Update: We are moving to Malmö!

My Facebook friend’s know and a few other people, so just in case you haven’t heard yet, I will be moving to Malmö in late July/ early August.

Tom has got a job teaching in nearby Lund, at Lund International school and as for myself & jobs, I have a few things up my sleeve 😉  Lund, btw is a stunning university town, home to one of Europe’s most prestigious of Uni’s, Lunds universitet. Only being roughly 10 minutes away from Malmö on the train, if you come visit Skåne, take some time to see Lund!

Jag kan inte vänta! (I can’t wait!)

I’m writing this morning, with news that the Brexit Bill put forward by PM Theresa May passed in The House of Lords last night, with no amendments to the original Bill; which doesn’t guarantee EU citizens rights living over here. It doesn’t guarantee for people who have set up their homes and families in the UK, who have paid their taxes. Instead, it will no doubt use EU citizens & their rights as bargaining chips when the negotiations start with the European Union and its 27 members. We will be effected by this, but It is better to try before the whole opportunity for young, working class people like myself to live & work within the EU fades into the ether.

The language isn’t much of a barrier, with Malmö being both in Sweden, where proficiency in English is impeccable, and it being a World city, I can get around with my English. However, this does not mean I’m not going to learn Swedish. Being interested in languages it’s a must. Having been learning the language on & off for years, now is the time to get my head down and learn it!

I have wanted to move to Norden for years and visiting Copenhagen/ Malmö 3 times in the last 12 months I had truly fallen in love with it! So before Brexit totally stops us, we are trying. We cannot do more than simply try.

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A reason I love Malmö is how multi-cultural it is! Supposedly the city is home to people from 170 countries of this world. Which is bloody fantastic! It is so important, in these times, seeing the rise of Rightwing populism and xenophobic rhetoric and attitudes, that we expose ourself to as many cultures as  we can. Hopefully then, people will humanise eachother which stops the main strategy of the current Right; to de-huminise and see people from different nationalities as ‘other’ and usually, therefore, lesser.

Being only across the bridge from Copenhagen (and a hell of a lot cheaper!) loads of infrastructure has crossed over. So, whilst Copenhagen is the top city for cyclists in the world, Malmö is also in the Top Ten.

Ever since the Öresundsbron/Øresundsbroen  (the setting for the Nordic Noir drama, The Bridge) opened in July, 2000, Malmö has benefitted from being Linked to it’s Danish sis. These days Malmö is a young, creative city, reportedly one of the most inventive cities in the world. So much is happening these days, so many startups! Like the Studio Malmö, or Media Evolution City.  Malmö even, recently hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013, following singer, Loreen taking the crown in Baku, Azerbaijan with her song ‘Euphoria’.

 

As a foodie, the city seems like heaven for me! There’s new places popping up all the time, providing great food/ drink. From the new gourmet/ artisan food market, Saluhall, Djäkne kaffe, a quality coffee shop & great place for fika, the HQ of one of the most innovative vegan brands in the world, Oatly to Wunderchef, a new innovative food delivery service, serving up home-cooked food.

Or for the restauranteur, there’s, Michelin starred, Bastard, to amazing concept canteen, Saltimporten. You can pretty much get any cuisine in the city, with it being so diverse. The shawarma you can get there, is one of the best I’ve ever tasted and as a Brit, thinking i’ll miss the unctuous cuisine of back home, well no fear, theres even a fish & chip shop in Malmö. I love it!

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And as a design lover, it’s simply amazing. Being only 30 mins from the Design Mecca that is Copenhagen, you are spoilt for choice in Malmö. There are plenty of design & interior shops, written about here. The city is home to Scandinavia’s tallest structure, The Turning Torso, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. There is also the Form Design Center, home to the famous and coveted Cocoa Ögon poster by Midcentury master, Olle Eksell. The city is home to my friend’s design brand, Emerybloom. Check them out if you’re looking for amazing prints for your interior! Malmö even has its own Moderna Museet, it’s like the Comparison between Malmö and Stockholm; Stockholm is bigger, Malmö is smaller, but both are as cool as eachother!

 

I cannot wait to move! If you haven’t noticed I’ve fallen completely in love with the city;

Jag älskar dig malmo! Ses Snart!

Design: Housfolk #featurefriday

I’m so chuffed that the Instagram group Housfolk, an Interior inspiration group who are as in love with Scandinavian, Mid-Century & Modern design as I am, have featured me in their most recent #featurefriday post. Run by the 3 admins of the Facebook group where it all began; Neena, Laura & Natalie are lovely lassies (Laura & Natalie are Scottish ;)) all with stunning homes & a penchant for Nordic/retro design. A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Laura if I’d like my home included, I jumped at the chance.

 

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I feel so blessed that even as a Swansea boy on a tight budget, that people, other than myself actually like what I’ve done with the place. Considering, here in the UK the crisp white walls of the Nordic interiors palette are more common to find in an art gallery than in ones home. But why not make your home a gallery, let the pieces of furniture sing like great paintings I say!

Housfolk was a great find to not only drool over other peoples interiors & antique finds, but also a great place to communicate with likeminded people, troubleshoot any problems or to share a great bargain deal, so that they could join in with finding that little bit of cheap, Scandi-inspired design on our very lackluster British Highstreet.

They even do #winitwednesday giveaway competitions, working with brands & artists to bring you amazing pieces that you can win.

Check them out!

 

Food: Jamaican Jills

Jamaican Jills has been one of Neath’s best kept secrets for some time. Now it’s migrated west to Swansea and taken up residence at the bottom of Wind St. You’d be forgiven for thinking Jills was a chain restaurant as the scale and the impact of the place screams success. Perhaps it helps that the previous residents left a shell that could easily be adapted, but it’s really the heart and soul of the cooking and the people who cook it that shines through.

 

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Using the Jamaican flag and the Caribbean as its decorative cornerstone the restaurant is bright and cozy, with splashes of Patois overhead and her signature hot wing challenge on the wall near the kitchens. The design lover in me also noticed the Artek A330S lights, designed by my favourite Architect and designer, Alvar Aalto. Probably a repro, to have something Finnish in the place, seems odd but the glow of the brass on the lights does suit the warmth of the place.

The whole place sings with its unique selling perspective – cosy, good value and gloriously Jamaican. Building on the reputation of its parent restaurant, this bright new light in Swansea’s culinary spectrum looks set to set many a tongue alight with its big flavours and great atmosphere.

 

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The menu sports the dishes one would expect of a Jamaican restaurant but I think, and I’d hope, that people would be brave enough to go off piste and try some lesser known delights. Standouts for me included the wonderfully tender and spicy goat curry, served with rice & pea, her Ackee and Saltfish is also deliciously moreish, served with gorgeous fried dumplings. Lunch menus and seasonal special menus are available too (like the recent one for Valentine’s Day) and are as varied and interesting as can be. Typically, the Jerk chicken is bold and punchy, the wings big and juicy. If you’re feeling brave you can try the Spicy Wing Challenge and get a t-shirt and your face on the wall. If you’re bold enough to sign the disclaimer then bragging rights come at the price of 7 hot wings in fifteen minutes with a 5 minute cool down – no drinks!

 

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Their bar is fully stocked with regular favourites (including Red Stripe, naturally) with a particular emphasis on cocktails for that Caribbean dimension. Two for one exists on most of the favourites with the Rum Punch being a particularly delicious and unique offering. They also offer a range of “smoking” cocktails served over dry ice for that added wow factor. The Children don’t get short shrift either, their meals echo the adult menu but come in Small Portions or Big Portions so you can gauge them by the appetite of your child. They also come with unlimited drinks and a dessert, which is a nice touch.

 

It’s so easy with new restaurants for them to have a muddy and confusing atmosphere, like they don’t know what they’re about, but that definitely isn’t the case with Jamaican Jills. From the bubbly staff to the slick management, Jills has hit the ground running and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. Locally grown successes like this should be sung from the rooftops and supported wherever possible, but when the food is this good it’s all the more satisfying to just go along and see for yourself what the fuss is all about.

Design: Styling with Pantone’s Color of the year 2017

This year’s ‘Pantone Color Of The Year’ is Greenery, a bright yellow-green shade that evokes nature, bright sunny walks and the shiny dew on morning grass.  As I own many succulents & plants Greenery really speaks to me for styling interiors.

With it being quite a bold, strong colour I believe you could put it to use with furniture, but they would have to be statement pieces and have a neutral background, for them to sing.

Pieces like the MADE.COM Kubrick armchair

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or the IKEA STOCKHOLM 3 seat sofa could work, if you’re wanting to create a big statement and splash out.

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I believe the strength of  this shade lies in styling it as accessories into your interior. These subtle yet bold ANVÄNDBAR vases from IKEA are just enough of the colour to emphasise the plants going in them and brings the outside in.anva%cc%88ndbar-vase-for-cuttings-set-of-3-green__0410111_pe573151_s4

With just a few plants, and even some accessories you can give some botanical life into your home, turning it into an urban jungle. Taking tips from the Urban Jungle Bloggers, I’ve styled my windowsill with these principals. I think the outcome is quite effective!

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I’ve used a mixture of my own plants & succulents with a few faux cacti in the form of the SERAX large vase by Marie Michielssen, SJÄLSLIGT set of ornaments by IKEA and some cacti forms by Flying Tiger Copenhagen. I’ve also used a variety of pots from the IKEA KARDEMUMMA, Glass bubble bowl vases, to a Scheurich pot I got at a charity shop for 50p.

There is a lot of scope to have with this colour, and it gives chance for people to bring more plants into their home, which I’m all game for.

Have fun and style Greenery into your interior!

Design: Styling Christmas

Foregoing the British festive decorative tradition of “more is more” in favour of the Scandinavian monochrome look, our Christmases might look tame in comparison with others. To others they may look sparse, cold or even un-Christmassy. But where an abundance of light and colour can overload the senses, a more selective approach to decorating at Christmas can yield equally cosy results. Here’s a quick look at how I’ve styled our home for Christmas.

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone reading this that Scandinavia is the primary source of my inspiration for the interior of my home: full stop. Monochrome interiors, stark whites, shades of grey and coal black touches here and there typify the genre of interior design. You’d think an abundance of black, white and grey would create a cold environment, but you’ve got to remember that this design ethos comes from cultures who are used to the cold and the darkness of winter. They even have words for cosiness that transcend what we take for granted in its meaning. In fact entire books have been written on the subject of hygge and mys that they’ve passed into the subconscious of coffee table discussion.

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There is no more hyggelig a time of year than Christmas and an  absence of abundant colour does not mean an absence of warmth. This year in fact I decided to incorporate the teal of our Made.com Jonah sofa and armchair (last year I had them temporarily upholstered in black for the Christmas period). Colour is unavoidable – there’s the inevitable green of whatever tree or greenery you’re introducing, but then there are the inevitable colours of your furniture. It’s all about arranging what you have to create the mood or atmosphere that you want.

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On the coffee table I decided to create a winter forest of candles with Kähler hammershøi candle holders, my white tree from Flying Tiger, the tree candles I got from Denmark last October, the numerous tea light holders I got from H&M home and the Ittala Kivi. Dotted among the “trees” is a little plywood Moomin from Lovi, a stag and some DIY nisse I picked up from Søstrene Grene. The composition is designed to echo the “forest” of Ittala Festivo candle holders sitting resplendent on the sideboard. When the whole thing is lit the effect is extremely hyggelig.

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Our tree is a simple five footer decorated with home-made Himmeli made from black and white paper straws, the idea for these came from Nalle’s house. We’ve also made baubles from black and white patterns printed on card and formed into shape with wire (also from Nalle’s house). A single set of 6 wooden baubles break up the pattern white one set of 100 lights bring light to the tree. Sitting above the tree is our silver star decoration that we got from Home Bargains (of all places!). Clearly intended as a free hanging decoration, the star makes a perfect tree topper to complete the look.

The trick when styling monochrome is to balance heavy and light tones. The easiest way of doing this is by combining tea lights such as glass votives like the Snowballs from Kosta Boda, with a repeated thematic focal point like the himmeli decorations on the tree, which then tie in with the geometric artwork on the walls like the print from Emerybloom, the Kubus candle holder or the Kähler Omaggio vase in the corner. Humour can be used tastefully throughout the arrangement too. As I mentioned in a previous article, the santa hat for the Kay Bojesen monkey was an absolute must while the presence of the white Hoptimist by designer Gustav Ehrenreich gives a breath of life to the stark colour palette. From the opposite side of the room from the tree, the piercing eyes of our Olle Eksell print gaze out across the room, while in the corner sits the Normann Copenhagen tray table, which I’ve mentioned about styling here.

The monochrome shades of the pillows on the sofa and armchair sit beautifully against the teal. I’ve used the combination of a simple grey throw and plain grey cushions from IKEA’s GURLI range, a cushion that we recently picked up from Copenhagen (only 60 Kr!) and my Fine Little Day Gran cushion which keys in with the other patterns, holding the arrangement together. You’ll often find when styling a space that one or two pieces go on to influence a look for a space. The armchair sports a cute mountain cushion from Lagerhaus and the cross cushion from Zana Products.

Monochrome doesn’t have to be oppressive or joyless. In fact I would strongly argue that it’s a smart and surprisingly dynamic avenue to pursue precisely because it runs counter to common consensus. The only drawback is that currently the UK doesn’t really offer much in the way of readily available monochrome ornaments or decorative pieces. Over here black is always paired with gold and silver with white and there the creativity ends. As such, much of my collection has been sourced from abroad. I hope you’ve found some form of inspiration to try something new next year. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and regularly begin sourcing pieces in advance. Be daring, take the plunge and go monochrome.

 

Design: Top 10 for Christmas 2016

 

This is my pick of design pieces and gift ideas that will give your interior some definite Scandi style this Christmas!

 

1.Kay Bojesen santa hat for small monkey

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Fun & beautifully designed, this would make an awesome gift for a design lover! Made from solid hand-painted beech, this little santa hat is perfect for getting your Kay Bojesen monkey (and other wooden animals!) into the festive mood!

Available here.

2. Moomin Winter 2016 mug by Arabia Finland

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This years mug features more scenes from Tove Jansson’s Moominland Midwinter (1957) and feature Hemulen, Sorry-oo, Moomin and the Snowhorse. It’s a fab gift for any Moomin lover, or Scandiphile and would look perfect, filled with hot cocoa to heat up in this cold period!

Available here.

3. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Sanna Annukka

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One of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tales and some of the source inspiration of Disney’s Frozen, this chilly tale is a perfect Christmas read, made even better by the new illustrations by Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Known for her collaborations for Marimekko, this is Annukka’s second HCA book, with her illustarted version of The Fir Tree, out 2012. The art is stunning and the deep blue cloth binding really gives you the chilly winter vibe, its simply amazing!

Available here.

4. IKEA VINTER 2016 decorations

 

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Usually the UK (in my opinion) lags behind in the Christmas decoration game, compared to Scandinavia, where you can get Traditional busy, red decorations and also sleek monochrome ones too. well, welldone IKEA for bringing these chic, paired back decs to GB!

-I love the origami styling that would look perfect with the Issey Miyake x Iittala collection!

Available here/ in store.

5.Moomin advent calendar

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This Advent calendar has 24 little Moomin figurines by Finnish company Martinex. I’m in love with it and I wish I had got one!!

Available here.

6.Sarah Edmonds Sami pattern tote

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Sarah is an illustrator based in Worthing and has illustrated for Humble by Nature, the books A Dylan Odyssey & Coming to England, Roald’s Cardiff map for Roald 100, maps for Tranås and exhibited in Fika, a Swedish eatery in shoreditch, London. She extensively travelled the Nordic countries, and was inspired from her travels through Lapland and Sapmi to create this tote. The zig-zag patterns come from Sami textiles and would look great stuffed full of books!

Available here.

7. IKEA STRÅLA LED candle bridge

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Usually I’m not the biggest fan of candle bridges, but once again IKEA are knocking it out of the park with this! The STRÅLA candle bridge looks sleek and very modernist with its stylish black powder-coated steel curves. It could perfectly suit a modern home and be a stand-out piece in a more Traditional home.

Available here / in store

8. Origami-Est topper

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Available here.

Origami-Est are a small company based in Kent, that make folded paper ornaments, lightshades and books/stationary. At least 10% of the proceeds are donated to Stop the Traffik, a charity helping the victims of traffiking, which is cool AF!

As well as all of that, Esther has released a Christmas collection of cards, ornaments and this tree topper. A Simple folded paper star, with a choice of coloured stars and ribbons, it is sure to look great on top of the tree, whether it be real or artificial!

9.Let’s Hygge print by Gillian Gamble

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Gillian Gamble is a talented artist/ illustrator based in County Durham, but grew up in Dundee, Scotland. Gillan nods to her home city in her prints of Dundee marmalade jars. She has illustrated two books The Listening Stone and I Love St Andrews, and has a variety of well executed art styles. Seen as ‘hygge’ one of 2016’s buzzwords, she’s decided to do a little print of a hyggelig scene. Simple & cute, it perfectly captures what hygge is about!

Perfect for cosying up the house in cold winter, or as a gift for the person you’d like to hygge with!

Available here

10.Young Double Dolls

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Handmade dolls from the British company, Young Double. Cute & stylish monochrome buddies, they are perfect to add a touch of stylish quick to your interior or a Perfect gift for some chic children. With 4 different screen printed characters to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect companion with these!

 

Available here.

 

 

Design: Emerybloom Christmas Shop

I’ve featured Emerybloom before in a previous post, but, in case you’re reading for the first time here’s a run down:

Emerybloom of Sweden are a small, online design company based in Malmö, Sweden comprising of Gareth Emery and Mysan Hedblom (hence the name). Established in 2014 they’ve gone from strength to strength over the past few years building on their original range of high quality geometric prints to include teas, totes, cards for different occasions and even beach towels! There are even a few Welsh inspired prints, a stylish nod to Gareth’s Swansea roots. Both Gareth and Mysan are Falmouth graduates who are artists in their own right but collaborate for Emerybloom.

The look of the work is stunning, that’s worth getting out there before saying anything else. On trend, crisp and sophisticated, the prints make a bold and elegant statement with their sharp lines and distinct use of colour and geometric patterns.

Their Christmas shop this year is full of new additions such as a new range of teas from Swedish brand Teministeriet in addition to new totes and a range of  Christmas cards.

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Their new collection of cards features their signature geometric style, whilst taking inspiration from typical seasonal Scandi symbols, whether from a simple handwritten ‘God Jul’ (Merry Christmas) or the Finnish (and pan-Scandinavian) himmeli Christmas ornament design.

Every year Emerybloom produce a limited run of a piece, the profits of which are donated to charity. This year their grey, fractal patterned Rudolph print sports the “God Jul” message at the bottom.

One of many things I love about the company is their attention to detail and the quality of the individual elements. To be fair, we are talking high-end execution here, but it’s nice to know that everything from the quality of the paper to the choice of environmentally friendly envelopes has been thought of.

Last year I styled their Rudolph print into the decor, which gives a sprinkle of traditional seasonal red whilst remaining stylish and paired-back.

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Seeing the himmeli cards and seeing as our Christmas décor is full of geometric, monochrome imagery (which definitely included himmeli) I had to get some. They came last week, I loved them so much I needed to have one framed – I’ve been waiting to show you guys how it looks, as I only picked it up on Saturday! It’s small, but bloody lush!

I’d recommend a nice long peruse their prints, bespoke prints and Christmas shop. If you want some in time for christmas then order by December 10th! If you’re looking for something new to base a look around, or perhaps looking for a smart focal point for a room then perhaps Emerybloom has something for you.

https://www.emerybloom.com

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