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Lars Contzen {Germany}

Yowsah! Have you heard of German designer Lars Contzen? He believes that, ?Decor expresses a feeling for life” and with an extensive client list and a whole slew of eye-popping products ranging from furniture to rugs, tableware, and wallpaper, I think you’ll clearly see the feeling he’s trying to express. Joy. Happiness. Fresh and full of life. With bold geometrics in groovy kaleidoscopic colors, his surface designs are futuristic and a far cry from shy.

His fab faux bois bench in hot pink has my attention, especially against hardwood flooring, I’d love to see one in a hallway with colorful rubber boots beneath it and a huge frameless mirror directly above with a white shelf floating directly below the mirror. I see the wall in a happy yellow – we could call the hallway Pink Lemonade inspired by these ladies, what do you think? And for the ultimate statement, a medium sized disco ball pendant light so I can crank a little Walk It Out Fosse, of course. Or Abba.


Which leads me to ask lighting designers around the world – why aren’t you designing a pendant light that looks like a disco ball? I don’t get it. I can even design it for you, I have so many ideas but imagine a disco ball with the bottom 1/4 chopped off, hollow inside, with a light bulb for illuminating through the clear (or iridescent) glass mosaic tiles on the exterior. I mean, hello designers we could totally do this. The world needs these things. Maybe it could have an extra mechanism where you could flick a switch and it would throw out a little strobe light action for when you entertain friends. Okay tacky. But fun. Otherwise, it’s basically a light fixture every other time. I’m totally disappointed that someone isn’t out there with one already. I’d totally buy it if it were done right (not kitschy and cheap). But I digress, back to Lars Contzen and his fabulousness. Here’s some more eye candy from his kick butt portfolio.


If you’d like to learn more about Lars Contzen and Contzentrade, you can visit his website or view his work in person at the Contzentrade showroom in Germany located near Frankfurt Main.

(images from lars contzen)

Posted in designers, flooring, shopping, travel, walls on October 30, 2007

Impressionen {Germany}

Impressionen is a mail order company here in Germany that specializes in women’s fashion and home accessories along with some furniture, always on trend, and the website is such a pleasure to browse with their collaged images and pretty color combinations. These images give you an idea of some popular trends here in Germany.

I’m really enjoying all the natural textures and colors lately and find myself torn between an all-white room with accents of taupe, silver, and lavender and colorful playful rooms with no set focal point, just lots of patterns against a neutral base.

Since this blog’s inception, I’ve followed all the big trends and built a personal database of more companies that I’ll ever need to reference. I’m sure, whether you blog or are simply obsessed with reading them, you also are quite savvy and know more about design than ever before. But as my personal likes and dislikes forever change, I’ve concluded that I need to stick to a neutral base devoid of pattern and swap out my patterned soft furnishings and accessories per season or at least, every 6 months, so I don’t die of boredom. I can commit to wallpaper in small spaces (hallway, bathroom, or as a single accent wall in a larger space), and to flooring (I’m a wood floor fan), but I cannot commit to patterned sofas or chairs unless I can slipcover them whenever the spirit moves me. I prefer wood seating that I can alter myself with a staple gun and a piece of fabric for the seat or back, for instance, or with cushions. And this is coming from a girl that saw a patterned sofa at Svenskt Tenn and nearly collapsed from sensory overload. I loved it. But I wouldn’t own it.

It’s pretty funny how we embark on blogging with a strong sense of who we are and what we like, and then realize down the road that we were only beginning our journey and that design and decorating while for some may be meaningless (I have friends who could care less), but for others (like us!), home improvement is a constant thought in our minds. Improving our living space is our passion, but it’s only fun once we realize that there’s no end point and to just chill about the whole thing. Decorating is the unattainable goal, it’s the size zero, the long legs, the high cheekbones. It’s like reaching personal perfection, we’ll never be perfect but we strive to be our very best and have fun doing it. It’s the same for the home. It will never be perfect, for some there is no ‘end’ point, but the joy is in the journey and to finally be comfortable with this fact is absolutely freeing for me. I just thought I’d share this thought with you today.

Perhaps you can relate.

(images from impressionen)

Posted in shopping, travel on October 26, 2007

Larissa Bertonasco Illustrator + Cook {Hamburg}

I’m obsessed with cooking lately. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been staying in a hotel suite for weeks and the only thing I can make in our room is coffee or tea. I miss having my own kitchen! So lately, anything even remotely related to dirtying up the kitchen interests me like never before. From spices to machines (the silver limited edition Tord Boontje Senseo coffee machine is fun), cookbooks, to Pino funnels. Adding to my list of must-haves is the Larissa Bertonasco cookbook, La Nonna La Cucina La Vita – Die wunderbaren Rezepte meiner Gro?mutter, which I’ve ordered along with her wall calendar. Her illustrative style is fun and colorful, reminding us of the importance to enjoy the whole cooking experience. I applaud her for wearing two hats, she’s both a professional cook and an illustrator. Let’s hear it for doing what you love, right?!


If you don’t already know Larissa, she lives in Hamburg and is quite the popular girl here in Germany lately, I see her products in bookstores all over. She even has a new line of paper napkins, cloth tea towels, and other small misc. products for the kitchen. But her cookbook is gorgeous. I mean, worth buying even if you can’t read German because it’s just page after page of large colorful illustrations.


The recipes are centered around Italian cooking, just like her grandma would make, and the book is 100% illustration so there are no real life settings photographed which in itself is quite unique right? Most modern cookbooks show photographs of actual food.


This hand drawn cookbook is hot here and who would have guessed that it would be so popular being that it’s mostly filled with illustrations and only brief recipe summaries? It’s highly visual in a very unconventional sense without a single food photo. I think people are starving for new formats, clever new ways to deliver information, breaking the mold.

I would love to own this cow as a print for my kitchen.

Have a peek at her portfolio here. And if you want to purchase her calendar or book, just go to the German Amazon site. That’s where I ordered mine and it’s all set to be delivered to my U.S. address. Easy.

(images from larissa bertonasco)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, Books + Magazines, kitchen, shopping, travel on October 25, 2007

ComingHome Interior {Hannover}

Would you like to join me for a moment because I’d love to show you my favorite showroom in Germany, it’s called ComingHome Interior. It’s a splendid shopping “experience” located in Hannover, the absolute best source for mid century modern, industrial, and just plain gorgeous finds. From furniture to ceramics, lighting, and beyond, you’ll want to own everything.


Most of you know that my favorite spaces are those inhabited by creative souls who refuse to play by the rules, allow for a lot of style-overlapping, and go beyond the mainstream to design spaces that not only work for them, but are decorative, emotionally supportive, and contain a few unique finds with a story to tell.

From the moment I entered ComingHome, I felt like I had, well, come home. Okay, I’d add more floral patterns and a dose of cuteness here and there with prints, art, and such, but overall this store definitely speaks to both my husband and I. There’s a bit of tension in their designs, a masculine and feminine touch in every corner, soft meets sturdy, but never too obvious. You have to look for it.

It was painful for me to leave this lamp behind. Out of everything in the store, I wanted this lamp the most. Best of all, it’s one-of-a-kind because Rainer made it himself.

How are the prices? You’ll like this… What you see isn’t beyond reach because it’s all affordable (most tables between 300-500,- Euro for instance, chairs a little less), completely devoid of the bloated mark up so common back home (in New England) due to being in such high demand. Shopping is much more fun when you can imagine owning something because the price tag doesn’t give you a heart attack.

Also what makes ComingHome such a special place is the down-to-earth approach of Rainer S?ll, one of the owners and designers who holds an MS in Architecture. (His business partner is Claudia Nowotny, a theatre painter and stage designer, whom I did not meet.) You can discuss any piece in his showroom at length, he’s so knowledgeable, and his obvious creativity and passion for his work is inspiring. Don’t you love how well everything is styled without looking too perfect?

The sweetest high chair ever.

It’s also obvious that both have their finger on the pulse of contemporary and mid century modern design and Rainer has an intimate relationship with his clients, although his prices do not reflect this high level of customer service – it’s all part of the store experience. I observed him working with a few of his clients and they not only purchased 4 chairs for their home, but left with excitement written all over their faces because they scored original Eames chairs at a good price.

These darling school chairs were each under 100,- Euro.

As a team, both Rainer and Claudia have a unique and creative vision, they’re able to repurpose items transforming them into new objects, another bonus of this showroom. Many things are either original or entirely repurposed pieces crafted into lighting, art, sculpture, coat racks, etc., from old exercise equipment to work benches, orchard ladders, and beyond. They also had a delightful selection of vintage globes, ceramics, and clocks.

This is another piece I wanted to purchase so badly. It’s an old workbench to now be used in the kitchen as a chef’s island. Love! Imagine this in a loft space with an open floor plan?

As these pictures speak a thousand words, I guess I need not elaborate. But I do want to mention that because they carry such a diversified offering of products that rotate in and out quickly, if you see something you want it’s important to secure it right away!


If you visit Hannover or if you’re a magazine looking for a hip couple to feature, seriously consider ComingHome Interior because not only is their showroom to die for, but I’ve heard their home is even better. Hear that, Elle Decoration, Elle Decor, and Living Etc.?

Isn’t this a clever idea for a business card? A business coaster! Claudia takes a photo and Rainer draws it to transform the image into business card coasters.

Located: Nieschlagstr. 10/11 in Hannover Linden (take the #9 to Empelde and jump off at Nieschlagstr.) Open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday only. All other days by appointment only. For more information visit their website, in German. Rainer speaks English, so you can also call or email him with any questions.

(top three photos taken by thorsten becker, all others by holly becker for decor8)

Posted in furniture, Shop Tours, shopping, travel on October 24, 2007

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