

Christmas Shopping at Ham Yard

Helen Powell

Anabela Chan Boutique | Ham Yard

Christmas shopping in London can be a magical experience. For the past couple of years I've bought most of my gifts online, but this year I resolved not to engage in Black Friday bargain hunting, and to instead buy what I can from smaller independent shops. Just minutes away from the bright lights and hustle and bustle of Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus the tree filled courtyard of Ham Yard Hotel is lined with some charming independent boutiques selling everything from jewellery to flowers, homewares and speciality teas. Graham and I popped along when we were in London for the opening of the new Design Museum recently and we had the loveliest afternoon learning how to make the perfect Matcha with My Cup of Tea and discovering the beautiful collections of jewellery designer Anabela Chan.

Anabela Chan boutique | Ham Yard

Anabela originally trained as an architect and is also a specialist in print and embroidery design. Before setting up her eponymous jewellery label in 2013 she worked with Alexander McQueen and you can detect the influence of his romanticism and fascination with the beauty of the natural world in the cabinets of curiosity that line her elegant Ham Yard boutique. But her jewellery designs very much have their own distinct style. Her pieces are fun and fabulous and they've been worn on the red carpet by the likes of Lady Gaga and Rita Ora. She's also an advocate of working with sustainable and ethical laboratory grown gemstones. She explained that this enables her to design wearable but exquisitely crafted fine jewellery using gems that share the brilliance and beauty of natural stones but are cultivated without the destructive mining practices sometimes associated with the use of stones of untraceable provenance.

Anabela Chan | Ham Yard
Anabela Chan | Ham Yard
Anabela Chan | Ham Yard

Also at Ham Yard is My Cup of Tea, a modern specialist tea maker that sources, blends and sells the finest quality teas and tisanes. There's a classic tea counter where the loose teas, which are stored in beautiful stainless steel containers, are sold by weight while the deliciously fragrant herbal tisanes come in tiny white cotton sacs and are kept in glass apothecary jars.

Preparing Matcha at My Cup of Tea | Ham Yard
My Cup of Tea | Ham Yard Village

We tried out several of them including the Rose and Cardamom and the Christmas Blend - a full flavoured black tea containing pineapple, orange peel, caramel and maraschino which will go perfectly with mince pies! All were exceptionally good but we loved the Ceremonial Matcha. Strong and creamy and prepared using a bamboo whisk this is the highest grade matcha, often used at tea ceremonies in Japan. They offer regular tasting events, which I'd highly recommend, if you fancy trying it out.

To compliment their teas they also stock the most exquisite range of teaware - whisks, scoops, caddies, teapots, cups, spoons and bowls. I came away with a new teapot and a couple of different blends to give as Christmas presents but I honestly don't know how I managed to restrain myself from indulging further. This is a perfect place to pick up Christmas gifts - I literally wanted to take the entire shop home with me.

Matcha bowls at My Cup of Tea | Ham Yard Village
Preparing Matcha at My Cup of Tea | Ham Yard
Preparing Matcha at My Cup of Tea | Ham Yard
The roof garden at Ham Yard Hotel

And then it was on to Ham Yard Hotel's buzzy restaurant for dinner, but not before we had the opportunity to pop up to the hotel's beautiful roof terrace to enjoy the sunset views over Soho. Set amidst olive trees and beehives this is an enchanting place for evening drinks at any time of the year - they are currently serving up seasonal hot cocktails. The roof garden is only available to guests, but it really is delightful and if you're looking for somewhere to stay for a Christmas shopping trip or theatre break the hotel's proximity to both Regent Street and the West End makes it the perfect destination.

If you're tempted to check it out Ham Yard are holding a Christmas shopping evening on Thursday 1st December. There'll be lots of festive treats and special offers - more details here.

Ham Yard Hotel Reception
Ham Yard Restaurant

With thanks to Ham Yard Hotel for a lovely afternoon.

10 of the best... desk lamps

Graham Powell

Bestlite BL1 table lamp

With the nights drawing in and our working lives becoming ever-increasingly flexible, and with many of us also working from home too, we thought it was an ideal time to look at the wide variety of desk lamp options available. These table-top companions are often overlooked, but are actually a vital element in helping to create a dedicated and enjoyable workspace - one where we are happy to get our heads down to produce some great work. A good desk lamp combines three things... a quality diffused lighting effect that isn't tiring on the eyes (not too bright and not too dim), ease of use and adjustability to suit the context, and an aesthetic sensibility that compliments your interior style.

So here are our ten of the best desk lamps for your consideration...

 

Muuto white leaf table lamp

1. Muuto LEAF Table Lamp

Inspired by the organic asymmetrical form of a leaf, this light by Swedish designers Broberg and Ridderstrålle for Danish brand Muuto is a simple but nonetheless effective light source, offering a stripped-back and more relaxed Scandinavian style approach to desk-work. The energy efficient LED light source is both dimmable and easily adjustable, simply by tilting the head unit and/or swiveling the base - keeping the lamp's form nice and minimal. LEAF is available in black, white, green or grey finishes.

£152 - Houseology

(Get 20% off with code PREVIEW20 when you spend £250 or more at Houseology. Valid until 24 November.)

 

Chipperfield W102 desk lamp

2. Chipperfield W102 lamp

British architect David Chipperfield designed this minimal lamp in collaboration with Swedish design house Wästberg from a purist's perspective. Made mainly from brass, with details in rubber, the W102 lamp has a simple and classic geometric sensibility about it. Adjustment is achieved through either swivelling the base or simply tilting the head to the required angle, and the LED light unit is dimmable to suit the occasion.

£546 - Wallpaper Store

 

3. Anglepoise 1227

The Anglepoise desk lamp is a British design classic that remains as relevant and contemporary today, as it did when it was first conceived back in the 1930s by automotive designer George Carwardine. Using a clever combination of carefully calculated tensioned springs, combined with an articulated 'arm' structure, the Anglepoise offers endless adjustability of desired positions which always stay where you want. Anglepoise offer a range of designs based on the original concept and my own personal favourite is the 1227 desk light series - ideal for smaller office set-ups.

£175 - £235 - John Lewis

 

Wrong London Cloche lamp

4. Cloche lamp by wrong.london

If you are looking for a wider pool of light to illuminate your workspace, then the Cloche lamp from Wrong.London might just be the desk lamp for you. Conceived by Norwegian designer Lars Bella Fjetland, the Cloche (French for bell), delights in its seemingly unbalanced character. In reality its cast iron base provides the appropriate ballast for the cantilevered shade, allowing you to position the light source above the action. Cloche is available in matt black or polished brass or copper finishes.

£185 - Amara

 

Bestlite black and chrome table lamp

5. Bestlite BL1 table lamp

The Bestlite BL1 is a classic light that has stood the test of time, and rightly so. Designed by Robert Dudley Best in the 1930s it has been a staple functional design addition to endless modern interiors ever since. With its super stable flat base, quality build, easy height and tilt adjustment, this is a desk lamp that deserves its place in design history. It's available in a variety of material and colours - including brass finish and china shade options.

£459 - Houseology

(Get 20% off with code PREVIEW20 when you spend £250 or more at Houseology. Valid until 24 November.)

 

Habitat Bobby desk lamp in white

6. Bobby desk lamp by Habitat

If you are working to a tight budget, then this little desk lamp from Habitat is a great way to inject some style and character into your life without breaking the bank. It does require some basic assembly (but nothing taxing), and once together is easily adjusted with a clever twist and tilt 'elbow' joint. BOBBY is available in satin black, white, brushed metal or fluorescent orange finishes.

£20 - Habitat

 

7. No.045 task lamp from the Design Project collection by John Lewis

This stylish lamp has been created by John Lewis's in house design team as part of their 'Design Project' collection. Inspired by a considered balance of the traditional and the contemporary, the No.045 task lamp offers stylish design at an affordable price. Finished in satin black and mounted onto a smooth concrete base, with brass details adding extra character, this directional desk light is easily adjusted using a hidden central pivot.

£75 - John Lewis

 

Aj table lamp

8. AJ table lamp

The AJ Table lamp by Louis Poulsen is a true design classic that still exudes style and grace today. Designed in 1960 by Scandinavian architect Arne Jacobsen for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen it will sit well in a wide range of interior styles and rarely look out of place. Its adjustable metal shade shade ensures a soft pool of light wherever you want it, and is available in a wide range of colour options, including petroleum, black, graphite grey, blue/green, yellow/green, sand, red or white.

£543 - Houseology

 

Tab lamp by Barber & Osgerby

9. Tab lamp by Barber & Osgerby

Conceived in 2007 by British design duo Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, Tab is a simple but highly effective and efficient lamp with an adjustable diffused LED light thanks to a 45 degree wrap-over aluminium shade. We have 2 of these in our house and find they cast a good even light to read by. Tab is available in black or white paint finishes.

£215 - John Lewis

 

10. Dyson CSYS

We have this lamp on our desk in the office and have been really impressed by both its functionality and quality. Designed by Jake Dyson the CSYS lamp is super adjustable through both its touch sensitive dimmable LED lighting and its easy glide motion (up-and-down and side-to-side). It's available in black, black and silver or white and silver finishes.

£399 - Dyson

Why we need the new Design Museum

Graham Powell

by Graham Powell

After much anticipation the Design Museum reopens later this week, moving to its new home in Kensington. We went along to the preview last week to see if the reality matched the hype, and to ask whether we still actually need a design museum in an age of easy access to information?

The old Commonwealth Institute building at the far end of Kensington High Street has been a hive of activity for the past few years, since it was announced that the Design Museum would be relocating there from it's previous location in Shad Thames, near Tower Bridge. Deyan Sudjic (Director of the Design Museum since 2006) was asked by Terence Conran to find a new and larger home for the museum in order for it to "grow from a niche player into an important international voice in design and architecture". After much searching the building in Kensington was chosen as the ideal location, offering three times as much space and being an ideal annexe to the institutions of nearby 'Albertopolis' - which includes the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal College of Art and the Serpentine Gallery. John Pawson was unanimoulsy chosen by the selection panel as the architect best suited to tackling the job of restoring and converting the listed 1960s landmark building which is situated at the southern end of Holland Park. A classic piece of contemporary postwar architecture complete with an iconic roof, not unlike many churches built around the country at the same time, the building had become rather tired and in need of a new purpose.

The new Design Museum
The Design Museum | John Pawson

John Pawson is an architect who both Helen and I have long admired - to such an extent that certain details of our own home have been inspired by his minimalist approach to design and living. He is well known for taking the 'less is more' mantra to higher levels of use, with the aim of producing an improved inner calm derived from a more considered outer simplicity. Attention to details, well chosen quality materials and a muted colour palette are all key to his approach, and his practice's redesign of the new Design Museum continues the adherence to these finely tuned principles.

Roof detail at the new Design Museum | John Pawson

Upon entering the building's vast atrium space, your gaze is automatically drawn upwards to the magnificent concrete hyperbolic paraboloid roof supported by an array of undulating beams which fan out in a mesmerizing rythmn to captivate the viewer. The result is an instant state of awe and calmness instilled in the visitor's mind, allowing the business and stress of everyday life to quickly fade from memory.

Of course a minimalist interior, as experienced in many a modern art gallery and museum, is the standard preparation for a preferred higher state of consciousness in such a 'house of contemplation'. For this is in essence the purpose of a museum - it's a place where both we and the objects in question are removed from their everyday context so that we might better reflect on their functionality, place in history, semantic meaning and true purpose. In this sense the building's agenda is not unlike that of a church, but here design is the thing being worshipped, and god is in the details.

White terrazzo staircase at the Design Museum | John Pawson

Pawson's approach to design takes Le Corbusier's modernist mantra of 'a liberal coat of whitewash to cleanse the soul' and evolves it into a more humane manifestation that we have come to know as minimalism. This form of minimalism doesn't dictate 'any colour your like as long as it's white' (which can so often result in the clinical sterility of logic), but prefers a subtle mix of well considered materials that aim to celebrate the understated and unobtrusive, instead of the showmanship of other 'look at me' design movements. Here, white walls are complemented with expanses of Italian terrazzo flooring at lower levels, or pale marble cladding and warmer light oak paneling and flooring at mid and higher levels, adding a naturalness and warmth to the spaces. Dark tones are utilised in the restaurant furniture for more social occasions. Ever present, but subtly unobtrusive, are the key design elements of lighting and those signature 'hidden' doors concealing services (again all very Pawsonesque) which add to the overall feeling of calmness. Even the service lifts are hidden behind carefully concealed bi-folding panel doors to keep the visual clutter to a minimum. Naturally the views of Holland Park are encouraged, rather than of Kensington High Street to add to the sense of calmness and peace of mind.

Model of the Frankfurt Kitchent | The Design Museum

Exhibition spaces are provided by two generous temporary galleries, along with further smaller spaces throughout the museum, offering opportunities for surprise encounters and pop-up events. The museum's inaugral opening exhibitions do not disappoint either, consisting of an appropriate mix of individual design perspectives (Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World), curation from the museum's own permanent collection (Designer, Maker, User) and design accreditation (Beazely Designs of the Year). The museum's programme of Designers in Residence offers opportunities for emerging new talent to exhibit their work too. In a space three times the size of its predecessor, there's so much to see that it's hard to know what exhibits to report on here. And since we all have our own design preferences and agendas perhaps I should simply encourage you to visit and see them for yourself, rather than attempting to choose 'the best bits'. It was though great to see less 'sexy' design such as transport and technology (the sort derived from complex collaborative teams) featuring just as predominantly as those from the usual individual 'star' designers.

Fear & Love at the new Design Museum
Exhibition at the new Design Museum
Display detail at the new Design Museum
The new Design Museum by John Pawson
The new Design Museum by John Pawson
Parabola Restaurant at the new Design Museum

Suffice to say the new Design Museum has something for everyone, or at least everyone with an enquiring mind who has an interest in why things are as they are. It will undoubtedly act as a collecting point for both design and people, for budding and established design types whatever their age and background. On a broader level it has all the ingredients to act as a focal point to support the creative industries and help contribute much to the nation's 'greater good' through education, creativity, innovation, community, jobs and GDP. This is particularly needed at a time when design education and the creative industries in general seem to be coming under increasing political pressure to justify their existence and purpose. In acting as a focal point in this way we can't see why the new Design Museum shouldn't fulfil its remit and grow from a niche player into an important international voice in design and architecture.

Roof details at the new Design Museum
Parabola Restaurant at the new Design Museum
Parabola Restaurant at the new Design Museum
Architectural detail at the new Design Museum
Roof details at the new Design Museusm

So in answer to our question, YES we do need a new Design Museum - and perhaps more than ever in this 'post-truth' world of digital overload that we find ourselves increasingly immersed in. Thanks to John Pawson's minimalist interiors the new museum successfully invokes a calmness that is well suited to quiet contemplation and reflection, one where real learning can take place and higher quality information can be distributed.

We certainly think this is a destination worth making a design pilrimmage to.

The new Design Museum | John Pawson

Words by Graham Powell & photography by Helen Powell.