On arrival into Amsterdam, we headed straight to Pont 13 (our taxi driver found it a challenge): a restaurant on a boat, on the water, on a pier in an industrial area- I’m sure there are lots of shipwrights around!
This place is fantastic. A truly original space, not gimmicky or theme-y, but all nautical, rope-y, teak, brass & round metal riveted windows.
The bar curves with oversized industrial lighting, more beacon in style, suspended from above. A metal spiral staircase leads to a tiny office that looks over the restaurant which is laid out with long tables of teak & paneled like a boat. Knotted & slightly frayed rope acts as a screen for the bathrooms. This place is more ship than boat with lots of heavy ship metal painted dark blue and a creamy white painted hull. Even the heavy sail canvas, leather & stormy blue velvet curtains (that keep the cold winds at bay that whip off the water) rocked my world- or boat haha! In the summer months I heard they BBQ & spit roast on the outside decks. I am soooo coming back on my bicycle.
We battled hightide & navigated our way over bridges & waterways in Venice (who knew the canal seeps over the walls & intrudes straight into the streets!) to arrive at Helene’s house. A high ceilinged apartment with terracotta tiled floor displaying her own hand-painted silks, cottons & linens acting as curtains, cushions, lampshades & artwork, complemented in colour with her husbands oil paintings of Venice.
Her husband was her mentor. He worked largely with geometrics and his paintings line & brighten the walls of her home, as Bach is playing in the background.
She explains that creating is like the movement of dance for her, like music & its rhythm. I can see this in her long hand-painted panels. Her fabric appears as stained glass panels (but more beautiful & not religious) as the light shines through her circles & visible brush-stroked lines; inkiness with a free hand; loose with movement as colours merge & blur. Her shapes mimic jellyfish and anemone, then dragons, glowing paper lanterns, feathers, the wind & movement of the watery canals which surrund her. You could look for hours and see different colours & shapes.
Helene works downstairs & outside in the Spring & Summer months only. Like me, she hibernates for the Winter (perhaps she is also part bear). She is seasonal in her colour & creativity. When I met her she was dressed head to toe in indigo, her own work manipulated into a scarf tied around her neck, a Japanese Shibori bracelet & loose gypsy pants in blue- she is a French Venetian version of my bestie, Sally Campbell, red hair & all!
Along with the Anthropologie home team of Keith Johnson, Mitzie & Tamara, we were escorted around Eindhoven by the knowledgable & talented Leslie Oschmann.
I met Leslie about 4 years ago, when Anthroplogie held an exhibition of her works at The Rockefeller Centre store (yes, the same place I had ‘Into the Lighthouse’) where she showcased her wares. The display was memorable with an old giant rolidex with the names of pieces & her working title, Swarm configured from nails hammered into the wall at different lengths.
Leslie reworks & upcycles vintage paintings of fauna & flora, portraits, still-lifes & landscapes found & sourced from Belgium & Holland onto chairs. Each one individual & amazing. You can buy one as a statement piece, or buy 6 to surround a table.
She now also remakes them into bags & clutches: she embraces the idea that the artworks will live on in their new formats, and as they show signs of wear & tear with use, their stories will live on too.
Yesterday I visited her house & studio which is a converted Oma flat, out back through a courtyard garden, in Amsterdam by bicycle. I had the fortuitous opportunity to experience first hand, her work space & inspiration.
Although it is the beginning of winter, and the Virginia Creeper has dropped its leaves- Nasturiums were a-tangle and the former summer glories reminiscent in memories of Japanese Windmill, Wisteria & Magnolia.
A spread of breakfast: berries, yoghurt, muesli, croissants & strong coffee was grazed over as I listened & watched Leslies show & tell of paintings, and local finds & treasures. As her wired haired fox terrier, McDuff looks on (but he has a fear of lighting & storm- & it was threatening- so was keeping to himself).
I am the lucky one, for I am now the very proud owner of a landscape & part floral still-life bag and an amazing clutch that will be rocked this summer in Sydney.
If you would like to see them when visiting the shop, we can pull them out for you to view and pre-order.
I am going to be selling these at The Society inc., but in the meantime you can buy online at swarmhome and get it shipped to you.
I met my best friend, Edwina McCann in Paris & as she went to fashion shows, I explored the city to reacquaint myself. As well as researching rooftop exterior zinc design for my very own renovation at The Society inc. I was doing some groundwork for the next Stylist’s Guide.
The plan is to stay in an apartment at Place de Vosges for a month & perhaps collaborate with the likes of Collette Dinnigan & Tara Badcock to get their in-the-know secrets to be edited & translated into a companion for The Stylist’s Guide to NYC.
On this year’s trip, not only did it coincide with my birthday but also the Jambon et Brocante Fair just on the outskirts of Paris, which is held annually for one week. I visited here about nine years ago & bought some fab bits n’ bobs. It is held in the open with lots of linen, lighting, glassware, industrial furniture, hardware, paintings etc. & fantastic food. Great to hit around lunchtime, then cruise around for the afternoon- it’s open until 7pm.
The night before my birthday, we hit the Marais for some French bar hopping. All places ceased to exist once we found Au Petite Fer a Cheval: a one man bar in a horseshoe shape that is pewter-topped, wood fronted fridges and brass beer taps & hardware. This place is small but manages to have both bar & a restaurant out the back. As we settled at the bar & ordered rose champagne, I noticed the barman picking mint leaves, creating a huge pile which he muddled for the freshest, loveliest mojitos. Yum, & yes we did have quite a few of these!!!
Pics from PuffList.
This is a must-stop for me on every Paris trip. The gardens were planted as specimen & medicinal gardens by Louis XIII’s physician & are surrounded by glass houses & specialised museums: including the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, the Mineralogy, Paleontology & Entomology Museums.
Take the Metro to Gare-d’ Austerlitzou Jussieu and enter the gardens at the Bone Museum. This is my favourite. Not only are the skeletons & bottled specimens impressive & awe-inspiring, but I love the backdrop of the structure too.
All wood & slightly creaky, a large room with central display of giant animal skeletons (elephant & whale etc.) & then a surrounding catwalk with wood & glass cabinetry. The floors are lovely & worn, revealing their history as a public space, whilst the iron detailing & custom cabinetry are gorgeous.
After you have poured over everything, enter the gardens & take as long as you need. The Grand Musee sits majestically at the end of the gardens that are always abundant with seasonal flowers: gladiolas, clematis, windmill flower, echinacea, daisy, rose, cosmos, kale, rainbow chard, rosemary & lots of others.
On the right hand side stroll under the avenue of canopied plane trees (leaves or no leaves, it’s magic), to the alpine & tropical gardens and various official buildings that are dotted around specimen monkey-puzzle & fir trees. Lose yourself in a labyrinth as you head toward the grand hall of the Natural History Museum.
Hang out here or head up to the library with mint cabinets housing an extensive range of mounted specimens that line the room: to read, write, reference or just admire & absorb. Finish this perfect day with honey sweets & pastries and mint tea under the fig tree in the Mosque across the road. There is a wonderful history of collecting in The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott, including Jardin Des Plantes- highly recommended!!
Of late, I cannot get enough of cane. Not the old swirly cane of a man (of whom I cannot remember the name) that I had in my childhood room (although this was designed by stylist extraordinaire, my aunt Robyn Duffecy). The cane I am attracted to is simple, classic lines. I stumbled upon the Swedish design company, Sika & loved their take on it. I have been working on some beachside spaces and thought I could design a plastic & natural version, more suitable for commercial hard-wearing interiors.
Of course, my trip to Paris & the many styles of Parisian Bistro chairs, banquettes & stools only fuelled this. Whilst bicycling past the Hermes Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore windows, I knew that my thought was a collective one & would be right on par.
Cane has a softness, comfortability & durability that works in any interior. Watch this space to see where it will pop up soon!