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Clarissa Hulse

Just in from decor8 reader Julie… “I don’t think I’ve read where you’ve mentioned Clarissa before. She is a UK based designer. Great stuff. She just recently released her 2006 line online. You can also find her lampshades, etc. at Heal’s. Anyway, I thought her designs might make a good article for your blog. I just returned from a trip to the UK and her stuff is even more impressive in person.” – Julie

Julie you couldn’t be more spot on! With her new line of lampshades, wallpaper, photo albums, pillows and throws, I couldn’t be more excited to share Clarissa Hulse with all of you. Show of hands, how many of you have been to London? I don’t want to sound like a travel snob when I say this, but I’m been about 15 times because I’m a total travel geek/anglophile – I love all things British. I nearly went broke traveling as a single girl, so it’s nothing I can brag about too much. I lived on ramen noodles for a period in my life just so I could afford airfare. Seriously. My obsesssion began back in 1996 during my first British encounter. Got a moment? There’s a story to all of this…

A friend of mine in Boston (Matt) was into this tall lanky girl (Katrina) who was from Wendover Bucks in England. They were in touch here and there, but nothing serious except for the major crush he had on her and of course, her amazing accent didn’t help matters any. Matt said she had a cute brother, which sparked my interest because I also was into cute accents (still am). Weeks went by, Matt was still in touch with Kat, and I was hearing all these stories about her cute brother who was also a BA flight attendant. That interested me because how could knowing a man that has a free pass to venture the globe be a bad thing? Unbeknownst to me, Matt slipped Kat my phone number to give to her brother who was soon to visit Boston.

I was going about my life as I always had until my roommate slipped a note beneath my bedroom door. It read:

“Jo called from London. He’ll call you later. He’s in Boston. Cute accent”

That picqued my interest faster than you can say ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod! It was, I think, 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning (summer 1996) and I was sleeping in again as I always did on Saturdays after being out with my friends the night before. Scrambling around my room with note in hand, I raced to my wardrobe to pull out something cute and headed for the showers, tossing a thank you into the air as my roommate stood there amazed to see me surface so quickly after waking me only a second earlier. Cute accent just may call back, I thought. I must be prepared. Shower. Shave. Perfume. Viola!

The call never came. A few hours passed. My shoulders slumped. Forget it, I thought. This is dumb.

I laced up my inline skates and went outside for awhile. After skating to complete exhaustion, I pulled myself up the stairs to my apartment and heard the phone ringing. Must. Find. Key. As a fumbled around trying to fit the key into the lock, hands shaking like a drunk needing vodka, I pushed open the door and raced to the phone. It had stopped ringing. A few words sprang out of my mouth that I won’t repeat here as flopped down on the sofa thinking of how pathetic I’d become waiting for mystery brit to call. I noticed my roommate had gone for the day, so I cranked up the stereo and started stretching to work out my leg cramps. As I stretched, visions of Hugh Grant raced through my head. Would this boy behind the accent be tall and willowy with that ever so stylish floppy brown hair falling into twinkly brown eyes? As I fast forwarded, envisoning a wedding in England (yeah, I told you already, pathetic) the phone rang again. Nearly breaking both legs, I grabbed it and instantly transformed my voice from out of breath skater girl to husky 900 number babe. “Hello, this is Holly”, I meowed.

Long story short, caller was young Brit, we had a thing for a few years that amounted to nothing, but I racked up some serious frequent flyer miles to the UK, had the time of my life in England and France with him, and had the opportunity to meet a lot of great friends through it all. What does this story have to do with Clarissa Hulse? Absolutely nothing and somewhat a lot at the same time. Although the story has nothing Clarisa about it, the experience of being in London, shopping, taking in the culture, exploring the city… All of these images pop into my mind whenever I post about British designers. I think that’s why I’m so drawn to them. When you have experienced a culture and made friends there, you have a certain connection to the land. If you’ve had the chance to travel, you know what I mean. I connect everything I post to some part of my life.

I hope to visit London again, maybe this year, and if I do I promise to share the adventure with you, only this time it will exclude boys and include toys. Home decor to be exact. But for now, we can drool together online as we browse websites showcasing gorgeous products from Londontown, like Clarissa Hulse.

p.s. I’ve added a lot of London links to the shopping column this week, so don’t forget to browse those for more fab shopping.

(photos from clarissa hulse)

Posted in lighting, shopping, textiles, travel, walls on April 11, 2006

[CraftBoston] Lotte Kjaer

[CraftBoston] Lotte Kjaer – Fiber Wearable Booth #221

First up from CraftBoston, from the countryside of Holstebr, Denmark comes the extraordinary works of fiber artist Lotte Kjaer. Lotte was an extreme pleasure to meet with a friendly enthusiasm and warmth that was most contagious. Her whimsical collection of handmade shawls, hats, scarves, jackets and ponchos are one-of-a-kind and unique, tactile and lovely. I wanted to own everything. She even makes handbags. We chatted with Lotte about her life in Denmark, her experience selling her wares in conservative Boston, and her beautiful children that appear in many of the photos and collaged postcards sprinkled throughout her booth. Lotte is the kind of woman that you’d like to clone – there needs to be more people in the world like her. She was very open about herself, her life, honest, caring, enthusiastic about her work (vs. snobby) and was excited to know that we’d mention her here on decor8. I plan to interview her when she’s back in Denmark, so watch for that in the near future! Here is her website and a few snapshots from her booth.

Learn more about our day at CraftBoston here.

(all images are mine except for the two ladies shown outdoors – those are from CraftBoston)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, events + markets, textiles, uncategorized on April 06, 2006

decor8talk: Meet LoooLo

Welcome to a world of lush eco-friendly textiles, carefully created by a woman who runs deep, creates with the goal of also giving back and who possesses utmost respect for our natural surroundings by ensuring that what she produces contributes to the greater good. Pause for a moment and explore the mind of Joanna Notkin, the talented designer behind LoooLo, an amazing collection of pillows and blankets.

decor8: Hi Joanna. So nice of you to stop in to chat with us about your company, LoooLo. Can you please tell us about yourself and how you got started?

LoooLo: Of course. I live in Montreal, studied in Toronto and began my career there and also studied at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, Rhode Island. This is where I really began the sustainable ideas behind LoooLo. I had my first company when I was nineteen. I designed costume jewelry which sold in over 500 stores. When I realized what happened to these products after they weren’t used by the consumer any longer, that it all ended up in a landfill, I began thinking of new ways to design and produce material items. That was in 1997. It took years of planting seeds and watching them grow before I realized where this was all going. The start up of LoooLo began in my Thesis year at school, combining knowledge from RISD and the passion for a cleaner, better future for the planet. In a nutshell, I heard about the Rhoner Mill in Switzerland who had collaborated with Susan Lyons at DesignTex and William Mcdonough at MBDC and decided that I would see if they would sell me their yarns instead of their finished fabrics. They agreed but by the time I had summoned up the courage to email them and order the yarns, I only had three weeks left to not only design fabrics, but finished products as well. In the end (and after many sleepless nights at the studio!) LoooLo Textiles ended up winning the ‘Best Collection Award’ from Metropolis magazine at the 2004 Interior Design Show in Toronto. Things just snowballed from there. Currently, our product line is made using Climatex Lifecycle yarns and felt from Switzerland (free of toxic chemicals and hazardous by-products), organic cotton and Kapok, a fiber from the Rainforest in Malaysia. Every pillow or blanket we make uses our own hand and machine knit biodegradable textiles available in a full range of colors.

decor8: Impressive beginning. With so much success though, there had to be hurdles. Tell us, what difficulties have you encountered?

LoooLo: LoooLo has had its ups and downs since day one, from sourcing the “right” materials to making each and every piece by hand. Every company has to overcome obstacles but when you are trying to be environmentally innovative and be a designer and also be an environmentalist, you have your work cut out for you! I think the most challenging part is trying to find a way to explain to people that these cushions and blankets are different in so many ways. People don’t know enough about why organic textiles are important and part of LoooLo Textiles’ mandate is to inform our consumer that each and every purchase they make has an impact. I suppose I should have minored in marketing…

decor8: Where do you find inspiration? Other artists? Places?

LoooLo: I find inspiration in almost everything. From the white lines jetting past on the highways to vintage glass bottles with embossed designs. I think you never know what might catch your eye and spark an idea, I’m in love with the thought of that. My camera is never far away. I love the painter Chuck Close. He inspired what I consider to be my first ‘real’ piece of work. His work just baffles my mind. I like creative people who do things that are not immediately obvious, you have to dig to understand what they have done. As for places, New York City always makes my mind go wild, I can never get it all in when I’m there and I always come back full of ideas.

decor8: Love your comment about highway lines. I’ll have to pay special attention to that next time I’m in my car. So, tell us, do you have a particular theme that you work with?

LoooLo: I love texture and it is a big part of my work. That is not to say that it won’t progress and change, but I am certainly attracted to the tactile things. Color is key as well. Doesn’t have to be much but it does have to be just right.

decor8: Well said. What are the main characteristics of your work and your work method?

LoooLo:It is all quite minial, even the more tactile pieces. But it is never over the top and usually not too plain. I tend to just start working with the materials and I like to just see what happens. It sounds haphazard but it is quite meticulous.

decor8: How does your work reflect your personality?

LoooLo: It’s funny because my taste does tend towards a sort of modern traditional style. But in my own work I find that it’s the attention to detail that comes through in whatever project I am working on. Even when I am baking in the kitchen, I am always working with an eye for detail. I like things to look well put together like nothing has been overlooked. Having said that, I have a huge sense of humor and I like to make sure that comes into play when I’m designing.

decor8: How is your work studio set up and what do you value about it?

LoooLo: When I lived in Toronto, I had a wonderful little studio space in a refurbished old distillery. I loved being there in the old building with the exposed brick. There’s something I love about old and new mixed together. But when I calculated travel time from my house to the studio (especially in the winter), I realized that I would have almost an hour more of work time per day if I worked from home. Now that I am back in Montreal I have a special place in my home with lots of light (see photo), inspiration all around and everything close at hand. If I had my dream studio it would involve skylights and hidden storage spaces in an old but renovated coach house… Something to look forward to!!!

decor8: Sounds like my home, your comment makes me look at my place differently, and maybe even appreciate it more now. I personally long to live back in the city. Joanna, I’m curious, out of all the places you’ve seen in your life, where would you live if money were no obstacle and why?

LoooLo: I would like to live in New York for a while but Italy would also be wonderful. The Italians seem to incorporate design into the everyday and it just becomes a part of them. I envy that. Japan might be among the top choices as well. Definitely a country committed to detail.

Great choices. Okay, now to play for a moment. What are ten things that you can’t live without?

LoooLo: 1. Chocolate (a little everyday is not too often) 2. Gloucester, Massachusetts for its coastline 3. Long car rides with me in the drivers seat 4. Three hour discussions about design or art 5. Process,process, process 6. Happy accidents 7. International design magazines (my collection is overflowing) 8. Food in general 9. The very best friends who love you even when they are sick of hearing about your new designs and 10. Good surprises.

decor8: I love #4 and #7, I couldn’t agree more. To wrap things up Joanna, I’m sure readers have wondered about this, what is behind the name, LoooLo?

LoooLo: LoooLo Is a visual representation of 100%. It refers to thinking about all aspects of design, from the materials chosen to the making of the product and finally what happens to the product at the end of its useful life. I actually spent a lot of time trying to think of a name but when I was watching television one day and an environmentalist mentioned 100%, I wrote it down on a piece of paper. When I looked at it later, it spelled out LoooLo and there was no way I could ignore the special meaning it had and where it came from.

decor8: Wow. Clever name. A woman of detail. Thank you so much, we are pleased that you have shared the world of LoooLo with us.

You can view the LoooLo collection at 2Modern or visit the LoooLo website for more information. Interview originally published March 17, 2006 on 2Modern.

(All photos courtesy of Joanna Notkin at LoooLo.)

Posted in interviews, textiles on March 24, 2006

Soft Surroundings

Gorgeously fluffy flokati rugs from Greece. Exotic gold fulani earrings. Afternoon cat naps in a lush repos? chaise. Decadent soie de lyons silk dupioni window treatments. Sink into your bed wrapped in dreamy bedding.
Soft Surroundings may not be modern or contemporary (except maybe that stunning flokai rug – yum!), yet the old world charm seems to call to me. This cozy online store is a peaceful feminine retreat. Soul-satisfying! You can shop their online store, of if you are in the St. Louis area, you can visit them at The Boulevard shops. View there storefront here. A special thank you to Sondi in Maine for suggesting Soft Surroundings. :)

(photos: photos from soft surroundings)

Posted in flooring, textiles, vintage on March 21, 2006


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