Pick of the Best Interiors Stores in Shanghai

After the panel discussion I took part in during CDW in the Summer I was approached by Sofie van der Velden, a design student seeking help gaining an internship in Shanghai.  Sofie eventually won herself an excellent internship and we agreed that whilst in Shanghai she would write a Guest Blog for us, giving her pick of the best interiors stores in the city.

Born in The Netherlands, but studying International Branding & Marketing Management at Teko Business + Design University in Denmark when I met her last summer, Sofie was just 19 when she boldy set off for Shanghai in August.  Prior to starting her internship in September she wisely took Chinese language classes at Donghua University and also immersed herself in the Chinese culture, which at first she found “a bit surreal but fascinating”.

Since arriving in Shanghai, Sofie has been visiting Interiors stores, gradually photographing them, conducting interviews with the owners, writing about her impressions and sending me her roving reports.  Today we are thrilled to share her wonderful report with you in full:

CLICK THIS LINK to enjoy Sofie’s full report from Shanghai (it will open-up in a separate window which you can enlarge to full screen size to view all the info & photos in detail).

HUGE thanks to Sofie van der Velden for putting together such a terrific report for us.  Great work Shanghai Sofie!!!

Be sure to check back next Monday when Zak (our rather excellent Intern) will be taking a look at several amazing photographers and then drawing inspiration from their work to create unusual colour palettes and looks for Interiors which are sure to inspire you!  Get ready for some Winter Floral Fabulousness!

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50s/60s Styling, Decorum & Monroe!

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Sa•voir Faire: the ability to do the right or graceful thing in any given situation

We’ve been banging on to clients and seminar audiences for several seasons about design becoming less excessive and frivolous, and instead more meaningful and often more minimal.

Last year we saw a ‘ladylike’ look emerge on the catwalks, marking a return to refinement and a sense of decorum.  The popularity of Mad Men helped start a 50s/60s style renaissance and now, as we remember Marilyn Monroe on the 50th anniversary of her death with two major film releases about her life (‘My Life With Marilyn’ featuring Michelle Williams and directed by Simon Curtis, and ‘Blonde’ directed by Andrew Dominik and set to star Naomi Watts in the lead role) and a number of exhibitions around the world, the influence of the 50s/60s is sure to be further reinforced.

For Interiors, the ‘ladylike’ trend translates into everyday objects that are refined yet cheerfully modest, elegantly minimal, and stylishly streamlined.  A trend that is quietly cultured, creative, and visually polite, coming at a time when social values and graces are re-examined and re-established to raise and maintain standards.  This is about “20th Century values in the 21st Century” paving the way for common courtesy, conviviality, and sobriety to reign supreme.

Today, Anthony highlights the current events celebrating the life of Marilyn Monroe and shows us once again how fashion trends translate for Interiors …

August 5 1962.  A 36 year old American actress, singer, and model by the name of Marilyn Monroe was found dead.  Monroe had achieved international stardom appearing in many classics including ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’, ‘Some Like It Hot’, and ‘How To Marry A Millionaire’.

August 5 2012.  50 years have passed since the untimely death of this astonishing lady and as the world remembers, many photography and memorabilia exhibits, book issues, and TV shows honour her legacy.  The Hollywood Museum in California is currently hosting ‘Marilyn: The Exhibit’, featuring film costumes, personal clothing, and those furs.  It also includes some of the last and unseen photographs of Monroe by photographer George Barris.  Running until September 2, catch it while you can!

‘Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon’ has just packed up it’s debut at the National Film Museum in São Paulo, Brazil and is now heading to the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in Tokyo, Japan (dates to be confirmed).  The popular exhibition is a modern tribute to Monroe including paintings and video works by Andy Warhol and Cecil Beaton.

Here in the UK, the Proud Gallery has recently opened ‘Marilyn: Intimate Moments’, an exclusive exhibit of Bruno Bernard’s images of Marilyn, documenting the transition of fresh-faced Norma Jean into the icon that was Marilyn Monroe.  Including pin-ups, candid shots from Hollywood parties, and behind the scenes images from her best known movies, it runs ’til September 9 in Chelsea, London.

The Museo Ferragamo in Florence is holding a major exhibition of Monroe’s personal effects, film costumes, and a focus on her footwear (the exhibition will run well into the new year).

With all the focus on the star’s fabulously glamorous life, it’s easy to see how the fashion industry has been influenced and it’s not about super glamorous evening wear, glittering ball gowns, white dresses, and furs.  The 2011 catwalks saw more of a refined, ladylike aesthetic with a definite nod to 50s/60s styling.

Take Diane Von Furstenburg: a modern, clean, refined palette of teals, oranges, and tan teamed with simple 60s inspired silhouettes and styling details.

Johnathan Saunders follows suit with 50s inspired prints and a slightly office secretarial look. The orange continues and is balanced with hues of dusty blue and camel.  The styling and detail reinforce the idea of being on one’s best behaviour!

Elliot J Frieze also presented a 60s, office inspired collection: big hair, oversized glasses, double-breasted Macs, and high-waisted skirts.

As the interiors market takes it’s cue, we see a more carefully chosen aesthetic …

Printed cushions echo those of Lucienne Day, with bold, oversized patterns seen on wallcoverings in hushed tones as the subdued is favoured over the daring.  I love these cement wall and floor tiles from Lindsay Lang; available in blue, yellow, and grey with a Mid-Century pattern, they can be configured in a number of different compositions to suit your chosen area.

Left to right: Bertoia bar stool from The Conran Shop; Bloom wallpaper from MelinaMade; Chouchin lights from Foscarini; Evolute Sospensione light from Danese; MC2 coffee table from The Conran Shop; Lolita table lamp from Moooi; Klyne sofa in saffron from Crate & Barrel; Quincy pillow from Crate & Barrel; Dandelion Cushion from John Lewis; Fairtrade basket and bowl from Piet Hein Eek

A desire for honest, simple materials also drives this trend; think cork lights from Seletti and the wooden nest of tables from Ercol, a classic 50s design.  I find the cabinet from Mint particularly intriguing: the outside walls of each drawer are decorated with a different pattern, only visible when the drawer is pulled out.  To me this shows a little bit of daring in amongst the decorum – whipping out your fancy patterned drawers at a modest dinner party!!

Retro fabrics from MelinaMade reinforce the idea of 50s styling re-done for the modern consumer, applying them to wallcoverings and accessories.

Left to right: Boxes Unit from Pastoe at EDC London; Ray Lounge chair from the Lollipop Shoppe; Retro Rug from John Lewis; Ercol nest of tables available from Nest.co.uk; Coupoles lights from Seletti; Vitra Akari 3ad floor lamp available at Nest.co.uk; Linen Cooper chair from Haus Interior; Lucy cushion from Urban Barn; Boomerang fabric in Mushroom and White from MelinaMade; Mrs Robinson chest of drawers from Mint Shop

Welcome to a new, good old-fashioned future!

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Lakeland’s Trend Journey

Today is the first in a new category of postings that sees us take the trend journey with our clients before their new products actually hit the market.  We’re thrilled to welcome to the Trends Blog today one of our most valued clients, Matthew Canwell, Director of Buying for Lakeland.  We’ve been working with Matthew and his wonderful team for over 5 years, presenting the trends to help both inspire and inform the buying process.

It’s that time of year again, yes, you know the one, the beginning of the retail buying cycle, and we’re concentrating on Spring/Summer 2013.  By the time we actually arrive at that point in real time, we’ll have had the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – both acclaimed great successes in their own right.  We’ll be basking in the warm afterglow, memories of a sea of red, white, and blue.  It feels like these COLOURS are everywhere at the moment, an overdue re-appropriation of the Union Jack that has been happening for the last 4 years.  But, once we get into 2013, will this colour theme that has dominated our lives have passed?  What’s next?  What’s coming?  Why?  What will our customers want in their kitchens and their homes?  It’s enough to wake you up in cold sweat!

Clockwise from top left: Skyline apron £14.99; Street Party napkins £3.49; Knitannia jug £8.99; Knitannia roaster £9.99; Britannia Floral oven gloves £11.99; Knitannia mug £4.99; Street Party collection; Skyline apron £14.99.  Background image: Vintage Jubilee textile design

But, rest easy, that’s why we’ve worked with the team at Scarlet Opus for more than 5 years.  It all started with a pitching letter, you know the sort you often get, offering a service you don’t need that you file under ‘b’ (bin).  But in this instance I’d worked with trend predictors in a previous life in fashion, and knew of the value they can add; I hadn’t known of one in the homewares arena so the letter, far from being an unwanted intrusion, was serendipity.

We started slowly, with Victoria giving us some colour direction for our bathroom range, this has developed to the stage where the team now present key trends to us twice a year, helping us develop key colour schemes in between, in addition to design work and surface patterns – phew!

W I N T E R  2 0 0 9  C O L L E C T I O N 

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BLAH

Over the time we’ve worked together we’ve developed a successful relationship that has helped us navigate the choppy waters that is the world of colour trends.  It would be easy to be dismissive of trend prediction, indeed I’ve heard competitors talk it down.  Great, if they aren’t interested, we are.

I’ve never known the team at Scarlet Opus to get a trend wrong, and they think hard how trends relate to us, and indeed, if they are translatable or not onto our product range.  They are always happy (perhaps with a little encouragement) to pin their colours(!) to the mast as to what will be the important colour of the season for us, by product, category, whatever we need.

 C H R I S T M A S  2 0 1 1  C O L L E C T I O N

BLAH

BLAH

But this is no ‘Airy Fairy’ science.  It’s not guess work, at least not that I can see.  And that’s what my team and I really like.  Trends based on fact, rationalised, obvious when explained.  But oh my, the back work that must be involved in prediction – knowing what films are coming out and when; key political meetings – where and when etc. etc.  It’s a joy to sit with Victoria, Shelley, and Phil as Victoria explains why these trends will happen.  It’s compelling, entrancing, inspiring.  And it works.

M Y  L O N D O N  R A N G E

Left to right: Cake tin duo £19.99; Storage tin £9.99; 4 Coasters £4.99; Mugs £4.99 each; Cheeseboard £9.99

So here’s the punchline – thank you Victoria et al, you always add value to our business.  And for you doubters out there, don’t.  Invest in prediction, it’ll be worth it.  And for any cynics, I wasn’t asked to write this piece, and certainly not paid; I did it because I felt I owed the team at Scarlet Opus for a job well done, and one that is much appreciated.

HUGE thanks to Matthew for today’s posting and his kind words about the work we do together.  Lakeland offer free delivery on all orders over £30 so be sure to have a browse through their latest online catalogues, I’ll most certainly be purchasing the Red Leicester Square cheeseboard – LOVING!    

Yesterday was the first day of the much-talked about, new Design-Art event, Design Days Dubai; I headed over to Emaar Boulevard in Downtown Dubai and WAS NOT disappointed.  So many fabulous pieces on display, in a wonderful location and – something new for Dubai: a super enthusiastic and inquisitive audience.  It was wonderful to see so many people truly enjoying and interacting with design: students, designers, media professionals, design lovers.  I’ll be back at the show this week to bring you a full report jam-packed with fantastic images next Monday.  See you all then!

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