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Designers We Love | Manolo for the Home - Part 7
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Eclecticism in Action

I recently read a wonderful quote with which I wholeheartedly agree. In Cottage Living, designer Jeffrey French said:

“I never rush clients to completion because if you furnish an entire house at once, it looks like a snapshot of what was available at that time. Instead, houses need to evolve like epic stories with chapters from different time periods.”

The sentiment really resonates with me even though French was talking about furniture and accessories from different era as opposed to furniture and accessories from different styles and sources. My own home is filled with things I’ve found in stores, in thrift shops, in my grandparents’ home, in my travels, and, though I am always somewhat loathe to admit it, on curbs. Some of it is new, some is very old, some is mass produced, and some is handmade.


The homes I like best tend to be those whose decor has evolved over time. A room put together all at once risks looking too much like a catalog or a temporary space created just for a magazine shoot. The only downside to letting one’s home evolve naturally is that there are transitional periods. A room may not seem quite right until you find that perfect piece that pulls it all together. A perfect thrift store find may temporarily throw a room out of balance.

Unless you have scads of money and a personal shopper, you just have to be patient and wait for your personal spaces to blossom. All I can say is that you’ll be glad you did because the eventual result will be so much more YOU than a pre-fab design scheme would have been.

The Masuzawa House

One of my new favorite blogs is LittleDiggs, which was pointed out to me by my good friend Sterlingspider. This particular blog is devoted to small spaces, i.e., houses and apartments that are about 500 sq. ft. or smaller, and the accessories that help people live comfortably in dwellings of this size.

One diminutive house featured on the site was designed by Japanese architect Makoto Koizum in 1952 and measures in at a mere 538 sq. ft.

The reason for its tiny size is that after World War II, the housing corporation of Japan would only provide loans to build homes that were no larger than 50 square meters.

If you had the means to build a bigger home, you were perceived as being wealthy and not in need of a loan.

The Masuzawa house was dubbed “the minimum house,” but Makoto Koizumi, who reintroduced the house to the current Japanese market, said this is a misnomer.

“It should be called the maximum house,” he said. “Despite its small space, Masuzawa-san’s creativity made the house seem open and spacious.”

I think I’d feel comfortable in this house if I was single or didn’t have five cats and a baby on the way. Then again, I’m surrounded by a great deal of unused space in my current house, and who’s to say that I actually need all that room?

The Masuzawa House


Did You Ever Get The Feeling You Were Being Watched?

Studio Nommo wallpaper

Studio Nommo finds young designers, illustrators, and graphic artists from all around the world who are ready to feed your paranoia. In this case it’s Katharina Leuzinger who wishes to ensure that you’re never truly alone.

Or, you know, you could just opt for something a little less surveillatory.

Snap, Dine, and Go

Designer Demelza Hill is fascinated by the manner in which people interact with the products in their environments. To challenge the assumptions we all make, she repurposes and redesigns everyday items to create something designed to remind us of that which we take for granted. Or something like that…I love artist’s statements!

It’s fancier than the cutlery used at my own wedding

Snap and Dine, Hill’s web site says, is a single use three-course place setting that brings together the formal and the disposable. It is meant to inspire mental images of stylish outdoor eating.

Hey, where’s the party?

It’s quirky, but useful in its way. If you’re going to eat on the go, you might as well do it with a touch of panache, right? I wish I could have bought these for my wedding.

Colored Tiles, Big Efforts, and Imperfect Perfection

We’ve all looked at something in a shop or in a magazine and thought to ourselves, “I could do that!” In fact, I think so highly of my crafty skills and home improvement chops that it’s rare for me to look at a project and think, “I couldn’t do that.” But when illustrator Christoph Niemann decided it was time to renovate the bathrooms in his Berlin home he and his wife Lisa threw themselves into the project in a way I have neither the time nor the patience to match.

You’ll never lose your way

The couple began by breaking down images they liked into mosaic form to find the inspiration they needed. They tried a lot of combos before settling on Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box for the shower, Judith Samen’s Die Fettecke for the tub, and a NYC subway theme for the kids’ bath.

Sound like a lot of work? All is not lost! There are plenty of places that sell colored tiles — like Amazon, of all places — and you needn’t create a perfect masterpiece of art and practicality. Let’s say you’d optimally like to mosaic-ify a beach scene in your bathroom. Instead of knocking yourself out trying to recreate your favorite vacation pics, grab a bunch of tiles in colors that strike you as beachy, like so:

And put together a casual, abstract design using either whole or broken tiles. That’s the nice thing about DIY — it doesn’t have to be perfect to be perfect, if you catch my drift. Trust me when I say that while you may always see the one off-kilter tile, the people in your life will almost always see the 99 tiles that are placed just right.

Interior Inspiration

I’m running short on time today while my to-do list is getting bigger and bigger and bigger, so I thought I’d present you with some snapshots of interiors that I find particularly inspiring in their use of color, their elegance, and their originality. Enjoy!

It’s OMG pink!

via Marie Claire Maison


Britain’s most hated buildings

Channel 4 recently polled ten thousand people to determine which British buildings are despised the most. Twelve structures were chosen, spanning a variety of locales, and I can’t help but agree with those who were polled. Tastes may change, but I’m not surprised that many of these hated buildings are boxy, gray, and otherwise extremely drab.

Some things from the 60s haven’t aged well

Crown House, in Kidderminster, is a prime example of blah architecture. It once housed the Inland Revenue, but to me it looks like the yawn-worthy dormitory buildings I lived in while at university.


The atomic ranch

I can’t help lovin’ those MCMs

Modernization was the buzzword — if they indeed had buzzwords — in the pre- and post second world war years. Design, architecture, and urban development bordered on futuristic during the Mid-Century Modern (MCM) period, yet the philosophy incorporated natural shapes, simplicity, and democratic design.

I’m not always a fan of modern design because I think too much of it is what it is because its creators were hoping to attain the right look, I do like MCM homes. When done right, form and function balanced each other out. There’s no bulk for bulk’s sake — spaces and furniture were (and still are) designed to be open, accessible, functional, and pleasant.

Mid-Century Modern Furniture describes the MCM movement thusly:

A time when new technology combined with the sensibilities of the day allowed for a myriad of possibilities. The result: an “honest” design philosophy that has withstood the test of time. Fifty years later, the works of these groundbreaking architects and designers, including George Nelson, Charles and Ray Eames, Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Jens Risom, Florence Knoll, Isamu Noguchi, Jean Prouve, and Verner Panton among others, are more popular than ever.

Plus, you can’t beat the colors…oh, how I love the colors!

When can I move in?

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