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Friday, 26 July 2013

Casual Friday's & Weekend Bedding

The rituals of our daily dress codes aren't only for when we leave the home. For occasions when Boateng inspired bedding is a little formal [or for summers in the Hamptons / Islands / Highlands] ivy league clothier Gant offers up a range of cable knits, pinstripe linens and suitably Jack Purcell Americana.

Her Majesty's Most Wanted

This summer, Design Trawler was invited by the Evening Standard join the Judging Panel for the annual New Homes Awards. The most prestigious trophy in the business, shortlisted homes were presided over by trendsetters, tastemakers and arbiters of taste across twelve categories.

Presiding over 'Best Apartment' and 'Best Luxury' - everything from Mayfair duplexes owned by the Crown Estate, to New York style lofts were subject to the scrutiny of Design Trawler. Click below to find out who took home the silver, and why Design Trawler won't be getting a Christmas Card from Buckingham Palace.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Good Dog - Blue Dog

At the risk of upsetting RSPCA sorts, animals in the home are best skinned and made in to carpets, bathmats, blankets or wine coolers. If you can't guarantee they won't do their business against your Carlo Molino writing desk, or otherwise gnarl a hole in your Corbusier LC-2, they're best kept outside.

Much better to Fido by way of fun Brazilian pop art. This is Blue Dog. Acquired from Romero Britto's flagship gallery in Miami, Blue Dog pre-dates even the Man Cave. Loyally ascending to greatness, from Bond Street to Buckingham palace, Britto's Blue Dog has found itself in the windows of Opera Gallery and counts the Queen, amongst others, as one of its owners.

Bedside Explorer - Design Trawler

You can tell a lot about a person based on who what they sleep with. As humans, we tend to snooze close to the things we love most. How many people go to bed with a Blackberry? Point proven. Wall-safes are typically behind headboard paintings, and we all know where James Bond keeps his Walther PPK at night.

On Design Trawler's bedside table trunk, the trend is no different. A chrome hotel bell; passport [current] in a silver frame and 2,000 year old Han Dynasty warrior head to ward off evil spirits. It all points to exploration, collection, and dreams ladened with frequent flier miles. Jules Verne would be proud.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Polish Cold War Neon

The sound of a Polish Cold War Neon museum might not give curators at the MoMa any sleepless nights, but the old warehouse in SoHo Factory area of Warsaw is a design must-see. The space is the bricks-and-mortar continuation of the book which captured the world's attention.

But it's the museum gift shop boutique that comes up trumps. Forget postcards and pencil-sharpeners. Alongside the book that started it all, are one-off typographic prints, ceramics and sculpture featuring the high-voltage fonts. With the popularity of heavy-hitting neon artists like Chris Bracey and Tracy Emin the museum's future looks very bright! Expect some specially commissioned neon art to be featured here soon.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Raul de Sorôa's Itaúba Submarine

A spectacular find from Brazilian artist Raul de Sorôa. 'Submarino' is carved from Itaúba, a Brazilian hardwood, and features characterful nautical, automotive and also aeronautical forms. Equally interesting are Raul's other works which combine Airfix style assembly kit panels with his signature organic outlines.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Christian Candy 1 : Great Gatsby 0

Watching Baz Luhrmann's the Great Gatsby this weekend [Curzon Mayfair], I couldn't help but be enthralled by the some 42 epic Catherine Martin designed sets. Particularly Jay Gatsby's double-height master bedroom with galleried open wardrobes [below]; taking cues of course from Design Trawler.

Reminding me of Christian Candy's masculine, deco-inspired bedroom in the £199m Belle Epoque in Monaco [pictured], which man about town has the better bedroom? While both make use of reflective fabrics, upholstered walls, high gloss and architectural carpets, Gatsby's galleried wardrobe gets trumped by a palladium trim bed and an elegance that's much more restrained. Judge for yourself below.

Gym Stars & Monkey Bars

Somewhere between Simon Khachadourian's Pullman Gallery; the ultimate den of high-end design icons, antique Vuitton trunks, racing posters and Alfred Dunhill table lighters; and an Abercrombie & Fitch themed home and furniture store [yes please], is K Loan in Brussels.

A new firm favourite on the Design Directory, the store has a focus on vintage gymnasium, athletic and salvage items. think wooden gym bars transformed in to freestanding shelves, vintage leather rugby balls and black and white canvasses of boxing stars. Coupled with contemporary art, industrial furniture and customers taking leopard print cats for a walk, check out the photos below, and K Loan's catalogue online.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

If White Cube did Reindeer

If invisible cooking isn't for you, [or you simply have a designer-meat shaped hole in your life], leave it to Swiss delicatessen Hatecke to delight. From their website, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Hatecke is a contemporary art gallery; their stores in St. Moritz, Zernes and Scuol too bathe in a White Cube aesthetic.

Elevating the business of drying and curing meat to an art form, Hatecke's alpine beef, lamp and deer jerky dried-sculpture should be essential additions to any man's Christmas and/or BBQ list. Buy here.

Invisible Heat - Visibly Cool

What do smartphones and cooktops have in common? While you could probably fry an egg on the surface of an iPhone on a hot day, I'm talking about invisible interfaces - The way that on many handsets, it isn't apparent where the screen starts and finishes while switched off.

The British designed and made CR600 by Stoves, as pictured [genuinely, with no Photoshop trickery], vanishes in to the work surface when not in use. It's as if the entire counter is a gigantic smartphone; the chunky chrome knobs the only clue that you can fry an egg without invaliating your Apple warranty.

Friday, 31 May 2013

In Bed with Boateng

There was something that always bothered me about the Saville Row inspired bedding that I had made up a little while ago. Yes, the pinstripe Super 120's wool & cashmere cloth makes for an excellent ornamental pillow, and yes the fact that bedding can 'always bother me' is cause enough to hand in my Man-licence, but I've finally cracked it! Any suit worth it's salt, needs silk.

Be it a bright Ozwald Boateng lining or burnished Hermès cravate, the addition of these burnt orange herringbone bolsters not only increases the pillow count to a luxuriously inpractical seven, but delivers the much needed punch of satorial bedtime power dressing [£510 Hermes Faubourg pillow-case optional].

Undesign - The Monster in the Closet

From one beast to another. Rather than roaming the plains of Africa, this brightly coloured Korean mask sits hidden away in the utility cupboard. A tongue-in-cheek memento bestowed upon me from our scout in Japan, almost certainly because it is the antithesis of cool, understated design [thanks James!]

So stuffed by the water tank it was, and has been, for years. This is 'undesign'. Not planned, not masterfully considered, but enduring. Sometimes endearing; as in the case of the Korean mask, sometimes practical; keeping the sugar next to the Nespresso machine, but sometimes also, misguided.

Ask yourself, is your living room furniture arranged in the same layout as the previous owner's? If so, the ugly multicoloured head of undesign may have crept out of your own closet without you knowing.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

King of Coffee Tables

King of the Elephants, Babar is an iconic and enduring character from the golden age of colonial, Tin Tin-esque adventure [and indeed, the young reporter's favourite flea market on the Place du Jeu de Balle in Brussels ranks amongst the best when it comes to big game design hunting].

In a world of conceited, over-sized and under-read coffee table monoliths, this first english edition, first in the series storybook from 1933 is my new favourite page turner. Beautifully worn, expect 'propper' books like these to soon replace Tom Ford retrospectives and anything from the 'Hip Hotels' stable.

Design Safari - The Flamant Rhino

On a recent design safari, bounding across the plains of Europe in search of wild designlife, I spotted the rare and magnificent Flamant Rhino. Part of a family of refined barware, the Flamant Rhino is bred from solid rosewood and highly valued for it's two brass tusks. When threatened, it is able to quickly dismantle under the protection of eight Glencairn whisky tumblers in to a set of fine coasters. On this occasion, the beast got away, but can be yours for €99 from your nearest Flamant game reserve.

A Machine for Sitting

Godfather of modernism, Le Corbusier, in creating his Villa Savoye sought to achieve the 'machine a habiter' or, machine for living - from its modular design [echoing virtruvian principles of human-sized scale and proportion], to its white facades with no ornament or decoration.

That makes his self titled LC-1 chair very much the 'machine a asseoir' [sitting] - designed from turned and polished tubular steel, the modest frame supports a pivoting back rest and two leather armrest belts. The smallest, most comfortable chair you've ever sat in, and part of MoMa's permanent collection, Le Corbusier's 'machine for sitting' is made that little bit less mechanical with a Cowhide colourway.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Mini Dolmen Grows Up

One of the first items on Design Trawler, the Mini Dolmen by Lexon is a soap-sized utilitarian field radio [pictured, rear] that sits nearly in the bathroom broadcasting news every morning. Three years on, and it's been challenged by the Goliath that is the Bose Soundlink.

A bluetooth behemoth in the bathroom may sound like overkill, but the bassy true-audio stream from any device means a greater variety of morning music. In particular, the Monocle 24 digital radio stream replaces utilitarian breakfast news with rich, curated commentary and current affairs.

At five times the price of the Lexon radio, the Bose is in a different league all together - But from a design point of view the Mini Dolmen exudes charm with it's circular speaker and telescopic aerial. Bluetooth or not, it would have been nice to see more character behind the [otherwise excellent] Soundlink design.

Design as Metaphor - Under the Sea

I've mentioned the concept of design as metaphor before - when one object, in the right setting as another, takes on the qualities of the second object. Useful for turning sideboards in to metaphorical grand pianos and such.

Recently, I returned home to find the monitors on my desk glowing with the underwater hues of the aurora screen saver. Clearly it's not an aquarium, but in a setting where a Bond-villain shark tank wouldn't look out of place, the displays create a cool, and somewhat foreboding ambiance.

Design Hobby or Folly?

I'm not sure if it's post Olympic nostalgia, or a global gymnastic conspiracy, but vintage hobby horses seem to be trending at the moment. First spotted in Lloyds Antiques in Tokyo, next at the Brussels Design Market and now even Liberty of London is offering up the athletic props.

Don't get me wrong, faded tan leather and classroom nostalgia are all well and good, but I haven't yet found an answer as to how to use them. Too tall for a chair and too uneven for a display surface - the conclusion seems to be that they're pure folly. If you have the space to swing multiple cats [or a penchant for handstands], then a hobby horse is the trophy to prove it... alongside your matching actual trophies.

A Smart and Stelthy Massacre

I've been meaning to massacre a Louis Vuitton belt for a while now. While the check daimer design is subtle and synonymous with dodgy markt stalls purveyors of fine steamer trunks, the LV monogram buckle is as understated as a wall of Cristal champagne labels.

Browsing in Gieves and Hawkes this weekend it struck me. The team at #1 Saville Row now carry a range of superb shoe laces in a variety of colours. A quick chop of the luxurious leather and a bow stolen from a brogue is enough to make two smart and stealthy curtain tie-backs.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Tabletop Fun for the Red Trousered

I've long maintained male-orientated design involves more than a beer fridge, 42 inch television and foosball table. While there are many [#1 #2 #3] a designer shish-kebab tabletop soccer game on the market [yes, I do realise that my flippant referral to football as soccer, and then likening it to a foodstuff suitable only for drunken students, is likely to result in the declaration of some kind of Yorkie Bar war] - the proper way to hurtle ping pong balls across a pint sized pitch, is to put down the pint, and pick up a flute. Expect this brilliant Veuve Clicquot folly at a red-trousered sporting event near you soon!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Japanese Interiors Under the Monocle

For a country with such high design standards, it's surprising that many Japanese apartments are pre-fabricated plastic matchboxes with little longevity. Few and far between are Sir David Tang's sisal floors, paulownia woods loved by Studio Nendo or Hasamiyaki ceramics.

Perfectly placed in Design Trawler's highly rated Hankyu Men's store sits the Monocle Cafe. A little basement oasis of democratised design; taste makers sit alongside teachers, enamel lighting, soft woods and typographic detailing. Everything Japanese studio apartments should be, yet seldom are. Do we over-romanticise Japanese design? Most likely there's a blog in Japan that thinks everyone in England has a four poster bed and a chesterfield. Which is entirley untrue of course. We all have Chippendale's.

Fish Crate & Barrel

I was always disappointed with US furniture retailer Crate & Barrel. Yes, the emporium of stateside middle-class taste has, for years now made the most handsome drinks cabinet in the world, and yes, they pair it with a veritable Abercrombie & Fitch-like portfolio of finely chiseled friends - but there is a distinct lack of anything made from crates, or from barrels.

Not so in this local fish-focused izakaya in Shinjuku. Using crates from what is likely Tokyo's famous Tsukiji fish market, the tuna crates-turned-tables look rugged and relevant. The only thing missing perhaps, is a barrel themed bar stool or two.

Strike a Match - Save a Beard

So you've got the aforementioned pepe nero man candle and need something equally attractive to set said armoas alight. In the absence of a vintage table top lighter, silver, and in the shape of leaping jaguar, naturally; an old fashioned box of matches will do the trick. These unique designs available for a couple of coins at the Conran Shop do the trick perfectly.

A little twee perhaps, with the decidedly Stella Artois vintage designs; there is something satisfying, iconic even, about striking a vesta against the side of a cardboard box. Of course, real men have designer stubble for such uses... or kitchen blow torches.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Introducing the Man Candle

Scented candles are about as masculine as scatter cushions, but as proved by Cape Henley, the man cushion does exist, and therefore the same must be said for the 'man candle'. Well, it's taken a little while, but Design Trawler has pinned it down [and while you can get a suitably masculine black pepper candle from the admirable Molton Brown, that's far too easy].

This suitably 'grrr' flame bearer comes from Erbario in Italy. Based in Tuscany, the firm produces innovative scents including citrus and cinnamon, wine and also olive oil. I particularly like the brick-like form, hearty paper packaging and shoelace finishing. It's not tested on animals so it'll please sensitive sorts, or at least provide a fitting excuse to vegan other halves with kittens.

These Boots are Made for Trawling

Otsu Furniture is just the kind of perfectly crafted little store that Tyler Brule and the editorial team at Monocle Magazine would love. The sliding shoji doors off Tokyo's Meguro-Dori hide a space that's more workshop than well... 'shop'. There's always a chap contently working away restoring an old wooden cabinet or shelf as only Japanese woodworkers seem to.

I previously picked up an old tailor's spool and on my most recent trip was attracted by these antique Japanese shoe stays. The best place for wooden shelf-candy, Otsu is as honest as a shop can get and it seems fitting that both my acquisitions here have been tailoring related. I'd like to think If Otsu did tailoring, they'd do so without a care in the world for schedules or profitability, diligently crafting bespoke wears like their effortlessly honest cabinets, stools and curios.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Crossover Carpets - The Riva Rug

I've never given much thought to carpeted floors. If it isn't an Argentinian cowhide called Carlos or a dead gazelle, I'll admit, I'm unlikely to be interested. While Sir David Tang swears by oriental sisal flooring, this penthouse worthy rug [from the previously mentioned Ambassador Suite at the Macau Sheraton] stopped me in my tracks.

Iconic manufacturer of Italian runabouts for millionaires on Lake Como, Riva, would be proud. This woollen masterpiece perfectly echoes the teak and holly construction of the classic yachts. Rich and architectural, it's a percent example of design as metaphor. Placed alongside reflective marble, polished woods, chrome or brass, it recreates a Mediterranean glamour without the need for a life vest.

Giardino Mountain - The Snowy Peak of Design

It's not enough these days to install some quirky furniture and call yourself a design bar, hotel, health club or boutique. While it's true that design has become democratised, the term design has been devalued; becoming a synonym for wacky differentiation. Design is more than owning a Philippe Starck chaise; it's more than playing jazzy house in the elevators, and it's refreshing to see that people still recognise this.

Design Hotels, the association for genuinely great independent hotels has given it's seal of approval to the Giardino Mountain hotel in St. Mortiz. In a world of Heidi style log cabins and dusty grand hotels we flew in to see what the avantgarde property is doing differently. Read our full report on why the Giardino Mountain is the definition of what design all hotels should aspire to.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Grains of Inspiration

What is it with rice? It gets it's own wine, paper, breakfast cereal and even when it does come in old fashioned grain variety, it commands its own storage. I don't see anybody turning fettuccine in to alcoholic beverages, or throwing macaroni around at weddings; well, not intentionally anyway.

Nonetheless, I picked up this humble rice keeper in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo and particularly like its honest, dovetailed construction. Finished with a leather fob on the lid, perhaps it's this understated simplicity that earns rice its status. It'd be entirely possible to create an interior with a grain of rice as the only inspiration. Simple, versatile, traditional, contemporary. The Room of Rice. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

A Little Bit of Linley

A little design guilt here, as I'm an eternal fan of the Viscount David Linley's store on the Pimlico Road. Marquetry watch boxes, cigar humidors, photos frames and gifts are the epitome of contemporary British craftsmanship - The Union Flag trinket box was recently featured alongside Philippe Stark's gold AK-47 lamp and tweed Anta cushions in a montage of James Bond Skyfall inspired design.

Only the trinket box pictured hails from Peter Jones and not David Linley. Priced at £50, the short stroll to Sloane Square saves you £1,200 on the Linley price, and while it's hand made in India not the Cotswolds, that 96% saving is enough to pick up an AK-47 lamp to complete the Skyfall inspired interior.

The Tube's Last Tycoon

The reason Design Hero Tyler Brûlé famously won't release his Monocle magazine on the iPad isn't because he wants readers to appreciate the three or four different paper stocks used in the publication. It isn't because readers wouldn't be able to detach perfectly formed supplements attached by coloured rubber bands. It's because, on an iPad, nobody is able to see that you're reading Monocle magazine.

With the invasion of Kindles, Kobos and Komodo Dragons, there is only one way to command a presence on the London Tube nowadays [okay two, but brandishing a Komodo Dragon isn't the best of ideas during rush hour]. These Coralie Bickford-Smith designed hardbacks from Penguin Classics celebrate US literary great F. Scott Fitzgerald, and come in a range of metallic designs from the Conran Shop.

They say you might not be able to judge a book by it's cover, but judging the Tycoon with excellent taste, reading the book with the superbly designed geometric cover... is another matter entirely.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Gin Mare - Designed for Cool

Once the preserve of Queen Mother sorts, gin is now firmly established as the urban tipple of choice on a warm day in the capital. Enjoying something of a renaissance in recent years, graphic designers with skinny jeans can't get enough of small-batch brands distilled in gritty corners of the Capital.

But far away from converted loft apartments, and far removed from tiresome vintage branding, Gin Mare is designing a difference. Spotted at this year's Snow Polo in St. Moritz, fur clad models and heli-skiing millionaires were opting for Mare.

Distilled from olives, thyme, rosemary and basil the Mediterranean spirit was being served up with 1724 tonic - made with organic quinine, hand harvested in Argentina. With an effortlessly smart 'wave' design, it looks like Gin Mare will be equally at home on board yachts in Santorini as it is on the slopes of St. Moritz; which is just as well, as that's where said heli-skiing millionaires are likely to be this summer.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Nippon Typographic Domino Co.

I have no idea where these tiles came from, or what they were used for. Actually, that's a lie, they came from a dusty wooden tray in the Sone Chika vintage furniture store in Meguro, Tokyo. Who knows what they were used for. But who cares?! With all that Nippon typographic goodness in New York Taxi Yellow on a grained background reminiscent of Dunhill's Sidecar leather, these little dominoes win all day long.

The Elemental Miller

The brilliance of Sir Johnny Ive and the design team at Apple is due largely to simplicity. Simple design, uncluttered interfaces, good honest white shiny goodness. The same can't be said for the myriad of Apple accessories from manufacturers keen to dunk said industrial design in rubber cases, covers and protectors.

Not Miller. Based in Singapore, Miller men [Colin Chen] cut leather, hammer in a button or two, engrave a name and that's it. Hand-made, man-made, cable tidies, wallets and card holders that'd make even Monocle blush. The tan leather in particular, is a rich and elemental addition to anything Apple.

Couture Coffee - Agnes B. Gaultier

Porcelain shouldn't be messed with. The iconicity of a plan white plate has a simplicity not to be messed with. White dinnerware puts the food and drink centre stage - the same is as true for a mug of builders tea as it is for fine dining from Heston.

But what if your builders are French? or you live on a submarine and you're having your walk in wardrobe extended to accommodate this season's range of stripey blue t-shirts? In such instances, and in such instances alone, Design Trawler deems it permissible to deviate from the formula of plain porcelain. Serve up couture chamomile in these smart mugs from the Agnes B. cafe found in Taipei's Eslite.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Material Reflections in 2013

This year, Design Trawler is once again putting its chips on metal. In the new year we're going to see a progression of the popularity of copper, gold and brass in to fabrics. Taking inspiration from the rather smart Ambassador Suite in Sheraton's new Macau hotel and casino [pictured], reflective fabrics add a richness long embraced by designers like Andrew Martin and Candy & Candy.

Reflective silks, velvets and satin, previously preserves of feminine boudoirs are set to 'man up' in a big way. Think teal, petrol blue and gunmetal grey. Bright reds and oranges carry over the golden metals theme evoking Ozwald Boaeting suit linings and metallic macs from Burberry.

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