Wednesday, 30 July 2014

i am listening to...

Strange Desire, the debut release from Bleachers (aka New York City based Jack Antonoff) is, I think I will go as far to say, my current record of the year. Stuffed with incredibly catchy hooks, echoing drums and powerful, pulsing synths, it's a throwback to the 80s - epic, anthemic and totally bombastic. I'm in love with it. Also, Grimes and Yoko Ono make vocal appearances, which surely can never be a bad thing. I can't seem to work out how I can buy the album in the UK, but you can listen to it in full below. Opener Wild Heart is a soaring beauty.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

hot july

August is about to dawn and no doubt it'll be just as hectic as July has been, if not even more so. (I'm about go on on a few trips however, so August will be busy in a very pleasant way.) What have I been up to? Well, working. Lots. During the day in the office and then in the evenings and at weekends, preparing my new website (very exciting) and sorting through new batches of cushions and fabrics which I'm currently in the process of launching. Aside from working... The nights have been so warm and balmy recently (not to mention the days), which has meant we've been able to make good use of the balcony at home; eating our supper out there or sitting quietly amongst the ferns with a book. Or both at the same time.

A flashback to our holiday in Umbria last September. Can you tell that I Photoshopped in the dachshund? (Ho ho.) You see, I really want a dachshund. Hockney and Picasso had dachshunds, didn't you know? Anyway I wanted to see how we'd look together, myself and my future pup...

A couple of weekends ago we paid a visit to Tate Britain, with the idea of catching the wonderful new British Folk Art exhibition. You must go; it's a total riot of colour and craft and tradition. We drifted through the rest of the gallery for an hour so afterwards; it's a favourite place of mine to spend an afternoon and I love the way the art has been hung.

The black and white tiles at the top of the main staircase lead down to the Rex Whister Restaurant, which was once described as 'the most amusing room in Europe’ owing to its specially commissioned mural.

A quick sketch. We keep dreaming of stumbling upon a perfect little folly in the countryside (I'm talking Wiltshire or Somerset ideally), in the grounds of a sprawling estate, which we could take and rent on a long lease. I'm on the lookout. Maybe in a few years' time? We could drive down on Friday evenings (in our custard yellow E-Type, perhaps?) with a car full of supplies - wine and flowers and friends. That really is the dream...

D.'s not a massive fan of sunflowers, but I can't get enough of them. They're so big and brash, as bold as brass. That yellow is pure summer. We've had bunches of them all over the house recently. Admittedly this is a particularly strange vase of flowers, but I just keep thinking: arrange fearlessly.

Talking of yellow, here's one of my new embroidered cushions! Available to buy online and in store at Pentreath & Hall.

We were in Hampshire visiting my family last weekend. On Sunday we dropped by Highclere Castle on the way back to London. It was very impressive from the outside - all towers and flags and arches, gold and shimmering in its Jacobethan grandeur. Although it did seem a little smaller and darker inside than I'd imagined it would be. I'm glad we got to see it.

Back to my colour of the moment and a new pair of suede driving shoes. Primarily for use in Italy I reckon - we're off to the Amalfi Coast next weekend and I cannot wait.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

too bright

The new Perfume Genius record, Too Bright, will be released on 23rd September. Listen to the first single from the album, Queen, below.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

art on a thursday

Exposition Jean Cocteau, a poster for an exhibition by Jean Cocteau.

Monday, 7 July 2014

sunday scrapbooking

I spent a very quiet afternoon at home yesterday, listening to the rain fall outside whilst I sorted through masses of old disposable camera photographs and my big box of magazine cuttings, flyers, posters, postcards and old drawings. (I came across quite a lot of odd stuff I'd forgotten about in the box too - a shiny conker my mother gave me once, a packet of tarot cards(!?) and a painted wooden toy horse, for example.) My plan is to create a master scrapbook, full of these photos and other interesting bits and pieces, which I'll keep on adding to over time. I've started various books like this in the past; I really need to make sure I keep this one going.

Oh, how I love this painting. The postcard was given to me last year; it's from Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, where the painting hangs. Boy with Cat is a portrait of Jean Bourgoint by the English artist Christopher Wood (1901-1930). The two met while Wood was studying art at the Académie Julian in Paris. At the time of the painting, Bourgoint was 21 and Wood was 25, addicted to opium and suffering from paranoia. He was under the drug’s influence when he died four years later, under a train in Salisbury; his tombstone was designed by Eric Gill.

But back to my point: inspiration courtesy of Cecil Beaton and his famous scrapbooks.

So fun. I love the way everything has been cut out with hardly any straight lines. I despise straight lines and I'm not particularly good at being neat either.

Later on I did a quick drawing of a loud pink sitting room, although the harsh pastels didn't quite work with the texture of the paper. Alas, perhaps it'll end up in the new scrapbook...

Sunday, 6 July 2014

shells and mirrors

We've got a new pair of shell candle sconces at home, inspired by the ones you might find in Blacks on Dean Street in Soho. They sit either side of another new purchase - a large and rather imposing ebonised and gilt mirror from 1800. The old glass is speckled and incredibly beautiful, and its shelves provide the perfect spot for an extra pair of candlesticks. Come winter, the whole sitting room will glow with reflected candlelight. It almost makes me pine for dark November evenings. Almost.

from the vaults: bright young things

A few design sketches from my second year at Saint Martins (circa three years ago), inspired by one of my favourite films, the fabulous Bright Young Things. If I remember correctly, country house dinner party meets day at the circus meets midnight pyjama party was the vibe I was going for...

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

highland fling

On Saturday we celebrated the wedding of D.'s cousin Hamish and his new wife Jen with a big old knees-up in the north of rural Scotland. After the wedding itself, we danced and drank on Jen's parents' farm until the wee hours. A highland wedding is always an amusing affair. Here's D. in his Campbell kilt the morning after. As for me, I think a pair of tartan trews might just fit the bill come autumn time...

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

rowing blazers

A delightful, glossy new book landed on my doorstep last week. I'd been keeping an eye out for the release of Rowing Blazers by Jack Carlson for quite some time - it originally came to my attention via the blog of the book's principal photographer, F.E. Castleberry. Rowing Blazers looks at the authentic striped, piped, trimmed and badged blazers that are still worn by oarsmen and -women around the world today, and at the elaborate rituals, elite athletes, prestigious clubs and legendary races associated with them. I've never rowed myself, but I've always had a bit of a thing for the clothes (no surprises there), and in particular those striking, colourful blazers. I love the history and the heritage, of course, but purely from an aesthetic point of view, I've always found them just so... stylish. Bold, mustard yellow or the palest of pinks, worn, torn, patched together, plastered with badges; it's a fascinating piece of classic menswear design and a beacon of Britishness. Rowing Blazers celebrates this special, jaunty number in all its sporty glory.

The book's design is elegant - all gold borders and smart, serif fonts. The photographs, naturally, are rich and beautifully evocative. I adore this quote from the introduction: 'Every single one of us - no matter the age or the gender or the sexual preference - owns a blue blazer.' - Lisa Birnbach, True Prep, 2010.

'A cultural history of the most important item of clothing a chap can own.' - Tatler.

Jack Carlson has represented the United States at the World Rowing Championships and raced for Oxford in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Races. He is currently a Clarendon Scholar at Oxford University. F.E. Castleberry is former director of concept design for Ralph Lauren Rugby. He runs the popular blog Unabashedly Prep.

Rowing Blazers by Jack Carlson, published by Thames & Hudson on 7th July at £34.95.