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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

Highlights from RUM magazine

Sidsel from the Spagat design studio in Denmark sent me a gorgeous interiors magazine called RUM featuring design and homes from all over the world. I am really enjoying this magazine with my tea this morning Sidsel, so thank you!

As I was flipping through it I found lots of good links to share with all of you since few have access to RUM magazine. Time for a little show and tell from me and of course RUM!

Ferm Living has a new collection of wallpaper and I found the beautiful Fairy Flowers on page 122. Oh my goodness! oh my goodness! OH. MY. GOODNESS. Get the point!? I’m dying to own this wallpaper. I cannot take my eyes off of it. I’ve been adding in gold accents into my living room lately so seeing this made me quite excited as it’s so fresh and the patterns make me drool… This is on my wish list for sure. I want to paper my kitchen with this now or my bedroom. P.S. Ferm also has a new kids collection here.

Next up is the new Cycle of Life pouf from Nicolette Brunklaus in Holland. I love this modern take on poufs incorporating photography into the design. Very nice. She has new pendants in her collection too. I’ve been following her work for a few years now and just love how she uses photographs in most of her work, it’s really inspirational to see photos used on household items without it looking tacky. Her modern laser cut pendants are great looking as well and also a new addition to her line.


Ah Andrew Tanner… What you do to me! This contemporary ceramicist blows my mind. Look at these plates, created back in 2005 but still relevant today. I think this is amazing work and a great example of being original.

I also found a kids shop in Copenhagen called Cr?me de la Cr?me ? la Edgar. I want so badly to book a flight and go up there for the weekend in November. It’s only 45 minutes by plane…

I also found out about Steen Drabik and his artwork that he shows on his website called Stonys. I LOVE his mobiles, you should see it in person – wow! Steen is super artistic, I really can get into his work and loved reading his interview over at the Saatchi Gallery. His work is really out there and I appreciate that because it is uniquely Steen.

Another fun link I found was an etsy seller called Odelia Lavie who is currently in the spotlight on their website. I was so surprised to find an etsy seller in the spotlight of such a posh design magazine. I LOVE seeing this, it’s really amazing as years ago the only names you’d see were the big guys. Now smaller independent designers sit near the great ones. Yay Indie! Odelia Lavie is from Jerusalem and designs fun softies that have a bit of an artsy vibe — they could live alongside contemporary art so I’m thinking parents that are drawn towards more modern things would really like to have Odelia’s dolls in their home. These are great for the kids with all the shapes and colors but equally fun for those without children because softie love knows no age – my grandmother still gets excited when I visit her with plush toys.

Someone once wrote to me after reading a post I had written about softies and she thought that most people consider them childish and that this holds her back from owning them. I’d like to quickly address this concern. You cannot live to please the design tastes of others — only the taste that you have and love should be embraced and shown in your home. I am so tired of mainstream design lately that I almost want to encourage a bit of rebellion — be YOURSELF and put things around in your home that reflect your unique self. I guess I’ve always encouraged this on decor8 which is why I show a diversity of styles here, but I thought I’d voice this today because there is no better time to start living in a home that sings your life than NOW. There is no future point when you are allowed to love your home. And there is no looking back to a home you once enjoyed more than your current place. Today is when you should consider where and how you live and what little things you can do to create an environment that gives back to you. A place that encourages, refreshes, stimulates, gives you pleasure and a sense of well being. I had a conversation with a lady over the weekend (who will go unnamed) and she kept telling me how she hates her apartment, this or that isn’t perfect enough, and so she is working extra hard to save for the home of her dreams that she will own in a few years. In the meantime, she admitted, “I’m comfortable being uncomfortable”. In other words, she is content to be miserable as she has a goal ahead. This bothered me very much. I think that part of the idea of having a dream is to enjoy the process of living in the ‘what if’ moment. You know, like it’s more fun sometimes to dream than to actually have. I dream of many things and often the dream is satisfying enough. When the reality of hopes unfold,? often we are no longer excited because we have ‘it’ now. Then we’re onto the next dream! I think dreams are rewarding and should be had, you should aim high and hope and wish and work hard for the ‘next’ step in life that you want to take. But to simply wait for that time to occur without really living today is not the best way to enjoy life in my opinion. Years slip through the fingers so quickly. So if you have an apartment or home you dislike, or you live in a city or country that you do not enjoy, set a plan to make changes in the near future but while the plans are working themselves out, look for ways to improve your life today. Find ways to enjoy what you have now. The grass is always greener they say. I hope what I’ve said here doesn’t come across as preachy or ‘know it all’. I am not a therapist but I have lived in many homes and apartments and states and now I’m in two countries living in each part-time, so I have some life experience to support my words. Enjoy your home today as it is, do little things to make it better, look for ways to enhance what you have, and keep dreaming and working for your future. Please do not settle into this thinking of being comfortable in an uncomfortable life. This is also how I would answer anyone who asks me if being an adult (without children) and owning softies is okay. Own whatever makes you happy. Don’t wait until you have children to own softies. You don’t need an excuse! :) Okay… Enough on that!

A few things I noticed in RUM magazine… Lots of floral motifs, cut out patterns on lights, plates, you name it — silhouettes are still hot… Also many different takes on poufs, seems like they are all the rage and for good reason, they are very practical and can be used in so many different ways, stack them as a side table, use one for a coffee table, sit on them, place them at the foot of your bed or beneath a entry table as ‘spare’ additional seating or in place of a bench. They really are great!

I’ll be back in a few hours with Etsy Take Five Tuesday, so stay tuned for that! :)

(images linked to sources above)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, Books + Magazines, travel on October 14, 2008

Anthropologie Videos – Creepy or Cute?

I was just checking out the Anthropologie stuff for Autumn ’08 and came across these videos… I have to say, while they creep me out I do like them. I understand the need that a business has to continuously churn out new and innovative things to maintain a fresh look, but I wonder what your thoughts are in their new approach to product marketing on their site. Take a look here and tell me what you think. I like Spectra (it’s like Etsy!) and Look Closer is nice, but the Master Pieces videos… Hmmm… It is creative though!

I appreciate how Anthropologie works hard to stay fresh for us as we are always demanding something new and this gives companies a lot of work. One thing I would love though, that Anthropologie is not doing, is I’d like to see them roll out videos where customers can actually LEARN something… Like feature a series of DIY videos that show you how to make certain displays that you see in their stores for your home. They have so many cool installations that they churn out, window decals made from fabric, glass bottle light fixtures, etc. that I would find something like that not only inspiring but educational which may make me return to their site as often as they posted new videos. In turn, I may shop their site more.

Another idea I’d love to see: Interview the various designers behind their products and take you into their ateliers and show them at work. This would make the customer feel much more attracted to the products I think. I am under the impression that a lot of us see Anthro as a big box retailer more and more as they are becoming somewhat of a Starbucks (on every corner) in the states and this could be a potential negative for them. I adore Anthropologie, but not many are aware of where the boots and bags and clothing really come from, who designs them, etc. I’d love to learn more about where these products are coming from and the passion behind them…

I would also enjoy a series of videos that show you how to do something creative with products they carry in your own home. That would be helpful, like how some cool shopper in say Chicago used a pair of pillow shams on clearance and turned them into art or made some fun handbag or sewing machine cover out of it. Or how a girl in Kansas has a rad collection of teapots and used only the lids to create some funky art installation on the wall in her home. You know fun stuff like that… Show how customers are using Anthropologie products OR how customers could use them in fun and interesting ways. Teach us creative recycling. That way if you do get an item home and in 6 months you’re sick of it you may look at it in different way and use it as something else instead of boxing it up in the attic or eventually throwing it out. Creativity is inside of us all, some in larger doses or closer to the surface so to speak, but it can be taught, trained, sharpened. Have a series of videos that does that for Anthro customers so that shoppers develop their eye, taste, and start to think like a stylist. Isn’t that what we’d all love? To jump into the mind of a stylist for the day? Which leads me to think: Would you not LOVE to see them host lectures or DIY projects or indie art shows in their actual retail stores? A bit of an Anthro-university.

Of course, and I’ve been saying this for a few years, but I want them to roll out a book SO BADLY that it hurts. I’m dying to see them showcase the ‘best of the best’ displays in their stores with a How To guide teaching how we can do something similar in our home. How inspiring and useful would THAT be?

We are in real need of books that show creative artistic projects like that, and we’re also in need of books that show us how to style a room or create arrangements on tables, style bookcases, etc. I’ve had it with seeing books that show the same thing over and over again, we all know how to stack books, arrange them by color on a bookcase, top a stack of books with a pillar candle or OH MY GOD a shell. But what about giving us tasteful, yet useful and artistic ways to display the things we love in our home that isn’t Pottery Barn perfect but also isn’t tacky? Anthropologie Styling Tricks. Wouldn’t that be a dream book?

Care to comment with your thoughts on the Master Pieces video, what books you’d like to see that are missing, videos you’d be interested in watching or anything related? I enjoy hearing your thoughts, as the post I wrote about Wallpaper Borders yesterday inspired so many fantastic responses that I want to know more and more what you are all thinking out there… I want you to feel free to share your thoughts anytime you’d like because you may think that I am here each day to inspire you but oh no, it’s the other way around – YOU inspire ME tremendously. So thank you for always sharing and linking and being a special part of this blog.

Posted in Books + Magazines, Decorating Tips, reader questions on October 10, 2008

Living & More = Magazine Heaven

I thought I’d introduce you to my favorite magazine in Germany, Living & More. Their website is pretty bad, but the magazine is above and beyond the website (thankfully) so don’t let their online look spoil your fun! German magazines are still working to get their act together when it comes to web presence but they are making progress slowly but surely. Anyway, this magazine is just great. Many of you who read decor8 do not have access to decorating magazines here so this little post is dedicated to you!

I must say that I know nothing about the publisher behind the magazine except they are called Living & More Verlag GmbH and are based in Offenburg, Germany, so I can’t give them a very good introduction. I do hope though that the images give you a nice preview of what you can except from this publication. Color, style, and lots of inspiration. I find that in most Dutch and German magazines though that many of the homes featured are from Australia and Scandinavia. I find this strange because there are PLENTY of stylish people living in Holland and Germany and I’m certain they live in magazine-worthy homes. I wonder why this is? I have several friends here in Hannover that live in magazine-ish homes but they’ve never been published. So very odd. Anyone know why this is so often the way it is? American design magazines are much different, the focus is always on American homes.

A gorgeous desk organizer DIY project from the current issue of Living & More (Oktober 2008, Nr.7, page 34. Photo by Linnea Press.)

The city apartment of Parisian designer Vanessa Bruno. (Living & More, Aug/Sept 08, Nr. 6, pages 24-33.) Photos by Brigetta Wolfgang Drejer/Sisters Agency.

Living & More not only produces 8 issues per year under the same name, but they also run these ‘specials’ like Wohnen & Wohlf?hlen and Living & More Premium – the edition that just hit newsstands here is called Country Tr?ume Wohnen and it’s amazing.

The living room of homeowner Pia Aardestrup based in Copenhagen. (Living & More, Oktober 2008, Nr.7, pages 6-15.) Photos by: Anita Behrendt/Linnea Press.

More images of Pia’s very blue and beautiful home. (Living & More, Oktober 2008, Nr.7, pages 6-15.) Photos by: Anita Behrendt/Linnea Press.

I can’t take my eyes off of Pia’s gorgeous cabinet, I love this washed look. (Living & More, Oktober 2008, Nr.7, pages 6-15.) Photo by: Anita Behrendt/Linnea Press.

This is a great spread, it features several fun DIY projects involving painted flowers on walls and furniture, complete with stencils. (Living & More “Wohnen & Wohlf?hlen” issue, LI039, pages 37-39, 60-61) Photos: Linnea Press.

The home of Australian shop owner of Empire Vintage and stylist Lyn Gardner. (Living & More Premium “Country Tr?ume Wohnen” issue, LP003, pages 52-67.) Photos by: Mikkel Vang/Taverne Agency.

More of Lyn Gardner. (Living & More Premium “Country Tr?ume Wohnen” issue, LP003, pages 52-67.) Photos by: Mikkel Vang/Taverne Agency.

Lyn Gardner. (Living & More Premium “Country Tr?ume Wohnen” issue, LP003, pages 52-67.) Photos by: Mikkel Vang/Taverne Agency.

I think that you can purchase all of these issues shown here in this post on this website, though I’m not sure if they ship outside of Germany. Give it a try though. I know you can also email them to order magazines: email: abo [dot] livingandmore [at] guell [dot] de

I hope you had fun peeking inside of the pages of my favorite German decorating magazine today!

(images photographed by holly becker for decor8)

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Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

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