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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Divinity in the Detail

The first of a series of inspiration gathering grand voyages, Design Trawler visits the home of classical design, Italy to see how the grand palazzos measure up, and how the design dialogue of Europe's best suites stays relevant today. The Presidential Suite in Milan's Westin Palace is one of the cities largest and eschews contemporary couture for a timeless grandeur, with an almost wabi-sabi contentedness.

While the Armani may have polished concrete floors and leather walls [superb in the correct setting], the unadulterated intensity of detailing in the carved and often gilded cornices and panelling are masterful. Transplanting them in to a London newbuild would be inappropriate but the attention to design in every corner, and on every surface from top to bottom sets the benchmark [the 150sqm private terrace overlooked by none of the Westin's 12 floors being another great feature for the occasional festicciola too]

Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Baccarat Ratio

If the number of different types of drinking glasses [red wines, white wines, cocktails etc.] in a home is an indicator of ones maturity in life, then the proportion of those that are crystal is a measure of ones success in life. [The measure of how many are Baccarat is an indicator of how many homes one probably has]

Crystal is a beautiful thing. It's weight and transparency diametrically opposed make it a pleasure to drink from. However with Ultraloft at full capacity in matters crystal receptacle related, crystal ornamentation is the logical next rung on the ladder. These iconic chess piece candle holders from the Bay are a beauty; perfectly balancing point-turned detail with angular cuts and corners.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Dish Elopes with Spoon... Knife, and Fork

The dish ran away with the spoon. You'll recognise the plot from a popular children's nursery rhyme. As with many a child's fable however, there is a far deeper subtext to the story. The rhyme was actually written about the pictured cutlery by Italian manufacturer Pinti. 

So staggeringly beautiful was the range, that Pinti's employees would leave their families and spend days months admiring the refined profiles in polished steel, bevelled wooden trims and sculptural lines. [Design Trawler reserves the right to fabricate stories for dramatic effect]

Be under no illusion however, these are the most staggeringly beautiful utensils; suitable only for the strongest willed design cognoscenti. I'm forever indebted to the family member that gifted them to me.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Megalomaniac Six

Everyone needs an entourage. Those characters forming the foundation of your circle; eminently loyal, and guaranteed to be the source of good times. Each character will have a unique identity and role to play. The funny one, the attractive one, the smart one, and the one that's a bit random but fits right in.

Visiting John Howard's brilliantly named Megalomiac winery, I picked up six friends for Ultraloft's cellar. From the SonOfaBitch Pinot Noir, to the Coldhearted Riesling, Bravado Cabernet Sauvignon and Pompous VQA - with an entourage like this back at the loft, good times are all but guaranteed. Order Here.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Relentless Pursuit of Acquisition

A recent invitation to the Mayfair antiques gallery Mallett was both refreshing and profound. One of England's oldest antique dealers, Mallett in 2007 sold their Bourdon House gallery to Alfred Dunhill and moved to Dover Street. Unlike so many other galleries and retailers where a price tag is never to be seen; the adage 'if you have to ask the price you can't afford it' being de rigueur and horribly bourgeois in this day and age; everything at Mallet has a description and a price tag. How refreshing!

Spotting an elongated fork, and believing it to be some kind of delightfully smart executive back scratcher, the accompanying tag informed me that the antique toasting fork was silver, and could be mine for £9,000. Fast forward to the pictured glass chaise; clearly more expensive than a luxury marshmallow holder; correct; approximately ten times more expensive at £90,000.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Commissions for my Yacht

Three years ago in Rio, I was mysteriously compelled to buy a mammoth two meter mixed-media canvas and transport it the near 6,000 miles back to London. Two years later, in moving to Ultraloft, I finally had the space to display the modernist beauty in the dining room.

Only on taking delivery of this rather smart Americas Cup IACC race yacht, did I notice the striking resemblance. Like a Mondrian portrait of Prada's Luna Rossa, it's remarkable how the hues and balance are almost identical between sailboat and canvas. I've never commissioned artwork for the home, but it appears I've skipped a step, and have instead been retrospectively commissioning art for my yacht!

I wonder if my love of neon signs means I should pick up a Las Vegas casino or two...

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Ambient Floods from Above

If for a moment, you gloss over the delectable solid steel Andrew Martin cargo book cabinet, and effortlessly overlook the Polish laser-cut typography found in Ultraloft's study, you may notice some stadium-worthy interior floodlights [remote controlled and dimmable, naturally, by bluetooth app]

Convened by Made.com as a floor light, and despite having a particularly refined flooring with which to illuminate, my thoughts instead turned to the heavens. By resting the row of five filaments on the full height cabinet and using the ceiling as a reflector, the floodlight becomes an uplight and produces a warm aura that's both functional and diffused [Batman silhouettes optional]

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Artful Resolutions for 2015

Go Forward. That's the title of the print that's now up on the wall in Ultraloft. An ink on paper edition by Tracy Emin that's simple and pastoral. No neon handwriting, no subtext. An unmade bed, it is not.

If I did New Year's resolutions, this would probably be it. Go Forward. Continue to do what you've been doing well. No rules, or alterations required. Go Forward. Quietly, confidently, with taste and unquestionable quality. Double framed white on silver, with two mounts, on a Quink ink blue board.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Louboutin of Dustbins - Delights Absolutely

John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, the 1st Baron Acton is largely known for his famous saying "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." That may well be, but times have changed since the 1887 remark and Design Trawler isn't particularly fussed about lobbying Rome against papal infallibility. I'd like to think that if old man Acton was around today he'd be a fan of Design Trawler and instead comment "Design tends to delight, and absolute design delights absolutely".

In this respect, nothing in the Ultraloft can escape design and my insatiable desire to be delighted by everything that crosses its threshold. Absolute Design. This kitchen bin is proof that even the most mundane object can delight, and Frédéric Périgot in creating the Frisbee bin for Rossignol does just so. The Louboutin of dustbins; it features a perfect metal/epoxy finish in cement grey and contrasting removable inner in the brightest Jaffa orange. Get yours from Conran.

Bang & Olufsen - Design that Moves

This week, Design Trawler was invited to the launch of the new Beovision Avant television by Danish purveyor of desperately debonair technology Bang & Olufsen. I've previously discussed the intrinsic lack of design when it comes to televisions; after all, a flat [or even curved] panel of glass is designed to display digital design; content. Not since the Eames inspired Hannslounge have I seen a TV that's anything to write home about from a design perspective.

Until the Beovision Avant. The Bang & Olufsen designers realise that mechanical movement is a critical design factor that is set to define luxury in the digital age. The Avant features a mortised circular base and mortised mounting arm that independently turn through 180 degrees on command.

Switch it on via the remote [milled from a single price of aluminium] and the television will rotate forward to attention. Recline in your Wassily chair with a Glencairn tumbler of Blue, and the Avant will rotate to face you; adjusting the surround sound accordingly. Eat breakfast on the other side of the room and, again, the Avant will pirouette in an orbital dance to bring you Bloomberg with your benedicts...

Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Organic Alarm Clock

One year ago, Design Trawler brought you the hugely successful Design Diet [#1 - Buy an attractive rowing machine, #2 - Buy an attractive frying pan, #3 - Buy some attractive groceries]. You're welcome. But being fit as a fiddle, still won't solve the age old problem of getting out of bed in the mornings to row, cook and consume all those well designed trappings of your picture postcard life.

Fear not! For Design Trawler has the solution! For the price of ten fine, Meganesian sheepskins, expertly dyed, and stitched together by the chaps at Auskin, you can strategically position the pictured king of floor coverings alongside your sleeping platform of choice.

The unshorn long wool is scientifically proven to be the only material known to man that's more cosy than a warm bed on a cold Monday morning. Bare feel are guaranteed to be drawn to it the moment the alarm goes off. Just don't sleep on it, or you'll be sucked in to it's lustrous pile, never to emerge again.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Design Trawler's Kitchen Rider

Van Halen famously requested a bowl of M&M's with all the brown ones removed. Axl Rose had a thing for cubic melons, while Lady Gaga once insisted her dressing room feature Union Flag bunting, Pimm's, and fish & chips. The 'rider', is the list of demands presented to a venue by an artist before a performance.

Design Trawler's kitchen performances are known to rival anything that Lady Gaga can offer, and the 'kitchen rider' should be a staple for any chef exécutif. That is, the list of demands required for culinary performances. Presented in Ultraloft on an acacia wood board; simple tools and seasonings that underpin all dishes performances. Cole & Mason Seville grinders, a black marble pestle and mortar, smoked garlic, and Barbera's exquisite Lorenzo D.O.P Sicilian olive oil. Cubic melon optional.

Friday, 12 June 2015

The Design Diet - Part II

Following up on previous features on how good design can help you stay in shape [Step 1: buy a Waterrower in black American walnut] Design Trawler is back with more advice for a design led healthy lifestyle. This time, the focus shifts to the kitchen, and to this, quite frankly, pornographic, frying pan designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for KnIndustrie.

This frying pan is the most healthy frying pan in the world. Buy this frying pan and lose all appetite, for all foods, that could possibly warrant using it. To paraphrase the Rules for Living "It is better to focus on the pure joy of being close to high design than to [eat anything that involves *actually* cooking]"

Monday, 8 June 2015

The Wine Room at Ultraloft

Ultraloft, LONDON [2015] - Design Trawler is today pleased to announce the successful completion of 'Phase B' of the Private Wine Room project at Robert's Bar.

Doubling existing capacity from 130, to 260 bottles of cellar storage; spanning six digitally temperature and humidity controlled zones. The Private Wine Room at Robert's Bar will be Ultraloft's premier wine storage tasting drinking facility. 'Phase C' of development will see custom cabinetry adjoin the North and South sections with glazed storage for excessive and extravagant fleets of Riedel crystal stemware. [Ends]

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Playful, Bold & Considerate at Heart

Almost one year after taking on Ultraloft, the first room renovation is complete. Starting with the heart of the home, Design Trawler's kitchen scheme takes inspiration from Clive Christian, the Southern Med and the open restaurant kitchen for a look that's warm, sharp and packed with character.

Minimalist it may not be, but if the kitchen is the heart of the home, far better that heart to be playful, bold and considerate, than generic, sterile and plain. Read on for the what and why for each element...

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Pinstripe Blankets for Blokes

In 2010 Design Trawler introduced the concept of the 'man cushion' and now, as the leaves begin to fall and temperatures drop, it's time to introduce a whole new category of masculine soft accessories! [well, apart from Iberian wolfskin throws and also those of the reindeer variety favoured by President Obama]

Continuing the theme of sartorial tailoring in the home is the pictured wool and cashmere pinstripe throw by Joop! Made in Italy, it perfectly sits alongside the suitably herringbone and crew cousins of that very first blokey bolster. Design Trawler advises against wearing it in to the office as some kind of dapper man-pashmina. The world probably isn't quite ready for that.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Love in the IKEA Carpark

It could only happen in the Ikea car park. On a quick trip to said purveyor of quality meatballs and mock-intrecciato placemats, Design Trawler's classic Saab 900 coupe made a new friend. Of all the car parks in all of the world, it had to be at Ikea! I came back to the valet station [vintage Saab's need hand valeting, obviously] to find this incredible 1978 precursor parked-up next door.

The chances of pulling up alongside a classic Swedish design icon are about as likely as finding a complete set of screws with your BESTÅ bookcase. Only 17 of Design Trawler's 1987 coupe remain on the roads, and even fewer for it's elder brother. Comparing the design side-by-side is a real treat, and it's easy to follow the evolution of one model to the next. Here's to you TWT 134L!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Planes, Yachts and Italian Scooters

I often debate with myself 'when I'm not in Ultraloft, where do I feel most at home?'. While on some days, I seem to live on the London Underground [yes, even Design Trawler commutes], there is something about a life in transit that's alluring.

As any frequent flier will tell you, the glorious feeling of being in the skies without a care, phone signal, or limit to the finely balanced bubbles that merrily dance through your eleventh glass of Krug is a contender for the prefect home away from home. So too is life on a yacht; like the aircraft; yet with more room to roam, more architectural curves, teak, chrome, azure oceans and freshly caught seafood to accompany the Dame Clicquot's finest. Or what about Italy? Grand palazzos, Italian design at it's finest, Portofino, pasta and prosecco. It's a tough decision for Design Trawler.

Imagine my surprise therefore, when I discovered a hotel that caters to this very niche home-from-home demand; part aircraft, part yacht, part Italian villaggio... it's even part tube carriage too!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Year of the 羊 Yang

Design Trawler would like to wish readers a Happy Chinese New Year in this, the year of... [if the picture hasn't given you a clue already], the Sheep... or Goat, or Ram, depending on how you interpret your Chinese lunar symbols and abstract yet playful wire sculptures.

While the yang might be one of the least desirable zodiac symbols, old wooly has a long and celebrated design history. From the iconic $7.5m Lalanne sheep owned by Valentino and Yves Saint Lauren [here's a tip, buy yours for £199 from Not on the High St], to the Prince Charles backed Campaign for Wool, and recently championed Auskin rug of legends. May your year be prosperous and filled with fleece.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

How to Steal a Kandinsky

Not satisfied with pinching Damien Hirsts from Mayfair couturiers, Design Trawler's next great art heist sets the bar a little higher. How about a grand master? Something like a Kandinsky; grand master indeed of modernism; having taught at the Bauhaus and being credited as of of the world's first abstract painters. A learned economist and lawyer, I'm sure old boy Wassily would appreciate this heist. So let's begin...

Monday, 9 February 2015

An Attractive Portfolio

Regular readers of Design Trawler will know I have a fondness for the blurry world of art and enterprise. Where does the line between attractive folly and attractive investment sit? Does it exist at all? Well, that won't be answered here, but nonetheless, take a look at these attractive enterprise-themed follies...

My collection of antique stock certificates culminated last month with the arrival of a beautiful slice of the Société Anonyme André Citroën; or rather a share certificate from the ubiquitous French car maker responsible for gems like the DS. Dated 1927, it sits alongside an attractive portfolio from the era; ranging from real estate investments in the Cote d'Azue and Biarritz, to L'Autodrome automotive raceway, the Stadium de Paris, and Union Diamantifère diamond company. Art and enterprise in perfect alignment.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Petrus, Thunderstorms and Pipe Tobacco

Call me a kleptomaniac, but I can never quite bring myself to leave a cork [correctly presented to diners by a smart sommelier] on the dining table after I leave a restaurant. Likewise, even when I open up the cellars of Ultraloft for a splash of Petrus on a Tuesday evening, the noble cork will be salvaged.

From restaurant table to pocket, or from home cellar to hand, corks of all designs and pedigrees invariably end up in vases or crystal platters scattered around Ultraloft. Who needs dried flowers smelling of moon harvested orchids and Indonesian ylang ylang when you can apply a fine mist of 'Thunderstorm' or 'Pipe Tobacco' from Demeter to said bottle-stoppers? This is home fragrance done right.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Objet d' Bubble Wrap

Everyone loves bubble-wrap. Design Trawler in particular, loves bubble-wrap. Not only is it a signal for the imminent arrival of a new and exquisite objet; meticulously crafted from unbelievably rare and fine materials [Han Dynasty warrior heads, 3D printed forms of unimaginable detail type stuff]... but, also it has an opiate 'popability' that, alongside raising a paddle at Phillips, is the human equivalent to catnip.

It was in the atelier of the masters of glass where I picked up this platter by Rony Plesl for BOMMA. Cast using a specialist moulding technique, the server suspends in time the playful form of those joyous little pillows. It's brilliant simplicity is both iconic and poetic; infinitely fragile and yet reassuringly permanent.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Why I Listed My Home on AirBNB

"Are you crazy?!", "YOUR apartment?", "Aren't you worried?", These are the typical reactions I've had when I mention that I listed Ultraloft on the vacation rentals website AirBNB. Or to be more accurate, the study which has a generous sofabed, reclaimed neon signs and a digital shark. And to be fair, I was asking myself the same questions after I hit the 'list your space' button... But I'm pleased that I did.

The reason I listed Ultraloft on AirBNB was born somewhat out of my recent visit to the Grand Apartment Budapest; a living tribute to a pair of amazing jetset octogenarians, and part challenge to myself. AirBNB takes care of the damages threat, providing $1m of cover for all hosts, I'd only be offering up the spare room; mostly to single travellers; mostly when I'm in the country; and in the apartment, and quite frankly I have a lot of cool stuff that others might want to see [that, or they just need somewhere to stay for the night that has an ounce more character than a Travelodge]...

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