Studies in white, black and ochre

To my surprise - and delight - I find Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi's work everywhere these days. At design blogs, at Pinterest. I guess his serene, subtle and seemingly simple paintings in shades of gray fit today's design trends very well. 

Gray? Hammershøi used white, ochre and black (mixed with cobalt blue and english red in the shades), applied to the canvas in rather small, squarish brushstrokes side by side, endlessly over the canvas. Hardly any lines anywhere. A bit like Vermeer, if you like.

The brit paper the Guardian wrote this 2008 at the time of Hammershøi's first retrospective in the UK: A minor star during his lifetime, the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) faded from view during the middle years of the 20th century, only to be rediscovered in recent years by a new generation of admirers. Hammershøi's cool interiors and distinctive grey-themed palette have attracted considerable attention for their restrained elegance and quiet power, and have led to a new retrospective which opens this week at the Royal Academy. Here we present some of the most famous paintings, along with archive photographs of Hammershøi, his family and the interiors he painted, which provide rare glimpses into the life of this most reclusive of artists.

All the above images of Hammershøi's artwork are all from the website.

The photo below is from a study I made some years ago of Hammershøi's painting technique. It was great fun to try to figure him out, and one of many studies of the old masters, that I actually keep up, just because I love to watch the stillness in this painting. The original is at the National Gallery in Stockholm (where the guards thought I was trying to steal the painting because I lingered too long and stood too close...).

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Mix and Match French style

Not Wabi Sabi - but I couldn't resist this daring mix of old and new. I am especially impressed with the fact that this French decorator, after moving in to this stunning down town apartment in Lyon,  didn't do what most Swedes would do: tear down old walls, and replace most fixtures and surfaces with new. And definitely paint all floors white! Instead all those things that makes this 18 century apartment so special is intact, but for the kitchen and bath, where 21 century rules.  

I absolutely love this fun mix of old and new, of elegant and raw, of posh and simple. Just look at the kitchen doors and the plastic cup style stools!  What do you think? Could you live here? I could (but I would remove the carpet in the pic below - even if it covers a bad spot on that stunning floor!) Images: Case da abitare

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New Book: Bring The Outdoors In

Reading the latest news from the Trend Tablet, I found out that New York-based stylist Shane Powers is releasing his first book, ‘Bring The Outdoors In’ (Chronicle, 2013). 

Those of you who've been to my interior design classes, know how much I stress (to the point of.... irritation?) the importance bringing the outdoors in - of blurring the borders between inside and out - as much as possible. Especially when you stage a home for sale. 

Now there is a book packed with ideas on how you can do this. A must have. Just look at these photos by Gentl & Hyers

Powers says here: I didn’t start working on botanicals until I got a job as a photo stylist for the groundbreaking publication Bloom. The founder, Lidewij Edelkoort, encouraged me to think beyond traditional uses, and focus on plants and flowers as more dynamic elements. I began to look at their shapes, colors, and textures with a new perspective… 

While trends in flowers and gardening may come and go, the ideas in this book have a timeless appeal to be enjoyed and referenced for years to come. The projects are not gardening projects; they are three-dimensional still lifes, miniature worlds designed to enhance your interiors

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Add wood!

If you think all that white is too cold, if you think monochrome is too impersonal, if you can't stand bright colors or soft pastels in your home - add some wood! Like here, in a Madrid penthouse. More images from this apartment here

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Meet me at David's

This restaurant is not in my neck of the woods, but I wish it was! I'd feel right at home in this newly opened Melbourne restaurant. It's yet another of the highly acclaimed David's restaurants. This one is situated in the Prahran area, with a Hecker Guthrie designed interior and a Shanghai inspired menu. 

David’s first opened some 15 years ago as a small tea store. Behind it all is Shanghai-born David Zhou. With growing success, the tea store grew into a series of restaurants, where they serve a casual mix of traditional Shanghai cuisine and contemporary dishes. 

Right - now you know where to find me if I ever get my act together and visit Australia... 

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Swiss Microcosm for Musicians

Having worked with urban rehab and building restoration most of my professional life, I cannot but fall for this Swiss project in Basel.

The photo above show an old factory dating from 1885, before it was transformed into an apartment building for nine musician families and their guests.

Well done Buol & Zünd Architekten, who managed to recycle and use most of the old building material in new, inventive ways. Apart from nine spacious apartments the renovated factory holds four guest apartments, a few training rooms, a sound/recording studio, a canteen and a children's play hall.

The renovation was finished 2010, and the below photos show what the old factory looked like when the families first saw their new homes.

Most of the structures in the old factory's wooden structure and massive walls was incorporated into the new development, forming lots of interesting spaces.

The frosted glass panels are inspired by a wire fence found in the area.

Compared to the nine regular apartments, the small guest studios are more modestly refurbished. Bathroom and kitchen facilities are hidden in sound-absorbing purpose-built walls, designed as a gallery with bunk beds on top. The wood-panelled encasement is designed to mirror the former warehouse shelves.

Below: One part the old factory was structurally weak and was turned with a open courtyard.

I found these images over at This Is Paper
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Mardi Gras buns (recipe)

These stuffed buns are high on just about everything! 
Still - it's what almost every Swede is having today - on Mardi Gras

These cardamom buns (Semlor) are stuffed with lots of almond paste and whipped cream!
Some serve them on a soup plate with warm milk! 

One Swedish King is said to have died from eating too many at once!

Want to make some yourself? Here is a recipe in english.
Or watch this video. 

Top image via 
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Wabi Sabi is asymmetry

This is the contemporary home of Dutch designer Marly Gommans
Very modern and yet with lots of wabi sabi characteristics. 

Like the off whites, the browns, and the gray to black colors. 

Like the asymmetric (diagonal) layout of the floorboards (right) 
and the asymmetric design and mix o
natural materials and function of the table/stool (top left). 
And I cannot get over the clever use of Pantone colors on the stairs! Love it!

More great images and an interview with the designer at bloesem living

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Wabi Sabi is vague and blurry

Dear readers - thank you for being such fine friends! 

To soften the edges today lets focus on one of the wabi sabi characteristics: 
the vague, blurry or attenuated quality that comes with age. 

Click on each image to find the source (when there is one). 
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