I thought I'd do a little round up of things I've found that are interesting or that I like at the moment, it's been a while between these sorts of posts, and I always find them fun.

 via Veranda magazine

Firstly, to China. Long time readers will remember a few of my early posts were on the subject of fine China, of which I have none. This is not because I don't like it, or have a need for it (I would use it fairly often, I don't believe in saving things for best, and would happily pull it out for a family dinner). My problem relates more to commitment issues. I suppose as tastes evolve, so do tastes in china - no where is this more evident than local estate Auction rooms, which are full of 60's and 70's barely used sets of Royal Doulton etc.























Now ideally, I'd love a set of Flora Danica, but it's ruinously expensive, along with very formal, so putting that aside the next best options for me are ones that can work in a reasonably casual setting, or be dressed up. That way you won't only pull it out when you're doing some sort of semblance of silver service. One account I follow on Instagram is the Laboratorio Paravicini account. They're based in Milan, and hand paint plates in beautiful and unique designs. I was clicking around on the Julia B (beautiful linen, another weakness of mine) website, and happened across a tabletop tab, which includes the most beautiful plates, as well as linens, glasses and cutlery, all newly launched. Interestingly I noted that they've been commissioned from the aforementioned Laboratorio Paravicini and are made to order. I love the way they're interesting, decorative, but not overly formal in presentation (no gold, a looser pattern).





Coincidentally I was then reading the latest Veranda magazine over the weekend, and saw an article on the launch of the collection, which made for interesting reading - the family house that Julia B spent childhoods at near San Francisco is Italian in style (the garden is pictured above), which explains the quite Italian style collaboration. Unfortunately, the plates, while not Flora Danica in pricing, are still fairly expensive (US $750 for 4, more if you want them monogramed with your initial), so I can't say I'll be rushing to commission a 12 person set just yet.... the hunt continues.

Romy's Airbnb apartment in Hobart

On to wallpapers. This is one of my favourite topics, and wallpaper has had a massive resurgence in recent years. I feel like every week there's another collection being launched, and it is pretty hard to keep up with all the manufacturers now - with the advent of digital printing, and the flipside interest in traditional block printing, there are a lot of niche producers now. While I'm not overly fond of the feature wall (despite having a large one in my house!) the scenic feature wallpaper can work really well where you have a large, blank, boring wall to fill, and mostly this is very expensive, produced by the likes of De Gournay, Zuber and Gracie.



If you don't have the money for a scenic wallpaper, or for decent art, then this could be the solution for you. Andrew Martin in London were the producers of my own library book feature wall, and always have good solutions such as blue and white plates on the walls (pictured above is one of my friend Romy's Airbnb apartments in Hobart with the Cargo wallpaper used in the entrance), panelling, stamps... and now a collaboration with the National Gallery (London) whereby you choose any of the paintings in their collection, provide your measurements, and they'll print it onto wallpaper and ship it to you.





Here in Australia you'd have to do this through a decorator, as their wallpaper here is to the trade, but I thought this was such a fantastic solution for some potentially awkward rooms and certainly would give bang for your buck without resorting to faux art.


Books - I've read a lot over the long Summer holidays, partly because my family and friends know a safe bet is a coffee table book, so I tend to be given many of the new crop for gifts for my Birthday and Christmas. One that I've loved has been "Life at the Top", about the grand apartment buildings of New York. These apartments were built for the very wealthy, and still are inhabited by the very wealthy. Each chapter is devoted to a landmark apartment building, with information on who designed it, who lived in it then and now, and, best of all, a floor plan of a typical apartment in the building, and a featured apartment usually decorated recently by a big name designer.



I can't tell you how much I've loved looking at the floor plans! Many have multiple living areas, designed enfilade style where one room opens into another to allow for entertaining on a grand scale, as well as more intimate room scales. Many have say, 4 bedrooms with ensuites, but 7 separate maids rooms (these are historical floor plans, I'd say those that still have live in maids wouldn't have quite that number anymore). They again make me bemoan the apartments that are built here in Australia - designed for sales to Investors that won't live in them, with low ceilings, no storage, and a single open plan living room/ kitchen with walls of glass (no where to hang art, put furniture up against, no where to escape your partner entertaining their friends aside from a bedroom). They're not apartments to live in. I'd dearly love to design a decent apartment building here - there are a few good ones in Melbourne and Sydney, but really the best apartments in Australia were built in the 1920's, and we haven't seen anything like them since.


Moving on, I've been meaning to blog about this book for a while "The Princess's Garden", about the Princess of Wales who was a driving force to found Kew Gardens in London. This particular Princess of Wales never became Queen, as her husband, the Prince of Wales (Prince Frederick) died before ascending the throne, his younger brother then becoming King George 3rd (the mad King). She has been written out of history in a way, as she was deeply unpopular, but had an interest in Landscape design and botany, and one thing that I have found so interesting in this book was the concept of landscape as Political Propaganda. At that stage in England, the Whigs and the Tories were the two political parties, with the Tories representing absolute Monarchy, and favouring the Stuart dynasty (the pretenders to the throne, such as Bonnie Prince Charlie who were supported by the French), and Catholicism, and the Whigs believing in Constitutional Monarchy, the independence of Great Britain from European influences, the Church of England and therefore the Protestant Hanover Dynasty (the rule of the Georges).

Capability Brown designed garden at Stourhead

Up until this point, landscape design in Great Britain aped the French style with parterres and intricate knot gardens. These were designed to be beautiful looking from above in your Stately Home, and were very much in the style of the French Court at Versailles. Of course the French were closely aligned with the Scottish rebellions and the Stuarts (the Jacobite uprisings), so it was seen as a political statement of alliance to the King to rip out the formal French style gardens and replace them with newly fashionable Capability Brown style parkland gardens instead, the complete opposite to the old style,  and purely English in origin.



Last book recommendation: Fiction. I read "Lincoln in the Bardo" over the holidays and loved it. It's a story woven around the death of Abraham Lincoln's 11 year old Son Willie, who died of Typhoid Fever at the height of the American Civil War. His devastation at the death of his son, at a time when mothers across the country were also experiencing the loss of their sons on the bloody battlefields of the South is beautifully written. The Bardo is the in-between world between heaven and hell, it's a book that stays with you and I highly recommend it.

Clothes: We're in that difficult part of the Adelaide season where the Winter stock is arriving in shops, but it's still 40C outside. I feel like I've been wearing the same summer dresses over and over and over... but if I cast my eye over the new seasons arrivals that are just trickling into the shops, I am really loving the latest offerings from Melbourne designer Megan Park like this Kazari Gypsy dress which would look good with knee high black suede boots and a fine merino knit under it in Winter as well as working in Autumn without the layers (when it's not exactly chilly in Adelaide, but feels inappropriate to wear a beachy sundress).


Of course the flip side is that over the other side of the world, the Spring collections are starting to appear. I do love Lela Rose dresses (New York designer), and this is my pick of the current offerings.
I love the Emerald green botanical print over the fine black/white stripe, and the forgiving lines of the skirt. I'd wear this with black espadrilles, rather than white shoes, or black strappy sandals if going a little dressier.

Lastly, I thought I'd share a few Instagrams to follow if you don't already.

Firstly, Margaret the Italian Greyhound. I promise this is the only dog I follow! Margaret is an Adelaide girl, and has a very funny sense of humour that always makes me laugh. 





On a completely different tack, another that I follow is Stacie Flinner, an American travelling the world for a year with her husband (in style). Look, it's all fantasy travel - beautiful photos of amazing places, and her wearing lovely outfits while doing it, but I'm enjoying following along and seeing the architecture and natural wonders they're experiencing. Maybe one day I'll manage to get a trip on the Orient Express, or stay in a former Maharaja's palace in India...



Last recommendation - my now real life friend Kal . For a long time I thought he was an Interior Designer, but he's entirely self taught, and has a real world job that is nothing to do with Interior Design in Sydney. He proves the point that talent doesn't need to be taught, and that curiosity and self education can go a very long way. He has a beautiful house, and while he is not exactly a prolific poster, his photos of perfectly set dining tables, his incredible house, or his super chic Mum in her Chanel are always spot on.




Hope you've found something interesting and new to you from this post, and have a happy week!


10 comments:

  1. Heidi, such a good post, what a treat!
    I just read about that book (Lincoln in the Bardo) the other day and I was curious about it, thank you for the recommendation I'm going to source that today. Would love to read The Princess's Garden too, so interesting.
    Dying over those dinner plates, so beautiful. And you have such an eye for linen, maybe you could design your own line? Thanks for the Instagram tips too, I must start following Margaret! xxx

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    1. It's a great book Dani - the start was slightly confusing, it takes a while to work out what is going on in the Bardo, but it's been so well written, and is such an interesting story... and is interspersed with actual diary, letters and newspaper entries that were contemporary at the time. It's a real blend of fact and fiction. I looked up a little on Lincoln afterwards, such a sad life for his wife, with his death so soon after.
      Designing linen would be fun! It's very hard to source nice linen here - it's something the Americans are definitely leading the world in! xx

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  2. Interesting post Heidi thank you. I have just ordered Lincoln at the Bardo, I have seen it recommended quite often over the last few months. Your comments about the political side to the design of gardens was fascinating. I have just read a book by The Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill about the houses that have featured in her life, Blenheim Palace being one of them. Capability Brown made his mark on the gardens here too but I am still investigating whether that was a political statement or just undertaken because ... well why not - a change is as good as a holiday!! We very often spent weekends walking with our then small boys in the woods surrounding the Palace during the time we spent in Oxford (good cheap entertainment for a student family and lots of mud!) and I loved how every now and then you would come across a view back to the the house or a glimpse of the monument from a different perspective. Even the surrounding extensive parklands - woodlands really now - obviously had been planted with vista's and views in mind. Oh! My bags from Project 10 arrived, I'm thrilled with them and intend showing them off on my next Coles visit so thanks for the heads up.

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    1. Wow you were lucky to borrow walks and views near Blenheim! Stunning garden! I think the genius of Capability Brown was his ability to see a long view with trees at maturity, and sculpting the land to create beauty in it. I read a really interesting article in Country Life magazine about how he went about it - fascinating considering the lack of modern surveying skills and equipment.
      So glad you love your bags! They're fabulous, and I have to say I have them stashed everywhere, they're so handy. Laughing at your excitement at a Coles shopping trip too!! xx

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  3. Heidi, I love all of this. Loving your book recommendations and clothing designer suggestions. I am going to try and restrain myself on the Megan Park website.
    I don't comment as often as I used to but I still enjoy reading your posts. Fifi x

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    1. It's so nice to hear from you Fifi! I've missed seeing what you're up to on Instagram... but I miss the old blogging days, and thought I'd try to get back into it again. Yes... Megan Park's website is a little dangerous, but her things are well made and quite unique, so an occasional splurge piece can always be justified I think! Hope all is well with you, xx

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  4. What an interesting post Heidi... lots to comment on. I adore the plates and I have the same commitment issues. I did get 12 William Yeoward 'Leckford' plates and cereal bowls and do use them when we are entertaining. I would love to expand my collection though. You always give marvellous book tips; I love the sound of looking at the floor plans... fascinating. Very true about developers and poor design... the irony of all of these 'luxury' flats is that living in one would feel anything but!
    Instagram is wonderful for inspiration and escapism. I have actually given up that and all social media for lent - it has been tricky!!
    By the way, I tried to comment on your last post but I think my comment got lost in the ether - new dog sounds exciting and is on the cards for us too! Take care xx

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    1. I have wondered where you've been, so I'm glad to hear that you've given it up for Lent!! Very strong of you Charlotte, I'll be interested to hear what you thought of the self imposed ban and any clarity it gave you when you're back on!!
      Well I hope your dog choice is a little easier than ours... sometimes it's very tricky when you have a sibling with strong, professional views on things. Although I suspect she says the same about me. I was bossing her around when she sold her house last year doing a little styling for sale!
      How lovely to have some WY plates though. We can't buy them here in Oz, which is sad, but I guess a small population and large country, along with a very casual style of entertaining by many means they probably wouldn't sell enough to justify it here. xx

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  5. I was once in an auction room where a dozen Flora Danica plates sold for well over a thousand dollars each - it was eye-wateringly expensive in my view but someone really wanted those plates. In fact, multiple bidders wanted those plates and there was quite a bidding war going on between two telephone bidders on opposite sides of the room. It was like watching a tennis match.

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    1. Those plates were probably a bargain! It's not just the purchase cost, but I think they're also made to order, so you have to wait months to have them delivered. I highly doubt a set is ever in my lifetime... certainly I'd be a little scared to actually use the things, let alone wash them up! Can you imagine if you dropped one?! x

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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