Food & Design: Uncommon Delights

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As you may or may not be aware the last few months have been a tad turbulent, to say the least! But now things are starting to settle into a rhythm here in Malmö and there are exciting things on the horizon. With that in mind I’ve decided to do a Top Ten list of some design and food products that are essential for a new home. I’ve curated my list from UncommonGoods.com who have an extensive range of gift ideas for men, women and the home, to name but a few. I don’t know what your priorities are for feeling at home after you’ve moved in somewhere new, but mine centre around food, wine and home decor so check out these links for more great ideas!

Sustainability is at the heart of Uncommon Goods’ mission as well as providing environmentally friendly and socially responsible products. They work with a wide range of producers and companies, both large and small. I particularly admire their mission to become as paper free as possible, moving the majority of their business to online. In addition to that they’re keen to promote handmade, recycled and organic products wherever possible and this is all to the good. There are plenty of big companies out there that offer amazing products but there are also plenty of smaller producers struggling to make their mark.

 

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1 – Infused Oil & Vinegar Trio

Anyone who knows me (or has read the rest of my blog) knows I’m a sucker for flavoured oils and vinegars. Doesn’t matter what you’re cooking, sweet or savoury, they add a flavour kick that can knock your cooking into overdrive. Consisting of Blood Orange, Lavender and Basil flavours consider this your new home starter kit for transforming your salads, desserts, side dishes and even your breakfasts (if don’t believe me then try some of the Blood Orange Oil in porridge with a dollop of marmalade and some vegan crème fraîche!).

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2 – Flavoured Simple Syrup Set

In a similar vein this little set of syrups can be used equally creatively to up-level your cooking or indeed form the basis of some delicious cocktails. Featuring some really interesting flavour combinations including cucumber habanero and grapefruit basil, combine with a flavourless oil to impress your friends and family with some daring dressings for your salads.

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3 – Salts of the World Test Tube Set

Salts can be used in a variety of ways and not only to simply sprinkle on top of your dishes before serving (although that’s also totally legit!). Try the Himalayan Crystal Pink Fine Grain salt on the rim of a cocktail glass for a touch of class or combine the Spanish Saffron Salt with some classic rice pudding for an extra dimension.

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4 – Wine Aerating Tool

We all enjoy a good bottle of wine but sometimes you can forget to give it time to breathe before you serve. Every kitchen drawer should contain one of these little beauties for those moments when you’ve been rushed off your feet but still demand that your wine tastes its absolute best.

 

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5 – Wine Pairing Towel Set

Now this one is basically a cheat sheet for anyone who doesn’t know their chablis from their chiantis! We can’t all pretend to be Jilly Goolden but these towels will give you a bit of a head start, if nothing else you’ll definitively know whether to serve a red, white or a rosé with your food. No one wants a creamy risotto with a rich, full bodied red so make sure you’re clued up. Alternatively, this could be a great present for that friend or relative who needs a little revision!

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6 – Oval Oak Salt and Pepper Shakers

These classy shakers from Sagaform will definitely add a dimension of class to your dinner table. Scandinavian design classics, these will flexibly fit in with country kitchen or sleek and minimalist styled decor. And as I own the matching wine carafe, these would suit my interior to a tee.

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7 – Boxcar Planter Set

These delightful little planters are a great addition to any modern interior. Handmade in Portland, Oregon, from gorgeous deep walnut, these are the best way to show off your succulent/cacti collection. Plus, artist and designer, Joe Gibson was inspired by the classic American boxcar design, so these moveable planters, look good alone or next to one-another.

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8 – Sea Spell Doormat

This cute doormat would go perfectly in our new apartment in Malmö! Not only is it in my favourite colour, teal, but look at the cat-mermaid. I repeat, CAT MERMAID. That is all 😉

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9 – Kitchen Utensil and Tablet Holder 

How much of a cool product is this?! It’s so useful for someone who, like myself, loves cooking in the kitchen. This handmade stoneware utensil pot, gives you an easy way to follow a recipe on your tablet. Or if you find cooking to be an arduous task that needs to be endured rather than enjoyed then you can put your tablet in the holder to listen to music/watch videos whilst you get on with the job!

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10 – White Earthenware Bowl with Stand

This cute bowl is totally Mid-Century inspired, with it’s copper legs giving you that atomic vibe. Channel that Don-Draper (or for that matter Peggy Olson) vibe into your place and be the hippest cat in town!

 

 

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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!

 

Drink: Beer Revolution, Hay-on-Wye

Set up two years ago by local team, Emily & Rob, Beer Revolution has become a true Tour de force of the craft beer world, and is my personal favourite bottle shop. Originally situated in Hay Castle, they have recently moved to a new (and warmer!) premises on 7 Market Street, right in the middle of Hay town.

With a huge bay window at the front, it lets you see their quality product from the opposite side of the street! Opulently framing it with the great period features of the building. It also floods the space with light, so the interior is light but cosy.

As you walk in you are met with a mish-mash of table tops, (some old reels, some with hairpin legs) stools & comfy burgundy Chesterfield sofas that are just asking to be sat in as you quaff a pint. The floor, of stripped floorboards, lends nicely to the laid-back, effortlessly cool atmosphere of the place.

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To the left, you have the reason you came in for! The beer!

Rows of refrigerators, jam-packed with interesting brews & ales. From the biggest selection of Welsh beers & ales I’ve ever seen to interesting international picks like Dugges, Beerbliotek, Poppels, Stigbergets & Brekeriet breweries from Sweden, Euskadi outfit Basqueland, Norwegian Haandbryggeriet, Stone from Germany or Oedipus brewery from The Netherlands.

As I am Scandinathan, I must add you can get the Scandi greats here like TO ØL, Omnipollo, Evil Twin & Mikkeller as well!

Their Welsh section is worth travelling for alone. Considering Hay is a border town you wouldn’t think that they’d have such an extensive Cymraeg collection. Think again! Coming here has led me to learn & discover up and coming breweries I’d never heard of. Like the Pontypool based Mad Dog,  Gellioedd based Geipel or Cowbridge based Tomos a lilford.

They also stock a great selection of local Herefordshire ciders.

Unlike many places these days that don’t offer many Vegan options, Beer Revolution has a surprisingly wide range, and interesting new finds like Good Chemistry Brewing or Cloudwater Brew Co.

At the bar, you can get this weeks selection on draught.

Can’t get to Hay? No bother, they offer an online bottle shop on their website http://www.beerrevolution.co.uk/

If you do come to the shop, (which I highly recommend), after you’ve bought your beer, why not peruse the room in the back with their side business, selling  Vintage clothes. Soon they will be opening their kitchen and serving food, becoming a hub of great beer, tasty food & vintage fashion. Sounds like Heaven!

 

 

 

 

 

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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