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Magical Midsommer In Gotland Sweden

August 15, 2016

Good morning friends, I hope that you had a very nice weekend. I spent time in the countryside which was refreshing and relaxing – picking flowers, walking through the vast fields, taking photos and enjoying time with my little boy. I woke this morning to realize that I’d not shared many photos with you from my trip to Gotland. If you recall this past June, I was on a styling and photography retreat taught by German Artist Dietland Wolf in Sweden… And do to begin the week here is my Midsummer photo story with a strong focus on the land where we stayed and the golden sunlight.

Magical Midsommer In Gotland Sweden

All of these were taken on the last evening of my stay on Gotland when the sun bathed the island in the most radiant golden, warm light. When I first started taking photos, the light was more clear and white… Then it slowly became more and more golden. You will notice this in the photos I think. It was surreal to experience the sunset there; I’d not experienced light quite like this before, it was magical and left me in love with Gotland even more. I felt like the island was a special place for not only its natural beauty and stillness, but for the light quality. I noticed it constantly no matter how clear the skies – the island always had the most beautiful light quality so taking photos was a dream come true for me.

Magical Midsommer In Gotland Sweden

Magical Midsommer In Gotland Sweden

Magical Midsommer In Gotland Sweden

Magical Midsommer In Gotland Sweden

Magical Midsommer In Gotland Sweden
I hope you’ve enjoy these photos as much I enjoyed taking them. As I was roaming the property where we stayed to capture my surroundings, I felt overwhelmed with emotion as I knew the next morning I would fly home and I didn’t want the magic to end. I could have easily spent a month on that island (or the entire summer) if my little boy could have been by my side. I kept thinking that the island was perfect for children and families because there was so much to explore and was like going back in time – everything there was so simple, fresh and connected to nature. The bakeries, the farms where we ate, even the little gift shops – simple and authentic in every way.

Magical Midsommer In Gotland Sweden

Magical Midsommer In Gotland Sweden

Magical Midsommer In Gotland Sweden

Magical Midsommer In Gotland Sweden

If you ever get a chance to vacation to the island of Gotland, or take a workshop with Dietlind, don’t even think twice about it – go – and bring your camera!
(Photography: Holly Becker for decor8)






Travel

7 Ways To (Sorta) Go Offline During Vacation

June 30, 2016

Confession. I went on a photography retreat and I didn’t bring a laptop, Lightroom, Photoshop or any of the usual gear a photographer should bring on shoots and especially into a learning environment when your teacher specifically says BRING YOUR LAPTOP.

7 Ways To (Sorta) Go Offline During Vacation

I remember packing to leave with my laptop ready to go and I intended to place it in my bag, but then I looked at it and instantly felt super stressed and a bit uncomfortable, my gut told me it would hold my creativity back. I remembered it was listed in our “things to bring” so our teacher and fellow students could look at our work each morning. Yet I still felt like I needed my journey to be without the machine that I’ve become so dependent on each day.

Can you believe I walked away to grab my shoes, looked right at my laptop, and without even thinking I walked away and drove to the airport? I didn’t make a real decision to leave it, I just sorta flaked and started thinking about other things. In a way, my subconscious was giving the laptop the bird, like #FUlaptop, I’m outta here.

When I had to tell my teacher Dietlind Wolf, one of the top stylists and creative visual story tellers in the world that I forgot my laptop, I was so embarrassed. You know when your cheeks go red? I could feel the heat in them as I spoke. I felt like it wasn’t even day one and I had failed my assignment. I didn’t want to let down my teacher or make her feel as though I wasn’t there to learn, just the opposite. But I also felt like having a laptop wasn’t going to help me dig in and really immerse myself in the materials and exercises she had planned for us.

Dietlind’s reaction wasn’t one of panic or irritation. Thankfully. Quite the opposite, she was encouraging and gently explained that this was the way it needed to be, for whatever reason, and that we would find a work around.

And she was right. And we did find a work around which I will explain in a post tomorrow so stay tuned… It was so great easy!

But yeah, not using my laptop for 6 days, no iPad, just my iPhone… was amazing. Here’s how I successfully took a sorta internet vacay for 6 days in case you want to give it a try this summer.

  1. FACEBOOK. I only logged onto Facebook once or maybe twice a day to post something quickly and then I bolted. I didn’t linger. I avoided the negativity and rants that I usually come across each day. Plus, the Facebook app on the phone isn’t as tempting to click around and end up someplace else. You can just post and run and be done with it.
  2. WHATSAPP. I checked my phone to see if my husband had left any messages about our little boy. But even that, I exercised great discipline. I only had brief Whatsapp conversations with 2 people. Not the usual 30 or more in the span of a week.
  3. BLOG. All blog posts that went up on decor8 were prepared in WordPress and scheduled in advance. Didn’t need my laptop to publish those…
  4. DAILY NEWS. I read the NYTimes app at night after dinner. Also, I have the app set to give me a quick alert on my phone in case of world catastrophe. The app lets me know breaking news that I would NEED to know. But other than that, I didn’t spend my mornings scanning the news as I usually do. No one needs to know about all of the shit going on in the world every second of the day. It’s true you guys. We don’t need to be so informed, my god. And to read all of this first thing in the morning from bed, well, it’s a terrible way to begin your day because rarely what makes the news is positive.
  5. PINTEREST. Didn’t bother with my Pinterest. Why? I wasn’t there to be inspired by others, I was there to be inspired and guided by my inner voice.
  6. INSTAGRAM. I love traveling and sharing with Instagram, it doesn’t stress me out. You can be selfish. You can simply post and go. You don’t feel the need or pressure to read, share, comment or even see other people’s photos if you don’t want to.
  7. EMAIL. I didn’t check them. Period. If someone needed me they’d have to wait because I was there to put myself first and I was okay with that. I’m not doing a job that requires hostage negotiation or world peace. Few of us are so important that we need to be connected to everyone, everyday, every moment. It’s hard for the ego to absorb that truth sometimes. We reason we are too important to log off. But it’s total BS! The world, your career, none of it will fall apart if you don’t read your email for a few days, even a week. Plus I have an amazing assistant, if it’s big enough news she will get in touch with me anyway. Before I left, I told everyone that I was working on a project with that I’d be offline so I felt confident that I wasn’t leaving anyone hanging anyway.

I hope these 7 ideas will help those of you with upcoming summer vacays to log off and enjoy the time away. YOU CAN DO IT. And you don’t have to go cold turkey. Just be super selective and choose to connect in ways that don’t stress you out. Sometimes we have to stop and realize that our joy and inspiration is often right inside of us or in a moment, we don’t need Pinterest, the internet or anything else to find it or feel it. We just need to log off and tap in.

xo
Holly






Travel

Gotland Sweden: Travel Tips?

June 16, 2016

Hello friends! I’m excited because I’m leaving in a few days for the island of Gotland, Sweden! You can travel with me via my Instagram @decor8 all next week to see what we do, where we shop, eat, etc. I won’t be bombarding IG with posts but I’ll definitely get some Gotland content up there for sure — all beautiful and inspiring things for you to see in case you want to travel there too. Gotland is an island in the Baltic sea off the coast of Sweden and I am so happy that I can escape from the responsibilities of work and family life to just think, collect flowers, make salads from our garden and take in fresh salty air along with my travel partner, Leslie Shewring.

Gotland Sweden: Travel Tips?

My question to you is, dear friends, what are some must-see places? It can be anywhere on Gotland, we have a car. We love the idea of group dinners, eating outdoors, eating on organic farms, rustic bakeries, shopping in pretty lifestyle stores, seeing beautiful windmills, old homes and the beach… I want to walk the beach for hours… Our goal is really to soak in the natural surroundings and be immersed in Swedish island living for a week.

Wanted: Travel tips for Gotland, Sweden!Click To Tweet

Anything you can imagine. We would love it. I’ve already done a ton of research but before I put my finds on decor8, I want to travel to Gotland first and see them first hand. As I go, I’ll Instagram them, and when I return from Gotland, I’ll blog my travel tips during the first week of July here on decor8.

So, loves… Any good ideas for Leslie and I?

Back soon with a fun contest for you to win pretty stuff for your home from Sukha in Amsterdam. One moment please!

(Photography: The Waves We Make – you gotta go to this blog, it’s amazing)

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Travel

Gorgeous Cafe: PLUK Amsterdam

May 26, 2016

I love a great cafe, don’t you?! Something original and unique. When I was in Paris, my friend and I ate at this tiny Italian bistro near our hotel in Pigalle, it sat maybe 20 people, but the interior was very well considered and the food, a delight. The best was when the three cooks, also the owners, prepared our dinner right in front of us in their open kitchen. I often think of opening a beautiful cafe eventually; and I might just do that in a few years because it would be the chance of a lifetime to bring my own concept here. In fact, I found a cafe in Amsterdam when I visited last Autumn shooting for my next book that comes pretty close to how I envision my very own cafe… It’s called PLUK and it’s just amazing – light, bright and the food is light and vibrant too. We have nothing like this where I live.

Gorgeous Cafe: PLUK Amsterdam

Next time you are in Amsterdam, go here to relax between all of the shopping you will do in the lovely “9 streets” (De Negen Straatjes) area where it is located. You can sip a fresh pressed juice or a smoothie, chomp down a healthy salad, buy a PLUK chocolate bar (wrapped in pretty marble paper), take a slice of cake or bread, get some decorating objects for your home, it’s all very sweet. They have candles, kitchenware, postcards, aprons. There is even a little garden in the back of the cafe. Swoon!  Continue Reading…






Shop Tours, Travel

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

February 9, 2016

I just returned from a beautiful trip to Paris, then London, so I have a great deal to share with you but first, the highlight. My day at Merci in Paris with Artistic Director Daniel Rozensztroch. First, it was a dream come true to meet with him, not just for an interview, but for a store tour, lunch together and frequent chats throughout the day. He is such a creative man, a true artist, and I loved learning more about his life and travels which I’m thrilled to share with you now through my words and photographs.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

As Artistic Director, he is solely responsible for the overall image of this famed concept store which is a major design influencer in not only France but worldwide. Before coming to Merci, he was with top French interiors magazine, Marie Claire Maison, for 22 years as Editorial Advisor (Conseiller de la redaction). Now with Merci for 8 years as Artistic Director (Directeur artistique), it’s clear his attention to the brand, the customer, what’s happening globally in design and his own inner radar for what’s appealing fills his mind constantly and is something in which he possesses endless passion.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(One of the cafes in Merci, the Used Book Cafe, with walls of books to peruse while sipping espresso. This was born from Daniel’s creative imagination.)

Daniel combs the globe for inspiration and products to take under his wing and bring into the store but additionally, he organizes and curates massive installations in-store that frequently change, all based around themes which range from microtrends (he has the power to set them) and rising trends in either design, fashion, lifestyle, cooking or movements in thinking. He’s always watching the news to see how current events may influence or shape ideas for upcoming shows at the store. He likes to bring awareness to particular themes while also inspiring Merci customers. He likes to make people think. It’s not all about selling product to him, his passion reaches much farther than the wallet – he wishes to inspire collective consciousness to motivate people to consider their lives and the everyday decisions that they make to move towards greater positivity and joy. And products can certainly help aid in that, if you are shown the right ones, which is something he believes in as well – the power of the object and its ability to bring harmony to life.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

The current theme, for instance, is sports and wellness and is called Sport in the City. Clearly an important topic as cities globally are expanding awareness on the topic and more juice bars, sports clubs and fitness apparel shops are bursting open. Paris is currently experiencing a great awareness around health and fitness too. I observed this clearly as I saw about 50% less smokers than in times past when I had visited the city.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(We loved the Lumio lamp and walked away with one of the Marshall portable systems)

After the fitness theme, he gave me an insider’s tip that he’s worked with a team of talented people to develop a monochromatic theme based around African prints, patterns and design, which I cannot wait to see because I only think of saturated color when I think of most African textiles and furnishings.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris
Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(The men’s pop up shop, shown above. Daniel went home with that great camo coat and my friend Toni left with the camel jacket he is shown wearing. We had a great shopping day!)

What I noticed immediately upon meeting this talented man is that he listens more than he speaks. He believes in moderation, kindness, compassion, and in creating a meaningful home over time and certainly not to impress others. As we spoke, I sensed that he soaks in everything; which in turn helps him to later decipher what would be an interesting topic to explore for the store or for a future design (he is also a Designer). As a listener, when he does speak, there is something of substance to hold on to and consider later. I really appreciated this because it meant that conversation held more value and meaning, and wasn’t full of the typical surface topics which never really move you closer to the core of the person. He’s a lovely man to chat with, for sure.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(Adidas are so hot right now in Europe, especially these with the black stripes.)
Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

I also caught on rather quickly that Daniel is obsessed with everyday items that are aesthetically-pleasing but also practical and functional, from a collapsible strainer he showed me in the Kitchen section along with a Japanese hand broom, to black matte cutlery on the floor for Home. His obsession clearly is what makes him so great at curating, his attention to detail and his dedication to collecting are inspiring because I also get excited over the little things so his passion was completely relatable to me.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I loved that they have an Aesop pop-up shop on their ground floor, I grabbed the geranium hand balm from the Auriga kit.)
Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(Upstairs, they have a gorgeous paper shop. Swoon!)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

With a home in central Paris (where he tends to his small garden, a huge trend in Paris at the moment is this sort of renegade gardener) and another in the South of France, Daniel is frequently flying between homes but even more, frequently between countries – he travels to lands far and near in search of something that will catch his eye – it could be anything and generally, not always what is obvious. The sign of a true artist is to see something in what others may walk by, tapping into one’s imagination. His imagination is always running wild and his heart, completely open and free to explore, which makes him perfect for what others may consider an overwhelming responsibility to oversee and curate one of the most influential design stores in the world.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I spotted a sweet marbleware lampshade that I liked immediately as I began photographing the lower floor near the cafe.)

While lunching at Merci on the lower floor near the gardens, I was seated at a lively table with many languages being spoken, delicious foods constantly arriving before us, a bottle of wine because it’s France after all, and I sat across from Daniel and just felt nothing but warmth and joy as he spoke. During lunch, we spoke about Instagram (he isn’t using it currently but maybe soon, wink wink), social media and blogging in general, his role at Merci and how he decides upon the next big thing to show in-store. Here is Daniel below, this portrait of him really captures his personality well.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris
Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

It was a pleasure to be meet with someone with such a rich background who doesn’t bring ego into it. Our chat was relaxing and made me realize that there is no need to try to impress people when you are impressive enough, you know? Daniel doesn’t need to prove a thing. He is who he is and his confidence reflects that and it’s an endearing quality because it makes others feel at ease. When you leave ego out of your work, you can get REAL work done. You can do what is important.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I loved these glass vessels in their Home section and below, all of the ceramics – quite gorgeous. I walked away with the white/black basket shown lower left on the floor for Aidan’s toys to discreetly tuck away in our living room.)
Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

After spending nearly a day at Merci eating, shopping, meeting lovely people and photographing the store with Toni, I walked away more excited to follow Daniel’s work going forward and to keep an eye on the Merci blog and IG to see what he will do for the next installation, and the next, and the next. I also want to return again soon to visit him and maybe steal some time for a coffee because I just liked him as a person. I can’t wait to see where he will go next with his imagination. For me, I loved meeting with someone who brings so much wisdom and value into his work. He’s not fresh out of college or eager, he isn’t insecure or naïve. He’s a seasoned professional, a creative guru, who has seen it all, done it all, and wants to do even more in a fresh, creative and better way.

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(Their linens are to die for. Seriously, the best linen and the best quality ever. They have table linens and an entire room of bedding, as well. You can also order it all online. I also loved the Massimo Castagna flatware with the openwork handles. 

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I loved how many styles and periods they mix together but also how global it all is – it doesn’t look Scandi or French or Italian – it looks well-traveled and interesting, the contrasts are unique and add healthy tension, the focus is on comfort first.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(Many of their pieces are handmade, one of a kind, like the lighting show bottom left. These are all sourced and made by hand and sold exclusively at Merci.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(The stunning handmade Japanese pitchers on the table was a real highlight. I wanted so much to take one home and fill it with field flowers.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(White enamelled metal flatware by Stefania Di Petrillo definitely had my attention and was something else I desperately wanted to take home with me. I also loved the black and white marble enamelware plates, which is trending currently in Europe for the tabletop. I saw it in London in all of the best stores, too. But I spotted it at Merci first!)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I had to photograph the flowers and the simplicity of this tabletop. I loved the scalloped edges of this vintage farmhouse table. There is a lot of love in a table like that, and memories too.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(So nice to see mustard and black, but even more, the pottery and linen… and glass. Everything was so cozy looking and welcoming but also stylish and current.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

(I went home with the gorgeous chair above bottom right from HAY, I had to have it.)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

I wish Daniel (shown throughout this post and above, with me) nothing but the best and thank him from the bottom of my heart (and my colleague, Toni, also thanks him too) for treating us like family and with such kindness – this was surely a highlight in my career that I’ll never, ever forget. And a big thanks to Toni for being the best travel partner ever and for all of the help, I couldn’t have done this without you!

Holly

(Photography: Holly Becker except bottom two photographs by Morten Toni Vinther)






Color Inspiration, Travel

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

February 6, 2016

I just returned from England and spent a beautiful day in the southwest along the coast for an exclusive tour, interview with Head of Creative, Charlotte Crosby, a special lunch at The Squash Court Cafe, and a tour of the Farrow & Ball headquarters along with a private showing of the Deans Court Home. What a great day it was because there was so much to see and just be inspired by, so first I’ll start with the tour and then wrap up with my very informal chat with Charlotte. Located in Wimborne, Dorset, their headquarters consists of several office spaces, the wallpaper and paint factory, and a showroom. When I arrived, my tour of the paint factory began so l’ll share that with you now…

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

Farrow & Ball was launched in 1946 by John Farrow and Richard Ball who shared a passion for creating paint in accordance with the original formulations, using only traditional methods in making paint (and later, wallpaper) by skilled craftsman and they wanted the ingredients to be only the best quality.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

While touring, I spoke to several of these “makers” from the guys in the lab who do quality assurance to ensure that all paint pots are 100% perfect before leaving the facility, to the guys who mix the colors, work on the lines and pack the paints. They were so polite and clearly dedicated to their trade; you could sense the pride and that alone was inspiring since I always pictured factory work as being either stressful or passionless (or both).

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

I want to buy and support their products even more now that I’ve seen them being made first hand, and meeting so many of the men who work hard to create the perfect tints and tones. While touring, I heard a little story about how some of the guys get excited when they blend a color that may not be correct for Farrow & Ball (more of a happy accident) and so they pull it but they show the staff anyway because they sometimes think it’s a great color and should be considered for the next collection. I thought that was very sweet, because they too enjoy being involved in the creative process and are inspired by the colors around them, tuned in to the work they are doing and feel a sense of pride for it.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

I was also struck that none of the paint or wallpapers are mass-produced in some factory overseas. Everything is made right there in Dorset.

After touring the paint factory, it was on to the wallpaper factory only a few buildings away. First, their wallpapers are not made using ink (most today are), which is already impressive. Another thing that impressed me is that each background color on the wallpaper is painted with a layer of eco-friendly water-based paint (they have over 70 background colors!). Not only do I love that each roll is painted first but that they are using non-toxic paints and vanishes. I knew this though the moment I walked in because I have allergies and normally get headaches when I’m around paint and wallpaper but the paint factory only smelled a bit like clay and the wallpaper factory, like a newly cracked-open book.I am impressed by their dedication to producing products that don’t make your home smell toxic for days after it is installed. In fact, when I painted my son’s nursery a few weeks before he was born, I was surprised by how it didn’t smell at all. It made me feel safer to put a baby in the room.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

It was actually refreshing to be in a factory that was so bright, clean and fume-free with cheerful workers. These points really stood out for me. So now, back to the process… After the papers are painted, they then move through a large machine where they are dried.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

You can see the paint being applied above inside of the red machine, see the large brush sweeping the color back and forth? Applying paint to the rolls first gives the paper that tactile texture that their customers love so much for that truly one-of-a-kind feel.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

Rolls are then stored until pattern is applied. From there, there are three different methods to applying pattern: roller block printing, flat bed block printing or trough method. I was able to experience all three and was so impressed by how much care is giving to a single roll of paper. It also impressed upon me why I love their wallpaper so much – it is so tactile and beautiful.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

I loved watching the flat bed block printing and the roller printing. The machines were working hard but none were left alone, each had a dedicated professional keeping their eagle-eye on every step ensuring the best quality. They had to even check to see that the prints were always being applied straight and that the new print that was rolled on was perfectly aligned with the one before it. The worker and the machine, were one. A strong team churning out incredible wallpaper.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

After touring the wallpaper factory, I met with Head of Creative, Charlotte Cosby (pictured below) who combs the globe for color inspiration both new and old, many of the colors are repurposed from historical properties. Their historically-derived paint colors and patterns is such an inspiration to so many who have purchased old homes and want to inject them with color that fits the style or era but others simply love to put their chalky-matte colors in their modern homes to make them even more beautiful.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

Charlotte studied Management Science at University and worked in finance only to realize that banking wasn’t for her. She moved to London to work for an ad agency but still wasn’t “feeling” her job, she yearned to be more creative so she took on work as a freelance interior designer and then, gallery owner. In only her early 20’s at the time, she got a job at Farrow & Ball and her career really set off. Now in her early 30’s, she heads a team of creatives that choose new paints and wallpaper patterns for upcoming collections. A dream job to so many!

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

This is primarily where Charlotte and her team plan and invent new colors and ideas for the brand.

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

Charlotte is here showing the 9 new colors for their collection, I wrote and shared the colors a few days ago here.

I’m so glad that I was able to visit Farrow & Ball and spend time around their busy makers and creatives for the day. I learned so much about how much work is truly involved in making their products which gave me even greater respect for the brand overall. I hope you have enjoyed this tour and my photographs… I’ll be back next week with some inspiration from London and Paris for you, so stay tuned.

A big thanks to F&B for having me!

This post was brought to you by Farrow & Ball. All photography and words are my own.

(Photography + Text: Holly Becker)

 

 






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