Saturday, December 8, 2007

Nathaniel Harrison Smith

Born December 3rd, 2007. Nathan joins his brother Maxwell Alexander Smith (3) to make our family complete!!

I will be back in the new year with photos of my latest project and with regular weekly posts. Happy Holidays to everyone who reads this blog.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I love parquet flooring and would love to use it in a future project. It lends itself well to reclaimed timber and can provide endless possibilities in both classical and contemporary patterns. I found this image on the New York Times website incredibly inspiring.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Private Courtyards

I am incredibly fond of private courtyards in residential housing design. They seem to work especially well in hot and windy climates, where they offer protection from the elements. If you are lucky enough to have the prevailing wind blowing in the right direction, the ideal placement of the courtyard would be to face southwest so that you would get the late afternoon sun and sunset.

Courtyards are a perfect way to add privacy and to subtly extend the interior space outside. I have posted two contemporary examples of courtyards here designed by Spanish architect Alberto Baeza which I found inspiring. I would personally add more plantings to these courtyards, as part of the joy of owning a private courtyard is the ability to look out into your own secret garden.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Industrial Facility

Sam Hecht and Kim Colin founded Industrial Facility in London in 2002 with a goal to bring fresh and functional modern design to everyday objects. I love the balanced blend of simplicity and utility in their designs, especially in their work for Muji, Epsom and Whirlpool.

The variety of objects that they work on is also refreshing. Checkout this mini-kitchen from Whirlpool, printer from Epsom and cookie cutter from Muji.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


I traveled to North Devon last weekend to attend a party organized by some old friends of ours, and we spent two fabulous nights tucked away at the Broomhill Art Hotel and Sculpture Park.

Although, my main focus has always been interiors, I love gardening and landscaping and feel strongly that it is an important extension of interior design and architecture. I guess it is not surprising that I fell head over heels with this sculpture park, and immediately wanted to ship all of these pieces to Dublin to sit in my backyard.

Sadly, for me, most of these sculptures deserve large rolling landscapes. Part of the fun is discovering them hidden behind a corner or down a sloping, fern clad ravine. I love how their presence jars the imagination and ask the viewer to reinterpret their surroundings.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

David Katon's Southern Highlands Home

David Katon of Burley Katon Halliday built this stunning tribute to Modernism in Australia's Southern Highlands.

I came across it in Vogue Living Australia's May/June issue and immediately filed it away under 'dream home design'. Hmmm, if I could somehow incorporate Toyo Ito's arches and an inner courtyard... and a wee bit more funk to the interiors... Definite dream home material.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tama Art University Library

This is a photo of the new Tama Art University Library designed by Toyo Ito, that I have been unable to tear myself away from over the last 24 hours.

I love how the design is so light and graceful and its statement so ethereal. Its soaring arches and curved pillars echo classical architecture but the modern materials, large windows and spare finishing speak to a very contemporary aesthetic.

The structure has also been built on a gentle slope, and both floors follow the natural curve of the hill. It was also designed to hold 300,000 volumes underground, with a gallery on the main floor and a large reading area on the top floor.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Marrakesh decorating challenge

I have been shaken out of my mad summer work mode to take up the challenge posed by Maryam of My Marrakesh. The challenge is to come up with some fresh ideas for the new bathrooms being built in her guest house in Morocco...

Drawing my inspiration from these gorgeous tiles from Ceramiche Provenza (above), I would work from a palate of ivory, gold and brown. (Sorry Maryam, my minimalist leanings are coming through)

I would start by placing the Provenza tiles on all walls up to chair rail height and then paint the rest of the wall and ceiling in an off white. For sink back splashes, tub and shower surrounds I would use a gold mosaic tile (example left) and for the floor I would use a sepia coloured ceramic tile like the one above from Fired Earth.

The bathtub and sinks would have to be from the Spoon XL range from Agape, because they are my absolute favourites...

Sadly, I could not find any modern faucets that I liked with a brass finish, as everything out there seems to be chrome, so I have chosen the Axor Starck X collection by Hansgrohe and ask you to imagine that they come in brass.

I want to apologize to Maryam for my lack of ochre and indigo. I also have a strange obsession with white porcelain (no doubt from living through the 70's and witnessing lavender bathrooms) which may not be appropriate in a North African setting, but if you wanted more colourful bathroom furniture Durat make great pieces from recycled materials in a fabulous range of colours.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mosaic Tile

I really love the use of modern mosaic tile. Tile is such a wonderful medium with which to add an original and timeless design to an interior. I find its texture, sense of history and artwork irresistible.

In my mind, it is most striking in a spare setting like the one shown left, which is a Bisazza design. I also love the simple lines, and the muted and subtle colour tones of the floor mosaic shown on the right.

Ingmar Bergman: RIP

" A master with an inspired personal style; an artist of deep concern and intellect, whose films would prove equal to great European literature."- Woody Allen

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Photo Source

I recently came across Gaile Guevara's blog, which has a huge and well chosen collection of interior design photos that have become a source of inspiration in my recent project. Although it has not been updated in a while, it is still a great site to go to for a quick browse through some impressive modern interiors. As fate would have it, she is also from my home town, Vancouver, B.C.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


I have been sourcing blinds for my current project and came upon these gorgeous paper yarn blinds from Finland.

Inspired by Finnish raw materials, Woodnotes was founded by Ritva and Mikko Puotila in 1987. Their large collection of products are made from spun paper yarn often blended with cotton.

The effect is a light, delicate and durable texture that lends a very subtle touch to contemporary window treatments.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


My current project is a design for a residential home that is using an overall base theme of Wengé and white. This look was inspired by Kelly Hoppen's recent refurbishment of her new home in London. During my search for materials and suppliers I have come to understand a lot more about the incredible wood that is Wengé.

Wengé wood (also known as African/Congolese rosewood) is a tropical timber of the Wengé tree (Millettia laurentii) from Africa. The wood is very dark and dense with a coarse grain and a pattern of nearly black grains separated by dark brown grains. The tree is native to Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Tanzania and Mozambique. The trees grow to a height of approximately 20 meters with a trunk of up to 1 meter in diameter.

Wengé can also be challenging to work with. Sharp tools are essential and the long coarse texture can tend to tear out and cause some difficulty in sanding. The wood will glue well if the gluing is done as soon as the surface is dressed by planing, sanding or scraping. The dust of Wengé is also quite toxic and can be highly irritating if not handled carefully.

Wengé is incredibly expensive in Europe and the look is often imitated with stains and veneers on other less expensive hardwoods. This is in fact a good thing, as Wengé is known to be acquired through illegal harvesting in the Congo where the industry is improperly regulated.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Mimetic House

One of the AAI (Architectural Association of Ireland) winners this year was this house that is tucked deep in the countryside of County Leitrim.

Vertical panes of glass and mirror are alternated on the exterior to allow light in to the house while at the same time reflecting the surrounding landscape. The architect, Dominic Stevens, designed it to reflect the change in seasons and weather conditions thereby 'mimicking' its environment and becoming a part of it.

Friday, May 25, 2007


During my travels in Spain, I came across a contemporary furniture company based in Valencia called Viccarbe. Here are some pieces that I thought were fantastic.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Barcelona: Vincon

A trip to Barcelona should include a trip to Vincon for anyone who is design obsessed. Housed in a historic building on the Passeig de Gracia it is filled to the brim with classic pieces and unique creations, many of which are at affordable prices. The lighting department and the furniture gallery should not be missed! Here are some items that caught my eye...

To the right is a Ron Arad chair designed in 2005.

This is a cube light that comes on when you open the top.

Finally, the cereal dispenser, a very useful device in my house.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Barcelona: Gotham

While I was in Barcelona last week I got a chance to visit Gotham, which is a store specializing in vintage modern furniture from the 50s, 60s an 70s.

There was an amazing selection, all of which was in really great shape, and it was a thrill to see some authentic pieces up close.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Milan: Established and Sons

Established and Sons launched two fantastic pieces during the Salone del Mobile. The first, a set of stools grouped together to form a single seating platform which can be separated to move around the room or reform in different clusters.

I know I have mentioned this before, but I love furniture that you are able to interact with, and the Nekton stool by Zaha Hadid allows you to do just that.

The second piece is the Crate Series, which consists of five separate units that can be used as tables, cabinets and... a spare bed. Jasper Morrison designed them to give the impression that they were home made, perhaps to highlight the practicality of the design and its modest origins.

I am heading off for a family vacation to the Costa Brava and Barcelona. I hope to bring back some exciting finds for my posts after May 20th. Adios!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Milan: Formfjord

At the Salone Satellite I found this great shelving system by Formfjord. All of the units are magnetic and can be easily moved around to form various combinations that easily snap into place.

They also make this wonderful vase that is designed to display flowers horizontally.