Recent Residential Projects
Living space by Arior Design and Baines&Fricker
Greenwich Restoration Project
Work is nearing completion on our large domestic restoration project in a Greenwich period residence. This sneak peek shows the London Plane Kitchen units which have been designed to reflect the park setting and view from the window through their materials and sympathetic colour.
I do not have a personal best
Something popped up on my Twitter feed the other day where someone had a link to their Instagram post saying they were really pleased their new spectacles matched the aesthetic of their home.
When my husband and I started our business it was a way of making things and sharing our ideas. We have very similar interests and designing together works well as well as developing our own interests. We have always enjoyed looking at how things are made and been excited by art, reading, cinema etc.
However despite working in interiors we are not inspired by lifestyle blogs. These are very much like the clean eating/food fad blogs that are saturating our visual world. I am mistrustful of people that encourage missing food groups out of our diets. Many of these are based on alternative therapies and self diagnosis that certain foods cause un-wellness and so a whole trend (don’t get me started on those) has emerged that is celebrating our selves for our ability to limit our food groups. Food creates memories and fun- staying up late with friends eating and drinking, breakfasts in bed, tea and cake, eggy bread when you’re poorly. Biscuits dunked in tea, picnics with cheese sandwiches. Food is fun.
Lifestyle blogs also perpetuate a myth of unrealistic expectation, when did it become popular to look at pictures of rooms with nothing in them, all one hue? Why is this considered exciting? Is it because we think we should like it? Is it some self flagellation that we will never be able to be as good as this person we see on Instagram who lives off avocados and sits in grey room looking at pictures of geometric shapes?
Our aspirations have shifted to people who wear Lycra and ride a bike all weekend while their family sit at home and wonder when they will come home or the person who makes courgettes into weird shapes and tells us its like pasta. Or the cook who makes a recipe with no sugar, fat or dairy and calls it ‘cake.’ Why would I be excited at looking at a grey cushion or your really expensive lip balm in minimal packaging that you spent far too much time artfully placing next to vase of flowers? What are you trying to tell me?
I wonder if Joseph Cornell, Jean Rhys or Nick Drake would have done what they did if they had sat in a room carefully arranging their scented candles. Our ideas of inspiration have shifted to ones that can’t inspire.
So yes we design and make things but no we do not live in grey box, we have pets who throw up sometimes, a child who sticks stickers on cupboards, we have pictures of things we like, loads of books (oh they get sooo dusty), we ‘rescue’ stuff from charity shops, we eat loads of cheese, drink wine and have sex.
None of us are that tidy and clean because we are humans and we think lots of things and do lots of stuff and I think trying to aspire to that clean and perfect life will drive you mad or sad. We are contradictory and ridiculous and this is not bad these insights are what make people write interesting books and paint complex art and we are richer for it.
As my mum said after a party at a particularly minimal abode ‘I always wonder what you would do if you got locked in one of those places’.
I am a regular visitor of charity shops. Not just for all the brilliant things I have found over the years- The old silk Prada shirt with a tennis ball print, the 70s Celine top with bell sleeves, the lovely art books, Snoopy biscuit jar, Scandinavian folk art plates as well as the excellent toys and books- Playmobil pirate ship, rare out of print children’s books.
These have all bought joy and we still treasure them today. We also ‘rescue’ things that we think no one will buy- wonky pet portraits, appalling but appealing figurines and souvenirs most of the ‘bad art’ has its own wall and the trinkets have a display cabinet that my daughter and I spend a lot of time reminiscing on the situation surrounding how we found it to each other. I like that the objects we see in the shops are often an insight into people. The carefully painted Alsatian portrait, the whole collection of Dutch souvenirs, the knitted dog jackets are all hints and at what was in someones life. They are also really good places to overhear conversations and some of my best nuggets have been overheard in charity shops… “what are you going to call it then?” “something beginning with B, I like that letter best”.
Amongst the charity shops we visit is a jewellers that specialises in watches, its run by an elderly father and son and has never been updated. It is still the place to go in the neighbourhood if you need a watch battery, I’m not sure they sell much though as its prices exceed Argos but it is excellent to visit.
Clowder of Cats at Ruthin Craft Centre
We were asked to exhibit our Cat designs as part of the Ruthin Craft Centres Clowder of Cats exhibition. Alongside other excellent designers: Lesley Barnes & Ross McAuley, Abigail Brown, Laura Carlin, Alice Dansey-Wright, Susan R. Evans, Jimbobart, Juliette Hamilton, Nick Hubbard, Vicky Lindo, Agalis Manessi, Helen Musselwhite, Deirdre Nelson, Susan O’Byrne, Jenny Southam, Emily Sutton, Melanie Tomlinson, Victoria Govan & Richard Warner, Sarah Young, Jan Zalud
Something for every cat lover: from intricate cat jewellery, cats made from paper and cats that move, to satisfyingly clever ceramic cats. The exhibition is on until February.