Thursday, December 18, 2008

Barcelona- modern moments at Vincon

I know the current trend at the moment is hand made layers of love by talented crafts people, but not everyone can appreciate a doily the way they can a Kartell coffee table. I have a friend,Rosy, who unashamedly decked out her bub's new nursery with bold, bright and modern pieces from Top 3 Design, and she was the first person I thought of when I happened upon VINCON in Barcelona. VINCON gives IKEA some tough competition by taking the 'design supermarket' concept to a whole new level- same idea, but everything is an internationally recognised design piece...they even sell Aussie Charles Wilson's famous candelabra there, and the Aalto vase. Here are my top modern finds at VINCON, top to bottom: FLUM light and it's packaging, CORALLE children's toy, NOVOTAT firewood bag, PANTONE coloured notebooks, helmet cover and VINCON brand 2009 diary.
The thing I love best about it is that the terrace where outdoor furniture is on display gives you a very good, cheeky view into the neighbours' place- Gaudi's famous Casa MIla! So very Barcelona to have old and new and design all cohabiting happily.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

barcelona- iguapop gallery & shop

After visiting Iguapop gallery and shop on C/ Commerc 15, Barcelona, you might come to expect amazing art, cool wall murals and friendly shop assistants to be part and parcel of your regular trip to a shopping mall- well, that's how it should be anyway! You'll not only find street fashions presented with due consideration, but amazing art in the attached gallery (Elizabth McGrath was exhibiting the day I visited-work pictured above), and the opportunity to purchase prints by Spain's best designers and graphic artists including Miss Van, Catalina Estrada and Jaime Hayon. Hola!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Barcelona- La Comercial- New Lladro

On Placa Comercial in the trendy area of El Born, is design store La Comercial. Stocked with everything must-have in the world of design, they are also very proud of Spanish design exports including none other than Lladro- only the cool modern stuff from their collection though! Forget the old fashioned figurines of twirling peasants mid-village-dance...I was blown away by their new porcelain candles (Mediterranean Beach was my favourite scent) and the Magic Forest Ring I want more than anything else in the world-  (who needs diamonds when you can have a ceramic bird perched on your finger?), which you'll be happy to know is available this christmas at selected Myer stores for $200, or online here

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

barcelona- loreak mendian

Barcelona brings new meaning to the words 'window shopping'. Barcelona does visual merchandising like nobody else. It's as thought there's a big competition going on for who can be the kookiest and most creative. So, I bought a cool tee by this label called Loreak Mendian, who also happen to be into amazing window displays...there are heaps of examples on their website along with their trendy but understated fashion line and amazing graphics projects. You must visit them here!

Monday, December 8, 2008

barcelona-ivo & co

BARCELONA FAVOURITES: Finally tasting xurros & xocolat in Spain, the worn, peach coloured buildings, developing a good taste for mojitos, walking up to 20km a day to visit Gaudi's architecture across the city, and discovering that every shop, restaurant and bar in the city doubles as a conceptual design space- incredible! I WISH I'D- had a magic suitcase that allowed me to bring large design pieces home on the plane...oh, the furniture in BCN!
First stop in the most creative city I've ever visited...IVO & CO. Placa Comercial, El Born, Barcelona. I never thought I'd want to don an apron and dig up a recipe for applesauce, but Ivo & Co, arguably the most beautiful home wares shop I've ever entered, had me thinking like a Stepford wife the moment I stepped inside. Retro, frenchy, vintage style home wares beautifully presented with a country feel. Plenty of gingham, linen, scrubbed back metal, bird motifs and white washed furniture. Stay tuned for my lomos of this treasure when I get them developed!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

paris- christmas

I could start a whole new blog just devoted to amazing little spots in Paris, but we must move on to Barcelona next! In any case, the city had a special impact on me. To say goodbye to Paris I leave you with 1. A little illo I've done to pay homage to the Eiffel Tower which is currently lit up blue with sparkling stars. 2. The address to my favourite secret spot in Paris, a little bar with the friendliest people, intimate atmosphere and cocktails that are almost too pretty to drink: La Famille, 41 Rue des Trois Freres, near Abbesses metro station. 3. The perfect piece of Paris to give as a gift this Christmas, a Memo perfumed candle in Christmas Tree & Snowflake scent.

paris- le bon marche

Ever worked yourself into a state trying to find parking in 7 levels of a Westfield car parkWell, in Paris they do things a little differently. You stroll into any store off the street with your poodle, i kid you not. When the doors of Le Bon Marche were opened to us on Rue Sevres in St Germain, people were shopping inside with their tiny dogs, looking at the gorgeous design products on every floor. There is no horrid food court selling Burger King, but rather 'Le Grande Epicerie de Paris' selling deli delights such as Sonya Rykiel chocolate teddy bears. Here, my favourite design finds from France's most famous department store (all available online in the home and design section)...
Top to bottom: Iris Niewenburg china brooch, Driade Kosmo table centrepiece, Jose Levy perfumed candles.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

paris- la cerise sure la gateau "the cherry on the cake"

When the cake gets cut in the office, we all like to eye off the cherry...but only one lucky person gets to eat it. You will feel the same elation as the cherry-eater when you check out this 'gorgoise' home ware label, which is the beloved baby of textiles designer Anne Hubert, found at Think & More on Rue St Honore, Paris. And guess what, they have Australian stockists! Forget about the impending recession, you need an illustrated tea towel now!

paris- american retro

It's not American. It's not retro. It's very French and in the present moment, so go figure! When I visited the boutique at 8 Rue des Abbesses (there are about 4 in Paris), i found lots of lovely black and white with bursts of colour, in a genuinely French interior. You can view the whole collection online here. And to any of you girls who live near this little gem chock full of goodies...please go in and find out the name of the handbag designer who does the multi coloured basket weave clutch bags in there...I am KICKING myself that I can't remember her name, despite repeating it over and over in my mind before leaving the store sadly without one (too exxy!) 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

paris-get lost with louis vuitton

They say men don't ask for directions and women can't read maps. Add to this the fact that Paris doesn't have parallel streets but lots of angles and little alleyways that look like 'short cuts'. We were determined to fit in and be mistaken for real Parisiennes (see above for the look i was after!)...alas the combination of above factors meant we were always 'pulling over' in front of a lit shop window to pull out our enormous, betraying tourist map. It was actually while we were lost in St Germain that we stumbled on another gorgeous book shop selling the new 2009 edition of Louis Vuitton city guides. Small, designer, and full of maps and tips for the flailing traveller...can someone send me the box set please!!! So if you can't afford the LV luggage, these will at least have you jet set in every other regard, wherever you are going...just about every city is available here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

cafe de flore

Where coffee arrived in Paris, where French philosophers discussed existentialism during the post war years, where Kate Moss recently shot a Longchamps campaign...I just had to order a cafe creme! Vowing not to be intimidated by the cool crowd of St Germain I had determined to get my little tiny 11 euro cup of the good stuff while on the plane to London, as this is when I spotted Kate sipping from a Cafe de Flore espresso cup in the pages of British Glamour. No word of a lie, it left hubby and I feeling like liquid afterwards, I wanted to air kiss my seasoned old waiter Henri, like the rich old ladies were doing, but resisted. What to do next but wander around a bookstore next door selling French poetry and photography books. Just don't convert to Australian dollars in your head when you visit!

paris- pylones

PARIS FAVOURITES: I think I may have been a little distracted in Paris on the design front by the food and wine front. The cobblestone streets, fabulous skinny boots, mastering the metro, the unforgettable taste of Laduree's hot chocolate and pretending to be Amelie while wandering the steep streets of MonMartre in search of the perfect olive baguette (which we found of course!) had me swooning.
I wish I'd...packed warmer, and not given up on finding the Luxembourg gardens (but my feet were CRYING i tell you!)

Cute design shop: Pylones. These bright and bubbly shops are sprinkled throughout Paris and are the perfect place to pick up something modern and fun for the home, such as an Eiffel Tower shaped cheese grater, ceramic espresso cups that look like crumpled paper, or a wind up toy for someone little. While not what you would describe as distinctly French, Pylones is still all class, with an unexpected splash of colour and a modern twist. A souvenir from here means you can be spared those horrible shops that sell tote bags with the word Paris repeated all over them in Comic Sans font...ew!