Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fab new online mag: Parasol

I came cross Parasol during my usual diversion from what I should have been doing (I can't recall what that was so it couldn't have been that important). Its worth checking out. I love the way it is put together and the articles are really inspiring. Not only featuring amazing artists from varying disciplines, Parasol even provides some DIY projects - one of which I plan to do (will post so you can see how it goes!). Editor Yasmine Surovec does a gorgeous job of putting the mag together and you can really tell she is passionate abut what she does. I still love a printed mag but Parasol is a stand out online publication - and its free! Have a look and download it today - don't forget to post a comment and let me know what you think...
Stay tuned for the next post - Milan Furniture Fair emerging trends...

[images via Parasolmag]

Friday, April 24, 2009

Vogue Living Art direction is gorgeous...

I have finally had a moment to open Vogue Living and it is simply gorgeous - I thought that Vogue's last update to its type & overall aesthetics was divine but I am simply in love with the Art Deco influenced styling that has resulted from the combination of guest editor and art director - Catherine Martin and Silvana Azzi Heras. A brilliant team - this issue inspires with content and aesthetics. OK - enough about Vogue Living, just had to report back on how beautiful it was. Go and check it out now...

Recommended Retail

Recommended Retail is a new i spy regular - we will feature reviews of interesting retail destinations [design related in either their wares or their amazing fit-out] either online or on the street. If you have any you would like us to feature please let me know [email me or leave a comment]. I am particularly interested in 'revived' retail - unique shops in local shopping strips that have been revived with renewed community support. So here is the first Recommended Retail - enjoy!

Brown Button Trading

Having loved Brown Button [blog] it's great to see Adelaide based Kimberlee launch Brown Button Trading - her new online store. Featuring a few of Kimberlee's favourite things - House Doctor Homewares, Scandinavian woollen soft toys and Zoe BonBon Jewellery to name a few, I am sure this gorgeous online store will continue to grow due to its unique offerings. I love the cards [pictured above] but I am also intrigued by the Italian toothpaste, Marvis - the packaging is fab! I don't think I could squeeze that tube - it would have to be my 'display' toothpaste! Drop into Brown Button Trading and let me know what you think...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Vogue Living has its first ever guest editor

My copy of Vogue Living arrived today, its still sitting next to me - I am dying to open it and see if the contents are as amazing as the cover - but I am one of those people that have to wait until the right moment to sit quietly and absorb each detail with delight. Catherine Martin is the guest editor of this collectors edition, I love her work and I think her latest venture into interior textile design shows it keeps getting better and better. Upon investigation I have discovered that there are actually 4 different covers - this presents a real dilemma for me as I am a collector when it comes to magazines. Should I hunt down the other 3 versions and essentially have 4 copies of the same mag?! My copy is the gold and red one but I am a bit partial to the bronze teal and gold version...mmm perhaps a trip to the newsagency just to have a look...
image via vogue.com

Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show Part 3: The Wrap Up

Where have all the flowers gone?...

So what about the flowers you say? Well I must admit whilst the flower displays were amazing I was running out of time so only concentrated on a few stand outs. Here are some of the more unique arrangements. Apologies as there are a couple I don't have credits for. Note the use of bird cages and an oriental influence was popular, I also noticed the use of wire as a decorative addition.

majorie milner

strathmore flowers

A Tropical Oasis...

Taking the silver medal was Christian Jenkins Malaysia Truly Asia design which featured an outdoor bath, a bedroom which opened out into the lush tropical garden and a real live parrot!

The central feature was a 'walk over water' pond. Central to the rear pavilion was an amazing carved timber door.

An Australian Billabong...

Its amazing to see how much work can go into these gardens, I think you realise this when a garden seems too good to be temporary [the Malaysian garden and Dirtscape Dreaming's imagine were also examples of this]. Winning Gold-Best in show & Best show garden, Habitat by Phillip Johnson Sustainable Landscape Systems was a gorgeous example of the evident return to native plantings and gardens that are less about architecture and more about greenery & sustainability. The natural waterhole landscape was created from materials that were recycled and with the exception of a couple, obtained from within 100km of the site.

Plants included indigenous species with bush food, the garden is designed to not only survive the Australian conditions but also support local fauna. A truly sustainable solution, the gardens rear boundary is actually a 3 panel high solar wall generating enough power to run the entire site. A chook pen, an orchard mound and vegetable garden were essential features. I could write so much more on this garden as it is so well designed and every detail has been thought of when it comes to sustainabilty. But best of all for me it was a truly beautiful 'backyard'. For more click here.

The amazing chandelier which I thought was a great contrast to its natural surroundings, was created by Miles Johnson Glass.

An Urban Cage...

Winner of Fleming's Student design competition was Urban Cage by Alicia Ferrer of Challenger College in Perth. Her aim was to make the small urban 5 x 5m space feel more like an open area by exploiting the 3 dimensions, essentially using the entire 5 cubic metre space with a play on geometry.

Tangled in gold...

An outdoor room designed by Paal Grant for Entanglements also took Gold for best show garden. Entanglements hand-make amazing metal garden art and this garden really displayed how their work can be the inspiration for an entire outdoor space. I especially like the use of the vertical gardens [another trend that actually began to clearly emerge last year - perfect for space challenged urban garden].

Other vertical displays...

I love the vertical garden walls or 'living walls' that are very on trend and oh so practical [I've also seen great indoor versions]. Above is Your Urban Oasis by Carey Cavanagh Landscape Design & Construction.

The Relativity garden by James Dawson also made great use of vertical space and I quite liked the way the architecture integrated into the greenery. Relativity was awarded Bronze show garden.

That's it for this years MIFGS, back to interior related product for a little while I think. Would love to see your comments on what you thought of the show, just click on the comments link below the post!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show Part 2: Reduce Reuse Recycle

A reoccurring them at the MIFGS was definitely the hot topic of the decade - the 3 R's. Whether it was reusing household objects to create amazing works of Art or putting discarded objects to practical use in the garden, those 3 R's were in the background - or foreground - of most of the gardens on display.


Kitchen cutlery put to good use - Shoal by Sunny Scott, a one off piece made from recycled stainless steel and reclaimed timber.

Body language by Martin Keogh, materials recycled stainless steel & recycled steel.

A fascinating combination of everyday objects that perhaps have particular meaning to the artist Denise Dempsey - Shrine of Memories.

Noel Muscat's Welcome to my World in steel.

These Sculptures were part of the Association of Sculptors of Victoria exhibition.


One Garden that based its entire theme around sustainability was designer Wayne DeKlijn's garden for Mitre 10 - Sustainable Living Garden Food For Thought. Paving is made from recycled crushed glass, tubs are from old tyres and an entire wall is made a feature through the use of leftover wine bottles. The garden has a casual feel and seems an achievable design to aspire to in both practicality and aesthetics.

Reducing the Footprint garden by student Tara Cull was another garden to completely embrace sustainability. Within the garden each specific element aims to promote sustainability, including the interactive water display which involves the viewer turning a wheel to pump water from an underground reservoir.

One of the largest gardens that made quite an impact if you began from the exhibition building entry was Imagine by Dirtscape Dreaming. Wendy Clark the designer behind Dirtscape is so inspirational - I still recall seeing her speak a few years ago and I hung onto her every word. Imagine won gold and it's not surprising, the garden was beautiful as well as inspiring with its use of native plants and a 7-8m fallen Red gum from Benalla which was sliced in half to form a bar.

The large garden incorporated a 'tunnel' created with acacia lime magic and a relaxing coastal garden. For more images visit the dedicated blog here.

A section of the exhibition was dedicated to achievable gardens, one of these demonstrated once again the use old tyres as planting tubs in a reasonably attractive manner.

Stay tuned for part 3 and the wrap up on MIFGS, the medal winners and the obvious return to Australian natives and gardens based on plantings.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Home Beautiful colour calling...

A big Thanks to Wendy Moore the editor at Australian Home Beautiful for asking me if I would like to be involved in their colour issue. The result is featured in the regular Style Insight section of the May Home Beautiful - thanks to Belinda Jackson for such a fun interview and photographer Sharyn Cairns & Stylist Wendy Bannister for creating a relaxing atmosphere at the shoot. It's a gorgeous issue with great features such as 'Back to basics' a beautifully styled article [styling by Imogen Abady] that outlines the experts best white paint selections and 'Living colour' wonderful examples of colour schemes inspired by various themes in nature [my favourite is the 'sea life' scheme]. So head out and grab May HB and let me know what you think...

Port Douglas - a surprise holiday...

OK, so number one rule to blogging is after a period of absence - dont bother with apologies just get on with it!- so no apologies but maybe just a quick explanation...
I was all ready to start on Part 2 of the MIFGS post when my [wonderful] husband announces I should start packing, we were leaving on a surprise holoday with a mystery desitination! Knowing how much I love a good surprise Adam [said husband] had booked a family getaway and kept it all to himself until the day before we had to leave. So to cut a long story short, and leaving out the parts where we almost missed the flight and our bags didnt make it to Carns at the same time as us - we have spent an amazing week in Port Douglas, during which I kept myself away from the computer [most of the time] and discovered Port Douglas to be one of the most gorgeous destinations I have experienced. Now, without trying to become a travel blog I want to share with you what I loved about Port Douglas as it was a place worthy of writing about.
We stayed at the very new and quite gorgeous Coconut Grove, complete with our own rooftop pool, right on Macrossan Street and literally a stones throw from the beach - perfect on all accounts! [Did I mention that my husband was wonderful?!!] Port Douglas is still a relatively small town so it doesn't feel over commercialised and the locals are very friendly. There are so many great places to eat or just relax with a coffee - I found one of the newer coffee places quite amusing - re:hab with 're:hab rules' listed and the numbers you are given to take to your table refer to you as 'patient 1' etc. and display a little red cross symbol.
The beach (4 mile beach) is clean, perfect for long walks and the water was about 27 degrees Celsius, lovely and warm. The Mirage Marina (whilst in desperate need of an upgrade aesthetically) is your gate way to the Great Barrier Reef or Low Isles on one of the many cruises that leave in the morning for a day out on the crystal clear water.

There are lots of great tourist attractions and natural wonders within easy reach of Port Douglas such as Barron Gorge, Mossman Gorge [above] & Cape Tribulation but the best thing about Port Douglas is you can just stay within its boundaries and still enjoy some wonderful sites - head up to the lookout for a glorious view, visit the Rainforest Habitat to see amazing birds and other native Australian's such as crocodiles and kangaroos up close, take the Bally Hooley cane train ride which runs every Sunday through local mangroves.
But I think what I loved most about Port Douglas was the combination of all the things the town has to offer and its unique location making it feel as though I was on a small tropical island and ultimately it was just too hard to do anything but relax! Now - back to blogging, part 2 of the MIFGS coming up!

Croc image by Cruiz Leech
Thank you Adam for a most memorable family holiday, can't wait for the next surprise!! x

Friday, April 3, 2009

Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show - Part 1: The garden that made me smile...

30 degree's and sunny was the forecast, a perfect opening day for the MIFG show (if not a little steamy). It was busy from the get go but turned out to be well worth the visit. Most of the gardens on display didnt offer anything new, in that I mean the designs were great and very pleasing but also quite 'safe'. Only a handful of gardens really pushed the boundaries and provided some elements of surprise. I felt there was less emphasis on architectural elements than past shows and a strong trend towards native plants and flowers.

In part 1 of the MIFGS post I will show you the first garden that really made me smile. In the next post I'll delve into the reoccuring theme of the 3 R's - Reduce Reuse Recycle.

That very night in Max's room a forest grew...

As I turned the corner after viewing perfectly lovely garden after garden of sophisticated style, the sight of the Wild Things brought a smile to my face. Maybe it was the fact I had just watched the movie trailer [that brought tears to my eyes] the night before, or maybe it was just refreshing to see a garden design that wasnt based around the average urbanite couple with no kids but I really loved this garden "Where the wild things are".
Designed by Heather Mitchletree a student at the University of Melbourne, the garden is of course based on the story of the same name by Maurice Sendak. When I asked Heather why she choose this story as her inspiration her answer was quite simple, she felt the modern garden design wasn't catering for children and she wanted to encourage kids to get outside and experience the garden, using their imagination. I too think gardens are an important part of children's imaginative play, having grown up in the country where we played and interacted with nature on a daily basis, I love the idea of creating an intriguing landscape where children can romp, stomp and roar! Here's a little something from Heather's Design explanation -

Green tufts of grass
spring up out of the bed,
And up shoot plants with
Leaves of green, purple and red.

Wolf suit on,
There's a wild jungle to explore;
A garden in which to
Romp, stomp and roar.

With a private boat
On which to sail near & far,
Or perhaps to the land
Where the Wild Things are.

Peek through the window to the Island of the Wild Things, and over to the private boat and beyond. What were once the floor boards of the bedroom become the jetty for the boat, and around the boat are waves made from Acousti-Mat that glow at night.

Incorporated in the bed structure are monkeybars for the Wild Things to swing on. Heather also painted and hand cut all the characters in her garden. This was by far my favourite garden design, I think having 2 boys and being a fan of the book probably makes me a bit bias but I think you will agree that "Where the Wild Things are" is a delightful outdoor space.

For those that love the book take a peak at the trailer - Where The Wild Things Are - warning: if your partial to tears this one will get you, the combination of the nostalgic visuals and the lyrics to the song ["Wake Up" by Arcade Fire - rewritten for the movie] are enough to make me cry everytime I watch it - but I am a sucker!
PS - This was actually filmed in Gembrook, Victoria (Australia) So the landscape was very familiar to me.