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Laura Ashley UK Beauties

I spent a summer, when I was 18, as an au-pair for a family on Marlborough Street in Boston. This was no ordinary family. Their brownstone, a million dollar townhouse with a view of the John Hancock tower, was absolutely splendid. They had a home on the coast of Maine with another in London. The wife, the Charles Edward Wilson Professor at the Harvard Business School and book author and the husband, the then CEO of Laura Ashley.
Their little girl had an amazing bedroom, decked out in more Laura Ashley than one could ever imagine. Her closet, filled with tag-on clothes, most of which were Laura Ashley. Everyday was a treat, I was handed cash to take their daughter “lunching” on Newbury Street. She was only 3 years old, but she had her favorite stops – like Rebecca’s cafe for chicken salad sandwiches with plump grapes and almonds. We’d play in the park all afternoon with the other children who had no clue what being born into a life of such status would someday mean for them. It was a life that I’d never live, but for that summer, I had a chance to experience it and, quite frankly, I loved my very special summer with Jim (Dr. James Maxmim – whom I’d only met once, he was in London almost the entire summer), Shoshana Zuboff and their daughter, Chloe. By now, Chloe must be well into her teens… I often think about them and wonder what became of the little girl with everything, which brought me to the Laura Ashley website today.

Lace-like patterns are a real trend lately, and this delicious two-tier Mallow Lace Pendant with fluttering butterflies looks so delicate and feminine. I love this commanding Sabrina Ceiling Shade, too. Perhaps it clips onto a lightbulb, or? So elegant! I find the Renfrew Striped Shade quite pretty as well. You could purchase a plain drum shade from Target and, using muted pastel fabric paints, create your own (the Pavilion is pretty, too.) I’m really big on floral prints, but they need to be simple and bold, and this Erin Tapered Drum Shade in duck egg is just perfect. If you love this print, but aren’t looking for shades, try a few Erin Eau De Nil pillows. (They have coordinating Erin wallpaper to match.)


Speaking of wallpaper, Laura Ashley is known for their fabulous selection of that, too. The Fenton pattern in blue, the duck egg Kimono (with coordinating pleated panels – drool!) and Oriental Garden in charcoal are three of my favorites.


Looking for romantic accessories? This Etched Mirror Jewelry Box is as enchanting as it is stunning. Looking for something less glam, but big on country charm? You may like the sweet Rosie Dot 1/2 Liter Jug for milk or fresh flowers. Other pretty vessels include the Mallow ceramic or glass vase with butterflies in pink, blue and green.

Of course, don’t forget what Laura Ashley does best: Fabric!

Link here for Laura Ashley in the USA, Japan, Middle East, and Spain. It’s so interesting to see how they present themselves in different parts of the globe. I love thier clothing on the Japan site, I’m sure you’ll agree…

(images from laura ashley)

Posted in ceramics, textiles, walls on May 31, 2006

Tortoise + Mori Masahiro Ceramics

So many beautiful wares from Japan to enjoy on the Tortoise website where ‘long and steady’ is the motto. Tortoise is an online store that I recently discovered while searching for Mori Masahiro ceramics.

I was fortunate to discover his mori cups on clearance for only $2 each at a local Homegoods store recently. I didn’t need more than one, I simply purchased it because I loved the smooth form, the simplicity of pure white and curves, and I needed a pencil cup. For a mere $2, it appeared to be the perfect budget solution. I guess the average shopper wasn’t interested in these $2 finds, maybe because they weren’t shaped like your typical drinking vessel. What they didn’t realize, myself included, is that these cups were designed especially for the blind by Mori Masahiro. He created them back in 1969 to help blind people tactically distinguish one cup from another back. I was excited after I arrived at home to research my $2 find. It made this lonely little clearance item that no one else wanted so much more of a gem to me. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before yourself.

I hope you enjoy Masahiro and the many other clean modern designer wares on the Tortoise website. In addition to the Masahiro ceramics, I think you’ll also enjoy the Tin Sake Set and the cherry veneer Mokusei Lamp.

To learn more about the husband and wife team behind the company, click here. Also something of interest: The Tortoise newsletter.

psst: If you’re in Venice, California, you can visit their brick and mortar store (shown below) at 1208 Abbot Kinney Blvd from noon-6pm or by appointment. Please note, they are closed on Monday and Tuesday.


(images from tortoise)

Posted in ceramics, lighting, shopping, travel on April 18, 2006

Elsewares

Pop ink dinnerware. Silkscreened linen pillows. Artist-made panels. They’re all crafted by independant artists and sold at Elsewares. I love seeing all these talented people gain exposure (and business!) through websites like Elsewares. Take a glance on some favorites of mine. Maybe they’ll soon be favorites of yours!

12″ handmade art by three sheets, $45 available in several modern color choices.
star coasters, $25. set of 4
the alcohol won’t be the only thing causing you to see stars.
fashion plates, set of 2, $40. chocolate plate shown, other plate is in pear
cocoa meets coco chanel
wallpaper plate set, $40. blue shown, other plate is red
cupid rocks this design
lumen oil lamp, $48
see the forest through the little tree
by night
or by day…


(photos: top photo flower outline pillow from three sheets, $65. all photos from elsewares)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, ceramics, kitchen, textiles on February 09, 2006

Rosanna

Flashback. 80’s Toto. Sing along with me, “All I wanna do when I wake up in the morning is see you eyes, Rosanna, Rosanna – I never thought that a girl like you could ever care for me, Rosannaaaaaaa…”

Fast Forward. 2006. Cute dishware by company called Rosanna. No relation to Toto song. Just felt a rocker chick moment and had to seize it before a live audience. (You are still live after that, right?) Now onto said plates.

I’ve been purchasing Rosanna dishware since 2001, so I have some say in the matter. First off, they are so ridiculously cute. They’re like the cutest puppy looking up at you with big eyes cute. The plates are sold in sets of 4 for around $25 and come packaged in girly girl decorative boxes that look like little hat boxes. They are made of sturdy stoneware and are microwave, dishwasher, and leaving them dirty in your sink for weeks, safe. The Rosanna collection also features mugs, teapots, frosted glass tumblers, and so many more not-so-plain-jane dishware that you just have to check them out for yourself.

Design tip: Buy a shadow box that is deep enough for the plate. Paint, wallpaper, or cork the back interior of the box. You can even use a mirror. Then, with amazingly strong hot glue, glue one of the “Parisian Wallpaper” plates into the frame, centered. Viola! Very cool art under glass.

“Need you all the way. Rosanna yeah….”

(Photos TOP: “Parisian Wallpaper”. BOTTOM: “Chandeliers” collection of plates, teapots, teacups and saucers. All photos from Rosanna Inc.)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, ceramics, kitchen on January 19, 2006

Books:

Some of my books...

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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