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Travel

Bed of Flowers B&B {Holland}

April 10, 2009

These images are from a guest house in Holland (near the German border) called Bed of Flowers B&B and I’m smitten. Is this place not darling, where one would imagine writing the most lovely tales or wearing the prettiest dresses ever while picking fresh flowers? It is €95 per night for two persons, including breakfast – oh my what a great deal for such special accommodations.

Bed of Flowers B&B {Holland}

Bed of Flowers B&B {Holland}

Bed of Flowers B&B {Holland}

Bed of Flowers B&B {Holland}

Bed of Flowers B&B {Holland}

Bed of Flowers B&B {Holland}

Bed of Flowers B&B {Holland}

“Floriene Bosch is very passionate about interior decorating with a very personal style and characterized by daring colors and flower designs. She also enjoys hosting people from all over the world.” Well Ms. Bosch you may host me anytime because I’m smitten! What style and class this lady has, my goodness!

(Bed of Flowers via Anna Spiro)






Handmade, Travel

Karin Eriksson & Visiting Overjarva

March 2, 2009

With so many technical issues today I was unable to write about this earlier so perhaps it’s been blogged ad nauseum by now but I have to say a little something anyway. I’ll add a twist to make it more interesting just in case you have heard about Swedish ceramicist Karin Eriksson’s new products on other blogs today. I’ve decided to highlight her art studio and retail space located at a charming country space just outside of Stockholm. It’s very transporting, I’m sure you’d love to visit. Here’s a glimpse of some of her new products available in the online version of her retail shop Manos.

But there’s more… If you ever find yourself visiting Sweden, Karin has a brick and mortar store which doubles as her work studio in an old glasshouse near Stockholm in the countryside. It is located within the Överjärva country estate in Solna. I would love to visit Stockholm again and see the Överjärva estate for myself because, imagine this… it has a cafe with fresh baked goods, environmental trails, farm animals, courses in sheep-farming and wool craft, and a stable with horses and ponies for hire. There is also an antiques shop, compost center, weekend events for all ages, and so much more. I love the concept — being surrounded by nature, comfort food, enjoying the animals, and visiting a few lovely shops for inspiration and an introduction to new things. Karin’s shop, Manos, must be a lovely addition to the whole Överjärva experience. I imagine Överjärva to be a little bit like the Rosendal Garden Kafe in the Djurgarden, a most beautiful place in the center of Stockholm that I’ll never forget. In addition to Karin’s work, Manos carries a selection of handmade objects from Sweden and abroad.

I notice she even stocks the fantastic German tea Samova from Hamburg, I had a chance to visit their shop in the Stilwerk in ’06 and really liked the tea and the cafe experience. My husband would love Överjärva, maybe we can visit this summer. :) Manos is open Thursday-Sunday 11-3 pm. Closed in July.

(images from karin eriksson)






Travel

Tea Time at Lavanda Casa de Te

February 3, 2009

Karina who authors the El beso blog based in Argentina, thought I’d like a post she wrote about a tea house that she recently visited. Why of course! It’s called Lavanda Casa de Te and at first glance you’d think this to be Provence but it is really Frutillar, a small German style town within Chile. What a beautiful place. Doesn’t this transport you out of the office today straight into the land of lavender breezes, cozy cottages, and delicious teas and cakes?

This just  makes me long to visit South America even more.

(images from El beso)






Travel

Iceland: Visiting Reykjavik

January 30, 2009

Tara Hogan from INK & WIT just got back from Reykjavik and asked if she could share her take on the city with all of us today. I’ve long been fascinated by Iceland, it’s one of those places that I imagine being really hip, really cold, and really well… off the map. We don’t hear about it that much here in America as is the case I think with most countries that are relatively small and peaceful. Tara, the stage is all yours….

A new INK & WIT print inspired by her travels.

Iceland… Geothermal Bliss by Tara Hogan

I recently visited Reykjavik – the capital and largest city of Iceland often referred to as the land of ice and fire. I had been to Iceland before on a layover en route to Helsinki and back en route to JFK. It was pure sadness being trapped in the airport where I could not get out into the geothermal pools or feel the landscape. But, I knew I would be back. Two of my closest friends and I paid Iceland a visit two weeks ago. Geothermal spa soak for three, please?

Please note during this time there is minimum sunlight. The sun rose at 10AM and set at 4PM. However, if you are going to be somewhere dark most of the time this is the place as it never ceases to be beautiful or mysterious. Furthermore, I live in Syracuse, NY currently belted by snow and frigid weather. Iceland is not this cold. Some of my friends thought the weather there would be more extreme than here but this not the case. It was indeed cold at times but mostly where you have no barriers from the wind near waterfalls and state parks. You are in the great wide open. And, really in it. You stand in spots where the earth’s layers were molded by lava pools.

Iceland is relatively small and has a population of about 320,000 and a total area of 103,000 km². It is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland’s landscape is defined by large-scale volcanic and geologic activity.

While this country is sadly going through an economic crisis it did not feel so two weeks ago while I was there soaking up, literally, all it had to offer us. People were pleasant and calm. The issues of economics were blasted all over the papers just like our economic crisis but there was a sense of calm. Maybe it is all the pure water they drink? And, yes, it is the purest in the world.

Nature dictates life in Iceland especially since 25% of the island is active. I think you surrender to nature when you truly understand it is bigger than you. You respect it more. You do not try to control it or run away from it. You simply know you are a part of it, good or bad, like it or not.

There is so much to say about this eco friendly island. The 18th largest island in the world. My grandest memory was our stay at the Blue Lagoon (shown above). The Blue Lagoon is a man made spa but one look at it and you would not even think man made. It appears so natural as it is out in nature and the surrounding architectural structures are so simple and non intrusive to the natural surrounding beauty. That is one of the most amazing design aspects of Iceladn specially Reykjavík. The landscape is the dominant concept. In addition, there is no Starbucks or Sephora to distract you. Well, there is a Sephora at the mall and a LUSH but it is out of view from the greater picture. It is a modern, intelligent place that has respected its resources and evolved from burning coal at one time to utilizing its plentiful geothermal energy. This energy heats 87% of Iceland homes.

Geothermal energy, water, and bathing all go hand in hand in Iceland whether at the Blue Lagoon or in the bathroom. You will smell sulfur in the water everywhere and also find that saunas, relaxing heather pools, geothermal pools, geothermal spa pools, and bathtubs in your hotel room, if lucky, will be present at all times. You can also look forward to several different aromatherapy saunas, power steam rooms, thermal pools, and lap pools at the 5 star Laugar Spa in Reykjavik. A short cab ride from the city center.

For accommodations, allow me to recommend the CenterHotel Thingholt in Reykjavik (above). Think vampire gothic Eames chic. I could have done without all the animal skin products but the place was amazing. My friend and I even ended up getting the upgrade to have the bathtub right in the room. Pure water and a deep well designed bathtub? You cannot go wrong. Nothing bad to say about this place. Actually, if you stay in the city on a weekend plan on going out until 6:30AM because Icelanders know how to party. And, that does not necessarily mean bars and surliness. They just stay out late and have a good time. So, if you cannot beat them join them. We went out dancing until 6:30AM.

A Naestu Grosum

Getting to the design scene of things and creative stimulation… well, I guess it depends on how much you love nature. I believe environments shape people. And, if Iceland shapes people then the creative people here are in the middle of a strange, strong, and beautiful scene full of grand volcanic scale and intricate definition of black deserts. Homes are rich in reds, cobalt blue, and sunny yellow. Roofs are red, white, green, yellow and black. I was completely inspired to draw the whole place. People and all. Iceland has a young design scene but it is growing rapidly in its desire to be a eco conscious, critical, and an edgy dot on the map. There is a mysticism and vast open amount of space here that feels it would fuel room for strong concept and fluid design sensibility. I am excited to see what is to come out of the design scene in Iceland.

TIPS: Some designers I came across in my travels: Studio Bility, Ingibjorg Hanna, Helene Magnusson (who also has an Etsy shop with felted lighting), Thora Breidfjord, Katrin Olina (don’t miss the Cristal Bar she recently designed in Hong Kong), Photographer Elsa Prinsessa (also on etsy), and Bjorg Juto. You can find more listed here. Here are some great shops: Kraum, Kisan, and Sirka. Also check out the Icelandic Design Center online. If you’re looking for design bloggers in Iceland Olof Jakobina is a good starting point. If you are visiting Iceland, don’t miss the Reykjaik travel guide at Time Out. For some music out of Iceland, listen to Hjaltalin, Sigur Ros, Maus, Calder, and of course Bjork along with many others that you can find here at the Iceland Music website. Restaurants/Cafes: Greaenn Kostur, Silfur, A Naestu Grosum, Ice Bar at Restaurant Reykjavik, and Vox (they happen to serve high tea, too).

Want to watch a video about Reykjavik? Here’s a great one on You Tube.

Thank you Tara for the beautiful post featuring Reykjavik! I’m always interested in a good travel post so if you’re a reader heading to a fun city, design event, or anything else you’d like to show us please send me an email (holly AT decor8blog.com) with your story ideas. I’d love to hear from you! – Holly

(images by tara hogan)






Arts + Crafts, Travel

Art in Train Stations

January 27, 2009

I woke up this morning thinking about art in train stations most likely because these images are the last I saw before going to bed. I’d like to ask you, during your morning commute did you see art like this in your train station?

Do you recognize this work? I’m sure you do… it’s Camilla Engman, an artist based in Göteborg, Sweden for those of you not familiar with her illustrations and paintings. Camilla is well known, especially in the online world, as most of us have swooned over her work at one time or another. She’s exceptional, her work seems to connect with so many and now it has a chance to reach out to her neighbors passing through the local train station. She must feel beyond honored. The city and its citizens should feel honored too. Art in unexpected public spaces, yay!

Seeing her work like this — public, free to all, meant to be enjoyed by the thousands passing through daily gives me chills. I’m always asking why we don’t see more art in public places. We see tons of soda and department store ads but they don’t go out of their way to be pretty. Just a logo slapped on a solid red background, for instance. Bleh. I am so tired of ugly ads on billboards.

There is this massive forest in Hannover, Germany with small orange trash bins suspended from the ground and hooked into a short wood pole usually around a park bench. When I walk through the forest I imagine these bright orange bins displaying graphic patterns, sporting pretty papers, dressed up a bit. I’d love to take on a project where I’d commission a group of artists to come out and do something creative to the bins to make them beautiful. My husand said that the city did do exactly that years ago in one part of the city but nothing recent. Imagine having the bins in the forest spruced up and then those same artists involved put together an Art in the Park event where they show their art and make the work you see on the bins available as prints? Of course, the art would have to be local, the goal would be for the city to learn about the creatives living there and to be exposed to their work. Let’s face it, not everyone goes to galleries but many go to the park so it would expose a whole new audience to artistic works.

I think more objects around us in our everyday life could stand to be made more ‘special’ in addition to serving a function.

I once saw two dumpsters painted bright fire engine red near a brick building and what a difference it made to the vibe of that area. I think that those of us reading design blogs think about this stuff (maybe a little too often) and care about it more than perhaps others who are not that ‘tuned in’ to this kind of thing. Because let’s face it, not everyone thinks about this stuff until it’s actually there and then they say, “Whoa, that is really, really cool”. I think it’s why most of us coo whenever we see Japanese products or visit cities in Japan — the Japanese really invest an interest in making functional everyday items cute. They kick American butt when it comes to product packaging alone. Although I couldn’t live around all of that ‘glow’ I do love the idea of introducing art to the public in subtle ways. I think graffiti is great when it’s not on my house or on historic buildings (in a designated space for instance) but often the complaint with graffiti is that it’s very bold, “look at me”, it tries very hard to make a statement. While some graffiti can be amazingly artistic and interesting, it does tend to scream at passerbys (due to the typical bold colors and graphics) and often when things scream we learn to block it out and no longer notice it.

This is why I’m inspired today seeing Camilla’s work in the Göteborg train station. It’s there, but it’s subtle, it feels special, it’s almost watching over everyone as they go about their day. It’s not screaming for attention yet you can’t help but notice it, be intrigued, maybe even pause to photograph it. I’d love to see more of this kind of thing in public spaces locally. It’s great exposure for independant artists, but aside from that, it can raise the bar so that people who may not normally care about this kind of thing start to expect it and demand it because now that they’ve been exposed and want more. It can help others to become more aware of art and design. Wouldn’t that be nice?

I want more! Do you? What do you think?

If you are in a position to make art happen in a public space, by all means put yourself out there and go for it. Make it happen.

(images from camilla engman)






Arts + Crafts, Events + Markets, Rooms, Travel

Nahcotta Exhibition – Inspired: This I Believe!

December 31, 2008

I’m not officially back to blogging yet (I’m back Jan. 7th) but I just had to write about this for those of you in New England since this event kicks off on Friday at the popular Nahcotta gallery in historic downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire (they also run the show and website for tiny art called The Enormous Tiny Art Show).

I happen to be part of the show (I was so excited when they asked me), it is called “Inspired: This I Believe” and includes the words and artwork of writers, editors, artists, community activists, bloggers, business owners and teachers. Some of whom I’m honored to be alongside of include Maria Vettese, Marisa Haedike, Stephanie Congdon Barnes, Amy Ruppel, Mati McDonough, Jennifer Judd-McGee, Jen Renninger, and more!

The goal is to inspire recognition and respect for the differing beliefs of others (read more about it here). I submitted an essay, which you can read at Nahcotta between January 2 – February 1, called My Declaration of Interdependence. You are invited to attend the opening reception this Friday, January 2 from 5-8 pm if you’d like.

Nahcotta, 110 Congress Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

(image from nahcotta)






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