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Maker Spaces: Book Review + Interview

Hello friends, I hope all is well and that you’re having a lovely week thus far! It’s time for my weekly book review, and yes, I’m trying to go for one each week for the rest of the year because I have so many nice books to share and I also want to continue pushing the printed page because despite the undeniable amazingness of the digital world, there is still nothing quite like a book in one hand, lemonade in the other, while laying on the beach or the patio in the warm sun. Oh yes please!

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Today’s book, Maker Spaces, is actually from a student of mine who is now teaching her own classes in London and is teaching through the pages of her own beautiful first book. It all happened so fast that she went from blogger to author, which I think inspires a lot of people to just jump in and start showing your best work online because it just could become a beautiful career path for you, too. And what a joy to see people who go for their dreams!

Maker Spaces, written by Emily Quinton and photographed by Helen Cathcart, opens the doors to the creative homes of 13 families who are makers for a living as jewelry and letterpress designers to illustrators and interior designers (and more). To inspire you today, here are some of my favorite photos from the book that haven’t yet been seen online (so please feel free to pin them) and a little interview that I had with Emily about her book.

What inspired you to write a book?
EQ: My life has been filled with books since I was a little girl and I always dreamed that one day mine would be up on the bookshelf too.

What is your background?
EQ: I have an eclectic background that includes working in academic libraries, time researching and writing a PhD on Plant Hunting (sadly not finished) and working as a wedding and portrait photographer.

What do you do for a career today?
EQ: I have designed my own career after realising that I wanted to stop photographing weddings. I wanted to build a career that I could fit around my large family (I have four children, all close in age) and one that I could grow over time. It is an ever evolving thing, which currently includes blogging, photography, teaching and making.

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How did it happen that you got a book deal?
EQ: I went to a fair with my very young baby and on the way, one of my buggy tyres burst. We were lucky to get a lift home with my friend and her husband, who had just started working at Ryland Peters & Small. We were chatting about my blog and he said that it sounded like a title of a book. I laughed and said how I would love to write a book someday. He went off and looked at my work online and came back and asked me to pitch a book idea. After that came what felt like a very long pitching and waiting process!

Why did you decide to write about creative spaces, your background is in wedding and portrait photography…
EQ: I was really curious about the connection between making things and making spaces, and this book enabled me to explore these things with some very talented makers around the world. Making has become a very important part of my life over the past 8 years of being a mother. I have always led a creative life but pregnancy and motherhood really has made me feel so much more connected to my creative side. My husband is an artist and technologist and together we have made a very creative environment for our four children. In addition to this, the wonderful online communities and inspiring magazines and of course Pinterest have all brought so many ideas into my world and put making at the heart of my every day.

Did you style the rooms or photograph as you found them?
EQ: No. The rooms were left as is (except for moving the occasional ugly thing, like a printer).

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Will you photograph your next book?
EQ: Yes, I really hope so! It was a huge compromise not to photograph this one but now that I have seen the whole process of researching, photographing and writing a book I have the confidence that I can do both the photography and the writing and will push for this to happen.

You recently opened a new studio space – tell us where it is and what you do there.
EQ: My new studio space is in West Dulwich, in South London in an old industrial building with huge windows and so much natural light. I share it with my husband and we both work from there a few days a week. I run my photography workshops there and will soon be offering other creative workshops. I do photoshoots for clients there too. My husband also runs technology workshops there and we have lots of plans for how the Makelight Studio will grow and be used over time.

Thank you Emily!

This 175 page book is organized by style covering rustic, retro chic, homespun and eclectic. I really loved the living room and creative studio of Maartje van den Noort in Amsterdam, the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and dining area of San Francisco-based artist Kimberly Austin. If you have the book, which homes clicked with your own taste?

You can purchase this beautiful book here.

(photos with permission by Ryland Peters & Small, photography by Helen Cathcart)

Posted in Books + Magazines on April 29, 2015

The New Bohemians Book Review

Do you love cheerful rooms packed and layered with color, objects, pattern and texture? Are you a fan of a more bohemian eclectic style at home? LA-based blogger and designer Justina Blakeney debuts her first book, The New Bohemians, this week which spotlights 20 creatives living in the United States (mostly west and east coasters) who range from shop owners and entrepreneurs to urban farmers, parents, city dwellers, artists and bloggers. If you like to break decorating rules and welcome total creative freedom in how you dress up your space, this book will feel like a warm, validating hug. Justina even shares corners of her own home and rooms in her sister’s house which are totally color-drenched and piled high with curious objects to explore – so much eye candy!

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The New Bohemians reminded me that there really is no single way to decorate that is “right”, which is important especially when you have both print and new media promoting only very specific looks – you can feel a little left out if your home doesn’t fit what is considered on-trend. This book is perfect for all of the bohemian spirits out there – the rebels who want to mix their foo dogs with Etsy finds, mid century credenzas from craigslist topped with pottery from the 70s scoured at the thrift shop and globe collections displayed in the fireplace alongside vintage Suzani’s used as wall or bed coverings. I found this book to be a completely authentic glimpse into the mind of Justina and what she loves the most and shares frequently online which is how I first discovered her a few short years ago. She shows homes in her book that in her signature Jungalow style and the homeowners, well, “They embrace free-spirited, no-rules lifestyles and apply that attitude to all areas of their existence, including their homes,” which is the absolute message you get with the flip of every color-drenched page.

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In addition to showing out-of-the-box spaces, Justina shares 12 DIY projects inspired by the objects found in some of the homes, so there are projects for you to try. I also like the Adopt An Idea pages (see above image) throughout the book that encourage readers to try the look at home and how.

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This bedroom is in the home of Justina’s sister and I just love it – so perfect for a little girl and loads of fun too.

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This black cabinet above is MAGIC. I would definitely own that and make it work in my house. Definitely a rare and beautiful object of art. The lamp shade and the touch of greenery creates such nice balance too and I like the wall treatment too. This is a trend in Germany at the moment, people living particularly in the more creative cities like Berlin love to leave some walls in their old apartments very bare by tearing off the wallpaper and exposing the plaster and whatever was there before. My friend did this and found newspapers layered into the plaster from 1901. What a wonderful surprise!

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I really like framed butterflies suspended from the wooden branch from the ceiling and that squishy leather sofa. The wooden star is a nice way to conceal the radiator too without blocking the heat.

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When I see anything draped from the ceiling, I think of the 60s and 70s. I was born in the 70s and so I don’t remember a lot about our home but I do remember my mother loving her macrame classes, plants, draping things from the ceiling, bold wallpaper, chinoiserie anything, Chinese black lacquer furniture (with Ming details), shag carpet and color, color, color! In many ways, Justina’s book reminds me of my mom and the style of homes in the 70s and 80s. For instance, my mom would have totally rocked this pendant light shown in the photo below.

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Oh and another bonus that I like about this book is that some of her tips from her Skillshare class on styling, Style Your Space Like a Pro, ended up in the book like how to style a bookshelf in 10 steps. So if you took the class, you can have all of her ideas in one place, with photos and of course, completely gorgeous and new content to inspire you. For me, this was such a big plus because so many times when I see people teach online I often wished they had books that contained all of their knowledge so I could refer back to it for years to come.

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You may purchase your own copy of the book today right here and a big congrats on Justina for her book and thanks for including me in your book tour!

(images with permission from The New Bohemians)

Posted in Books + Magazines on April 15, 2015

Decorate With Flowers For Spring!

Hello everyone! I want to begin the week with a post that simply oozes springtime cheer! We had beautiful weather for the past few days, sunny and nearly 60, so I have a mega dose of spring fever all of a sudden!

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We’ve had a very gray few months and though we didn’t get snow this winter, the gray days are super draining. These colorful photos are out takes from Decorate With Flowers (a list of the current 8 language editions with 2 more on the way at the end of this post), which is my latest book authored alongside of lovely Leslie Shewring. If you don’t already have a copy, it’s truly the perfect title for easter, Mother’s day and all of the spring, summer and early autumn gatherings you’ll host when flowers are a must. You can read the 5 star reviews here if you’re on the fence. Jump off and order! :)

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In our book, we show so many ideas for flowers and their containers inside and really teach you flower basics in such an easy way that you’ll be styling your own gorgeous arrangements in seconds, really! We also break the book up into 8 styles showing 8-12 homes that we worked in to style up our ideas from Canada to Germany and California. We also included a mood board for each style to show you how we translated what was in our heads for each look. There are even break downs for how-tos from arrangement making to container creation. We wrapped up with our little black book showing you were to find the best of the best floral products and vessels and a summary of our favorite flowers.

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US English – Decorate With Flowers
UK English – Decorate With Flowers
Asia – English – Page One
French – Fleurs et déco
Dutch – Bloemen In Huis
Italian – Decorare Con I Fiori
German – Wohnen mit Blumen
Japanese – 花と雑貨で楽しむナチュラルインテリア (I will show you in another post because this edition looks so beautiful!)

Denmark + Mexico Coming soon!

Shown: Leslie Shewring and Jessica Senti (my assistant).

(Photos: Janis Nicolay)

Posted in Books + Magazines on March 09, 2015

Sunday Suppers Book Review

I’m so very pleased to share this lovely cookbook, Sunday Suppers, and author Karen Mordechai with you today. Karen is such a force – a talented woman who wears many hats in her business yet does it with such style and ease (and a warm smile) that you’d never know just how much work it really takes to run her company. In our chat today you’ll soon see that Karen’s passion motivates her to work so hard, to keep her business fresh, to propel it forward. With the support of her husband and the close relationship that she has built with her little girl, along with her friends, the online community and all of the local friends and businesses that she teams up with — there is no stopping this lovely woman from bringing good food, joy and beauty into the world.

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Go-getters like Karen are a true inspiration. Karen knows what she wants and doesn’t veer off the path she’s made for herself and her business. Anyone who has watched her from the beginnings like I have, I still remember her first blog about her Brooklyn-based supper club, cannot help but be inspired and motivated by her success story, which now includes a shop and product line along with a #1 bestselling book on Amazon that is flying off the shelves despite being in the very saturated, competitive cookbook market.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

It’s great to see a wife and a mother, an entrepreneur, an author, a visionary who still remains so humble and warm too. I’ve met with Karen a few times when I’ve been in New York and she has consistently been so kind and genuine. I’m so happy that Karen and I had a chance to talk recently and that I can share our conversation below because I love her new book and am so proud of her success with it thus far.

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decor8: Karen, can you tell us about your background and about Sunday Suppers?
KM: Yes, of course. I am a trained photographer by trade, I have a masters in photography from the ICP + NYU. I am the founder of Sunday Suppers, a food and design community based in South Williamsburg Brooklyn. Our focus is on seasonal fare and simple, thoughtful living. Through shared meals and the act of cooking communally we celebrate the traditions of food and gathering. The food is seasonally focused market fresh. We work with local artisans and crafters to create seasonal dinners in our space. We host approximately 20 events each year between public and private suppers.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

decor8: What do you do primarily for Sunday Suppers?
KM: I wear many hats — I style and produce the shoots as well as do a lot of the recipe development and cooking. I also collaborate with guest chefs to cook for events and classes at the studio. Sunday Suppers has been an opportunity to combine my love for food + cooking with styling and photography.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

decor8: When was your company founded and why?
KM: Sunday Suppers started six years ago in our home. A few friends gathered at our apartment. We cooked and dined and made a toast. From there our dinners have evolved and we have grown into a beautiful new space, our community has expanded beyond our expectations. The concept however centers on simplicity and a love of food.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

decor8: Tell us about your staff...
KM: We have a staff of about 6 people, one full-time creative assistant at the studio, myself and the rest are part-time or freelance positions.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

decor8: Who supports you the most in your day-to-day life?
KM: My husband is my rock, he gives me stability and guidance and a good honest answer when needed.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

decor8: You also rent your space, how does that work?
KM: During the week we use the studio as our home base for creating, working and doing our own shoots. If we are not using it however we do rent it out to others as a photo studio for shoots, some companies that shoot with us include Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Design Within Reach and some more.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

decor8: Who are some of the most interesting people you’ve met at a supper? Why?
KM: We meet people from New York that we wouldn’t perhaps get to connect with otherwise but we also get to meet folks from around the world who either plan their trip around a supper or happen to be in town for one – those are the greatest connections we get to have and so amazing to know that our community stretches that far.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

decor8: Do you imagine doing this forever or do you plan to evolve into something else or more? If so, can you share some of your future goals?
KM: Sunday Suppers has grown organically over the years – from a communal dinner series into a community of food + design. I believe organically we will continue to grow into those realms a bit more and I hope we do. Our shop and product line has become a new and very fun project for me personally and I hope to expand on that in the next year.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

decor8: How did Sunday Suppers the cookbook come to life?
KM: I was approached many times actually to do a book, but about 3 years ago I was contacted by a lovely agent at Random House. I enjoyed working with her directly on the process, she guided me to be able to create the book I had in my mind for a long time.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

decor8: Why is your book special to you, what really makes you happy about it?
KM: Sunday Suppers the cookbook, is a collection of intimate gatherings that we photographed across the country – they are small and more intimate gatherings for 4-6 people. I love that our recipes are beautiful and inspiring but at the same time super attainable and not overly fussy. The goal is to create a book that inspires our readers to cook and explore and find their own beauty in their lives.

 

decor8: Can you please tell us about your favorite recipes in the book?
KM: Every recipe has a story to me – the granola is one that we make at home and have been making for years, and so are a few others. Shakshuka is a childhood meal to me that is very nostalgic and comforting – and for a sweet tooth the date cake is near to my heart and just the most indulgent treat.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

 

decor8 Do you have any fun stories that happened during production? Or stressful funny ones? Or big mess ups?
KM: I learned so much on the book shoots, some tales were funny and some not that funny at the time- we traveled a lot for the shoots and so something was always unexpected. Our first shoot was on the beach in Eastern Long Island and I remember lots going wrong, we couldn’t quite build our campfire – our wood was wet, etc and the meal was all to be prepared on an open fire. Eventually we figured it out and had a lovely evening on the beach, but we worked very hard on that one.


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decor8: On a more personal note, Where do you live and what inspires you about your neighborhood?
KM: We live and work in South Williamsburg Brooklyn. Our apartment is on the waterfront, and so we are lucky to enjoy peaceful views of water and skyline from our apartment. The neighborhood is a little gritty and industrial but also filled with very good food, coffee and design shops. It has a good creative energy to it and there is always something new popping up around here.

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decor8: Out of curiosity, I know that you have a young daughter. How do you fit it all in, mom and business owner?
KM: I have a four year old daughter named Sophia. She is absolutely everything to me and the most important part of my day. Balancing it all is always a challenge and so I just do my best to be a present mother, caring and engaged in all the details, and I also love working and being creative and teaching Sophia those lessons of strength and diligence. I find those to be equally important things to teach a young girl.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

decor8: And finally Karen, why should people buy your book?
KM: I hope readers will find inspiration and a resource for cooking in my book. My goal was to create food that people can actually make at home and show people that they can think outside the box, pack a fried chicken picnic, go have some iced coffee on the beach – and just add a bit of joy and lightheartedness to cooking and gathering. Simplicity and enjoying good friends and good food is the ultimate goal.

Sunday Suppers Book and Interview with decor8

Before we go, I have to share this lovely video that Design Within Reach had with Karen – such a great introduction to her work. I’m sure that you’ll enjoy it.

The Gift of Know-How from Design Within Reach | Food from Design Within Reach on Vimeo.

Thank you Karen for chatting with me and sharing your beautiful photography and book peaks with us today. Readers, if you want a copy of Karen’s book you can find it on Amazon HERE. Also, make sure you check out her newly launched website and if you’re ever in Brooklyn, definitely try to get to one of her beautiful events. Thanks again, Karen!

(images: sunday suppers)

Posted in Books + Magazines on February 24, 2015

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