In 2014, Denmark is celebrating the birth centennial of two great master designers: Hans J. Wegner, whose chair designs are exhibited at the Designmuseum Denmark in Copenhagen, and Børge Mogensen, whose designs have been presented at a major exhibition at Trapholt museum of modern art and design since January.
Danish design is undoubtedly popular in Canada, and it was praised again recently, when a Danish business delegation travelled to Toronto on the occasion of a visit by the Danish Crown Prince Couple. Distinctively chic and amiable, their Royal Highnesses the Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark headed a delegation of 80 Danish companies and organizations exploring a potential for growth in cooperation with Canadian businesses. They represented various industries like green building and construction, food, and style.
Perfect timing for us to reconnect with Isabelle Paille, the founder of Fleurs & Confettis, a Quebec-based wedding styling company. Isabelle is passionate about Scandinavian design and knows Denmark particularly well. Let's join her on a tour to this little kingdom that is not only a leading design nation, but also considered one of the happiest people in the world.
Corinne Cécilia: When in Denmark, where do you like to stay?
Isabelle Paille: I really love the Ibsens and Front hotels, near the harbour. For my upcoming trip, I made a reservation at the Wakeup Copenhagen, a little gem that opened its doors in May.
CC: Where do you like to dine?
IP: I dream about the Noma! But meanwhile, I book a table at the Relæ, the Madsvinet or at the Meyers Deli for healthy takeout. Throughout Scandinavia, you can eat sandwiches called Smørrebrød, filled with fish and caviar, and served with a divine sauce!
CC: Where do you like to shop?
IP: Normann Copenhagen is definitely a must-see. They have furniture and design items for all tastes and prices, displayed in a department store setting. Stilleben carries small items that are both unique and 100% Danish design. Dansk Møbel Kunst has authentic Danish furniture. Illums Bolighus is my favourite store. Cmyk Kld Gallery & Butik features local art that isn't too expensive.
CC: Where do you go to relax?
IP: To the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, always. But I really enjoy strolling in the streets. Stroget is one of the longest and busiest stretches in the city. It's teeming with pleasant surprises in the realm of fashion and jewelry. You can rent a bike in Copenhagen and take a ride, pretending you live there! I also go to the Royal Library, another haven of peace; and then I have a bite at the Søren K.
CC: What are some of your favourite places?
IP: My first stop is the Designmuseum. The House of Finn Juhl is also a wonderful place: the architect's home still has some original furniture. I also love the Arken Museum of Modern Art and the Louisiana Museum. Museums are like a retreat for me; they provide me with both inspiration and a sense of calm — a rare combination!
CC: Your best sources for interior decorating and design?
IP: In fact, I keep discovering new places each time I visit. And since I am a fan of antique stores and bazaars, here are two places out of my golden address book: the Gammel Strand Flea Market, in the summer, is particularly great for household items and porcelain; and Loppemarked Israels Plads, further out of the city and more modest, is the oldest flea market. There you can find design items and furniture.
Corinne's travel tip: To mix business with pleasure, visit Denmark when international design professionals and the general public mingle to explore new style trends: the Copenhagen Fashion Week takes place twice a year, in February and August. Closer to home, don't miss the 16th Biennale in Montreal (November 17-22, 2014), a cultural event featuring Nordic artists, including a dance show by Danish choreographer Palle Granhøj.
Read more travel blog posts here.
1. Trapholt, Photo Syddansk Turisme, through Visit Denmark
2a. Photography by Birgitta Wolfgang for By Nord
2b. The Crown Prince Couple in Toronto, photography by Robert McGee
2c. Selected Femme
3a. Randers + Radius
3c. Savannah Wild
4. Photography by Kim Wyon, through Visit Denmark
5. Noma, photography by Ditte Isager, through Visit Denmark
6a. Normann, photography by Ditte Isager, through Visit Denmark
7. The Black Diamond, Royal Library, photography by Jørgen, through Visit Denmark
8a. Design Museum Denmark, photography by Kim Wyon, through Visit Denmark
8b. Design Museum Denmark, photography by Kim Wyon, through Visit Denmark
8c. Design Museum Denmark, photography by Kim Wyon, through Visit Denmark
9. Flea market at Gammel Strand, photography by Cees van Roeden, through Visit Denmark
10a. Savannah Wild
10c. Carré Jewellery
My first brush with the architectural style known as Brutalism occurred at this building. I spent many many hours at John P. Robarts library at the University of Toronto, poring over original journals for my thesis "British Travellers in France During the Revolutionary Era". The building was commonly referred to as Fort Book, but comparisons were also made to a peacock or Viking ship. The latter seemed apt to me as I often felt like a prisoner trapped in the hull. Good times.
You'd be forgiven if you assumed the term 'Brutalism' was a derivative of the word brutal. After all, take another look at that building. It's a brute. In fact, Brutalism originates from the French béton brut, or "raw concrete", a term that describes the material used to clad these buildings. Brutalism was reviled by many. Haters gonna hate, including Prince Charles.
But you know how sometimes the coolest thing to do is embrace the thing most people think is ugly? Well, that and a good dose of nostalgia, are behind a new appreciation of Brutalism.
In the decorative arts, the style is realized in rough hammered bronze, oxidized brass with jagged edges and bulky wooden case goods decorated in geometric designs. A recent trip to New York to tour the 1st Dibs gallery at the New York Design Center confirmed that Brutalism is definitely happening. Here are some finds.
This 1970s wall sculpture by Silas Seandel called "Sunspots" was tagged at $20,000.
I didn't catch the price on this mirror, but I predict you will be seeing modern reproductions of this type of item more and more in the coming year or so.
Brutalist lighting takes statement lighting to another level. I love this 1966 chandelier by Tom Greene, $5,200. Do you love it or hate it?
Here's another Tom Greene design, $3,800. This one reminds me of a wasp nest.
The 1st Dibs bricks and mortar location doesn't lend itself to displays of larger furniture pieces, so I clicked over to the site and found this interesting piece. It's a cerused oak credenza made by The Lane Furniture Company in the 1960s. This block front design is a reference to the Cityscape line by Paul Evans. I must say it also makes me think, hmmm, I wonder if you could DIY a plain credenza by adding blocks of wood and then staining it all black?
And for reference sake, here is a pair of wall-mounted cabinets by Paul Evans featuring the geometric Cityscape design. I'm pretty much in love with these. Just need $13,500.
What do you think of Brutalism? Love? Hate?
Looking to add some warmth and personality to your home for the winter? Wallpapering a room — or even one wall — does both and is an easy way to introduce pattern. These 2014 prints from Farrow & Ball are small enough for tiny powder rooms, but would make an impact on a large bedroom wall, too. Here are my picks:
Browse our Wallpapered Rooms gallery for more inspiration.
1-4. Farrow & Ball
Since I was a child, my family and I have spent part of the summer in the south of France. This summer I was lucky enough to spend a month in the Luberon in Menerbes, a beautiful hilltop town dating back to 4 BC. It wasn't my first time there, but because we settled in for as long as we did, I fell into the rhythm of the village and came home with some of the sweetest memories. Here's a glimpse of our time spent there.
The house we stayed in is called a mas – a country house typified by plaster walls that keep the house cool on very hot days, a terra cotta tiled roof, a series of rooms built on to each other over time and painted wood shutters that are used every day to keep the hot air out. It was charming and rustic. The house was perched on the high hills of Menerbes, overlooking the wine valleys below.
There was a long lavender hedge off the kitchen patio. Each morning I would take in its sweet, fragrant smell.
As we would walk into town for fresh croissants, this was our view to Mont Ventoux and the town of Gordes.
We took this pebbled road into town, past clouds that looked like prehistoric birds.
And past the painted doors in inspiring hues.
And above the tiled rooftops that looked like paintings.
And then we'd arrive at the upper entrance to the town.
Along the way we would pass these pretty courtyards and secret gardens between the stone walls and wooden gates.
Some buildings with manicured boxwood, turrets and stone railings were especially impressive.
Sometimes we were greeted with a friendly face from above.
Or a sleepy one from below.
Here is a sampling of the freshly baked breads that would greet us in the morning.
My favourite store in town, La Vie Est Belle, was in the bottom of an ancient building that felt like a cave. I loved the antique kilim by the front door but sadly, it was not for sale.
To cool off, people flocked to the river in nearby L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue to dip their toes in the bright green waters or paddle around in a kayak.
I loved antiquing at the famous brocante there. I picked up 12 of these brass knobs for a song hoping to retrofit them for my new walk-in closet.
Which worked out perfectly!
Lunches were always languid and relaxed — fresh, simple produce set out in a colourful display.
Or carefully staged culinary masterpieces. Seriously, why can't we have lunches like this everyday?
And of course there were always fresh flowers and incredible local wines.
We attended a poetry reading one afternoon at the house of Picasso's ex-wife Dora Maar, which is now an art school. The gardens were absolutely gorgeous with a playful mix of modern sculptures and traditional outdoor furniture.
Nearby Gordes was such a beautiful town, for this exact view. The homes were all built into cliffs like this one.
My favourite part of each day was dining outdoors in the warm air at dusk, like the evening we spent in this relais situated in the vineyards below Menerbes.
Or in the gardens of the Maison de la Truffe at the top of the village.
Or at one of the lovely restaurants lining the streets in town where waiters crisscrossed the streets.
We finished each day by walking through the town's twinkling glow.
Guided by the clear moonlight to our home away from home in the hills.
For more inspiration, read Hilary Smyth's blog post about Antiquing In France.
Whether you’re a suburban homeowner or a condo-dweller, we all have to tackle this project: choosing the best window treatment for a room. Having numerous, awkwardly shaped or floor-to-ceiling windows can seem intimidating, but there are coverings available no matter your window type.
HunterDouglas offers a variety of smartly designed, custom products available in many fabrics and colours to go with your decor. Here we highlight three common window treatment problems and how you can solve them. (This blog post is sponsored by HunterDouglas.)
Problem: “I like natural lighting, but the sunlight coming in is too harsh.”
Solution: Alustra Silhouette window shadings diffuse sunlight for a softer source of light. This clean-finished window treatment doesn’t have cords, and when you want a completely clear view to the outdoors, the shades disappear into the headrail.
Problem: “I want to see outside during the day but want privacy at night.”
Solution: Pirouette window shadings provide a clear view when the vanes are open (shown above), and offer privacy when closed. The cord-free finish keeps the look streamlined. Bonus: To protect your home’s furnishings from fading, these window shades block up to 81% of UV rays when the vanes are open, and 99% when the vanes are closed.
Problem: “My windows let too much hot/cold air in and out of the house.”
Solution: Duette Architella honeycomb shades keep rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter for the ultimate energy efficiency. Architella has a double-layered honeycomb-shaped design which helps to block your cooled or hot air from escaping through your window. The honeycomb fabrics all have GreenGuard Indoor Air Quality certification, too.
For more on these window coverings and other window covering options, visit HunterDouglas.ca.
1. Alustra Silhouette window shadings in Soft White, French Linen, HunterDouglas.
2. Pirouette window shadings in Glacier, Satin Metallic, HunterDouglas.
3. Duette Architella honeycomb shades, HunterDouglas.
London is arguably the world's most eccentric fashion metropolis. And judging by the rising success of the London Design Festival, it has become the new hub for interior decorating, too. Launched in 2003, the event attracts professionals from all over the world, while revealing the talent of young British creators.
London was always home to a vibrant artistic community; thanks to prosperous dynasties, the arts and literature were able to flourish for centuries. The place of birth of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the Swinging City remains for many the capital of Anglophone culture worldwide. From fashion runways to music, from theatre to cinema, London style is incomparable.
London also holds a special place in my heart. This is where I took my first trip abroad — visiting relatives, going on exchange programs... I was just a kid when I discovered the unique mix of antique decor and whimsical fashion — walking from charming Sloane Square, where my dear Aunt Esther lived, all the way to the punk stores on Kings Road, the then-centre of counterculture.
Many creative people embark on a London adventure. Artistic director and designer Mikaël Mourgue studied visual design and communications there. Based in Montreal since 2006, the son of famous French designer Olivier Mourgue has been very successful with Toytoy, a collection of cardboard furniture for kids that's playful, eco-friendly and affordable. Let's take a walk down memory lane with Mikaël, and rediscover London.
Corinne Cécilia: What motivated you to study at Ravensbourne College, in London?
Mikaël Mourgue: In the 1990s, London was already in multidisciplinary mode and at the forefront of digital technologies. Ravensbourne College is an incredible university, born out of the Bauhaus movement developed in 1930s Germany. That translates into an extraordinary architecture and campus. We had access to the most advanced professional equipment and training! Our professors were passionate, and very active in the business world and the creative scene; they were international trendsetters (Neville Brody, David Carson...)
CC: Looking back at your London experience, what does it represent for you?
MM: The best years of my life! Creativity, freedom, encounters, discoveries, passions... My first year, I was staying au pair with an artist family, with free board and lodging. Their workshop was near Aldgate East, on Brick Lane, an amazing neighbourhood! Indian culture, flea markets, the Whitechapel Gallery...
CC: When in London, where do you go to relax?
MM: Along the Thames, near Embankment, and to the Hampstead Heath Park.
CC: Where do you like to shop?
MM: At the Camden Market, the Brick Lane's flea market on Sundays, and Greenwich Market. Portobello is also amazing with its spring festival.
CC: Some of your favourite places?
MM: The Tate Gallery is an incredible place dedicated to modern art. Previously a power plant, the building has been entirely restored by Herzog & de Meuron architects. It's on Bankside, Southwark, on the right bank of the Thames.
CC: Do you have a favourite airline?
MM: Sir Richard Branson's new company, Virgin Galactic! Seriously now, British Airways is a great company with great in-flight services. And I always prefer to travel with an airline from the country that I'm visiting.
Corinne's travel tip: Thanks to Digital Theatre, you can now enjoy the finest of British theatre from the comfort of your Canadian home. Based in London, this truly unique organization records and distributes acclaimed shows produced in Great Britain, giving worldwide audiences direct access to talented British playwrights and actors. Tune in on September 18th for the launch of Ghosts, Richard Eyre's triple Olivier Award-winning adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's captivating family drama. Co-founder and creative director Robert Delamere is known for his multidisciplinary projects, such as Shotgun, a theatre workshop/gym/rehearsal he runs with Tom Hardy (the actor/producer has created a poignant documentary about poaching in southern Africa available online, Poaching Wars with Tom Hardy.)
Design in film: Rediscover the international impact of Olivier Mourgue thanks to the popular exhibit Stanley Kubrick to be held at Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox from October 31st, 2014 to January 25th, 2015. Known for his futuristic concepts — such as the Djinn chair that became famous through 2001 Space Odyssey — the French designer explored several art forms and reached worldwide audiences. Thanks to the exhibit, cinema and design lovers will discover how Kubrick used interior design in a movie to strengthen the narrative: he constantly used colour, design and space to reflect the moods of the characters. Enjoy!
Read more travel blog posts here.
1. S.M. Tunli
2. Tom Hardy, included in Guinness World Records Ltd.
3, 6, 7. Visit Britain
5. Conran at the Design Museum, photography by Mark Hughes
8a. Clothing stall, Portobello Road Market, Visit Britain
8b. Greenwich Market London
8c. Camden market, Londonview.photoshelter.com, photography by Pawel Libera
9. The Tate Modern and the Millennium bridge, Londonview.photoshelter.com, photography by Pawel Libera
10. MarsScientific.com and Clay Center Observatory
11. Digital Theatre, photography by Hugo Glendinning
12. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1965–68; GB/United States)