Home About Links Friends Contact

Monday, 29 December 2014

Perucchetti Pop

Hovering, quite literally, in a style between Jeff the balloon dog, [named after king of contemporary pop, Jeff Koons], and Mauro Perucchetti's vibrant, translucent resin sculptures, is this gorgeous red balloon.

A store fitting from the window of Sir Terrance's Marylebone hangout that, in a rare move for any shop, was offered for sale ex-display to keen eyed collectors. A perfect and poetic addition to Ultraloft's first plinth, the gigantic perspex balloon floats above it's Koonsian companion in a display of poignant and equally iconic three dimensional imagery; a subtle nod to Design Trawler's favourite childhood novel.

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Design Family Tree

Design Hero Sir David Tang excellently calls out in his famous FT article the contrived designers and homeowners that specify books by the meter and artworks for particular spots in the home. In much the same way, [and most likely in the same homes], the Christmas tree and decorations will exude taste, effortlessly matching the decor of each room with bespoken ornaments all bought from the same book, and installed while said owners are out of town by an army of Christmas decorators.

While trees of the hotel lobby variety are invariably elegant, for the home they lack narrative. Ultraloft this year inherited the family tree with its multitude of brightly coloured decorations and lights gathered over the 30 years that the tree came down from the loft every December to proudly stand in the bay window of the family home. I said it in 2012, and it is particularly relevant in this instance...

"Establishing a narrative over time is as important for a collector as it is for an artist. Where collections are concerned, it's easy to make new additions, but considerably less easy to make old additions."

I can't imagine a day when the family tree won't stand proudly in at least one room of whichever Ultraloft I happen be living in. I'm especially pleased and excited by the opportunity to add to its narrative with my own collections, and Blue Dog by Britto [pictured bottom left] fits right in alongside the Iberian fur throw.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Festive Collection

One of the wonderful things about the home as art gallery is that it makes your chosen exhibits very accessible. Well, at least to you, and those privileged guests that you chose to let through the doors at cocktail parties and celebrations [admission prices in 2015 are increasing to one bottle of Krug per visitor].

Christmas is almost upon us, and Design Trawler feels it only appropriate to allow Ultraloft's 20th Century Italian newstype sculpture to partake in the festivities. That's right, not even fine art will escape the decorations this Christmas. Expect the Hirst to decked in holly and Graham the springbok bathmat to don a suitably Rudolph themed red nose. Well, if you can't have a little fun with your collection...

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Pole Position - Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi

Imagine the scene. Flavio Briatore, the larger than life Italian Formula 1 supremo touches down in Abu Dhabi to discuss the possibility bringing the billion dollar super-sport to the Middle East. We'll build you a track Signore Briatore, the developers say; the best in the world! Very generous, but where will I park my 200ft yacht? We all know that Monaco has a delightful marina hugging it's F1 track, and I need to host glamorous parties too.

Not a problem for the visionaries of Abu Dhabi - We'll build the track on it's own island, and have it snake around a marina capable of hosting the largest super-yachts in the world, so that all of your friends can bring their sleek motor yachts too. All well and good, but Abu Dhabi is a fair voyage away from Monaco, and my shargreen sun loungers might melt in this heat...

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Grand Apartment Budapest

I'll admit, I wasn't quite sure how to position this article on Design Trawler's recent visit to Budapest. I decided to check in to the curiously named Helen & Frank apartment in an ornate mansion block overlooking the 19th Century theatre of comedy; in search of a whimsically cluttered stage-set in which to draw parallels against Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel; which took home the Oscar for best production design in this year's awards.

What I found however was far richer than any staged theatre set. The apartment is filled with the collections of Dr Frank and Helen Ternovszky; avid adventurers and collectors who moved from the Hungarian capital to LA in the golden age of Sintata, where a transatlantic Lufthansa flight was something worth photographing. Indeed, the apartment is peppered with photographs of Frank and Helen's jet setter life; playing lawn tennis at the country club, sailing with friends, trips to the great pyramids, black tie galas and skiing in glamorous resorts. It's all very Slim Aarons, and the Budapest home which they kept is a museum of their global travels and life well lived.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Welcome Winter Blues

While summer a distant memory, anything to make the cold, grey and miserable mornings that little but brighter is very welcome. Short of jumping abroad on a Mustang to the Med [always a welcome antidote to winter blues], Design Trawler has found an inexpensive alternative if you can't fly south for the winter.

The scent of Volcano from Capri Blue is quite remarkable. Imagine sitting on an alfresco terrace of your Portofino hideout overlooking the harbour. The scent of vibrant greens and sweet citrus blowing in the warm air. Volcano has red berry, pomegranate, grapefruit and lime in its punchy signature that only Aqua di Parma's Blu Mediterraneo range comes close to replicating. Absolutely intoxicating.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Steam and Sprezzatura - The Lelit PS21

Luigi Borelli strolls out of his flagship store on Napoli's Via Filangieri. An expertly cut shirt in his shopping bag. Returning home [via the Gran Caffè Cimmino], it's Sunday and Luigi's maid has the day off.

Where any other man would despair at the prospect of having to iron a shirt themselves, Luigi, like Design Trawler pulls off the task with a sprezzatura that's uniquely Italian. For the same commercial, high-performance, high-pressure boiler engineering used to deliver Luigi's espresso is also used to deliver his pristine cotton twill.

The Lelit PS21 steam generator is made entirely in Brescia by a firm that manufacturers only steam irons... and espresso machines. It features a polished steel steam chamber and solid cast iron that may well double as a free weight. Creases stand no chance under the titanic flattening plate; and that's before calling upon the mighty steam reserves. Like a performance roadster, this is a machine designed to be driven by owners, and not domestics. Maids need not apply.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Breakfast of Champions... Sort Of

What can I say. Design Trawler writes about a reindeer blanket and President Obama goes out and buys the same one. Mam Sam Miso Mugs spotted in Warsaw, make an appearance at London Design Week months later. And now, a casual reference to my breakfast cereal of choice, the fictitious Cartier Crunch, has British fashion designer Anya Hindmarch designing couture cornflakes.

Available in limited edition from Waitrose; cleaner was not impressed; summarily binning my carton of Fashion Flakes, lost forever to the Perigot Frisbee. And herein lies the problem. Fashion is fickle, but design ensures. Had Tony the Tiger teamed up with Norman Foster to create Foster-ies, or Sir Terrance to create Conran Flakes, I'm sure said cereal box would have had a less perilous end.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Fine Art Postcard - Bird in Space

It was in 2003 that I visited the seminal Art Deco exhibition at London's Victoria and Albert museum. I visited for the streamline race cars and polished steel toasters, but stood for a lifetime when I first saw Bird in Space. A golden stroke of such purity and form, I stood and gazed at the marvel by Constantin Brancusi for perhaps 10 minutes, but it might as well have been ten years.

Never before had I been transfixed by something in such a way; and still am! Clearly I head good taste - Not only did Bird in Space set legal precedent what what can rightfully be called art, but also set the record for the most expensive sculpture in history at the time [$27.5m in case you'd like to make an anonymous donation to the Design Trawler Brancusi fund] .

Sadly, my chances of owning Constantin's masterpiece anytime soon don't look too likely. While I've often considered commissioning a robbery replica, for now, I have decided to frame a simple gift-shop postcard of the masterpiece from the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice. It's not the original sculpture, but it is an authorised and official likeness. The framed 'Fine Art Postcard' series henceforth begins.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Hipsters, Handlebars, and Heineken

Contrary to popular belief, London Design Week isn't all Krug and canapes. Well, in the West-end it probably is, but ever the intrepid explorer, Design Trawler also headed out East during this year's Festival. Lured by the promise of container bars, the ever popular Tent and Superbrands exhibitions, a special Tokyo Design Week show-within-a-show and, of course a veritable petting zoo of hipster beards, handlebar moustaches and inflatable animals; Design Trawler documented it all.

Heineken kicked things off with it's pop up City Lounge project. A specially designed container bar with futuristic seating pods and specially designed barware. With a long history of limited edition bottles [because Design Trawler loves a limited edition bottle #1 #2 #3] and a TV campaign based on Design Trawler himself, full marks go to the Dutch brewer for keeping the bar high when the Veuve runs dry. Check out photos from London's East-end below or on Facebook.

Monday, 29 September 2014

London Design Week - Best of the West

Last year it was Prince Carl Philip and the Swedish Ambassador who invited Design Trawler around to take a look at some fine Scandinavian design. Not to be outdone, this year the honour fell to Finland to issue an invitation to it's ambassadorial residence [on the world's most expensive street, Kensington Palace Gardens], to Design Trawler and Finnish designer Klaus Haapaniemi; to present a selection of intricate folklore inspired lighting silks and ceramics... and kimono clad friends.

And the best of London Design Festival's high-end contemporary design didn't stop there. Exhibitions that included Illona Gaynor's neon coat of arms at the Design Museum, through to Sonya Winner's bold and lustrous rugs, Mallett's dizzying commissions and Tom Dixon's rich use of brass and velvet would be suitably at home in many a drawing room of the £122m houses on this Billionaires Row. Norway, the challenge has been set for 2015. As for the matter of Ferrero Rocher's presented in little towers, find out what was on the menu at the Residence of the Finnish Ambassador on Facebook...

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Design Trawler Nominated for Best Luxury Blog

Kicking off Design Trawler's coverage of London Design Week [champagne buckets and espresso machines standing by], legendary Italian design house Missoni has nominated Design Trawler as one of eight websites in the category of Best Luxury Blog!

Delightful stuff as I approach article number 250 well in to four years of trawling [that, or perhaps the Milanese maison just has a penchant for red loafers and private jets ;-] As one of the only non-commercial blogs written by a chap, and also because Design Trawler has a shiny new Facebook Page, please vote for Design Trawler in the AMARA Interior Design Awards. Grazie a tutti!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

George the Champagne Monkey

Now that Ultraloft holds a fair few bottles of the good stuff, it is only sensible that Robert's Bar puts in place adequate security to keep check on the Wine Room. Any good doorman gorilla understands the need to balance looking smart, with appropriate levels of foreboding menace.

Enter George the Champagne Monkey. A Canadian cousin of Jeff the Balloon Dog from Toronto, George sits atop of the cellars and monitors the comings and goings of Ultraloft's precious fizz. As for foreboding menace, Jeff Koons famously dropped his suit against the likes of George after a court ruled that the balloon form was part of the public domain. Not bad for a blue ceramic monkey... you have been warned!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Design Trawler Central Campus

It was always only a matter of time before Design Trawler would require its own iconic headquarters. Sure, Ultraloft is a spectacular man cave in the making, but there is only so much Marc Newson designed Dom Pérignon; only so many plumen light bulbs, that one residence can accommodate.

Introducing the Design Trawler Campus. This scale model of the sprawling architectural vision features a cascade of geometric modules that'd put the Dame Hadid to shame. At its north point, a Turning Torso inspired tower [of acacia drink coasters by Lou Henry for Nambé] overlooks the suspiciously table-centrepiece-like structure by Sia. Perfect for landing petit-fours helicopters on.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Miniature Monuments to Luxury

Every now and again whilst Design Trawling you'll chance upon a most unexpected discovery. State-side purveyor of fine taste West Elm served up that most pleasing of finds this weekend. On an unassuming teak sideboard sat a single cube of while marble that couldn't escape my attention.

The pictured caddy in shimmering white stone is capped with a lid featuring a sculptural brass handle reminiscent of Brancusi's birds in space or Philippe Stark's Asahi building in Tokyo. The combination of cool monolitihic marble and rich fluid brass is almost ethereal - I'm not sure it it's more appropriate fill it with bath salts, or the cremated ashes of a beloved household pet [you have to admit, there is something curiously Mormon temple about it]. Either way, the material combination is certainly one to remember. Just don't mix up your bath salts with the remains of Constantin the hamster.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Writing's on the Wall

Narrow wall spaces can be tricky. If it's anything less than a foot wide, it's probably best used only for light switches or slithers or mirror. Here's another thought however. Next time you're roll home after the polo [Design Trawler recommends Hamptons, Windsor, Sand, or Snow] take two minutes to dismantle some of sidings and take home a pitch-side memento.

Hailing from the last ever Cartier International at Windsor back in 2010, this simple hoarding is a nice way of remembering a summer day in the sun. Just add autographs.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Like a Moth to Neon

I am utterly and hopelessly addicted to neon. A colorless, odorless, inert monatomic gas, with about two-thirds the density of air. Pass a high voltage current through it, and the resulting glow from gigantic typographic letters and logos draws me in like a moth about to get it's wings burnt.

It was a former ammunition factory in Warsaw that got me hooked, and no matter how strong the gift shop offering is [exceptionally strong], it was only a matter of time before the museum came to Moses Design Trawler. This masterpiece of restored marquee lettering is my first neon. It relates to Ultraloft's building name, and features beautiful italic serifs, loops and eyes. Stay tuned for more neon acquisitions.

The New Ming Vase - Dutch Alchemy in Delft

The cosy city of Delft in Holland is known for it's iconic blue and white ceramics. Since the 17th Century, Delftware was being produced to cater to European demand for highly prised Chinese porcelains being imported by the Dutch East India Company. It's classic tin glaze has always therefore responded to the times, and De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles [Royal Delft 1653] continue this tradition today.

New Delft is a collection that combines hand made contemporary forms with modern patterns that are inspired by the historical markings and initials of Delft's original designers. The enigmatic symbols are surrounded by a cartouche, that echos the mark left at the bottom of pottery after being fired. New Delft is available from the Rijksmuseum and is currently on exhibit at Ultraloft's first plinth.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A Seat of Quiet Power

The Cesca chair designed by Marcel Breuer in 1928 is the epitome of a quiet diplomacy in design. The sort of chair you'd find in the canteen at the United Nations, or in Brasilia's Niemeyer designed Congress. It exhibits a soft power that exists in the background; playing a deliberately subtle role.

The chrome tubular frame is objective and intelligent, while the hand-caned supports are honest and reflect a level craft that is neither patronising nor dated. Breuer's B32, [as it was known before being renamed after his daughter Francesca] is the sort of chair you'd want to run for Prime Minister... but in the mean time, these Italian originals from the 1970's will serve Ultraloft exceedingly well.

Monday, 28 July 2014

How to Steal a Damien Hirst - Part II

Back in May, I wrote about how I stole a priceless Damien Hirst butterfly print from an Alexander McQueen store in Mayfair. Various accomplices later, and the delicate silk butterfly print, almost two meters in height, features as the flagship canvas in Ultraloft.

The steal of the decade, certainly. But here's the story of how I avoided spending time at Her Majesty's pleasure. For this heist, not only required careful planning, entrepreneurial zeal, and the right connections, but crucially, was done without breaking a single law. And you can do it too.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

God's Kitchen by Massimo Castagna

I like to think that one day, after I have been immortalised by having a wing on the Design Museum with my name on it [and possibly a few statues of me looking wise and authoritative], I'll be pretty content louching around the ultimate hotel suite that lies behind those pearly gates.

Like the Delano hotel in Miami, it'll be all white sheer curtains, Barcelona chairs and minimalist chandeliers by Luceplan. I'd drift from bathing in the ethereal light, reclining on Eames La Chaises, to perching, bare footed on Yanagi butterfly stools carelessly tucking in to guilt-free pasta liberally accompanied with veal, truffles and grana padano. And Krug.

Well, God's kitchen had better be prepared, because the only pot suitable for preparing pasta worthy of the heavens is the pictured glass variety designed by Massimo Castagna for Knindustrie. Deus, most certainly, ex disegno. But to be sure, perhaps it's better to give it test down on earth first...

Got Miso? - Tasty Design Essentials

There's an age old stereotype of us Brits going on holiday with suitcases packed full of ketchup, beans, and hobnobs. While I can't say that I've ever tested the ability of a concierge to summon a can of Heinz's finest at a moment's notice, there may be something to be said for the concept of 'Bring Your Own'.

Recently I've discovered the exceptional single serve miso packs from Miso Tasty. Unlike other incarnations of the super-soup that are typically found on the hard-carved organic shelves of moonlit feng-shui'ed health food stores; in packaging that has the appeal of a damp leaf(?) of seaweed, Miso Tasty looks achingly smart with monogrammed origami-like packaging that's made in Italy. Design win.

Something savoury to go with your cashews in the Concorde Room? Post gym pick me up? Secret weapon for a marathon session of back to back meetings? Over the past few months, I've had Miso Tasty by my side from Dusseldorf to Doha. The spicy aka variety is fermented for 12 months and along with the classic shiro miso, features a sachet of seasoning, wakame and spring onions that stay separate from the miso paste. Brilliant flavor, brilliant design and second only to my passport when packing a suitcase.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Design Diet - Part III

Good design helps you stay in shape. We've proved what a delight it is to work off calories with the Waterrower, and also that ceramic pans with bamboo handles are so beautiful that you'll never want to actually use them. But what about the source of those pesky calories?

Opting for larder doors that are glazed, inevitably invites you [and you guests... and your domestics] to take a good look at what you're consuming. Glazed larders not only demand the procurement of the very finest packaged foods, but invariably such foods will weigh heavily on the wallet; discouraging you from actually breaking in to their attractively sealed contents [that, and anyone desperate enough to make an entire meal out of truffle oil, olives and wheatberries probably deserves a few kcal]

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

MamSam Miso Mugs

Ever since visiting the Warsaw museum dedicated to Polish Cold War Neon, I've become rather hooked on graphic typography and enigmatic shiny symbols. Just as well, as there seems to be no shortage of design objects in the city that put the neon vernacular to good use.

These ceramic cups [or miso mugs as I like to call them] from MamSam mix an interesting range of type and logotype with luxurious gold and black lacquer detailing. Far from the austere or nonchalantly hip, they look menacingly luxurious on the carrara worktops of the Ultraloft.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Blue Bentleys & Herringbone Bolsters

I have fond memories of being carted off to jumble sales at the Great Barn in Ruislip as a child. Rummaging through crates of bric-à-brac, like a young Indiana Jones to chance upon a... well, I haven't the foggiest what I ever chanced upon, as nothing in my collection hails from the 700 year old cow-shed. But the seed, or rather feed, was sewn nonetheless.

Enjoyable as sifting through curios at the Place du Jeu de Balle today may be, the experience is, like those early childhood adventures, largely folly and seldom fruitful. Unlike the Spring Clean event held to support charity Kids Company...

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Furniture as Metaphor - The Grand Piano

Almost four years ago I coined the term 'furniture as metaphor' in reference to a black lacquer sideboard that abstractly referenced an elegant upright piano. The point being that in an environment where a piano wouldn't look out of place, referencing it with an object made from similar materials is a clever visual trick.

Having taken delivery of a smart new dining table for Ultraloft, the same phenomenon appears to have materialised. This time in the form of a much larger, grand piano. A quick glance at said altar, with it's deep and sweeping plateau provides a remarkable likeness to a Steinway's rear end. That, or I'm inadvertently revealing a Freudian fixation with lacquer, ivory and tailcoats.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Trawler to Raise $25,000 for Flying Residence

Ben Schlappig is a Trawler that puts the number of miles undertaken by even Design Trawler to shame; using airmiles, he's reviewed pretty much every first class airline offering in the world through his website One Mile at a Time. But this Sunday, Etihad announced a game changer amongst first class products. A three room flying apartment. 'The Residence' features a private en-suite with shower, double bedroom and lounge for two with a dedicated Savoy trained personal butler.

The design of looks promising; contemporary yet authentic to the Emirati aesthetic. It uses modern geometric pattern, a subtle yet masculine pallet and Poltrona Frau upholstered leather. At more than twice the price of Concorde, the $20,000 one way trip is unlikely to get a review any time soon however.

Because of this [and because Design Trawler isn't headed to Abu Dhabi in the near future], Ben is attempting to raise the funds needed for a commercial ticket on crowd funding website Kickstarter. From one Trawler to another, credit where it's due Ben! You've got my backing and I look forward to the full review soon. Support Ben's campaign here.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Fire in the Hole!

I spotted this smart alternative to a grand fireplace at this year's Maison in Paris. When retrofitting a gigantic marshmallow-toaster isn't appropriate and integrated bioethanol flames too, are difficult, a simple hole in the wall can replicate a cozy corner.

An inset needs only to be candle deep, painted black and voilà. Design as metaphor strikes again. The eye sees a hole in the wall filled with fire, the brain thinks 'fireplace' and you can invest the money you've saved in £9,000 toasting forks for your evening nibbles.

How to Steal a Damien Hirst

Not content with only one Damien Hirst in the Ultraloft, Design Trawler set out to acquire a slightly larger masterpiece by the enfant terrible of the contemporary art world. Here's how he did it.

The artwork in question is a limited edition butterfly design on silk released by Damien Hirst in late 2013. A combination of delicate butterfly wings with four skulls arranged in a kaleidoscope of intricate pattern. Its location? Mayfair, naturally - The flagship Alexander McQueen boutique on London's Old Bond Street. Accomplices? five in total, starting with the sales assistant...

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Big Cheers for Quiet Design

Somebody once told me "if the Death Star had a tube station, it'd be Westminster"; and anyone who has passed through the terminus will know this holds true. It's a monolithic concrete bunker with cantilevered steel beams, industrial uplighters and scissored escalators. Subtle it is not.

In this respect, if the Death Star needed a vacuum cleaner, it'd be spoilt for choice. Almost every bagless cyclone machine on the market seems to have several dozen conical protrusions and articulated joints, with flashes of patronising neon colours around every gasket, bolt and wheel nut.

We're not designing Lloyds of London here. Vacuum cleaners should be more like the well turned out domestic staff that use them; unobtrusive, quiet and reliable. It's why I was drawn to the top of the range Mach Zen 2 by British firm Vax.

Monday, 28 April 2014

If Laura Ashley did Industrial Chic

As Ultraloft renovations get underway, stripping back unbearably dull kitchen tiles revealed the most remarkable surface. Artifacts of the construction and previous tiles create a bohemian patchwork of the most interesting colourway. Warm and peachy plaster, cool duck-egg blue and textured grouts in taupe and white. It looks masterful paired with the smooth carrara marble workstops specified for the design.

In a moment of crazed inspiration, instructing the tiler to down tools and get a protective clear glass splashback to protect the sacred discovery would seem like a smart idea. If Laura Ashley did 'reproduction warehouse chic' it would probably look like this [and cost more than said marble]. Alas however, the effect might be lost on those who don't appreciate nonchalant chic.

Prague Invaded by Italy, Brother & Duck

Design Trawler's predicted 'revolution of pattern' is gaining momentum. Advancing north from Italy and in to Prague's Vinohradsky Pavilion are these intoxicating graphical tiles. Patricia Urquiola uses an innovative digital on cement technique for Mutina that torpedoes the plain and austere.

Paired with cool greys, green foliage and the frosted glass doors, pictured, Brother & Duck strike a contemporary yet classic balance for the Pavilion. At over €140 a meter, nobody said being at the cutting edge of design is cheap, but similar styles are already filtering through to clued-in retailers in the UK.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Honey, I Froze Le Corbusier

It has to be the revelation of the year century. On a scale to be rivalled by Dan Brown novels set in St. Peter's Basilica. For around 100 years ago, a man called Peter Behrens was hired by a German engineering company to the position of 'Articstic Consultant'. Alongside the logotype and corporate identity, Behrens designed the firm's iconic turbine factory in Berlin, and also a significant number of it's products. Peter Behrens is considered to be the world's first industrial designer. The savvy German engineering company that hired him was AEG.

So that puts AEG at the very top of the design family tree. Neat. They make well engineered home appliances [Ultraloft's new shiny fridge freezer, pictured] and consumer electronics. Having something with the AEG moniker around the Ultraloft gives me a warm comfortable feeling of buying in to that design pedigree. That was until, I did a little more research and fell backwards out of my [EA105] chair.

You may want to anchor yourself to the floor... It wasn't just Behrens, father of industrial design that worked for AEG. Miles van der Rohe, creator of the iconic Barcelona chair worked for Behrens at AEG. Walter Gropius too, later to become the first director of the Bauhaus worked for AEG. And the revelation that sent me plummeting, sternforemost to the floor, is that, the being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, principal object of faith and worship at Design Trawler, Le Corbusier, worked alongside Behrens, Gropius, and Mies at AEG.

The three letters AEG aren't just a nod toward innovative German engineering. They represent a perfect storm; a fantasy dream team of everything design, and architecture, and efficiency should be. And is.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Foothills of Mount Fuji

As the seasons begin to change, I begin also, to turn my attentions to the next room renovation in Ultraloft. The guest bathroom will be a light, clean, and natural space inspired by the paired back Japanese aesthetic... Primarily, so that I can install a Toto washlet, and surprise guests with a high-tech toilet.

Until the buldozers and pricey porcelain arrive however, I'm evoking an eastern spirit with these wall mounted planters. Selecting fern, pine and bamboo as suitably reflective of the zen-line shrubbery likely to line the foothills of Mount Fuji, the boxes from Concoral also double up as shelves; perfect for Marks & Web mandarin salts, and metallic flames from Tom Dixon.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Calling Time on Taxidermy

Monochromatic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld famously said that "trendy is the last stage before tacky". Well, taxidermy has certainly been trendy for a while, and whatever your opinion of plywood deer heads on gastropub walls, this homage from Maison & Objet in Paris made me chuckle.

Perfectly straddling the lines between trendy and tacky, the Jean Paul Gaultier inspired mâché walrus bust is topped off with a kitch cap from the French Naval Marines [complete with obligatory red pom pom]. Mounted on an equally J.P.G. striped background, I'm not sure it'll be featuring in forthcoming artist's Barbican retrospective. That said, animal forms have an enduring and iconic place in design. So, is taxidermy dead? By definition, it always was. And it isn't going anywhere soon.

Design Downtime - The Marvel in Morocco

Don't be fooled, Design Trawling is not for the faint hearted. Sure, the relentless circling the globe in the search of meticulously crafted artifacts sounds like fun. Buckling-up in your usual seat with a copy of the weekend FT and chalice of fizz during take-off, only to louche around luxury accommodations in locations with corresponding Wallpaper* guides seems like a hoot. But it's not. Honestly.

Every armchair, every streetlamp, every window frame, doorknob and bedside alarm clock; it's all design; and it's all fair game for Design Trawler. Food critics work when they're examining towers of wild venison and polka-dots of berry jus. Film enthusiasts cast their verdict on the basis of a few hours of explosions, wide-angle shots and [if they're lucky] subtitles and moody music. But for a Design Trawler, short of confining ones self to a white room with no windows [it has been suggested], there is little respite or sanctuary. Well, there is one. It's called Amanjena.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Every Dog Has Its Day

If the battle of Trafalgar taught us anything, it's that podiums for displaying ever changing whimsical works of contemporary art are of pivotal importance to the nation. This applies in equal measure indoors, and particularly where Ultralofts are concerned [the tall, black and shiny variety are recommended]

Introducing the First Plinth! A space to precariously perch a seasonally curated selection of fine design finds from Design Trawler. Glossy and substantial podiums instantly elevate anything placed on them to artefactual superstardom and encourage a gallery-like rotation of environment. As for the honour of the first exhibit; it has to be Jeff the Balloon dog; the subject of Design Trawler's first article back in 2010.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Nose to Tail Lighting

The dilemma with taxidermy, is that some people, find the idea of mounting a zebra head on the wall a little inappropriate, no matter how marvellous it looks. Putting the entire animal on display would, of course, be fine, but not everybody has the space for a monochromatic horse in the living room.

I spotted the most remarkable solution in Paris. Using two cleverly positioned ceiling spotlights, the body of said equine appears in shadow as if by magic. A dramatic feature that'll be sure to keep your vegan friends associates happy. Pair with floor lamps by Dutch design house Mooi.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Bottega Ikea Leather Weave

I know I give Ikea a hard time when it comes to their disposable art decorations, but every now and again the purveyor of plywood picture frames comes up trumps. These woven stoage boxes, with elegant loop handle and silver stud punch way above their £10 price tag.

A nod to the signature intrecciato woven leather of Itallian couture house Bottega Veneta, the Bladis box could sit quite happily alongside Veneta's £200 pencil holders, £300 tissue boxes and £400 picture frames [or Montecristo 'A' cigars]. Ideal for storing the neatly stacked piles of cash you've just saved.

Friday, 28 February 2014

A Shovel a Day...

There are few occasions where being on the receiving end of a shovel represents an auspicious start to your day [unless you're an animal awaiting feed, or have a penchant for cinematic murders and forestry].

Putting my homicidal tendencies Japanese rice keeper to better use as a breakfast keep, this cast steel Westmark spade from the Conran Shop dispenses the perfect serving of ante meridiem feed with a satisfyingly utilitarian aesthetic. Available in a variety of sizes for every appetite.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Guggenheim Museum of Culinary Design

This morning, somewhat dreary eyed, I carried myself to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Nothing unusual there. Opening the cupboard to grab a bowl for my Cartier Crunch [again, nothing unusual], in a moment of surreal [but probably unusual] consideration, I stopped and thought to myself... 

"Why do I have a scale model of the Guggenhein Muesum where the bowls should be?"

Well, they say that the mind works best in the morning, but I think I accidentally just busted one of the greatest architects of all time. Frank Lloyd Wright clearly had a fondness for design in the mornings... and white kitchenware, which, is of course expected mandated for all great designers.

Prophecy of Pattern at Topps Boutique

As housing markets continue to heat up, as predicted, bold patterns and grand materials are now the indicators of hot property. Gone are the traditional associations of tile being little more than a functional necessity of bathrooms. What started with the 'metro tile' absolutely owning kitchen renovations post 2010 [the bubble will burst]... is graduating to both contemporary, almost 'graphically designed' pigmented designs in cement [pictured] and more subtle, purposefully mismatched mosaics like the excellent Batik and La Dolce Vita ranges from Topps Boutique.

The new format of especially curated high street stores bring the best of this brave new world of ceramics out of dusty retail park locations, and will quite probably ruin your plans for anything hardwood, glass splashbacked, or "white and as cheap as possible" for the visitors loo. Thankfully.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Edison was not a Hipster

Edison style filament bulbs have been big business in Hoxton coffee shops, vintage boutiques and retro gastro pubs for a while now. While they draw attention to the design of the light source, unlike the very contemporary Plumen bulb the Edison bulb struggles to find a home in more refined environments.

Until now. New York based furniture and lighting designer Sergio Orozco has created a smart wall fitting that, rather than making the Edison bulb a retro pastiche, takes advantage of it's warm hues and recognisable design. The bevelled chrome 'halo' frames the bulb and creates a theatrical statement for hallways... and your IMAX Private Theatre.

Contemporary Classicism in Paris

Next up on the Ultraloft Inspiration tour is the home of couture fashion, classical architecture and a nonchalant design dialogue that's as elegant as the residents of it's perfectly planned streets. Paris.

With the Ritz being closed for renovations and not wanting to stray far from the eponymous Place Vendôme, Design Trawler checked in to the Royal Suite at the Westin Paris. Recently refreshed by Sybille de Margerie [who also worked on the Mandarin Oriental and the Louvre Hotel], the suite defines contemporary classicism. Rotating the formal seating area through 45 degrees and the palette of contemporary taupe, plum and geometric metalics gives the living room a 'modern luxe' timelessness.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Design Diet

If you're not on a diet of Indonesian berries harvested under a full moon by civet cats, then you're probably subjecting your black Hyundaicard to eyewatering personal training fees this new year. Ever the pragmatist, Design Trawler offers up a diet that is sure to get your mind and body in shape.

For just over a thousand coins [no, not penny variety] this WaterRower in black American Walnut from the Conran Shop is all you need... well, apart from the optional laptop stand, said laptop and some Porsche Design apparel. With it's smooth-as-silk operation, circular water drum and satisfying 'splash' with every stroke; when the design is right, working out becomes a delight not a chore.

Whoever said you can't check Bloomberg or take that important video conference whilst pretending to be on the Thames in your navy blues?

Triple Glazed Provocation

Sometimes you see something that needs a second take. Other times, the impact of a first impression blows away the need for even a second glance. That's the effect of graphic artist Patrick Thomas's brilliant target prints. Thomas screenprints a fluro heart over discarded Braundruck shooting range targets - playfully, poignantly, and perhaps alarmingly, marrying the two iconic forms together.

Using a canvas that has been pierced by a bullet creates a work that is violent and thought provoking. Framing it required equal levels of consideration. Mounting the print between two sheets of glass allows it to float; fragile, it's captured and suspended in time and space. A third pane of glazing with a mount and gunmetal frame completes the metaphor.

Introducing Ultraloft

If you don't like something; you can either stay well back and find something you do like, or stick around and be part of the solution. Well, it seems unlikely that newbuild developers and buy-to-let speculators are going to disappear anytime soon. Fifty shades of trade matt white, laminate oak and halogen spots remain de rigueur and, that's just not on. Something needs to be done. Well, something other than lambasting offending developers at prestigious award ceremonies.

Introducing Ultraloft by Design Trawler. With the Man Cave sold [to a delightful young lady as it would turn out], and despite my severe allergy to newbuilds, the latest chapter of design transformation enlightenment begins today. Taking on a generic London newbuild [pictured], Design Trawler will, over the course of the coming months, document its rise from magnolia mediocrity to design super-stardom.

Sourcing the very best in design and design thinking from Sweden to Seoul, being part of the solution is the objective. With more space will come some great new furniture, technology, art and innovative materials. From old friends such as the penny floor, to long held design desires [secret door in a bookcase anyone?], think of it as Design Trawler 2.0 - Because newbuild is no excuse!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Contemporary Arabesque in 2014

It's a new year, which can only mean new trends, new textures, and new tastes. Dishing up the veritable feast of design in 2014, Design Trawler puts forward the prediction of what's going to be shaping the popular discerning aesthetic this year.

Last year the chips were stacked on deep textures, reflective fabrics, and warmer metals such as copper and brass. This looks set to continue [ex. copper], but as the world grows achingly bored of recession-induced restraint, materials and design are going to become richer and more confident.

Pattern will be at the forefront and the Middle East is showing increasing signs of maturity in this space. Contemporary geometrics in warm silvers and golds [like the pictured lattice doors at I. M. Pei's breathtaking Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar] sit beautifully against the vanguard of old money materials such as marble and lacquer. Similarly, 3D printing will drive a thirst for this intricate detail, but in a more organic form long championed by Zaha Hadid and Karim Rashid.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Design Hurricane - Toronto's William Ashley

Trawling recently in Toronto, I stumbled across deluxe design store William Ashley. Spotting a quirky hurricane lamp in the unassuming window, the pictured flame holder features a carved acacia-wood base and domed glass shade reminiscent of a mushroom-cup [I'll take two of those please].

And it's perhaps pertinent that the hurricane lamp was on display up front, as William Ashley is an inexplicable and never ending cave of delights that needs to be explored. Baccarat crystal in every shape and size, mind blowing Brazilian chrome barware from Riva, and $20,000 candelabras.

Alongside fine personalised stationary from Crane & Co. sits Lalique, Kate Spade and Alessi. It's the sort of store worthy of being delivered with a big bow; as the complete gift registry for the next Royal wedding.
Newer Posts Older Posts