My Friend’s House

My Friend’s House are two friends who live and work in South London. We love their blog, which tracks the renovation of their respective homes: design ideas, product choices and DIY trials and tribulations. It’s intriguing reading: both personal and authoritative, and full of lovely pictures. And now they’ve been kind enough to share a little of their extensive experience with us in a special guest post in the Journal about how to bust those final little renovation niggles.

ONE FRIEND SAYS…

They say that when you do up a house the last ten percent of the work just never gets done. The money or the energy runs out and those last little jobs, well, you just live with them. In the spirit of the My Friend’s House Real Reveal, here are the last, loathed jobs that we just can’t get done – and what we would do if only someone else would sort it out for us.

1. PAINT THE WOODWORK

I’ve done the walls. Spent ages deciding on just the right grey, bought posh paint and did a good job. But I just can’t bring myself to do the woodwork. All that sanding. All that dust. All that lying on the floor scrutinizing the skirting boards. But in an ideal world I’d go for a nice contrast between the white floorboards and the grey walls, like this Farrow & Ball Setting Plaster.

YOU’VE SPENT ALL THAT TIME DOING THE WALLS AND DOING A JOLLY GOOD JOB. BUT THE WOODWORK IS JUST A STRETCH TOO FAR FOR YOUR SANITY

2. RIP OUT THE KITCHEN CUPBOARDS

From one angle my kitchen looks lovely – the yellow Formica-topped table next to the yellow cowslip wallpaper, next to the door to the garden.

But turn the other way and it’s a horrible mess of white and grey MFI doors hanging wonkily off their hinges. It may be a long way off but if I ever save up to redo the kitchen this is what I’ll have – a great big run of open shelves to display all my lovely crockery. And to hell with the dust.

IT MAY BE A LONG WAY OFF BUT IF I EVER SAVE UP TO REDO THE KITCHEN THIS IS WHAT I’LL HAVE – A GREAT BIG RUN OF OPEN SHELVES TO DISPLAY ALL MY LOVELY CROCKERY

3. BROKEN BATH PANEL

The whole bathroom is a bit of a state, but the worst of it is the split bath panel that’s always falling off. The cat likes to try and stick her face behind it too, which surely is some kind of health and safety issue. My Friend has a nice duck egg blue tongue and groove going on in one bathroom, and I’d be tempted by the same.

WHILE THE OTHER FRIEND SAYS…

Ten percent did you say? Try 40. I also add to my to do list regularly with new ideas I become obsessed with. ..

THE WHOLE BATHROOM IS A BIT OF A STATE, BUT THE WORST OF IT IS THE SPLIT BATH PANEL THAT’S ALWAYS FALLING OFF

1. PAPER THE CEILING

 

One of those is wallpapering the underside of my stairs – the ceiling basically – on the landing outside my bedroom: an idea I love but wonder if I’ll ever get around to. It entered my head after seeing Cole & Son Fornasetti Frutto Probito wallpaper in a house I was visiting – something about those monkeys and the colours, which I knew would look great with the paint colourmin my hall (Farrow & Ball’s blue-grey Skylight). Here’s the landing in question, alongside the paper…

WALLPAPERING THE UNDERSIDE OF MY STAIRS IS AN IDEA I LOVE BUT WONDER IF I’LL EVER GET AROUND TO

2. BUY SOME LAMPSHADES

Next on my list – and this one should be easy to finish, you’d think – is seeing to the many bare bulbs in this house. I’ve now lived with at least four for five or so years – a travesty. Here’s one lampshade (by Naomi Paul) I’d love to use if my budget would stretch to it…

…that just leaves another three to find.

NEXT ON MY LIST – AND THIS ONE SHOULD BE EASY TO FINISH, YOU’D THINK – IS SEEING TO THE MANY BARE BULBS IN THIS HOUSE

[This incredible lampshade by Naomi Paul is actually going to be on sale next week at LLUSTRE.com!, Ed.]

3. SORT OUT THE CUPBOARDS UNDER THE STAIRS

Finally, life would be better organised if I tidied and painted the inside of the cupboards under the stairs. I got around to doing the outside a few years ago – I even mood boarded the teal colour I’d be hankering for on our blog – but some nice door knobs on the outside, plus a flashy coral colour inside would be just the thing to finish this job off.

Not to mention some snazzy storage ideas as seen in this Guardian feature last week.

FINALLY, LIFE WOULD BE BETTER ORGANISED IF I TIDIED AND PAINTED THE INSIDE OF THE CUPBOARDS UNDER THE STAIRS

House Doctor: Shelve It

The House Doctor is back. You wanted bookshelves and she’s here to give the people what they want.

Dr Manu had a lot of correspondence to deal with last week – and after looking through your comments and emails, she decided that shelving – bookshelves specifically was an area in which you wanted some home advice. So without further ado, take it away Dr Manu.

Books are always going to be cool. Sorry Kindle, but the shape, colour, texture and pattern of books make them elegant objects, as well as interesting reading material. The Kindle is somewhat…lacking. The more books the better – but how do you organize them? I’ve got a few ideas that will keep your books looking smart (and make you look smart by extension – even if you haven’t read them all).

THE MORE BOOKS THE BETTER – BUT HOW DO YOU ORGANIZE THEM?

1. IT’S A KIND OF MAGIC: CONCEAL SHELF BY UMBRA

Umbra’s conceal shelf is simple but dramatic: a thin metal shelf fixed to the wall which becomes invisible behind a stack of books. Pile them all up and there’s your trick.

And these Umbra conceal shelves are available on LLUSTRE.com now for an exclusive price. Snap ‘em up and suspend those books. Books are magic – I told you so.

2. FOR THE LAZY ONES – BOOKINIST BY NILS HOLGER MOORMANN

If you’re lazy and enjoy reading, this is paradise distilled into a single piece of design. Additionally, you can hide snacks in the arms for when you can’t even bear to leave you sedentary, bookish lifestyle to reach the kitchen.  I can’t be held responsible if you never stand up again.

IF YOU’RE LAZY AND ENJOY READING, THE BOOKINIST IS PARADISE DISTILLED INTO A SINGLE PIECE OF DESIGN

3. FOR THE FIT ONES – CIRCULAR WALKING BOOKSHELF BY DAVID GARCIA

Combining reading with exercising is radical. Who would have thought of that? Could get a little dangerous. You might need a big space, long corridors or an entire loft, but this is such an unusual and exciting piece that you might go for it anyway. Keep fit with the classics.

COMBINING READING WITH EXERCISING IS RADICAL – UNLESS YOU’RE DAVID GARCIA

4. FOR EMERGENCIES – PLUS ONE SMART BOOKSHELF  BY MATTHIAS RIES

So you’ve just invested in the perfect bookcase and then spot a pile of extra books that you can’t file away. This is a quick and easy solution: a little insert for the books that never fit.

THE PLUS ONE SMART IS GREAT FOR BOOK OVERFLOW – THE SIGN OF A HEALTHY READER’S BOOKSHELF

5. FOR SMALL SPACES – TRICK BOOKCASE DESIGNED BY SAKURA ADACHI

You live in a cubicle. It can happen to anyone. I lived in a 3.5×2.5 sqm room for 6 months when I moved to London and I survived. If I only had this wonder I would have had the chance to store my books properly instead of under my bed and use the table as a desk or for my breakfast. Genius!

IF YOU LIVE IN A CUBICLE (NO JUDGEMENT) THEN THE TRICK BOOKCASE IS THE PERFECT STORAGE SOLUTION

6. FOR FLEXIBLE ONES – INGENIOUS BOOKSHELF BY LUKE HART

When I saw this for the first time, I had a flash from the past: me trying to fix the shelves of my bookcase according to the different heights and sizes: never enough to cover the length designated to the very high ones and way too many small ones. Put simply: this is a revolution. Anything can be accommodated thanks to the flexible properties of the shelves.

UNFORTUNATELY – THE INGENIOUS BOOKSHELF IS SO INGENIOUS THAT IT’S A LIMITED EDITION. LET’S HOPE FOR A RE-ISSUE

7. SERIOUSLY? COULD IT BE SIMPLER? I DOUBT IT – MINIMALISTIC BOOKSHELF BY ANA LINARES 

Powder coated steel, maximum functionality with minimal amount of material and quite a remarkable effect: I can think of small corners in kitchens where storing all the cook books and recipes or little sad walls which at last have the chance to showcase some design credentials.

THE MINIMALISTIC BOOKSHELF: POWDER COATED STEEL, MAXIMUM FUNCTIONALITY WITH MINIMAL AMOUNT OF MATERIAL AND QUITE A REMARKABLE EFFECT

8. ONE OF THE FAVOURITE PIECES IN MY HOUSE – DVD RACK BY UNTO THIS LAST

In this cool shop in Brick Lane, everything is made to order. They remind me of the A-Team: ask them help and they will be there for you, smiling. Their motto is, ‘the pleasure of making things differently’. They use a special birch ply composite and all parts are cut from a sheet of material by digital tools and machines to reduce waste.
They also promote local craftsman workshops. What’s not to love?

UNTO THIS LAST REMIND ME OF THE A-TEAM: ASK THEM TO HELP AND THEY WILL BE THERE FOR YOU, SMILING

A Conversation With…Christian Bird of Edge of Belgravia

We caught up with Christian Bird – senior designer at international design and branding agency Design Bridge, just round the corner from LLUSTRE HQ in Clerkenwell. He is also the designer behind the fabulous Edge of Belgravia knives – whose design is as sharp as their zircomium oxide (yup, that’s right) ceramic blades.

SO DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO BE A DESIGNER?

I’ve always loved design, probably before I knew what the word meant. I was always drawing and making things as a kid. If you have strong ideas as your basis for doing something, you can make anything.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH EDGE OF BELGRAVIA?

I met Freddie Ostland through a mutual friend.  I was really interested in his idea – to make really striking high quality kitchenware.Freddie had done a lot of research about ceramic blades and he really wanted to do a range of knives.  The brief was to design a knife you wouldn’t want to put in a drawer.  There are similarities to Alessi there, I suppose – kitchen tools that look so great you’d leave them out on display.

So Freddie and I teamed up.  My brother is a chef, so I had some insight into that world.  I also did a sushi course and a cocktail making course to get a feel for the kinds of tools you might need to produce professional quality cooking.  I get to do that kind of thing quite a lot in my job, actually – one of the perks of being a designer!

Freddie met up with lots of head chefs in Belgravia and asked them to use the knives in their kitchens – they were properly tested in the field!  So the knives don’t just look great, they’re rated very highly by the professionals.

THE BRIEF WAS TO DESIGN A KNIFE YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO PUT IN A DRAWER.

SO WHAT’S YOUR PROUDEST CULINARY CREATION?

I’m not sure, but my brother can do all kinds of creative things in the kitchen – honestly with these knives you can be really creative.

TELL US ABOUT THE CERAMIC KNIVES – HOW DO YOU MAKE A KNIFE OUT OF CERAMICS? AND WHY DON’T YOU EVER NEED TO SHARPEN IT?

The ceramic blade is made up of zircomium oxide in a very specific process.  The blade is forged under a very high pressure – hundreds of tonnes.  That makes a very tight molecular structure, which means it’s pretty tough. Once it’s been sharpened you don’t need to sharpen it for years.

YUP, THEY’RE PRETTY SHARP, BUT WE ALSO LOVE THE WAY THEY LOOK AND FEEL.

The whole concept is that the look of the knives is inspired by the blades themselves. I think they’re very striking, I mean, they look sharp!  But each facet of the handle is designed to fit very neatly in the hand, so you get all the support you need to cut safely and precisely. The slightly rubberised handle gives added grip.  But there’s also a weird sensation thing going on – it looks really sharp, but it feels really comfortable in your hand.

ONCE IT’S BEEN SHARPENED YOU DON’T NEED TO SHARPEN IT FOR YEARS.

WHAT’S WITH THE BOLD COLOURS?

At first we started with the jet black range, but were drawn to the idea of collections, something personal – we’d like to produce different ranges in different colours.  I think the sharp green colour really adds to the overall concept.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AND EDGE OF BELGRAVIA?

We’re exploring new products to complement the range of knives, so expect to see some interesting new designs!

YOU’RE A SENIOR DESIGNER AT DESIGN BRIDGE – HOW DOES THAT COMPARE TO WORKING WITH EDGE OF BELGRAVIA?

At Design Bridge, I’m heavily involved in branding across lots of disciplines from structure, to graphics, digital and communications.  I find it a really interesting way to work and a more traditional way of designing.  In the past many designers and agencies were multidisciplinary. Look at Conran, Fletcher/Forbes/Gill – all working across a wide range of design services. At the heart of design, its all about ideas.

I come from an old school of design, I was taught by Ray Gregory– Ray is very well known in the design industry, he instilled a great design ethic in his students which revolved around defining the question behind the problem at hand and then solving it.  I found that approach inspiring and I think our approach to creative strategy at Design Bridge- digging deeper and working across lots of disciplines is really beneficial to our clients.

AT DESIGN BRIDGE, I’M HEAVILY INVOLVED IN BRANDING ACROSS LOTS OF DISCIPLINES FROM STRUCTURE, TO GRAPHICS, DIGITAL AND COMMUNICATIONS.  I FIND IT A REALLY INTERESTING WAY TO WORK AND A MORE TRADITIONAL WAY OF DESIGNING.

So I have the best of both worlds, I work on really creative international projects as a senior designer at Design Bridge and on a product in my own time that I’ve designed closely with the manufacturer.  It’s a direct, creative process, but also really good fun!

AND WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU REMEMBER MAKING?

A guitar.  That’s when I fell in love with design – when I realised you could make something yourself.  It sounded bloody awful, and it looked pretty bad too!  I’ve still got it actually, I’m working on getting another guitar manufactured right now.  It’s a bass guitar, and I hope it’s going to look and sound a lot better than the first one!

Ten Minutes With: Laura Seaby

Laura Seabys prints won’t fail to cheer you up: she incorporates typography, illustrations and stylised icons to create a collection that is intelligent, fun with just the right degree of nostalgia.

Everything is bright and graphic, not to mention instructive and informative: you can’t argue with a tea towel that tells you to Brew Up, or with a prints that offer an A-Z of London’s or New York’s highlights.

We were lucky enough to grab ten minutes with Laura, where she told us a little about her ambitions, canine aspirations and how printing and design is in her blood.

I MAKE In my personal work, illustrations, prints, tea towels. By day Im a packaging and product designer.

I GREW UP in Swansea in South Wales.

MY WORK IS SPECIAL BECAUSE hmm, really hard to say. One thing I try to do is vary the style of my artwork and try different illustration and print techniques. Laser-cut is next thing Im keen to try.

I KNEW I WANTED TO DO THIS WHEN I was much younger and started creating things and people around me encouraged me, so I just kept doing it!

WHEN I WORK I usually try and design with someone in mind. Many of my pieces have started out as presents for friends or family. My most recent print, The Sky is the Limit was designed for my new nephew Alfie. You Are Ace was designed with my poker-loving boyfriend in mind.

EVERY DAY I spend far too much time on the Internet or watching tv.

I WISH ID DESIGNED ooh blimey, loads of things! Ive always admired the FedEx logo with its little hidden arrow.

I AM INSPIRED BY my family have had a background of print making for a few generations – Im certain growing up in a house filled with prints and helping my Dad with printmaking is what has inspired me to produce prints of my own.

IN FIVE YEARS Id love to build a studio/office in the garden complete with various printing presses and a much longed-for dog.

I WOULDNT BE ABLE TO DO THIS WITHOUT probably the support of Keep Calm Gallery. They were the first place to stock my prints and have been a massive help to me ever since. As a new designer, getting your work out there and seen by people can be tricky so working with an established gallery has been great for me.

THE THREE WORDS THAT SUM UP MY WORK ARE Fun For walls.

IM CURRENTLY WORKING ON a few new prints (a children’s one and a new A to Z), my wedding invites, and making very slow progress on a children’s book idea.

THE BEST THING ABOUT MY JOB IS I love buying prints my house is filled with them. Its nice to think that people buying my designs might get the same pleasure from them as I do the ones on my walls. Thats a nice thing.

IF I DIDNT DO THIS ID BE probably an engineer/animator/zoological explorer.

MY MOST TREASURED POSSESSION IS probably my current sketchbook. It’s full of print ideas, sketches and plans for the future. I would honestly be a bit lost without it.

THE FIRST THING I REMEMBER MAKING IS snowflake decorations at Christmas. I slipped and stabbed the scissors through my finger and needed stitches which is no doubt why I remember it so well!

NOBODY KNOWS THAT I snooze my alarm for an hour and a half before I get out of bed every weekday.

Ten Minutes With: Peter Richardson from Wren Bikes

Graphic designer Pete Richardson designed the Wren bike for his girlfriend, Jenny (Wren, obviously), who was frustrated by unwieldy and oversized city bikes. Launched last year, the Wren bike is a small wheeled bicycle that doesn’t compromise on design or ride quality and is built to last. A new cycling classic.

And Peter is an in-demand sort of chap: the Wren bike has been raved about in Elle Decoration and The New York Times (as well as on the LLUSTRE Journal, of course).

The Wren bike is perfect for city cycling: lightweight, with three gears, puncture-resistant tyres and brake mechanisms to keep maintenance to a minimum. Plus it looks beautiful. Yep, toss the travelcard in the bin. Cycling is the future.

We spent ten minutes with Peter Richardson, to learn a little about his work, inspiration and Robocop. Yep. This one comes with Robocop.

I MAKE: bicycles, lovely bicycles.

I GREW UP: riding bicycles between YHAs in the Lake District

MY WORK IS SPECIAL BECAUSE: it’s well thought out and has purpose. All my design ideas come from experience rather quick-fire concepts.


WHEN I WORK I:
enjoy some peace and quiet. I KNEW I WANTED TO DO THIS WHEN: I couldn’t find a bike for my girlfriend and I knew there were others like her who were experiencing the same issues with bikes that were either too big, fell apart too easily or were a money-pit to maintain. I’d spent the past 5 years renovating bikes so I knew the problems inside-out. I planned the design while cycling in eastern Europe and put pen to paper in my return. 

EVERY DAY I: quote at least one line from Robocop.

I WISH ID DESIGNED: the YSL logo – but the one for Wren seems to be going down well. 

I AM INSPIRED BY: living history.

IN FIVE YEARS I WILL BE: nearer fifty than twenty.

THE THREE WORDS THAT SUM UP MY WORK ARE: 

Considerate, particularerr [brill? – Ed].

IM CURRENTLY WORKING ON: the next bicycle!

THE BEST THING ABOUT MY JOB IS: receiving positive feedback.

IF I DIDNT DO THIS ID BE: drawing shapes on the computer.

MY MOST TREASURED POSSESSION IS: a large and varied collection of mid-20th century beer glasses.

THE FIRST THING I REMEMBER MAKING IS: a Lego spacecraft, of course.

NOBODY KNOWS THAT I: don’t actually speak French.