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Artist Leslie Oschmann & Swarm Home

I was invited to attend a gallery breakfast tomorrow at Anthropologies Rockefeller Center location but of course being in Germany it is not possible (obviously!) I hope that another blogger will attend and blog about it because I’d love to see how the event turns out. It features the work of former Anthropologie visual director (for 8 years) Leslie Oschmann (full bio here) and after you view her website I think you’d also want to see her work up close and personal. Wow. Great stuff. I think it will make you look at vintage paintings a little differently, especially the ones that you find at flea markets that could use a little love… Why not add some of your own creativity to them like Leslie does?

Leslie relocated from the states to Holland and now has an Amsterdam-based studio called Swarm Home where she gives new life to old furniture and paintings found in local flea markets. Have you seen her work before? It’s just lovely. I’m quite impressed with her painting, I wonder if she is also doing decoupage in her work? I do see some needlepoint on a dresser door below that I think is exquisite and I really like the application of silk on vintage portraits because it makes the painting feel much more current and fun.

I adore mixed media art and enjoy viewing how Leslie uses many different materials to create art, combining unexpected materials takes so much talent and skill. Leslie is just one of many artists out there doing exciting things with found objects… have a look around her website and see for yourself — it is quite a fantastic visual trip!

Tip: For those who cannot paint like the talented Leslie, no worries! Have you thought of decoupage as an option? It can be done really well and seems to be gaining popularity again here in Germany (and northern .Europe in general) I love seeing decoupage, stenciling, and stamping making a comeback because it was somewhat snubbed in the interior design world and referred to as being, “Soooo bad 1980’s” or “Craft store kitsch” but if done right (take Wary Meyers for example), I think that it can be lovely. I had this feeling that the decoupage ‘trend’ could come back but when my friend gave me the current copy of the German Elle Decoration and I saw a complete spread on decoupage (used on bespoke furniture) my suspicions were confirmed. Decoupage can be done right.

(images from leslie oschmann and swam home)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, trends, vintage on December 01, 2008

I’m Digging…

Good morning! Many of you asked if I would share some of the home products that I’m finding here in Germany as I furnish my apartment, so this post will introduce you to some that I frequently find in local shops. Of course, this isn’t to say that this is ‘the’ style in Germany, it’s not, but it is pretty common to find the items on the below list in small design shops or even larger department stores in northern Germany.

If you are interested in learning about where you can find these products in your country, please visit the websites linked below and click around… you are sure to find a store locator on each site. Here’s a quick list of what I’m seeing in shops and what is inspiring me right now. I think these things are also hot in Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and Norway too as I read design magazines from all of these countries and have noticed some or all of these things contained within their pages.

1. Aluminum or hand painted boxes (with lids) from India. My aluminum ones are from a little shop near my house for only 20- Euros each but they can go as high up as 100- Euros elsewhere.

2. Poufs. Very popular. In all sizes and shapes, leather, fabric, you name it.

3. Lampions and rice paper pendants (round). P.S. Someone in the U.S. seriously needs to order and sell the Orike Muth collection of lights and pillows, she is a local designer from Hannover and is hugely popular. If you are a shop owner you have to check her out and bring her goods to America.
4. Colors: Berry tones and gray. White and black. Lots of lilac, fuchsia, and gray.

5. Folksy design (see the box I found in Amsterdam above for an example) and Asian motifs (lotus flowers for example). Lots of Russian nesting dolls too.
6. Wallpaper is still pretty hot here.

7. Ethnic inspired lighting, especially pendants with cut out patterns.
8. White porcelain also with cut out motifs. See my Pol’s Potten lamp below from Le Souk as an example of this.
9. Roman blinds and white sheer curtains or brightly colored gauze or cotton curtains with tie or tab tops. Think Morocco or India. Relaxed but vibrant. Little pattern on the windows, solid hues are in.
10. Wood floors kept natural or painted in a bold color or white. I don’t see a lot of high gloss black floors here. Lots of pergo (affordable and durable).
11. Wall decals, mostly florals.

12. Baskets, like these from Rice via Car Mobel, in bold berry tones.
13. Tin mirrors.

14. Party lights around mirrors or windows, no party necessary. :) I put mine around a simple mirror from IKEA in my living room. Note: My living room is only 6 weeks old and still in progress so this is not the final view of the space.
15. Mid century modern furniture paired with modern or ‘country’ style. IKEA is everywhere, but mixed in with vintage flea market finds or Jugenstil-inspired furniture.
16. Topiary trees on windowsills. I see this fairly often when I’m walking around my neighborhood. I have a small Myrtle Tree myself. Rosemary is another good one to use.

17. “Cute” design, like Barbapapa, colorful accents from RICE, crochet coasters, plastic lace placemats, fun magnets, small toys on shelves, plastic deer toys, items with personality. I picked up this Barbapapa in Amsterdam and placed in my cabinet until I find a better home for him.
18. Natural minimalism with lots of wood, white, silver. I usually see lilac as the accent color or medium gray.

19. Wooden cabinets in white or black with glass doors. I have one in white.

20. Plastic floor mats, usually found in the hallway or kids room. Rugs from RICE are very popular. Cotton stripe rugs are also popular. I like the one shown above with the cutie squirrel trim. :)
21. Plastic melamine trays for serving guests.
22. Moroccan tea trays as coffee tables like these from Le Souk or small round wood tables of varying heights arranged in front of the sofa painted in gray, white, black, etc.
23. Natural wood stools placed near the bathtub for stacking towels.
24. Orchids as houseplants. I see them everywhere!
25. Moroccan lanterns in white, black, or silver metal.

26. Turkish towels with tassels. I love them! Le Souk has them (where I purchased mine) but you can also find them at shops like Zara Home or in this Dutch shop called Zester.

Now for some popular brands that I find in small shops locally:

  • Rice. Not the kind you eat, rather the Danish company that you wish you could eat as everything is so sweet looking. I find their products in many shops here in northern Germany and on various German online shops. They’re a real hit here.
  • Sia. When I first saw their label I thought of one of my favorite singers from Australia but this Sia is different, it’s a home fashion brand based out of Trier, Germany. I find many of their products locally, too. Pillows, dishware, etc.
  • Kokon. This is a company based in Munich with a large store there as well, but I am finding their products in shops around here too. I just picked up a gorgeous embroidered floor pillow from them last week at a local shop called Looms. I like the Kokon aesthetic very much.
  • TAJ Wood & Scherer is another shop with goods all over Germany, found mostly in fine home shops. The pillow on my sofa is from TAJ. I find their products very colorful, detailed, and unique — I don’t know of any U.S. based companies with similar wares, which is nice! I especially love their They happen to have an online shop and it’s in English in case you’d like to purchase some things for your home. They ship worldwide, too!
  • UK designer Cath Kidston and her romantic girly prints and patterns.
  • House Doctor – I’m truly in love with this company. Flip through their online catalog to see what I mean.
  • Green Gate – More feminine florals and bright colors. Browse their online catalog for Fall/Winter 2008/09 here.
  • Nordal – Lots of ethnic inspired design, another brand I love.
  • Lisbeth Dahl
  • …and if you’re shopping here for baby you’ll go crazy! Things here for children are SO DARN CUTE. You’ll want babies if you don’t already have them when you come to northern Europe. I love how kids dress here and absolutely adore all of the Anne-Claire Petit stuff I see in stores.

Of course, these brands above are not the only ones around! They are many more but my focus above is on what I’m finding in the smallish boutiques that I shop at.

(images from vtwonen, rice, and of course my own photos taken at home)

Posted in round-up, shopping, textiles, travel, trends, walls on September 15, 2008

Get Real: Design Motifs

Welcome to a brand new weekly feature called Get Real. This will be a post for readers to jump in and voice opinions on topics relating to decorating, blogging, small business, and the design world in general. I’ll post a new topic and a few questions to get you started weekly on Thursdays. Then everyone is free to jump in and participate. If you have any questions that you would like addressed, please email your suggested topic to me and I’ll consider it for Get Real. This week we’re talking about trends…

Zig zags are hot, silhouettes remain strong, birds are big, what would you like to see become a more common design motif? An octopus? Seahorse? Fox? How about a shape? Maybe some polka dots? Nesting dolls? Deer? Please don’t say Spread legs!

Go ahead, throw some ideas out, maybe it will inspire the many lovely artists and designers who stop by and read this post. You never know who is reading, your idea may kick off the next big thing. This is also your space to vent about the motifs you can’t stand and why. It’s important to be honest about design because let’s face, everyone isn’t loving the exact same things and it’s okay to admit it!

I hope you enjoy Get Real!

Posted in inspiration, real talk, small business, trends on May 29, 2008

The Clever Mustache

I’ve been watching the sly little mustache sweep through the indie design world for at least a year now which leads me to wondering how this whole ‘disguise’ trend got started as a design motif in the first place? Anyone know?

Shown above: cards from elephantine and owl print from hoorah.

I’ve seen it used on pocket mirrors and buttons, wallets and art. Also necklaces, sticker packs and even on posters, throw pillows, rubber stamps and silver stud earrings. This crafty man knitted and framed his own and Mr. Octopus seems to be enjoying his immensely.

Marcel Duchamp drew one on a copy of the Mona Lisa once so is this some kind of modern day take on that? Hmmm. Anyone know?

(images from elephantine and horrah)

Posted in etsy, trends on March 03, 2008

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