Such a lovely little mention in this months Elle Decoration. Alongside some greats such as Elliott Denny, who I've never met but is the talented partner of Alex Simpson. Alex is showing this autumn at the Ceramics Biennial in Stoke-on-Trent. As is Hilda Nilsson, who I will be lucky enough to tag along with as my guide in October. I'm honoured to be mentioned amongst such greats! Thanks Elle! (lovely journalist Charlotte).
I jetted off to my second home of Copenhagen to see the design master thesis exhibition at KADK. I was most excited to see Hilda Nilssons work. Her work constantly straddles craft and concept, she has patience when it comes to making and produces beauty. In her current work she is exploring the possibilities of 3D printed ceramics. She combines different ceramic techniques and various materials to product collections that make me salivate. Another ceramic graduate Tina Austin has pushed different ceramic materials to the edge and created a series of sculptures good enough to eat. Her work is an example of the scope and endless possibilities of ceramics, it makes me excited to experiment. Robynn Storgaard produced a range of usable ceramics that emphasise a slow aesthetic with soft mutated tones. There were some beautiful textile works on show. Ragnhild Hjalmarsdóttir Højgaard has used untreated natural sheep wools, these natural colours are so muted and powerful. An organic and friendly series of works that should adorn every home. It highlighted how beauty can be found and enhanced naturally and organically. Lea Katrine Kargaard's more vibrant abstract rugs were a sharp juxtaposition to Ragnhild, but just as yummy. I of course visited paper island and the street food market always great food and cocktails. These cocktails lead to power posing all over the city. I didn't manage to make it into the new Copenhagen Contemporary but I did leave a wish on Yoko Ono's wish trees outside (shhh I wished for a second cocktail). I also revisited the Gardens at Landbohøjskolens Have, perfect for sun, coffee, cake and gossip.
Installed by 'foxy tiling' this bathroom was shaping up to be something rather sexy indeed. The tiles had been laid out on the studio floor in the pattern in which they would adorn the walls. Fading from green through yellow and orange to red, over 20 glazes were used to achieve this. The tiles were made to fit the height of the room perfectly, giving an even repetition. Blue wasn't used, at all, as the clients have another bathroom that is blue. This means the bathroom looks less rainbow like and more Brazilian. 90° tiles were made to continue the pattern around the corner without needing to cut the tiles. This means the the pattern glazes are seamless. Foxy tiling also commented that the corner tiles made alignment and installing much easier and faster as these tiles could be used to work off horizontally. A dark grey grout was used to highlight the colour of the tiles. The grout lines emphasis the pattern and give each tile a dark framing.
A mid week break in Amsterdam was all I needed to clear my head. At first I was thinking 'phffff' Amsterdam is no Copenhagen! Christianshavn in Copenhagen was built by King Christian IV in the 17th Century, based on Amsterdam, perhaps because of this Amsterdam felt familiar. After a few Hours and realising that I was indeed in a different city and stopped comparing everything to Copenhagen I began to fall in Love with Amsterdam.
I left the hotel early to head to the Anne Frank Museum as queues get very long. However I was distracted as I past the Bloemenmarkt so many beautiful tulips, I brought way to many, mainly for myself - oopsie. I then stumbled along Raadhuisstraat and The Pelican Studio a simple outfitting store full of luxury European brands. Along the street a new Bolia Store had opened, if I could I would have moved in straight away, kicked off my shoes and eaten ice cream on the sofa. One of the back rooms had original wooden panelling above Victorian tiles. Another room and the toilets are kitted out in House of Holland palm wallpaper and millennial pink tiles. Both these rooms highlighted the modern furniture and accessories for sale. I had lunch in the Modern atrium at RijksMuseum, with an American family, who were probably bored of each other, so started talking to me. This museum is HUGE and you could spend all day here. I focussed on the Ceramics and Rembrandt's paintings. The building was designed by Pierre Cuypers and under went a 10 year refurbishment which opened in 2013. A bit of a maze, but the Great Hall has beautifully refurbished frescos, the Library is also stunningly maintained. In the afternoon I saturated myself in culture at the Stedelijk Museum. A strong collection of De Stijl artefacts, including a variety of models by Gerrit Rietveld. I was desperate for a coffee and got not only for fix I needed but also perhaps the best coffee of my lift in the well designed and comfortable BOCCA. I easily spent an hour hanging out there, drinking and reading. For dinner we walked out to Bar Botanique where cocktails and pizza were enjoyed among flamingo's, palms and 1950's furniture. The interior was designed by Studio Modijefsky who clad the bar in concrete tiles and hung geomantic ceiling mirrors.
On an unconventional Holiday to Siderópolis, Santa Catarina to visit family, I managed to visit a wealth of different factories. Siderópolis is traditionally a mining town and doesn't get a lot of foreign visitors. However the industrial 'tourist attractions' were amazing, space is abundant and driving through the jungle and plains we stumbled across a variety of production manufacturers. My favourite was the Giseli tile factory, it takes me 3 weeks to hand make a tile however here they take raw clay materials and turn them into a tile in less then 4 hours, including two firings! Clay powder is processed and hydraulic power is used to create a variety of different tiles, shapes sizes and reliefs. We also visited a concrete brick factory, which Im not sure you could call a factory as it was an open sided barn in a jungle clearing. Here three men, and a couple of dogs, use hydraulic pressure to produce 1,200 breeze blocks a day. The new mayor was building a house for his daughter so we were invited to see different construction techniques. Brazil uses a huge amount of concrete paired with hollow ceramic bricks. Most buildings and walls are formed from poured and shuttered concrete. Reincforced with steal, the hollow bricks are laid to form a basic structure for floors that is then covered in concrete.
This is my first permeant architectural project. It was a joy to work on. The clients Jonny and Rachel extended their London ground floor flat into the garden to make one large open living space. Working with architects NimTim the whole flat was given a new lease of life, maintaining the Victorian luxurious room dimensions while adding numerous large modern windows to the new rear facade.
These Windows flooded the living space with light and provided a visual connection to the garden. Through out the flat built in cupboards have allowed minimalist living to function through containing the unaesthetic aspects of life. Jonny and Rachel wanted the house to show off their best features. Their love of art, books, science and worldly collected treasures. These aspect are showcased in their flat and what makes it a home.
I feel that these collected items create a story around us and immerse us in comfort. The kitchen tiles created are the ultimate extension of Jonny and Rachel's tastes, providing a bespoke feature and colour injection. Through design discussions, glaze development and a few coffees together we developed a tile pattern that would bring the garden into the kitchen. Or perhaps extending the kitchen into the garden. Rachel loves bright yellow (as seen on the windows) and Khaki (as seen in her wardrobe). Creating a spectrum of glaze colours that keeps the tiles undulating, changing, never static between yellow and khaki.
The shape of the tiles is interpreted by house visitors differently from bamboo to bird flocks created in the dark grout. A distinct yet simple geometric pattern was formed to provide a bold grout frame for the colours to sit within.
This weekend I was host to two lovely English friends, Rosie and James! Rosie has been before at Christmas but it was classically Danish weather, dark, cold, windy and raining most of the time. I anted to show them the sites, what is it like to live here and also some good bars! So firstly we had to get them bikes! As its danish holiday the only place we could find to rent a bike nearby was velorbis, Norreport, the bikes were like arm chairs and it was really easy!
First things first cycle to get some culture. The cisterns opposite Frederiksberg Palace were built in 1856 as water storage for the city. In 1996 the space was excavated and designated an exhibition space. Currently there is a temporary installation by Ingvar Cronhammer and Martin Hall, I had been told that the exhibition should be amazing but I didn't know anything about it. Im going to say the same here - just go! It was cool, refreshing and mediative. It would be a great intermediate space before taking part in an event or seeing a production. Rosie did feel that we were about to take part in a pagan sacrifice, but I did not feel an emotion quite that dark, maybe we should be worried about Rosie?
That evening we ate what can only be described as a 'slap up meal' at my house before putting on bike lights and finding a little festival my friends were holding. At dinner we played the margrethe bowl game. Which is basically the danish homemade version of 'who's in the bag' it is so much fun and can be played by all ages and at all stages of intoxication! 1st round - describe the name on the piece of paper. 2nd round - use one word to describe the person. 3rd round - charades, act out the person. Mrs. Doubtfire was a hilarious round! James was shocked as we cycled home in the danish early summer dawn.
I might be an addict or it could be because Laura's just is great value for money and does the best cinnamon buns in Copenhagen. My guests alway get dragged to Laura's for brunch, which none ever finishes as it is huge and for 90kr you also get a coffee and cinnamon bun thrown in! Once your full, Blågårdsgade is lovely to wonder around or walk down to the lakes to remedy the excessive eating that just took place. Any leftovers you could take with you to the lakes to feed some angry swans or cute ducks (even through I hear frozen peas are better for their diets, thanks QI).
With Copenhagen being a small city day cycle tour can mean you take in all the sites! Parking your bikes by SMK means you can go to the Geology museum (a personal favourite), the botanical gardens and Konges Havn. Every summer the Danish Architects Association runs a competition for a wooden pavilion in Konges Havn, this years 'OMKRING' looks great in photos and it fun to play around in with friends doing 'mock shoots'. From here its around the little mermaid and Kasellet looping past Amalienborg and the Marble Church to Nyhavn for a quick selfie amounts all the other tourists. For our next meal we headed to street food where Rosie and James dined on classic danish hot dogs and we debated what branding was behind 'original British pancakes'. The argument being pancakes are American and crepes are French we brits might love both but if you want to be British its gotta be a scone or crumpet, sorry!
In the evening we went for cocktails at Lidkoeb. Hidden behind cortex on Vesterbrogard, it is sometimes hard to find but well worth walking up a dark ally for. It is a very danish hyggeligt atmosphere inside with three floors and cosy booths to settle into. The building used to be a pharmacists and I do think that as a cocktail bar they could have played on this history more in the interior design - a few subtle hints to distilling and concocting. Instead the interior is stylish with a slightly masculine feel which is reiterated through the bartenders wearing full length leather aprons, that felt slightly like they belong in a butchery.
A day spent in brussels. The city is small and easily walked around in a day, obviously more time would be beneficial! I started the day with what I can only describe as a 'delightfully mundane' breakfast. A small cafe run by an older couple 'chez laurent' (Place du Châtelain)was quiet with background jazz. Breakfast was basic yet perfect fresh juice, coffee, croissant along with an egg and selection of bread all for 6.50euros.
My first shopping port was the second hand shop 'Les Petits Riens' (Rue Américaine) here was a three storey building filled with everything you could ever want! Some rubbish of course but some great finds! I brought an abstract colourful skirt for the bargain price of 3euros! Rue Américaine is great for eating and drinking and I wish I had more time to take in some wine…. maybe next time.
'Cheep' was my sound shopping port of call, this little boutique had a great selection ranging from vila to american vintage. The shop fit was simple but bang on trend with a lightbox ceiling, 1950 teak furniture and sympathetic shelving and rails. A perfectly curated little shop, which I couldn't afford to spend more time in, but I will be sure to go back when my wallet is healthier! It is on Parvis de la Trinité which has lots of other little boutiques and small shops well worth a visit as does near by Rue du Bailli.
Next shopping destination was Place de Jeu de Balle which has an eclectic flea market till 3pm. Around this area there are also treasure trove antique shops that seem to go on and on pilled high with luxury and random artefacts. One of the most ext ordinary was Passage 125 (rue blades), it was such an aladins cave and well worth an explore.
For lunch I went to Le Pain Quotidien (Rue des Sablons) which I felt guilty about as it is a chain and I should have really tried a more belgian option. However my friend eased my mind by informing me that it is a belgian chain, started in Brussels over 100 years ago, which made me enjoy my pea and courgette Gazpacho much more!
Now that I had well and truly covered shopping I turned to culture! I didn't make it to the Horta museum which I'm told is a must and I will make sure I do this next time. I did make it to the fabulous Wile's museum this new gallery is housed in an old brewery. The entrance is so impressive with black and turquoise tiles clashing with the copper vats, here scrumptious cakes and coffee should be consumed. The upper levels are the galleries with rough cast concrete walls painted white and long windows that fill the walls the space has been perfectly converted into an inspiring and interesting museum. Two great small ceramic galleries that are worth a mention and a visit are Puls and Pierre Marie Giraud. Both these galleries show contemporary international ceramics (maybe me one day!) and I felt at home Puls housing an exhibition of work from Turi Heisselberg Pedersen who was my MA examiner. Where as Giraud shows the work of Bente Skjottgaard who was a tutor on my course, a familiar danish vibe in Brussels!
So Brussels it was short but sweet and I will be back for food and wine!