Farrow & Ball: Decorating with Colour

This post has taken me some time to complete because I was working my way through the amazing book by Farrow & Ball that was recently sent to me by the publishers (thank you for that).

This book follows on from three books ‘Paint and Colour in Decoration’, ‘Living with Colour’ and ‘The Art of Colour’ which dealt with how colour can be used to create atmosphere, character and charm in any home, something which my regular readers will know is a subject I’m quite fond of. (See ‘Colour Theory‘). This book tackles the tricky subject of how to decorate your home with colour.

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For transient renters, such as me, the dull dirty-not-even-magnolia-anymore magnolia that adorns the walls of my apartment fill me with sadness, so I was delighted when our landlady allowed me to decorate one wall in the bedroom with Cook’s Blue from Farrow & Ball. Of course I wanted to go further, but one block of colour is enough to break up the greige.

As the authors state “a book to delight any home decorating enthusiast.” For those of you making assumptions that Farrow & Ball’s traditional paint colours and heritage work primarily in traditional homes will be pleasantly surprised by how many mid-Century and modern homes are represented in the book. I especially like the kitchen with burnt orange walls with white paint drips drawing attention to the height of the room.

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If you’re planning a Spring clean, then freshen those walls with some paint, and pick up this book for some great ideas of how colours work together in different interiors – I promise you will find something you like.

Farrow & Ball: Decorating with Colour
Price: £35

Summer in Another Country

This balmy weather seems to draw my mind towards food; more importantly eating food. So Fabricofmylife’s Kate and I took ourselves down to the Another Country new London store for some table styling and much needed lunch.

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Having amassed a great tableware collection of own-brand and complementary products, Another Country have a very tantalising array of plates, cutlery and decorative objects that tick a lot of boxes for me.

But where would lunch be without my iPhone and new Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ (thanks Lenovo) as I do have a small obsession with constantly checking my phone every two minutes to check how many ‘likes’ my Instagram’s are getting.

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I’m teetering on the edge of moving my current dinner service on to pastures new in order to bring in the pottery series by Ian McIntyre (with embossed ‘ac’ stamp underneath), 31 Chapel Lane napkins, David Mellor’s Provençal cutlery and Simon Donald’s Swan nighlight so that this one-off lunch setting becomes a regular fixture in my home.

After lunch we tried our hand at a ‘coffee and apple’ (iPhone that is) scene with my Re-Turned bird and Ruth Duff’s cushions making for a comfortable afternoon nap.

Take a look at how Kate interpreted the afternoon in her (Imaginary) Corners of my Home feature.

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Pottery Series Designer: Ian McIntyre
Manufacturer: Another Country
Year: 2011
Price: From £15.00

Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ Designer: Lenovo
Manufacturer: Lenovo
Year: 2014
Price: From £299.99

How to Create an Entertainment Hub for the Children this Winter

Okay, so usually we’re not covering the topics of technology but sitting here with my MacBook, iPad Mini and iPhone 5s, hot-desking next to an iMac and listening to Christmas tunes on Spotify, it seems that technology is all around me. So I’m going to hand over to Kathryn Ward who can tell you all about bringing digital TV into your home this year…

In the recent past, computers and home entertainment systems existed as separate entities. But now, thanks to advances in technology, it is possible to connect your PC with every imaginable form of media, into a single, seamless entertainment setup. Providing you have a decent computer, a good broadband connection and a wired or wireless home network, you can discover and enjoy digital TV and a host of other media from the comfort of your own home.

VW+BS Islington House living room TV room ideas

‘Tis the season for giving, so why not treat the family to digital TV available from Virgin Media, as well as films, music and games, all of which can be enjoyed from a single screen backed up with a state-of-the-art surround-sound speaker system.

Did you know that it’s now possible to access over 200 channels, including 51 in HD without having an ugly satellite dish tacked onto the outer wall of your house? From Sky channels to 3D films and live pay-per-view events, digital TV can now be in your home, as if by magic, via fibre optic cables. As a result, there’ll be no more cries of boredom from the kids this winter and, if there are family arguments about what to watch, you can record up to three programmes at any one time while you watch another, thanks to a nifty little box. You can monitor what your children watch by making use of parental control settings – lock channels with a PIN, set age restrictions and block access to over-18 services such as games, gambling and adult channels.

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Then add a host of high-end devices to your arsenal – the addition of your PC, digital video recorder, video game system and stereo will enable the family to play high-definition video games, listen to music, use the internet, shop online or chat with friends, taking advantage of superior video and sound.

The setup process is pretty simple. You’ll need to make sure you have a network router because your network is the lynchpin of the operation and if high-definition media is what you’re after, then speed, range and bandwidth are key. A dual-band router provides enough bandwidth for checking email at the same time as streaming high-definition video. If you live in a palace however, you’ll need to extend the range of your network and enhance the wireless signal so that it reaches the remoter areas of the house or garden.

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Once your network is configured, consider the media you’re going to be accessing – it’s probably best to use a network-attached storage (NAS) device to store all your files in one place and avoid clogging up your computer’s hard drive. Finally, to deliver entertainment to the whole family, a simple media player can extract content from your network and the internet straight to your TV screen – just connect the box into your HDTV and configure the wireless access. You can also transfer media to the box by plugging in a USB stick or memory card and access programming streamed from the internet.

Create your home entertainment network today and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to access high-quality audio and video media from any device, anywhere in your house.

All images courtesy VW+BS

How the 1932 Swedish general election changed design forever

It is not unusual to hear that design can change lives and has frequently done so, but recently I was in conversation with Chrystina Schmidt from Skandium and learnt something that had not occurred to me previously that upon discovering more I realise how the design that is so familiar to us can be traced back to a point in time that changed the way in which we live forever.

In 1932, after World War I and Sweden had begun to pick itself back up from a depression, the Swedish Social Democrats won the general election bringing much change to the country. Aside from the usual political changes, Sweden had to rebuild itself fully and to do so looked for inspiration for how to do so.

Paimio-tuoli, suunnittelija Alvar Aalto
Photo Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Museum

“There was a major change to the structure of society” says Chrystina, “Sweden looked to modernism and the Bauhaus for ways to create an identity… Josef Franck single-handedly invented Swedish modernism”.

Penguin donkey by Isokon Plus
Photo courtesy I Like London

Designers such as Alvar Aalto and companies such as Isokon Plus were all experimenting with their craft, learning ways to manufacture products using simple and inexpensive techniques. Sweden was a poor country at the time and steel was too expensive a material to use in quantity, and one thing that Sweden had in abundance was wood so they turned their ideas towards using wood as a material that they could master.

Alvar Aalto sofa and chair

Learning ways to bend wood in to different shapes but keeping the strength that was expected was the challenge but over time these designers were successful and defined a style that Sweden would become synonymous with.

This “had an impact and changed peoples lives” says Chrystina. This history is what has gone on to define what stores such as Skandium are interested in. It is not about the shapes, or the Scandinavian roots of designers, but a way of thinking that defines what Skandium chooses for their store.

Kartio glass by Kaj Franck
Kartio glass by Kaj Franck

Chrystina talked to me in the store, sipping from iittala Kartio glasses by Kaj Franck that she tells me are “the heart of Skandium”. “We are the farm-bearers of Scandinavian design — it’s not just about any design object from Scandinavia”.

Skandium Marylebone
Photo courtesy Wee Birdy

And now in a recession, companies like Skandium are finding it tough to build their businesses with less money being spent, so it is refreshing to hear Chrystina talk how Skandium is thriving and how we must remember the roots from which design came. A lot of design that we think of as ‘classic’ or ‘innovative’ was borne out of depression, forcing us to think about what really matters and becoming creative with what can be done rather than following what we have done before.

Chrystina adds “people are not stupid — if you make it poorly and sell it for a lot, customers will not buy it”, a point worth remembering as many companies aim to reduce costs and increase profit… sometimes the solution is to rethink from the start with the restrictions that we now find ourselves in and to truly focus on the core values rather than balance of the till.

Behind the brand: Google

Back in September I read an article by Peter Salisbury about Google that made me think a little differently about the web. I had always known in the back of my mind that have a paper-free environment and no office meant that I was reducing my carbon emissions but by using Cloud Services for my entire digital life was just as bad because servers are on 24/7 keeping my data safe and available.

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Over the years so-called Green search engines have appeared, including Blackle which changed the display from white to black to save energy. Of course I did dismiss this as a little sensationalist because merely reducing energy used does not, a planet, save.

So, after reading the article by Peter Salisbury I had learned that Google are incredibly energy-efficient not just to be Earth-friendly but this has obvious financial benefits for them. Adorned on top of the Googleplex in California is a sea of solar panels making use of their climate. Their datacentre‘s around the world are making use of ‘free cooling’ by channeling the outside climates in to cool the servers. This is a company that is thinking AND doing, and more importantly they are aware of the impact they have on the world and acting responsibly.

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Now, they are inherently not a green company for sure, otherwise you would never throw out a perfectly good office fit-out only to bring in some brightly-coloured design classics in to your reception but acting responsibly is a lot more than I had expected and more than most corporations are doing.

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Google claims that using Gmail instead of your average email system is up to 80 times better for the environment. The reason? Cloud servers are leveraged 100 percent while average company servers never use their entire capacity and have processing overhead wasted. “Using Gmail for an entire year uses less energy than is required to manufacture a bottle of wine, drink the wine, ‘stuff a message in the bottle and throw it in the ocean'” (about 1.2 kg CO2).

Similarly, one minute of watching YouTube videos uses 0.00002 kWh of energy on Google’s side (without counting your computer that actually displays the video). To put that in context, it takes approximately 0.15 kWh to boil a full kettle, which means you could watch 7,500 minutes (125 hours) of YouTube videos for the same energy used.

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Something else that is quite amazing is that Google reuses everything, especially water. They are currently running two facilities that use 100 percent recycled water and they’re goal is to have all of their data centre’s using 80 percent recycled water this year. Incredible.

For a company that has 79.61% of the global search engine market share, this is good news to hear. Not only are they a massive search engine, but their email client is one of the largest webmail providers and this is powered by the same servers.

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I now feel a lot better about using Google for all of my data. Thank you Google.

Further reading:
www.google.com/about/datacenters/
www.google.com/green