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German Illustrator Silke Leffler

When I travel outside of the states I have this must-visit on my list that I often hit the second I’ve unpacked: Locate a book shop! Not only because I need to find magazines, cookbooks, interior design and craft books but I must locate the children’s book section. One can learn a lot about a culture by visiting a local book store, don’t you think? Illustrated books provide me with endless inspiration and are such a huge personal pick-me-up. I often flip through them imagining the day when perhaps I’ll author my very own, and if it’s not meant to be that I write a one that is sold in bookstores then I will write them once I become a mother for my own kids.

My aunt was a great lover of illustration and sent me books ever since I was a baby that made a deep impression on me. She paid such close attention to illustration and had great taste, as a fine artist and illustrator herself I now understand why she so carefully selected books for me. My favorite book was The Maggie B, I still have it and when I’m missing my aunt (she passed away at age 41)… I take it from my bookcase and read it because the story so perfectly captures the meaning of comfort and the joy of having a rich imagination, you instantly feel warm the moment you read it and the illustrations convey care and comfort so beautifully.

Here in Germany I escape to the bookstore whenever I need a break and recently discovered publisher Annette Betz and in particular the German illustrator Silke Leffler. I REALLY find her illustrations so full of whimsy and they have a definite fairytale feel to them. I immediately purchased Das Andersen M?rchenbuch because I really like the full page color illustrations. I’m studying German right now and such books help me to learn the language since I’m so visual, and you can’t even believe how I use this point to my advantage when it comes to justifying the purchase of beautiful kiddie books. :)

If you also like Silke’s work you can purchase a print from her at a website in the UK called EasyArt. She has designed bedding for IKEA that Inspire Co. blogged about here that is really sweet, too. I think it’s available in the states in addition to IKEA in Germany.

Now I’m wondering… what is your favorite children’s book? I like so many, but the Maggie B is at the top of my list because it’s a very emotional imaginative tale and connects me back to my Aunt.

(images from silke leffler)

Posted in Books + Magazines, kids, travel on October 16, 2008

How Do You Handle Inspiration Overload?

I’m still feeling the warm glow from yesterday’s inspiration that came from Living & More magazine and Birgitta Wolfgang Drejer. I wish so badly that I could share each and every page of this German decorating magazine with you as the photos are just so super stunning and I really enjoy the crafty projects as they are easy and fun to do. I’m off to the craft store today to pick up some doilies to work on a small project that I saw in the magazine, if it comes out well I will post photos tomorrow so you can see it. I think that if you have a magazine in hand that gives you inspiration for days, fuels your imagination, and gets you moving in a forward motion you have found a great resource. Rarely do I feel this way from magazines these days. I was buying each and every issue of home magazines from this country and that country and now I’m not feeling it anymore. I need MORE. Often they still feel so snooty to me, like I’m not part of the club. I need to connect with other readers or the homes that I am seeing and not feel a huge gap between THEM and ME. I don’t feel as inspired by rooms I know I’ll never be able to live in — I never expect to buy a $15,000 coffee table and I’m totally okay with that. I doubt I’ll ever have the Malibu beach house overlooking the Pacific. I think that it’s important to be happy with what you have, no matter how humble, and cherish that space you’re in. Oftentimes a lifestyle is crammed down our throats that in reality, we really do not want but we think we want it because it’s being presented as ‘the’ way to live.

I want to address something I’ve found as a negative when it comes to design magazines, shows, even design blogs. Of course, I’m a silver-lined happy cloud (he he) so I have 1,000 positives for every negative meaning that despite my view being a bit of a downer here, I still continue to author a design blog and be part of a community that I love and cherish. I don’t plan to depress anyone by saying this… I think in every relationship there is always some negative aspects, even in a marriage or friendship. It’s part of life. So I’ll just put it out there. Do you ever feel like there is too much going on out there that you’ll never catch up? There are soooo many things you see, want, love, are dying to make, dying to do, but often feel overwhelmed by it all? Yeah, me too. I totally do. I was thinking today in the craft store as I was trying to find candles for this project I’m working on that it’s important to pause and not run yourself absolutely into a hole trying to get “it all done”. I think that we as women can easily turn inspiration into this twisty vine that chokes us called competition. Either with others or with ourselves, as weird as that sounds. I also think that YEARS ago before blogs and great magazines like Domino and Living Etc. I was almost content in my bubble that the way I decorated and the way my parents decorated was just fine — we had little back then to compare our decorating to I guess. Now it’s different. The second we finish our living room design we see something in the home of another person even on a blog or in a magazine, on television, wherever and instantly feel like we need to change something. We aren’t happy with the hardwood oak floors, now we saw a magazine with high gloss black wood floors and that’s ALL WE THINK ABOUT. Of course until we have the black floors and then we see a photo of someone else who did something ultra clever like stencil their floors with a doily pattern or something. See where I’m heading with this? It’s called a disease people and we all have it. We want our fix and there are hundreds of publications ready to give it to us. Which brings me to ask you…

How do you personally manage all of the information and ideas that you are exposed to on a daily basis so as to be somewhat productive? I stick diligently to lists and I often do not allow myself to move onto another project without first finishing what I’ve started. Mother always said that now didn’t she? “Finish what you start!” I also work very hard to filter everything I see and decide what exactly I should use and what is not perhaps practical and leave the idea alone. I think mood boards are VERY effective. Whenever I have a project, for instance decorating my apartment or someone else’s, I spend months collecting ideas and placing them all into folders and clear plastic sleeves in a binder and over time I start to see a definite pattern and then I know I have tapped into the exact look I need to begin shopping for. That’s exactly how I pulled together my current kitchen. I had a mood board, spiral bound notebooks, a very exact vision in my head and despite all the zillions of kitchens I’ve seen that I’ve loved since I started collecting inspiration for my own, I did not give in to impulse – I stuck to my guns and now I’ve pulled together a kitchen that really works for me and my husband and I like how it looks, how I stayed under budget by $4,000, and that in the end it is ME and my vision.

So again I ask… How do you turn what some consider a negative (inspiration overload) into a positive? Any specific things that you do that may help other readers? How do you feel personally about all the rooms and objects galore that saturate the internet these days, do you enjoy having so much access to design around the world or does it sometime make you want to hide your head under the covers because you do not know where to start?

(image by holly becker for decor8)

Posted in real talk on October 16, 2008

Top Design: The Weekly Dish

Miss Becky is back to share her take on this week?s episode of Top Design. Becky, take it away! — Holly
——
Hi Everyone! Before I get started talking about this week’s episode of Top Design, who caught Wisit’s opera-etic departure TWICE on The Soup this week? I almost fell off the couch laughing! I also noticed that they changed the cover of the Elle Decor they show at the beginning. It used to be the issue with a cover showing the dining room of Cynthia Rowley, a judge on competing show Design Star.

Well, this week’s “Room of the Future” episode was a major improvement over last week’s depressing green offices. I remember doing those kinds of exercises in 4th grade, except the future year we were told to imagine was 2000! I guess my “space car convertible” was a little ahead of its time. It was really interesting to see which designers were able to think about the future, and which ones were still stuck styling bookshelves with woven baskets. I agreed 100% with the judges’ decisions tonight. I also liked that they had two and a half days plus a carpenter to help them execute their designs. Besides the fact that it takes a good week to put together several pieces of furniture from IKEA, it really gave them ample time to execute their designs well.

It was hilarious to hear Ondine, “the road runner on crack,” drop the f-bomb so many times, and that she spilled big cans of paint or varnish twice. I was pleasantly surprised that Eddie handled it so well. I will give him props for that. I loved that the Pop Design challenge actually tested their knowledge of design history, and it was interesting to see who dropped out and when, though I suppose it wasn’t much of a surprise who knew their stuff and who did not. Personally, I could not tell if the vintage lamp was a garage sale find or an L.A. high-end modern furniture store piece, and I got that one wrong! My guess is that the store charging $1,200 for it today found it at a garage sale for five bucks last week.

The two funniest, or in one case, ironic things Kelly said in this week’s episode?

1) “I love the plates on the wall” to Nathan. Um, Kelly, that’s because it’s almost exactly like your design at the Viceroy Santa Monica. It’s funny that Project Runway judges pick up on those who copy Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen, yet a Top Design judge doesn’t call out her own work as an inspiration. Nathan’s plates did look great, but the rest of his styling was a bit of a hot mess.

2) “It’s like Grannies Gone Wild to Eddie, regarding his room. Um, honey, WHAT ARE YOU WEARING? Socks with pumps, beads galore, the crazy hat, purple and green, the ruffled dress, uh, if that’s not Grannies Gone Wild, I don’t know what is! I loved it though. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from these discussions, it’s that people love Kelly or hate her, but there is absolutely no middle ground. Perhaps that’s why I love her.

So, what did you think the year 2000 would be like when you were in third grade (I was in third grade in 1980, BTW)? Which futuristic plans did you think stood out in a good way? Which ones did you think were ridiculous? Do you know how to pronounce “Chaise Lounge” better than Preston does? Whose room would you choose to live in if you had to? Who is worse at receiving constructive criticism, Eddie, or Kenley from Project Runway? Were there any issues of the future you would have addressed through a design that were not mentioned in this episode? Would you ever wear a suit with sneakers and no socks? Do you think Ricky Schroeder looks smokin’ hot in that picture that Andrea brought with her?

(image from bravo, text from rebecca harris)

Posted in guest bloggers, reality tv on October 16, 2008

Photographer Birgitta Wolfgang Drejer

Ready to see some BEAUTIFUL spaces? I was reading today in the new issue of Living & More (my absolute favorite German interiors magazine) about photographer Birgitta Wolfgang Drejer and OH MY is her home beeeeaaauuuutiful! I especially love her Deborah Bowness “Books” wallpaper in her living room. If you have access to Living & More, please pick up issue Nr. 8 November/Dezember 2008 and turn to page 24 and prepare to start drooling.

Birgitta Wolfgang Drejer has worked as a photographer for the last 20 years covering everything from fashion to catalogs and has lived in exciting cities like Paris, Milano and Miami. For the past 10 years she has specialized in interiors photography, in fact I have a book called Nordlicht2 that I’m ADDICTED TO that was shot by her. As you can see from just a small glimpse of her portfolio here, Birgitta is nothing short of amazing, capturing light in ways that only a seasoned photographer can — photos so emotionally touching that you can imagine yourself in that exact space, perhaps lounging around having tea with the homeowner. I just LOVE her feminine sense of style, seen in both her photography and in her home which is featured in Living & More this month. If the lighting is good in my apartment tomorrow, I will photograph a page from this issue showing my favorite corner of her home… So stay tuned for that tomorrow.

After reading Living & More today, having a long lingering lunch with my friend Esra, and spending time this evening with Petra, I am more motivated than ever to continue working on my apartment now as I was lagging behind on a few projects here lately and Birgitta’s work and my friends have greatly inspired me to press forward today. I love this about good friendships, magazines and the internet, all the people we meet that bring us these gifts of motivation because honestly, sometimes I cannot motivate myself so I need my friends and those whose work I find online (like Birgitta) to give me that push. This is what is so amazing about putting your work out there and allowing your creative energy to flow into it, presenting your raw natural talent — you never know who will be affected by it! I bet Birgitta didn’t wake up this morning thinking she’d inspire some blogger like me and many of you reading this looking at her beautiful work here today. You just put it out there and see where it lands. It’s a beautiful thought, don’t you think? To just do good work and enjoy the fruits of that labor. I think nothing quite feels better than learning that someone found you and gained something good from that. I’m so glad that the talented Birgitta has placed her work online for all to see, please view her website for her complete portfolio. Gorgeous!

(photography by Birgitta Wolfgang Drejer)

Posted in inspiration on October 15, 2008

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