Studious Colors in Paris
If you love interesting architecture and bright colors: this is one building to visit when you're in Paris: the Atrium of the Pierre & Marie Curie University in the 5th arrondissement (Jussieu). Designed by architects agency Périphériques and open since 2006, it is a color lovers dream. When visiting I noticed it is a bit "dated", not very fresh, but I loved it nevertheless. The vibrant colors on the walls, floors and ceilings are something I want for our future home too: it's bold but when the color is just right, it feels amazing! The cutout pattern in the concrete walls makes it a very playful building and you quickly remember in which area you need to be: every Science division has a different color and by taking one of the criss cross elevators you enter a new "world".
If you are discreet you can walk around the University's Atrium to admire the views while others are working hard to be(come) scientists. The custom metal study desks were almost all occupied, and behind the colorful doors were people researching in laboratories, working in offices and studying in classrooms, it was buzzing in near-silence. Studious vibes all over! What I found rather remarkable is that most people that worked or studied here in the past (and wrote about the place on blogs & social media) didn't appreciate the bright colors as much as I did. As someone stated: "this overdose of brightness before coffee on a 8:30am exam was a bit too much to handle". :)
Have a look for yourself:
Atrium of University of Paris Sorbonne Pierre & Marie Curie /// Place Jussieu /// 75005 Paris
Luggage check at entrance and it is appreciated when you are discreet as this is a place to work and study.
Fracas gallery in Brussels
Sometimes when you least expect it, you discover a gem that gives you hope. Or at least that's how I feel when I walk into creative spaces that propose a unique vision. I felt it at a fashion shop in Berlin, that a dear friend introduced me to, a few months ago. And I felt it again when I visited Fracas Gallery in Brussels last month. The pin on the map on my phone said "Cool gallery Camille Esnée". I pinned a few months earlier just in case I'd be in Brussels in the near future. And yes it was really cool, and yes they had pieces of French ceramist Camille Esnée on display. And yes the space looked amazing: bright, spacious, with lots of cool old details, tiles & bricks, and houses an amazing collection of contemporary ceramics, design and art. And even a lush plantshelfie above the desk. I already shared quite a bit in Stories, but as I took so many photos, I wanted to share it with you here on the blog too. If you're ever in Brussels: tag Fracas gallery on your map ;) You won't be disappointed!
In their own words: "Initiated by two creatives, FRACAS is a platform dedicated to art, design and contemporary craft. Based in the center of Brussels, FRACAS is a concept-space that combines a workshop and an exhibition gallery where we exhibit and sell self-edited works of artists, designers and contemporary craftspeople. The space welcomes curated exhibitions and themed collections that gather together the work of creative minds from different fields, aiming to allow the general public to discover nice and original works. Conceptualized as a participatory structure for self-edited works of artists and designers, FRACAS puts the makers in front of the public without taking any commission on the sales, insuring the makers receive a fair income, and the clients pay honest prices".
There was one peculiar thing in this gallery: none of the items had name tags or information about the item or artist. Which means you simply look at the pieces and can only admire them for what they seem like to you, without any context. I believe this can be really nice and refreshing, plus you don't have any disturbing stickers or descriptions on the wall that tell you more about the artist or work. But sometimes a little bit of context and the techniques used, can be helpful to better understand the artwork. That's where the Fracas website comes in: you can find more information about all items and artists there and in their webshop. This also allows the Fracas team to restyle the different corners of the gallery very easily, which keeps it interesting ;)
Above: the works of Studio Jephrïm, Soha (and others).
Beautiful details from the building's former life:
Tradescantia, Calathea and Rhipsalis:
My favorites: this shelf with ceramics by Emmanuel Chevrel, Cécile Bichon, Alisson Thirion and Julia Huteau:
In the shop window a selection of pastel colored vases by Laurin Schaub, Sarah Pschorn, Messgewand, Alissa Volchkova (and others):
The HOOK by Camille Esnée, who I follow on Instagram (because she makes beautiful work) and that introduced me to Fracas in her Instagram Stories a while ago. And a large piece by Julia Huteau:
Wall sculpture by Anton Reijnders, vases by Sarah Pschorn, lamp by Bultin:
Wall sculpture and vases and plate by Fanny Richard, Tradescantia pallida cutting, stool by Soha:
The plantshelfie above the desk, pendant light by Schneid:
Fracas Gallery /// rue des Chartreux 82 /// 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to pm
Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels
When you're in Brussels during the only 3 weeks of the year when the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are open to the general public, you just HAVE to go, right? This was the first time ever, that I queued up to visit a greenhouse. It was also the most annoying visit ever: there were too many loud and impolite people to my liking... there was only one route through the greenhouses and it all felt way too polished, perfect and flowery to me. BUT...
BUT: the final greenhouse, the Winter Garden with the Royal Crown on top, made it all worth it: I mean look at how amazing it looks in the first photo! It was so impressive, with beautifully aligned palms, banana trees and ferns. And this mega giant huge Monstera deliciosa on the side... One of the biggest specimens I have ever seen:
In 1873, architect Alphonse Balat designed a complex of greenhouses for King Leopold II, made entirely of glass and steel, in order to complete the castle of Laeken. He supervised the different stages of its construction until his death in 1895, and was succeeded by the architects Girault and Maquet. Built between 1874 and 1905, the Royal Greenhouses were a spectacular innovation by their size and their architectural quality. King Leopold II was particularly fond of camelias, and thus the greenhouses house an exceptionnal collection of them.
A few facts and figures: The park measures 194ha and the greenhouses complex covers a 1.5ha floor space with a roof made of 2.5ha of glass. 651 Tonnes of steel are used for the Winter Garden. Some plants are nearly 200 years old. 60 Employees take care of the plant collection and more than 100.000 people visit the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken every year.
If you have the chance to visit the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken before May 11th, go go go! It is spectacular and so worth the visit, despite the touristic feel of the venue, it is impressive. A definite must-see!
The Royal crown on top of the Royal Greenhouse:
La Serre du Congo:
Along the winding path through the different greenhouses everything is very floral: if you like fuchsia plants, this the place to be: they are everywhere and the small garden parcels are meticulously cultivated.
Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, Château de Laeken, Avenue du Parc Royal, Brussels
Open 3 weeks per year (April 21st - May 11th 2018), tickets 2.50€
Mindcraft 2018 exhibition in Milan
The Mindcraft exhibition curated by Henrik Vibskov last year was one of my very favorites, so I was impatient to check out this year's edition. The weather was just as glorious as in 2017: the sun hit the inner court of the historical San Simpliciano cloister and made everything look extra special. All the pillars were covered with thick yellow, white and grey blankets by Kvadrat, partner of the Mindcraft 2018 exhibition, and invited to sit back and relax. Just what most visitors of the Milan Design Week needed: a comfy place to give their feet a break from walking around town.
MINDCRAFT is an exhibition concept showcasing some of Denmark's most talented craftspeople and designers. The curated exhibitions demonstrate the qualities, potentials and versatility of new Danish craft and design. The MINDCRAFT exhibitions are organized by the Danish Arts Foundation and the Agency for Culture and Palaces and this year's edition was curated by Ditte Hammerstrøm.
The chosen focus of MINDCRAFT18 is on the essence of the work with design and craft. The objects on display take centre stage, with an emphasis on the hands-on engagement with the material and the visual, aesthetic and sensuous qualities of the objects.
My favorite piece from the exhibition: this LMA (lick my ass) chair by Pettersen & Hein. It is made of 4 pigment-dyed concrete blocks, joined together with iron tubes, and a glass-blasted, anodized aluminium seat with hand-made indentations that create a textured surface.
A knit sculpture called Aurora Borealis by Iben Høj:
Textile sculpture Black Matter by Anja Vang Krag in the back, and water resistant paper creation Field of flowers (long winter poem) by Louise Campbell in the front:
Highlights from Milan Design Week 2018
Last week I was back in Milan for Design Week. The previous edition (2017) was so good and hard to top, but again it was a lovely trip. Very warm and sunny (27°C), very crowded. In a short amount of time I managed to see quite a bit, but also missed out on so many other design exhibitions. Overall I got the sentiment it was all a bit less risky: no mindblowing lifechanging design exhibitions, but very good ones nevertheless.
The main reason of my visit was to attend the Gardena event at the La Gare hotel, overviewing the Bosco Verticale by architect Stefano Boeri. These vertical forest towers were built in 2014 and are one of the first things you see when you get off the train at the Garibaldi station in Milan. They represent 2ha of forest on a relatively small surface. Stefano Boeri told us all about the choice of bushes and trees and how the greenery was tested in a wind tunnel in the US to make sure they can resist the winds on top of the building. The tenants of the apartments don't take care of their balconies by themselves: the flying gardeners as they call them, have the keys of the apartments and make sure all greenery is doing fine. However, as Stefano Boeri told me when I asked him: most tenants are very inspired by their green frame of their home in Milan, that they enjoy grow plants in their apartments too. I'd love to see what that looks from the inside!
One of the most inspiring aspects of Milan are the green balconies and façades everywhere. That's when you realize there is a lot of work left to do in Paris... looking at you Jardinière Sauvage ;)
The first design stop was at the Objets Nomades exhibition by Louis Vuitton. It was surprisingly good, with these nomad cabins in the courtyard and a very flowery presentation inside the Palazzo Bocconi (more of that below).
Of course I had to visit my friends from Pijama at their boutique in the Isola area (near the Bosco Verticale) where they presented their new collaboration with Waxman Brothers. The very colorful African grocery styling reminded me of Maison Chateau Rouge here in Paris. I really love their cachepots that cover any dull plant pot and add instant style. Also, their laptop covers and pouches are so goodlooking and practical. I just love neoprene <3
If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my discoball adventure? Long story short: I spotted an XXL discoball at our local thrift store and my Instagram followers voted for me to get it. So now I'm the proud owner of that huge discoball (and love it!) and keep seeing discoballs everywhere, like this cool "melted" one at Disco Gufram.
Just opposite of the Pijama boutique, was the group show called Mutant Matter by Dutch Invertuals, a carefully hand picked group of passionate, and vision driven designers, pushing the boundaries of their capabilities. I really loved these pieces by Xandra van der Eijk, called Future Remnants:
And these bold shapes by Fleur Hulleman, called Untouchables:
These wall lights by Michael Anastassiadas seen at Nilufar Gallery made me smile:
Pink, Red and bubbly ballons at the Objets Nomades exhibition by Louis Vuitton:
The impressive ceiling dressed in handmade leather flowers (available in their shop at 240€/piece), again at the Objets Nomades exhibition by Louis Vuitton:
The Tropicalist vase by the Campana brothers, inspired by nspired by South American Quesnalia and Bromeliad flowers:
How surprisingly beautiful are these translucent balcony fences?
And Milan in the spring is not the same without the Wysteria hysteria everywhere... it makes the city smell so good:
More to come soon! I have two extra blogposts coming up with my favourite design exhibitions in Milan... and check out Urban Jungle Bloggers too as we'll cover some nice (and new!) plant shops from Italy's design capital!
Our home is now officially for sale!
Our home is now officially for sale! 27 Rooms at 50 km north to Paris...
We are hopeing for someone to fall in love with the building, just like we did 15 years ago. Someone that will turn the incredible surface (504m²!) into their workshop, office and/or apartment. Someone who will enjoy watching the boats pass by, someone who loves the tranquility of the (almost) countryside... Someone who enjoys throwing parties (no neighbors that can complain about any loud music) or someone who appreciates the beautiful light that shines through the 3 meter high windows... Someone that sees their future here!
Just to be clear: the 150+ plants and 2 cats are not included ;)
One of the things that I like about moving, is going to through all out stuff and making a conscious decision on what to keep or what to give away, sell or recycle. I used to be "let's keep that because one day I'll need it", but these days I can easily let go of stuff. I don't need to keep all my sketches from Art School, I don't need all the pretty (empty!) boxes or the clothes that don't fit anymore, and I certainly don't need the stuff that is still in moving boxes from the last time we moved. I'm just keeping the essentials... and then some! Because let's be clear: I'm not a minimalist ;)
The only one that's giving me concerns about moving is our 15-year-old Dwjareb: he truly loves his routine, his favourite places to sleep or to be petted... He never ever went outside, not even down to the hallway, simply because he doesn't care. We tried to bring him downstairs once and he totally freaked out. So I wonder how he will do with a bit of traveling and a new home. But we'll find out soon enough! For now he seems to enjoy life in all its simplicty:
A postcard from beautiful Rome
Last weekend I went to Italy for the fourth time this year. In April I was invited to Milan for Design Week and later that month I was in Genoa and we visited Aosta in May. But it had been 21 years and 1 month since I was in Rome, during the typical "Rome reis", a trip for highschool students with Latin & Greek in their curriculum. From what I remember, Rome felt like a giant open air museum with cute carabinieri and all the rememnants of the history that we learned about at school. The city of Rome was also the stage of our teenager adventures, a first longer trip away from our families, with nights on the Spanish steps, cheap Lambrusco and the discovery of antipasti.
Anyway, going back to beautiful Rome for our annual Blago trip was wonderful. Flashes of memories came back, but more importantly: we created new memories that didn't include caribinieri or Lambrusco. This end of November felt like fall, with the colorful leaves still on the trees, instead of on the ground like here in Paris, and we were lucky to have our local friend Kat as our guide. She showed us her Rome, took us to the best places to eat, off the beaten track, organised a pasta cooking class for us, and made us laugh so much. The six of us met more than five years ago at a blog conference and became instant friends. Ever since, two babies were born, careers evolved, some of us even moved countries, but our annual girl's trips are a welcome break from it all. Here are a few snaps of the weekend!
I'm currently preparing a few extra blogposts, about our amazing apartment Casa Cau, the pasta workshop, bubbles and the amazing botanical garden. But first: weekend! Have a good one!
Oh how I love green balconies:
Early morning (8AM!) posing at the Trevi Fountain. Deepa looking all sharp and shiny:
Roman streetart in the Ostiense neighborhood: a colorful mural by BLU on the Fronte del Porto, a former aeronautical barracks:
One of my favorite trips of the summer was to the city of Roubaix, in the metropolitan area of Lille, in the north of France. Our goal was to visit La Piscine, a museum of contemporary art and industry that is located in a former indoor swimming pool. Did I like it? What can I say, it was eclectic, strange, loud (with typical swimming pool sounds through the speaker every once in a while) and still has a small pond in the central hall with flowing water. The museum exhibits a few interesting art pieces, but it didn't really blow me away as I expected it would. I must say that we forgot that it was the first Sunday of the month, hence free access to the museum, so it was rather crowded with people that usually don't visit musea. After our visit of La Piscine, I realized that we were actually very close to Croix, home of the famous Villa Cavrois, built in 1932 by Robert Mallet-Stevens, that I've been wanting to visit for a while. So off we went! And I loved it!
The Villa Cavrois was recently restored by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux and it looks like new! The renovation is really well done, the entire home feels luxurious and spacious, also because it's not overly decorated, which allows you to really appreciate the lines of the building, the volumes and the colors. The Villa was originally built to house a family of nine and is impressive by its proportions (2800m2!) and has some very modern features for the time like electricity in all rooms, telephone, central heating and airconditioning, electric clocks and towel heaters. Because Robert Mallet-Stevens worked as a set designer for the cinema, he also designed all the furniture, lighting and even the garden, which makes the villa a true piece of art.
"In the early twentieth century, the Nord was one of the most industrialised regions in France. Roubaix and Tourcoing were then a major centre of textile production, so much so that Roubaix became known as the "city of a thousand chimneys". The Cavrois-Mahieu company, founded in 1865, manufactured upmarket fabrics for Parisian Houses. In 1923 the company, which had five factories, employed nearly 700 employees. When Paul Cavrois, the owner of this company, decided to build a house for his family, he bought land at a place called Beaumont, a few kilometres from Roubaix. Since 1870, the industrial bourgeoisie has distanced its residences from the factories to benefit from a healthier environment and a better quality of life. The municipality of Croix, on the outskirts of Roubaix, saw imposing bourgeois residences flourish, true little castles, which were characterised by their neo-regionalist style. In this landscape, the silhouette of the modern villa designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens contrasts sharply." Read more about the history of the Villa Cavrois HERE.
The August light changed all the time, from cloudy to sunny:
Colorblocking in 1930s style. The blue totally reminds me of one of the walls in the Villa Savoye.
How classy is this cognac colored liseret in one of the bathrooms:
Villa Cavrois /// 60 Avenue du Président John Fitzgerald Kennedy /// 59170 Croix
If you loved this peek of the Villa Cavrois, you may want to check out my previous posts about some architectural gems like La Maison Louis Carré, the Alvar Aalto Studio, le Palais Bulles by Antti Lovag, la Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier, the Mies van der Rohe pavillion, the Artist's Entry in Park Middelheim or la Plage de Lys.
Maison Louis Carré by Alvar Aalto
On your birthday you get to choose what you want to eat or do, right? Well, I know I do! The night before my sister and I baked a delicious Challah loaf and made Labneh. But before enjoying that feast on the "big" day, we were headed to a place that has been on my list for a while now: the Maison Louis Carré in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, 40km south west of Paris. In Helsinki we got to visit Alvar Aalto's studio and as you know, I loved it, so a visit to the only remaining building by Alvar Aalto building here in France, was a must.
At the end of a road in a residential area, we found this amazing building designed by Finnish designer Alvar Aalto for French art dealer and collector, and friend, Louis Carré. The maison is situated on the top of a mini-hill that Louis Carré purchased in 1955. He met Alvar Aalto at the Venice Biennale where the architect was working on the 1956 Finnish Pavillion, and they became friends. Monsieur Carré asked Alvar Aalto to build him a private home for him and his wife Olga, where he could also display his art and host small exhibitions and events. Apparently he had a "nearly" unlimited budget to build something wonderful, which he did, yet in a typical Alvar Aalto style of understated, pure design. You can feel (and see!) that no detail was ignored. The Maison Carré was completed in 1959 and the swimmingpool with ajacient poolhouse on the same property was finished a few years later, in 1963.
One of the things that I like most in Alvar Aalto's work, is his eye for form and function, not only in the construction of his buildings, but also in the furniture that he designed for all of his projects, that are usually "part of the deal". His pendant lights are not only beautiful to look at, they also have a fonction, in case of this Bilberry pendant light, it was designed to work as a spotlight for art:
Until September 3rd 2017, there is an exhibition at the Maison Louis Carré, called La politesse de Wassermann by Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann, which I found to be in a complete contrast with the building itself: it emphasises the extraordinary/insane things that could have happened at the Maison, through references like Hugh Hefner (the texts on the windows and the silver silk sheets on the beds) and others. While I don't grab the entire idea and story of this exhibition (more about it here if you like), I found it quite daring to install such a bold exhibition in such an understated home. And at some points it creates an interesting dynamic:
One of the bedrooms with a view over the garden:
One of my favorite pieces in the house: the Bell pendant lights above the dining table with extra spots to highlight the artwork on the walls!
Love this color combination of offwhite, dusty pink and brick red:
One of the bedrooms, with a temporary installation by Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann:
Louis Carré died in 1977, and his wife Olga, lived in the house until 2002. Many of the original artwork was then sold, but the old photos in the bedroom show what the interior really looked like, several decades ago, and the view over the countryside:
Another part of the exhibition that I completely didn't understand, but that I quite liked: it's a Sunday Night Pool Party waiting to happen, right?!
Unfortunately the first floor is not open to the public, it used to be the housing of the staff and has not been renovated (yet):
Si Non Oscillas Noli Tintinnare on the left window: if you don't swing, don't ring. A reference to the Play Mansion:
Why redesign a chimney, if you can use your own lamp-designs, turn them upside down, and use this instead! The chimney on the roof is actually inspired by Aalto's A110 pendant lights:
The garden was designed as the ideal backdrop for many garden parties:
And the most recently renovated part of the property: the swimming pool and poolhouse, with some very beautiful garden lights, designed by Alvar Aalto himself, bien sûr:
And there, in that fitting room, if you look closely: does your eye see what I see?
Exactly, a bunch of eyeballs. Also part of the exhibition. Usually they float on the water in the pool, but the staff didn't have time to put them in the pool again, after a big photoshoot at the Maison Carré the day before.
Overall I warmy recommend to visit the Maison Louis Carré if you ever have the chance. Make sure to make a reservation for a guided tour (it's the only option!) and enjoy the only remaining building of Alvar Aalto in France. And while you're in Bazoches, head to the other side of the road for a visit of the Jean Monnet house and enter a completely different world. And if you're lucky like me, you get treated to some fresh challah loaf with labneh and pancakes when you get home ;)
Maison Louis Carré /// 2 chemin du Saint-Sacrement /// 78490 Bazoches-sur-Guyonne
Open Saturdays and Sundays from 14 to 18 by guided tour only. Advanced booking required, more information here.
mini LIVING breathe in Milan
One of the most sensational installations in Milan was definitely the Breathe tower in the Tortona district. When I heard it was all about conscious, healthy and green living I knew I had to go and see it for myself. Together with NYC-based architects SO-IL, MINI (from the cars!) introduced a creative problem-solving approach for future challenges in urban areas. In other words: how do we "live" in the future. In the next decades more and more people will live in urban environments, apartments will become smaller and more expensive, so we need to re-think how we live. According to Breathe: we will need to share more space and tools (for laundry or cooking for example) with others and make conscious decisions on how we use the few square meters we have. I must admit I was very happy to see that plants are an undeniable part of this concept, because they are vital!
Breathe consists of a tall tower in between two buildings and is composed of a metal frame that is covered with a white mesh fabric. You enter the home via a communal kitchen with modular elements and then reach the other 5 areas via a steep spiral staircase. These areas are for working, relaxing and taking care of yourself in a very minimalistic way, including a capsule clothing collection (!), a few books and some accessories, houseplants and different floor-seating areas and hammocks. As you can see in my photos, the tower is covered by a translucent mesh fabric that filters the air and makes the entire home look very airy and bright.
The entire structure is also "rebuildable" so you can move it to a new location and start all over. It's a bit like a contemporary tent or caravan. It almost feels like glamping ;)
The plants inside Breathe and on the rooftop terrace are selected for their air purifying powers, like this Kentia palm, the Philodendron and the Ivy:
A "hammock" for reading, relaxing and sleeping:
At the lush green rooftop garden, rainwater is collected and stored to use in the rest of the home.
What I liked most about this idea of transparent and translucent living is that, quite unexpectedly, you feel some kind of privacy in all the different areas, but at the same you're not far away from others.
The spiral staircase to the next floors, and the minimal and modular kitchen:
During my visit, the team from Dezeen was there to host a panel discussion with Oke Hauser from MINI, Ilias Papageorgiou from SO-IL, Jane Hall frpm London collective Assemble and Italian architect Carlo Ratti. The final words by Carlo Ratti were definitely what tied the entire Breathe installation together when he quotes Herbert Simon and Albert Einstein: "Science is about how the world is, design is how the world could be." This is definitely an interesting proof of concept!
Read more about the MINI living Breathe installation on Dezeen and Designboom.
A walk around green Milan
As you may know, Milan is so very green: not only the booths and exhibitions of the Salone del Mobile or the FuoriSalone are green (more about that soon!), many balconies, façades and walls of buildings are covered with leaves. It's refreshing, especially in a city that is so dense and suffers from air pollution quite a few days per year. And because the weather was so lovely during my stay, I walked around quite a bit. Here's what I saw:
The staghorn fern, graptoveria succulent (the one bottom left) and the Tradescantia pallida on this balcony are so pretty!
The kind of matchy/matchy I love, in Brera Design District:
Passing by the famous Maryflor florist. They also have quite a few interesting cactus plants in their shop. It was impossible to take their picture because of the bright reflections of the sunlight, but believe me: they were lovely!
I love this light:
The work of Francesca Pasquali, an installation of colored cobweb dusters(!) for Melissa:
More pale pink and green balconies:
And the two most famous green towers in Milan: the Bosco Verticale (vertical forest) by Stefano Boeri:
Stay tuned, I'll show you more design goodness from Milan later this week!
Santa & Cole at Parc de Belloch
Santa & Cole is this brand that you know unconsciously. At least I did. Their street lights brighten several big avenues in Barcelona (and other cities) and their lamps and furniture reside in many homes, hotels and offices around the world. Santa & Cole actually don't design their products themselves, they are an editing company, which means they publish designs from others. Timeless, high quality pieces from well selected materials. That you instantly recognize once you flip through their catalogue.
During Sunny Design Days, we were invited to meet one of the founders of Santa & Cole, Nina Masó, at their headquarters at Parc de Belloch, a knowledge parc near Barcelona, that they acquired in 2003. The large parc and school building from the 1960s were not for sale at the time, but the Santa & Cole team somehow managed to become owners of the parc, which now focuses on communication and industrial design. The story of the building, a former school, and their intention to turn it into something good, totally hit home for me. Our own building, also from the 1960s, wasn't for sale either and look where we live now, twelve years later.
Parc de Belloch is a peaceful haven at 30 km from Barcelona, it's spacious and located on a hilltop, with wide open spaces, covered passages, large lawns and lots of pines and palm trees. The main building has a contemporary feel with a hint of midcentury. Inside, Nina Masó kindly introduced us to Santa & Cole, and their philosphy of editing other designer's designs. I loved how we got to peek into their creative workspaces, where designs in different stadiums of development where laying and hanging around in what used to be classrooms of the school.
Speaking of hanging around: pinewood structures of the famous Santa & Cole Cestita lamp hanging from the ceiling:
Everywhere in the building are small, or bigger details, that remind you of the previous function of the building, like this music ♬ blackboard:
Cesta, Cestita and their metallic brothers and sisters:
Prototypes of different lampshades:
Below you see the M64 lamp by Miguel Mila, designed in 1964 and reedited in 2013. The new version features a very flat LED light that simply carries the lampshade. When you lift the lampshade you can easily take it off and change it for a different shade, like any of the designs on the table:
Big Leonardo lamps catching the golden hour light:
What's not to love: palm trees and wall art:
Another highlight of the Parc de Belloch, is the former church, that is not in use as such anymore. Nina told us she and the other Santa & Cole co-founders, used to go to church here when they were kids. Nowadays they get to work in this same place! The top image of this post is from the Cirio circular in the church. Don't you think it looks stunning?
The luxury of spacious offices and outdoor gardens, terraces and covered passages, at Parc de Belloch:
After our visit of the Santa & Cole headquarters, a long table with lovely food and drinks waited for us under the trees in the garden. The team of La Horta de Belloch prepared us beautiful locally grown, organic and vegetarian food which tasted so good. All beautifully displayed on and under Santa & Cole's Blancowhite table tamps:
Al fresco dinner under the trees in the parc:
Flowers from the garden and sponge cakes wrapped in leaves (paired with apricot jam they were to die for!) Also served: fresh yogurt with myrtilles, homemade gazpacho, falafel with tsatsiki, a fresh cucumber salad, Spanish omelette, zucchini pie with goat cheese... and wines, craft beer and homemade ice tea to go with it. Yummm!
La Horta de Belloch is an agro-ecological project located in the heart of Parc de Belloch. All the vegetables are grown organically, without machines, collected by hand in the morning and slow cooked. Honest, simple and sooo good! I hope you can tell from the pictures, and if not: just believe me ;)
Muchas gracias Santa & Cole, Nina and Raquel and the guys from La Horta de Belloch for the memorable visit and dinner!
More photos from our visit on Santa & Cole's blog!
Pastel Paradise in Tallinn
You may have noticed with all the blogposts that we immensely enjoyed Helsinki. But we didn't know that Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was located at only 2 hours by ferry from Helsinki. And did you know that it's only 3 hours by train to Saint Petersburg?! We took the ferry to Tallinn without any expectations, but ended up in Pastel Paradise! The thin layer of snow and cloudy sky definitely emphasized the pastel vibe of the old town:
In the morning, we headed to the ferry harbour in Helsinki by tram (really: Helsinki public transportation is so smooth!), and boarded the Tallink Star ferry in no-time. We were seated in the front of the ship on the Sunset Deck with the best view:
Robert and I visited the on-board supermarket and shops, but most of our time was spent watching the Helsinki Archipellago and the Baltic Sea:
Before we realized we already reached Tallinn, the harbour in the front and the Old Town in the back:
We didn't have any plans in Tallinn other than to spend a day exploring, wandering the streets, do some shopping and visit a supermarket to check out the Estonian products. And that's what we did. We walked through the old town where everything was pastel colored:
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral:
The Parliament of Estonia:
And probably the most surprising building of Tallinn, an unidentified mint castle from 1925:
Loved this touch of yellow:
If you're in Tallinn, you may want to check out these cool (and good-looking!) places:
► Estonian Design House - a bit outside the city center: shop and café with the best Estonian design and handmade items
► Must Puudel café - eclectic and cosy café
► Modernne Eesti köök - Modern Estonian cuisine (also love their graphic identity!)
► August café - cosy café with nice coffee and vinyl turntables on the counter
Misty and cold Tallinn from above:
Full disclosure: Tallink Silja kindly offered our ferry trip from Helsinki to Tallinn and as usual: all photos and words are my own. We had a great daytrip and warmly recommend you to travel with Tallink. And an extra tip: we really enjoyed the Comfort-upgrade: you get access to the Comfort lounge, with free drinks & snacks and the best view of the boat. It made our daytrip extra comfy. Merci Tallink!
Alvar Aalto Studio in Helsinki
Kabang! After a very nice bike trip from our apartment in the city center of Helsinki, we arrived in a residential neighborhood of the Finnish capital. There are no street signs that indicate where to find Alvar Aalto's studio, and seen from the street it hardly stands out. A handful of Japanese tourists wander in the neighborhood and when we ring the doorbell, a young woman tells us to wait until exactly 11:30 when the guided tour begins. We park our Pelago bikes and enjoy the sun and the frozen Baltic Sea.
At exactly 11:30 the woman welcomes us inside and with six Japanese people we are shown around Alvar Aalto's studio. The famous Finnish architect and designer (and sculptor, painter) designed the building at
"The principal space in the building is the curving studio which has a view opening onto the courtyard. Horizontal battens fixed to the high walls of the studio allowed drawings to be displayed there. The rear wall is covered with climbing plants reaching up to the high-level windows and prototypes of light fittings designed by Alvar Aalto are hung in front of the wall. The slanting bay window of the conference room with its rooflight creates the perfect conditions for examining models and drawings".
One of the (many!) eyecatchers in the room are the big trailing plants in the back. On the original photos from the 1960s the trailing plants are already there. It doesn't look like the exact same plant, but the aesthetic and trailing shapes are pretty much the same ♥
Plenty of classic Alvar Aalto stools 60 and beautiful cardboard boxes (now empty!) that were used to store architectural drawings:
The curve in the main room makes that you cannot see the entire room when you enter the space, there is room for mystery, in a very modest and humble way.
The first floor is dedicated to the real work. And yes, real work: because there's still a team of people working in the Alvar Aalto studio. The team of the Alvar Aalto Foundation works where designers and architects used to design buildings and furniture in previous decades. It's part museum with tools and prototypes of Alvar Aalto's projects, and part workspace. What a privilage to work in a studio like this!
Beautiful tools and light:
The famous layered plywood construction technique:
It's hard to be distracted by things outside when working in the studio upstairs: the windows are positioned very high:
Kabang! This is really a space that you should experience by yourself when you're in Helsinki. It's hard to catch the feeling and design in photos. Visiting Alvar Aalto's studio truly helped me to better understand the core values of Finnish design. The Alvar Aalto home is located at walking distance from the studio.
Alvar Aalto studio /// Tiilimäki 20 /// 00330 Helsinki, Finland
Opening hours (guided tours only) on the website.
Suomenlinna: a not so Helsinki Secret
Everyone, truly everyone: from Helsinki locals to avid travelers, told me to visit the Unesco World Heritage site of Suomenlinna when in Helsinki. It felt a bit like: "You have to visit the Eiffel tower", which usually makes me want to skip a site or monument alltogether. But not in the case of Suomenlinna: it is a truly unique place? Suomenlinna (or Sveaborg in Swedish) is an inhabited sea fortress built on 6 islands, just off the coast of Helsinki. After only a short 20-minute ferry trip from the city center, you arrive in what seems like a different world. In our case: a snowy white wonderland, where around 800 people live all year round. No cars, few tourists because of the season, a mariage celebration in the church, a tough guy on a snow bike... and a snow storm!
Let me take you on a little virtual tour. First we hopped on the ferry from the harbour of Helsinki:
We wondered how the ferry would get through the ice in real, winter, because when we were there it was only around 0°C. The ice chunks looks impressive and made quite a lot of noise against the hull of the ferry:
And all of a sudden the ice chunks turn into water-only:
One of the island of the Suomenlinna archipel: Ryssänsaari, Puolimatkansaari:
The first building you see when reaching Suomenlinna by ferry is the pink-blush building (top of this blog post). I think it's the most Instagrammed spot of the entire island, although there are some other photogenic places on the islands, like this pale blue house with veranda:
My favorite buildings of 2015
Visiting plant nurseries makes me really happy, but visiting amazing architectural masterpieces is my second favorite. These were my favorite buildings that I visited in 2015:
A surprisingly exciting "new" place not far from our home: La Plage des Lys, which used to be the-beach-to-be for Parisians. /// I loved the pink, blush and sunny façades in Nice, like at Patisserie Auer.
An amazing carpet, a floating roof, lots of marble and sharp lines at the Mies van der Rohe pavillion in Barcelona /// A former mail sorting office converted into a cultural center: Le Tri Postal in Lille, France.
Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier
Visiting plant nurseries makes me really happy, but visiting amazing architectural masterpieces is my second favorite. This Villa Savoye in Poissy, just outside Paris, was on my want-to-visit-list for a while and finally I got to go! At several places stood "leftover" Tolix chairs and stools from the dedicated Tolix exhibition at the Villa Savoy earlier this year. A really great color match and both designed in the same era, the early 1930s.
Different layers of green to in the end: find the perfect shade of green:
See, what did I tell you: mint Tolix chair beautifully arranged in front of the glass wall near the entry:
The Villa Savoye was designed by Swiss architects Le Corbusier and his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, and built between 1928 and 1931 using reinforced concrete. The house in the outskirts of Paris, was originally built as a country retreat of the Savoye family. After being purchased by the neighbouring school it became property of the French state in 1958, and after surviving several plans of demolition, it was designated as an official French historical monument in 1965. It was thoroughly renovated from 1985 to 1997, and under the care of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, the refurbished house is now open to visitors all year round.
When reading the letters between the Savoye couple and Le Corbusier in the early 30s, it was very amusing to read they had several problems with leakage. The roof wasn't waterproof and according to one of the letters: "it was raining inside". Even though our concrete home was built 30 years later than the Villa Savoye, we do have the same issues as the Savoye couple ;)
One of the things that could be improved at the Villa Savoye is the vegetation. My hands itched when I saw the poor flower beds and dry shrubs. I think any Urban Jungle Blogger could (and would!) go WILD here!
Peachy pink in the living room:
And a very particular hue of blue:
Gorgeous light fittings:
Rue Crémieux in Paris
Paris isn't nearly as colorful as Berlin or London, but we do have our own Notting Hill-like street! La Rue Crémieux is one of the most Instagrammed streets in Paris and it was fun to see it in person in stead of on millions of Instagram shots. It's actually a very very regular and small street near Bastille. But with lots of potted plants and flowers, color and quirky details. Have a look:
As you can see, la Rue Crémieux was empty when I visited, but I've been told it's usually the place to be for fashionbloggers and selfie-stick tourists... There's also a small hostel-like hotel on Number Fifteen, called L'Hôtel Particulier, with double rooms starting at 80€.
Painted wisteria vines on the pistachio green house:
If you would ignore the typical Parisian terracotta chimney pots, this could be Portobello Road in London:
Yummy Indian cress flowers:
It wasn't 5:43, but never mind, it's a cute detail of the Rue Crémieux:
Plants on Pink:
And some more neutral hues, like pale green and white at Number Twelve:
And a hunting cat at Number Twenty-Eight:
Would you choose the yellow, pink, blue or this peachy blush house as your home?
Rue Crémieux /// 75012 Paris /// metro Quai de la Rapée or Bastille or Gare de Lyon
Click here for the exact location on Google Maps
Mies van der Rohe pavilion Barcelona
Another day, another gem in Barcelona! If you love steel, glass and polished stone and architecture, you shouldn't miss the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona pavilion, if you are in town.
I'm not a die-hard MvdR-fan but love his ideas about inside/outside, plants and clean lines. For instance I really don't like his Barcelona chair: it's not very comfy and I don't like the look, but the pavilion is an intriguing space. It was built for the Barcelona International Exhibition between 1928 and 1929, which means it was never designed as a place to live. That's exactly why I would love to visit the Villa Tugendhat in Brno (Czech Republic): it was commissioned by the Tugendhat couple as a home for their family.
In the pavilion lays an amazing custom carpet and features a "floating" roof. Also, the borders between inside & outside completely disappear. Built in the late 20's I can see that the architect who designed our home here in France, was clearly inspired by some of Mies van der Rohe's work. No more words, just photos, which may inspire you to visit the pavilion when you're in Barcelona :)
Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion /// Avenida Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 7 /// Barcelona, Spain
When browsing my latest Instagram pictures, I realised there's a pattern. A pink pattern! This past year I spotted several pink houses and façades everywhere I went. Not sure if it's my pink glasses that make me see "la vie en rose", but I just wanted to share this little collection here. Do you "suffer" from a similar silliness?
Above in Paris, below in Nice, France:
Above in the Baie de Somme, below near the Lago Maggiore, Italy last year:
Above in Paris, below in Nice, France:
Again in Nice:
And just because I loved this one so much... a mint pharmacie in my Oise region in France:
I'm currently on my way to Barcelona where I hope to spot some more colorful buildings! If you like, you can follow me along on Instagram :)
La Plage de Lys Chantilly
This weekend I visited the coolest new hotspot in the Oise. It's one of these places that makes my heart beat faster and gets me all excited about the opportunities it holds. It's called La Plage de Lys, located along the Oise-river between Chantilly and Boran-sur-Oise, at only 15 minutes from our home. The beach of Lys opened its doors in 1933 as the-place-to-be for young Parisians to enjoy the "beach". It's not really a beach, but it was very avant-garde with a swimming pool with filtered water from the Oise-river and artificial waves to give you a real sea-feeling. How awesome is that?!
After WWII La Plage des Lys became less popular, but was still in use until the late 90s. Then it was abandoned and the city of Boran sur Oise finally buys the site in 2005. Together with their partners La Bellevilloise and la CAP, they will renovate the site and re-open to the public in 2016. But this summer you can already enjoy some eclectic concerts, DJ-sets, open-air movie screenings, performances, foodtrucks and more surprises! Just note that you cannot swim here, but there are "water-misters" to cool down. The entry is free in exchange for your prettiest smile :)
The BAR letters and the bright orange/red touches everywhere are so pretty:
I love this little historical video of La Plage, look how crowded it used to be in the 1930s!
The Barbican Conversatory London
The contrast between the grey sky during my visit at the Barbican Conservatory and today's blue sunny sky in France, could hardly be any bigger. Unfortunately there was not enough time for a trip to the Kew Gardens or Botany in the past Blogtacular weekend, but I made a quick stop-over at the beautiful Barbican Conversatory. There's something about the Barbican that I find very attractive: it has a true soul and feels like a throwback to the '60s and '70s. I love it :)
This hidden tropical oasis in the middle of the city houses more than 2000 species of tropical plants and trees. If you want to visit the greenhouse, just note that the Conservatory of the Barbican is only open on Sundays and Bank holidays. I was there on a Friday, but found an open door and a kind resident with his granddaughter told me I should just take a peek (and a few pictures ;). So I did!
Can you see the purple/bordeaux hanging leafs down on the right? That's a giant bunch of Purple Heart just like mine <3
The Barbican Estate & Centre: dark & grey, with lots of rooftop gardens, balconies, palm trees, amazing apartments (for steep prices: I spotted a 30m2 apartment for almost 500K£ in a broker's window...). Last time there was the fabulous Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition, this time I just got to visit the beautiful Conversatory.
A gorgeous fan-palm... the future of mine :D
The Conserveratory at the Barbican /// Silk St /// London EC2Y 8DS
open on Sundays (11-17) and Bank holidays (12-17)
54 hours in London
For my third trip to London in a year, I made hardly any plans. My goals were to get some decent sleep and to have fun: the weeks leading up to this Blogtacular weekend were packed with (too much) work and I was exhausted and ready to see something else than my screen. But the main reason for my trip to London was our talk about Urban Jungle Bloggers at Blogtacular, you can read more about that here. The talk went great, Igor and I were both really humbled by the great feedback, the very supportive crowd and the enthusiasm about community building and plants, of course.
So instead of shopping and museum visits, I took it nice and (relatively) slow. First I met with Anne for tea and a gallery visit. As we both happened to be on the other side of the canal at the same time, we went for tea instead of catching up over coffee in Paris. Together we visited the Play: Toys Sets Rules exhibition at Walter Knoll, which was really nice and featured a cool collection of vintage toys with very simple and graphic shapes and designs, like this Lunatrack cardboard toy from 1968, designed by Roger Limbrick:
Last year I already played with this great wooden toy called Serpentino by Fredun Shapur for Naef (1980) at the Kemistry gallery, and we tried it again. Practice makes perfect: I actually managed to keep the orange ball in the loop for more than one turn! I wish they still produced this toy, because it's addictive!
We headed for tea at this London-cool coffee bar with mismatched chairs & tables, called Ask for Janice:
And here's a peek into the stunning Ham Yard hotel where I had a nice breakfast meeting later that weekend. The interior of the hotel is eclectic, very British with a stylish twist, all designed by Kit Kemp. If you love luxurious fabrics, patterns and colors, this is your go-to place:
The weather was pretty nice and before crashing in my hotel bed, I went for a little walk along the South Bank and enjoyed the London skyline from Tower Bridge:
And enfin, on the other side of the Thames, next to The Gherkin...
... and just a few walking minutes from the Tower bridge and the Tower of London...
... I found my hotel for the next few days: the new Motel One Tower Hill with their cool bar & lobby:
As you can see below, I was SO happy to get some sleep and the comfortable room and (very!) friendly and helpful staff didn't disappoint.
The location of Motel One Tower Hill is great, it's super central (only 5 underground stops from KingsX where Eurostar arrives) and if you're looking for an affordable (!), comfy and clean hotel in London, this is the place to book.
Even though I wish I could have spent more time in my comfy hotelbed, I had a great stay. And above all: the staff was very friendly, which makes really all the difference, don't you think?
I'll be back later this week to show you around my favorite urban jungle in London and some extra pictures from the Open Garden Squares weekend that took place last weekend. Have a great week!
Motel One kindly sponsored my stay at their Tower Hill location, but all opinions and photos are my own. Merci beaucoup Motel One!
A night in a straw bale house
Before heading to the biggest Plant Fair in Europe that took place on our doorstep this weekend (more on that soon!), we spent a night in a straw bale house. Without running water and with an outhouse, a sauna, a lovely Orangerie and a nice table d'hôtes. La Chaise Verte, the green chair, is the only straw bale B&B in France and it was surprisingly nice! My entire experience will be on the blog of the Oise Tourism Board later this week, but I wanted to show you these images of the Orangerie, the little glass atelier in the garden, next to the straw house. It was decorated with lots of recycled objects but I particularly loved the end-of-the-day sunrays.
A très bientôt !
île de Ré
This was probably the happiest day of our trip to the West Coast. The sun was out and we visited the island of Ré. I've heard so many friends raving about this place ever since we moved to France so I was really curious to discover what it was all about. And l'Île de Ré did not disappoint! At this time of the year (mid april) the island is still rather calm and the tourist traps easy to avoid.
We rented some comfy French bikes at Cyclo Surf, one of the manys bike rental places on the island, and off we went! Most cycle paths on the island are car-free which makes it really safe to bike around, unlike the rest of France. But beware of French cyclists... they seem to forget the obvious traffic code like keep right, never stop in the middle of the road and always keep your kids to your right (closest to the side of the road) ;)
Like the entire West Coast there are salt marches everywhere. Their slightly lilac hue (because of microorganisms) of the salt pans looked gorgeous against the beautiful sky an yellow flowers:
To my surprise, all houses on Île de Ré are white with green shutters. All kinds of green: mint, teal, shamrock, olive, pistachio, forest green. It's truly stunning:
Proof that this all made me really happy:
Biking along the ocean is so nice: wind blowing through your hair, a mix of spring flowers perfume and the sea smell, the view to the horizon... bliss!
We also went to the Phare des Baleines on the North East of the island. It's turned into a tourist trap with many souvenir shops and crêperies at the enty of the site, but the view on the ocean is pretty nice. There are two sea currents meeting in the middle which creates a mesmerizing wave movement.
The Island of Ré als houses a long sentence prison. I can imagine lesser places to be emprisoned, even though you're no supposed to venture around the island. Actually every year at least one prisoner is tempted by the beautiful island and tries to escape. Someone told us that last year a prisoner disappeared and they found him on his way to the continent on a stolen surf board. Haha!
The well preserved windmills near Ars en Ré, Les Moulins de la Boire, used to crush the salt cristals that were collected from the salt marches. Nowadays it's a bed & breakfast called Le Senechal.
By the way, from this beach near Sainte-Marie-de-Ré you can see Fort Boyard on the horizon, known from the famous television show :)
Ile de Ré is connected to La Rochelle by a 3km-long toll bridge constructed in 1988. You pay 8€ (in the high season it's 16€) to get onto the island and can leave for free. Hope you enjoyed joining me on this little virtual trip to the island!
A week in the West
We didn't know this part of France: we spent a week in Western France, just above La Rochelle, in the armpit of the country called La Vendée. A week of exploring, sleeping and relaxing near the ocean: bliss! We rented a little house in the dunes and headed out to small cities like Olonne-sur-Mer, Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie and Jard-sur-Mer... But we preferred the seaside in between where we looked for buoys, but only found these beautiful stones.
It wasn't as sunny as in Paris, but we found some interesting color combinations in Les Sables d'Olonne:
The Atlantic Ocean was never far, with its strong waves and relaxing sounds and of course I took way too many sea pictures ;)
And with the Oean comes fish and sea food. This man was fishing for sardines:
We hopped over to the island of Noirmoutier where we walked along several salt marches. I just loved the small cabans where they sell salt. The marketing is brilliant, just SALT:
The advantage of traveling in the off season is that it was very quiet everywhere, we walked along emtpy beaches with only a few Sanderlings. The tides of the Ocean are strong near the island and when we wanted to leave, this is what the road to the continent looked like:
But we were lucky: l'ile de Noirmoutier also has a bridge! And this Wednesday I'll take you to the next island of our trip: the beautiful Ile de Ré! I loved it and hope you'll join me!
Nine minutes in Nice
Today I wanted to share a little bit of extra sunshine and color with you, from my little trip to Nice a few weeks ago. It was so nice to escape the grey & cold for what seemed like just nine minutes. The weekend was full and busy and I spent my time off snapping pictures of the blue blue sky. It totally reinvigorated me.
How crazy and pink is the famous Auer patisserie:
I never get enough of palm trees! It will take a few more decades until mine will be this tall:
Look at how it filters the sunlight, the perfect spot for a siësta:
There's definitely an Urban Jungle Blogger living here:
Beautiful and tasty garlic from the Provence at the market in Vieux Nice:
Le Promenade des Anglais:
And another Urban Jungle Blogger having fun with planters at le Comptoir de Nicole, a Niçois bistrot:
Great choice of color for this tricycle truck:
Je suis Charlie... at only a few meters from where earlier this week, three soldiers were stabbed outside a Jewish community center. It's a small and crazy world we're living in!
Never enough greens, never enough blue skies. It's such a cliché, but we're in the middle of the winter here in the Oise ;)
Have a wonderful and sunny weekend!
Prom'Classic in Nice with Kalenji
I never imagined running a race would actually be FUN! When I teamed up with Kalenji a few months ago to celebrate my 200th run, they challenged me to run 10K in Nice in January. For me running is rather personal, a way to just be outside, clear my head and get sweaty. Not something I imagined sharing with almost 9000 other runners. But I was curious and accepted the challenge. After a particular rough week, with the tragic terrororist attacks in France, I left Paris for Nice "right in the middle of it". The sunshine and beauty of Nizza warmed my heart.
The Prom'Classic is a 10km race along the world famous Promenade des Anglais, along the Mediterranean. You run from the Old town, Vieux Nice, to the Airport and back. The entire time you can see the sea, the many many palm trees along the promenade and pass by the gorgeous Negresco.
Part of the challenge was to run on the new Kalenji Kiprun SD3 running shoes. I've been running on them since December and they are bright neon pink, super light and I honestly like them a lot. Ever since my first visit at Decathlon (where you can buy all kinds of Kalenji running gear), I've been running on their shoes. First a pair for short distances, then a pair for medium distances with a little bit more bounce and firmness. But design-wise they were not the prettiest. Their new 2015 range is definitely more up-to-date!
Now let me tell you about the race. My first race ever! I was ready, the weeks before the Prom'Classic I ran 10km twice. I was also slightly nervous. Because how do you run with so many people around you? Would I need to use my elbows?
Minutes before the race, the mayor of Nice (one of the runners!) reminds us that we all wear the same shirt. That we run to show that we are free, that we are not afraid and that the values of solidarity and sharing will triumph barbarism. Followed by a minute of applause and then the first group of runners, that would run 10km in less than half an hour, are off.
Artist's Entrance Middelheim in Antwerp
This weekend I was in Antwerp with my family and besides some shopping, we spent an afternoon at the Middelheim Museum park. Even though it was wet and cloudy, it was lovely to stroll around the Museum park. This curvy red, white, pink building is one of the entrances of the park. At first I thought it was a vintage gas station, just like the Brabant Service Station. But when I looked up close, the name of the building, the Artist's Entrance, made sense.
Dutch artist John Körmeling built the Artist's Entrance in poured concrete and glass between 2004 and 2012 as one of the 9 entrances of the park. The neon letters emphasize some artists' names that are featured in the Middelheim Museum park. The concrete roof is white, but the bright red floor reflects on the ceiling which gives it this wonderful gradient glow.
I love how the building is so tongue in the cheek: it's a nice sheltered entrance, the perfect place for an exhibition opening for example (you could show some smaller art pieces in the glass "room"!), it has beautiful curves and a bold color, it includes nice letters and neons and the proportions are really good. It's on the border between architecture and art, a place that I can truly appreciate.
A little bit of Vegas on top of the roof:
A perfect pink gradient:
Names of artists with sculptures in the Middelheim Museum park are featured on the roof:
Middelheim Museum /// Middelheimlaan 62 /// 2020 Antwerpen /// +32 3 288 33 60
open tuesday to sunday from 10:00 to 17:00 (longer in the summer) admission free
Wandering around Gerberoy
While I just told you I was working while everyone seems to be on holiday, these pictures have a pretty real holiday vibe, right? Well... my stepson and stepdaughter spent a few days with us in France, so we decided to visit the prettiest village in our Oise region: Gerberoy. The village is part of this national ranking with the most beautiful French villages, just like Roussillon that we visited last fall.
Gerberoy is really small with a population of only 115, and no traffic lights or billboards. It's known for the Rose Festival and the famous impressionist painter Henri Le Sidaner who created a wonderful garden on the remains of the castle. From the top of the monochrome gardens (in white, red & pink, blue & yellow) we appreciated the view over the rooftops on our countryside. A stunning view!
The people of Gerberoy really love their village, it looks pristine and very well maintained. I don't think I could live in a small village like this with so many tourists visiting all year round, but at night when they're gone it must be rather special to live here.
We wandered around the village with cobbled streets and timber framed houses, watched the geese and sheep in the surrounding fields and walked up to the Temple de l'Amour:
Rose loves roses and the love temple too: <3
There were very few roses left, but in June Gerberoy probably smells (and looks!) amazing. We may have to come back during the Rose Festival next year...
Les carrelages de Saint Samson
Last weekend was pretty eclectic. While we spent an afternoon at the races in Chantilly, we also drove to the western part of the Oise, to visit an old factory where they produce terracotta floor tiles.
There is something about old factories, the beautiful decay, old signs, red bricks, the history. Remember the Sugar Factory? Well, this terracotta factory is very different, because it's still "alive"! Two young brothers fell in love with the place and decided to develop its activities. They still produce traditional French tomettes like they did in the 19th century. Can you believe they even produce their own electricity?
While we're currently still in the middle of choosing the tiles for our bathroom (and more particularly the wall finishes) it was nice to see how these 100% natural and 100% French tiles are produced. It's really just "earth". I really loved their wall plaster in beautiful colors like mouse grey, honey and liquorice. Unfortunately it's not suited for bathroom walls...
Before hitting the kiln, the clay needs to dry for a while. In French these clay balls are called: pains d'argile, clay breads:
It's so nice (and romantic!) that somehow there's not a better more way to produce these tiles than how they did over a century ago. And even though the craftsmen master their skills, when they open the kiln after firing the tiles, it's always a surprise. As one of the workers says: "we don't make custom made, we make something old and traditional". All of these tools are still used on a daily basis:
Les Carrelages de Saint Samson /// 4, rue de la Briqueterie /// 60220 Saint-Samson-la-Poterie
more info in English here
This weekend I was in Amsterdam to attend a friend's wedding. And while I hoped I could squeeze in a little time off in the city, I was too busy to help with the 9 layers weddingcake my sister created for the happy couple. Which was fun though!
Somehow I never fell in love with Amsterdam. Well over a decade ago, before moving to France, I even worked here, but I think I need more time to go beyond the clichés of agressive cyclists:
the beautiful canals:
Amsterdam gable galore:
and the Amstel:
So I made plans to come back very soon! Of course I'll include some libary love (at the Public Libary), water love (at Stella Maria Maris, a new water & care brand) and meet up with friends for real friendship love ;)
What about you? Do you like Amsterdam? Any suggestions of places to visit that could make me change my mind?
The colors of Notting Hill London
Our French weather man a.k.a. Monsieur Météo predicted a rainy weekend in London, but I was very very lucky: as soon as my Eurostar arrived at Saint Pancras station last week the sun came out and didn't disappear until I left four days later! Super convenient, because what I like best when visiting a city is walking around. Preferably all day and without an umbrella ;) While my feet hate me for that, my eyes loved it: especially when walking around Notting Hill. I know there are already so many pictures of the colorful houses in this part of town, but I just couldn't help myself. Sunshine & color simply make me happy.
I first spotted these polka dots on Blogtacular speaker Joy Cho's feed and accidentally walked passed "her" house:
And I found so much more color, I hope it makes you happy too:
Looking through a beautiful fig tree in this front yard:
And a beautiful platan tree:
sweet spring foliage:
wedding cake pastels on top of the Notting Hill:
And this last picture of the famous Portobello Road. At the very end of this road, passed the tourist shops and the Spanish institute, I found this very nice shop that fitted our next Urban Jungle Bloggers topic perfectly: greens in cafés, restaurants or shops. I asked if I could take some pictures and they agreed, so that's what I'll show you here on Thursday! See you soon!
Green Balconies in Milan
When strolling down the streets of Milan, I was pleasantly surprised by the omnipresence of greens! Of course the upcoming Urban Jungle Bloggers topic was in the back of my head: balconies & window sills, so I guess I was a little obsessed... So if you're looking for some last minute inspiration, look no further ;)
One of the design showrooms in the Brera district was covered in greens (and a hint of yellow from the #blago2014 ladies):
I didn't really get the purpose of ceramic Italian coffee pots and espresso cups for your plants, but well... it looked kinda cute:
More green balconies and notice:
This Italian chef enjoyed his break in the green patio featuring a variety of Italian vases and random planters:
You cannot go wrong with palm trees in my book. I loved these, they look so proud:
And of course I spotted some fresh lemons that reminded me of the ones in Corsica. I brought one home and used it for the sugar free lemon muffins that I baked the other day... even though they looked more like flat cookies, they tasted pretty good.
Check back tomorrow for my Urban Jungle Bloggers post. And if you like: there's still time to join us and show us your green balcony or window sill! Subscribe here and you'll receive all the information you need by email. Arrivederci!
Eau de Nil
I love paint... and painting! And ever since the make-over of our yellow door, I'm dreaming of doors in all colors of the rainbow. But for now I'm only painting 1 kitchen accessory (and maybe more if I can't control myself...). For color inspiration I looked around our city. I love this bold green color, it's so vibrant:
Remember this color discussion? In the 50s a pale and blue version of the above color was used in many public buildings. I loved all your name suggestions for this very specific color: aqua, tooth paste green, linden, carta da zucchero, duck egg blue, emerald, sage green. But I think the best-fitting name was Eau de Nil, although the above color would be a perfect emerald right?
Somehow I also took quite a lot of pictures of blue & green shutters in the past few months:
Because our home loves bright colors so much, I decided upon this "updated" version of Eau de Nil, simply called bleu turquoise. I'll show you the results later this week, once the job is done!
What do you think? Do you like Emerald green or Turquoise?
Xmas after Christmas
Ohhh it feels so good to take down all the Christmas decoration, right? No more light strings and pine needles everywhere. And even though we don't have a bulky christmas tree inside, it seems like there is more space. Sometimes I wish we'd live in a minimalist space with clean lines without any stuff... but then again: I do love my clutter!
So... you can imagine I'm a bit hesitant to show these images today... images of over-the-top classic Christmas decoration! This week we spent a few days near Fontainebleau and visited the Castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte. Like "our" wonderful castle of Chantilly and the castles of Fontainebleau and Versailles, the Vaux-le-Vicomte castle is located just outside Paris, and often a little bit too far for weekend tourists. But if you have a few more days to spend, a visit to the "countryside" is very rewarding.
Especially if you go to the castle of Vaux le Vicomte: with a calendar full of special events, there's always a good reason to visit the masterpiece of 17th century architecture and its French formal gardens. In the summer you can enjoy candle lit evening visits (which looked absolutely amazing from the pictures they showed), but while we were there, it was Christmas all over again:
No real Christmas in France without a few La Durée macaron towers:
Le Palais Bulles
Visiting le Palais Bulles felt a bit like meeting a superstar who turns out to be super easy to approach, but hiding his best side from you.
My husband has been in love with bubble houses for ages, and this huge house designed & built by architect Antti Lovag is one of the superstars in its genre. Le Palais Bulles was built in the late 70s and early 80s and is now owned by fashion designer Pierre Cardin. Located at only 10 minutes from our temporary home, we drove up the hill and saw for ourselves. Unfortunately the house is closed to the public, except during a few summer concerts and corporate events, but what we saw from the outside (as seen above) was good, really good.
What struck me most:
► the color: the same pinkish earthy red as the nearby Estérel mountains ♥
► the accessibility: it's "just" another villa in a residential area
► the vastness of the entire house: it's so much bigger than I imagined (1200m²!)
► the pebble cactus plants near the fence: their simple shapes really compliment the palace
► the panoramic view over the bay of Cannes
According to Antti Lovag, it's the inside that counts, so now I'm on the lookout for tickets to any of the concerts next summer to truly experience Palais Bulles. I wonder if I could live in a home without any straight walls as it's the complete opposite of our home. Until then, there is this video of Pierre Cardin showing us around his house, filled with contemporary design pieces:
Bonjour from down under
Bonjour from down under! No not from the other side of the world, but "just" from the South of France. We're enjoying a belated summer holiday here, amongst apple trees, sheeps and mountains. Even though it's october, it almost feels like summer with blue skies, fresh figs and that famous smell of the Provence. Life is sweeter and slower in the South and after a busy summer I'm happy to adapt to the local rhythm. I may even slow down my blogging pace ;)
Oh and please forgive me for this random cat picture... our housecat here has the brightest blue eyes that match the blue sky perfectly. But of course she was lazy and didn't want to open her eyes for me.
You can also follow me on instagram for more holiday updates if you like.
Malmö Västra Hamnen
Let's go to Malmö today! After all, it's only a short ride over the Øresund bridge away from Copenhagen! Welcome to Sweden!
Both Elise and Sarah recommended me to visit the Western Harbour in Malmö: a modern part of the city which is becoming an example in urban planning, sustainability and environmentally-oriented development. So in stead of visiting the Castle and old city center, I made a walk through this neighborhood with lots of water, colorful architecture, a GREEN supermarket (so much better than our Biocoop or Naturalia!), schools, green oases, creative businesses, lots of space and of course: the sea!
The Eiffeltower of Malmö, the Malmö tower:
And there's the sea. Of course some courageous Swedes were preparing to take a plunge in the 16°C water ;)
The light of Copenhagen
What struck me most in Copenhagen were not the delicious Danish pastries, not the laid back people, not the view, not the beautiful ceramics, but the blue skies and bright light. They say the light in Venice - Italy is the best, but oh boy: Copenhagen your light is amazing! I kept looking up and taking pictures, so here is a selection. Wish you a wonderful & bright weekend!
On the right is the Black Diamond, the Royal Danish Library:
Remember this "g"?
The amazing CPH view
Before taking you into downtown Copenhagen, I'll show you the view from above today!
I guess it was the exterior staircase swirling around the top of the tower like sundae ice cream, that made me convince Giova to climb to the top of the Vor Frelsers Kirke. The view over Copenhagen promised to be "amazing" from the spire. So there we went.
The first 250 steps inside a wooden winding staircase construction were small, dark and steep. We were happy to reach the outside staircase with fresh air, until we realized the tower was waving in the wind... we snapped a few pictures and with wobbling knees we started our way down to the base of the tower. Pfewie, we're such heroes ;)
90 meters and 400 steps above the ground:
The view didn't blow us away, but the young & hip Danish families celebrating a wedding at Sunday church, did. Impeccable style, great hair (Scandinavian hairdressers are the best!) and a very laid back vibe. So cool that I didn't even take a picture. Argh, next time! Although I won't climb to the top again ;)
A yellow surprise
Nothing makes me more curious in a city than open doors. I love peeking behind them to see what's going on: how people live, where they work and simply discover what's going on behind the pretty façades. When I spotted this classy grey staircase in the city center of Copenhagen, the bright yellow glow called my name. I had a look and took my most liked instagram picture. This yellow courtyard is such a perfect place for breakfast or a break from the city rush. Very invigorating, don't you think?
Did you have a nice weekend? Here in the Oise we enjoyed a super sunny Saturday and decided to visit a random place. Along one of the roads leading to our place, is a sign that points to a castle where we had never been. We Google Streetviewed the sign, tried to see what it read (as you can see it's very pixelized), found out and drove to the Château de Raray.
We were in good company, so no matter where we'd end up, we would have a good time. Turned out: the surrounding village was cuter than expected and the very well maintained castle overlooked a huge golf course. Perfect for a nice little walk along the green, where I spotted this cool trash bin.
There were also 40 hunting dog statues, some with quirky tails:
The castle itself is used as a conference center and hotel, there's also a restaurant and sunny terrace, but above all: it's a really nice and quiet place to play golf (which we didn't).
I liked that they used the deer and dogs in the logo too:
It was a very random visit, at less than 25km from our home, that felt like a mini-vacation. Do you ever go on trips like these?
The other day when I was in Chantilly for a cocktail déjeunatoire, we also had the opportunity to visit the André Le Nôtre exhibition at the Salle du Jeu de Paume. Right along the Auberge du Jeu de Paume where we stayed this winter.
André Le Nôtre (1613-1700) was a landscape architect and gardener who created some of the most famous gardens in France. For example he designed the gardens of Versailles, Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte, les Tuileries and also Chantilly. He was particularly proud of the jardin à la française in Chantilly because his client, le Grand Condé, gave him carte blanche. I think he had more fun in Chantilly, and it shows. The exhibition ends this weekend and is really nice: it includes beautiful sketches of seesaws & swings and a giant 11m2 scale model of the entire domain. Very impressive!
As formal garden style gardens are all about symmetry & perspective, I played around with a kaleidoscope:
Below is one of my favorite spots of the Domaine de Chantilly: right there in the back; behind that statue, in the forest. From there you have a beautiful view on the castle and on the spectacular fireworks festival that is held every few years:
Wish you all a great weekend! What are you up to? Here in the Oise it will be warm and sunny, so I hope to spend lots of time outside... maybe even in Chantilly.
While most of the visitors of the Paris Air Show were enjoying the buzz outside, we went inside the Museum of Air and Space for a quick visit. As I've said before, this museum is really one of my favorites ever. The atmosphere is so unique, a little retro, but in a good way. And surprise surprise: the former arrival and departures hall was entirely renovated. Including this wonderful clock:
All of you that have been reading my blog for a while, know that I love traveling. I was seventeen when I boarded my first airplane and I still think it's a little magical to go somewhere else so fast, in stead of long hours by car, bus, train or bike.
People at airports make me so curious: where are they going, why are they going there? What's their story? Who are they leaving behind? That's why I'm a total sucker for television shows like Hello Goodbye (in France and NL). I'm always amazed by how much people share in front of the camera... but that's a whole other story ;)
The renovation of the Salle des 8 Colonnes took well over a year, but wow, it's really breathtaking (watch the 360° panorama view!). It transports you right back to the 1930s. I love time traveling. Do you?
On the last day of my stay in Berlin, I met for tea with the lovely Lena from Minamoka. While sipping gingertea, she told me that we were actually at a very special hotel. A hotel where you can sleep in a real caravan. I was so surprised! Of course! This was the place that I saw in some magazine a few years ago and that I couldn't find when preparing my trip to Berlin. I even asked around on different travel forums, but without any result. So Hüttenpalast it is!
Lena asked if we could visit the hotel and the manager was kind enough to show us around. He told us they were actually building a second adjacent "campsite" to receive a few more guests. Not too many, because they'd like to keep a more personal contact with the guests.
So, if you want to go camping this summer but prefer a really comfy hotel bed plus the urban Berlin lifestyle, Hüttenpalast is the place to go!
What do you think? Would you consider sleeping here?
Oh by the way, the Hut Palace also has a few "regular" hotel rooms ;o)
the colors of Berlin
While flipping through the photos I made in Berlin last week, I realized that:
► almost half of them included beautiful type... oops!
► I captured lots of blue skies... after a long dark winter, I guess that's what I needed
► Berlin is even greener than I remembered
► there was color everywhere, hence this post :o)
Brabant Service Station
Not far from where I grew up and the nearest bigger city you can find one of the oldest petrol stations of the Netherlands: Brabant Service Station. When the entire area was restructured, the classic building from 1933 faced demolition. But somehow the city council "splurged" 800K€ on moving the gas station 55 meters from its original spot and the building was saved.
I only knew this architectural gem as a gloomy hangout covered in graffiti, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see that it looks so good today!
You can even have a look inside, as Maxx Floors set up their new showroom here. Apparently the interior features some beautiful art-deco details...
Spending a long weekend in Holland with family and friends was really nice (and sounds like such a cliché, but it's true!). I also spent some time at the hospital... or better: at the recently opened restaurant Mariapaviljoen in the old sanatorium in Den Bosch.
Around the corner of where we used to live, you can now have eten+drinken (food+drinks) in this new old place designed by Studio Boot. Over 40 years ago my aunt was treated in one of these hospital rooms, but today the staff of Mariapaviljoen takes very good care of its "patients" too.
The modern interior contains a large collection of vintage medical equipment, skeletons, canvas emergency stretchers, folding screens, anatomy posters, and also this IXXI flamingo poster:
Hmmm always coca cola...
Spacious & bright makes you feel better:
With places like Eetbar Dit, Dit Ook and the new Mariapaviljoen, Den Bosch (in the south of the Netherlands) is so much hipper than the city that I used to know. A nice surprise! And an extra bonus: drinks and food are affordable: I payed about 2 euros for my diet coke, in stead of the regular 4 or even 5 here in Paris...
Mariapaviljoen /// Burgemeester Loeffplein 70 /// 5211RX Den Bosch /// +31 (0)73 303 1500
Open every Thursday through Sunday: 11AM - :o)
Les carrières de Montigny
When we ride 50km south-west from our place, we are in the middle of Paris. And if we ride 50km up north-east, we're in the middle of nowhere. Well almost but not quite. Near a small village called Machemont, there is this huge stone quarry site called Montigny.
As of the 19th century stone was excavated from Montigny and transported (via the Oise river) to Paris and beyond. That's why many Haussmannien houses in Paris are built with limestone from Montigny!
Workers used their environment to its full potential by digging their homes directly into the rocks. These troglodyte cave houses stay at a constant 12°C, which makes them convenient all year round.
Les carrières de Montigny are best known for their function during the WWI: the French army resided in the cavehouses and even opened an army hospital. Up until the 70s families actually lived here and today an Association is taking care of its renovation and nomination for inscription on the World Heritage list of Unesco.
We visited during the Nature & Garden fair, which was cute because the crew and exhibitors were very enthusiastic. The man of the Mushroom Truck showed us in detail how they used to grow mushrooms in the quarry. Unfortunately the subterranean galleries and tunnels were not open to the public that day, so we need to come back soon and discover what everybody is so excited about!
On our way back home we passed by this Manoir. The gently sloping countryside of the Oise is so pretty:
the Sugar Factory of Francières
This weekend we went back to the Sugar Factory. Ever since our visit last summer I wanted to go back and go inside. Apparently visiting la Sucrerie de Francières isn't easy: it's closed most of the time... but not this weekend!
The sugar industry played a prominent role in the economy of my region and that's why it's so cool that local volunteers decided to save and restore this factory. The school, the chapel and main factory hall are in great shape again... but the untouched buildings were even more intriguing:
I really wanted to climb these stairs and have a look on the first floor:
For obvious reasons they wouldn't let me...
The 34 meter high chimney is a beautiful landmark in the middle of nowhere. In the 19th century the nearest village was situated at 4km and the workers' families formed a self sustaining community. One third of the sugar production was used for themselves, kids went to a private school and the families lived in houses accross the street. The factory shut down in 1969, but one of the children that grew up here told us that life was "tough, but happy and good".
Check back soon as I'll show you the more colorful inside of la Sucrerie...
An industrial spring
Although it obviously doesn't feel very much like it, it's officially spring. Here in the Oise region a very particular "spring" started as well: Le Printemps de l'Industrie. Through exhibitions, workshops, lectures and company visits we get to discover our region's industrial nature. For example, did you know that the nose of the Airbus A350 and the famous Cocotte by Le Creusot are produced not far from here?
So, last weekend I visited this "industrial" photo exhibition by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre at la Maison de la Pierre in Saint-Maximin. A surprisingly modern building for its location (a rural village) and the perfect space for these huge photos. Yves and Romain documented the ruins of the Detroit automobile industry in a series called the The Ruins of Detroit.
What struck me most about the photos, was the scale of these industrial remnants. Massive buildings were abandoned and everything is still there: tools, books, machinery, the clothing of the workers... In these pictures from Detroit I recognized "our home". Certain colors of walls and machinery were exactly the same as here at Studio Sapique:
I found the mint green walls in one of "our" factories so very pretty: they would have been the perfect backdrop for a photoshoot. But before I realized this part of the property was torn down some years ago.
Not quite like these abandoned factories in Detroit, which are still there and rarely demolished. I totally see the beauty in these abandoned spaces. The colors, the structures, the history. Do you see it too?
Come into my room...
Come into my room... at Hotel Skeppsholmen! Last week I introduced you to my island getaway in Stockholm, and today I'll show you around my room. From the window above I had an amazing view of the Stockholm skyline...
The sun shining through the curtains designed by the famous Swedish designers Claesson Koivisto Rune. Actually the entire interior design was done by these talented designers. Their famous designs were everywhere, from the lamps above my pillow...
...to the wardrobe cabinet they designed for Asplund. I also really like the typefont used for all Skeppsholmen communication, like room numbers, hotel signage and stationary. The sign in my room told the story of Hotel Skeppsholmen and The Long Row... At times in history there slept at least 10 men in my room!
I love how the print of this chair (called Metropolis) reminds me of maps... and the Map Design course by my friend Anne that I'm starting today... it promises to be so cool!
The office desk with a W08 task lamp by CKR and two Marimekko brochures I picked up at their SoFo store.
And oh those curtains... I like them so much! They are called Pool and have this "pattern" of water in a pool, translated into a graphic pattern of small and smaller dots. Really pretty!
It snowed overnight... It wasn't extremely cold when I was in Stockholm, but usually in the winter you can ice skate just outside the hotel! The water is so pure in Stockholm that you can swim here in the summertime! I wouldn't do that in Paris ;o)
My island getaway in Stockholm
When planning my trip to Stockholm I was looking for a calm & inspiring place to stay. Conference days are long and though being among awesome people is wonderful, a place to recharge my batteries was important. I remembered the Skeppsholmen island from my first trip to Stockholm in 2011 when we visited the Moderna Museet. We walked around the island, at only 15 minutes from the city center, and appreciated the sea view.
(photo by Hotel Skeppsholmen)
When I was invited* to stay at Hotel Skeppsholmen it sounded like a great place. But little did I know that it would be so very perfect. I arrived at the hotel in the early evening and was welcomed by two (real!) ice sculptures and candle light along the pathway. The guy at the front desk was all smiles and very helpful. Oh and he was, like the entire staff, dressed by Swedish fashion brand Acne!
Walking to my room was intruiging: the corridor was really long and painted in a melancholic grey color, which appeared very Swedish to me. Actually the building of Hotel Skeppsholmen was built from 1699 with bits & pieces of ruined castles from the countryside and was called The Long Row. Over the years, it housed Navy staff, was used as a hospice for poor & plaque infected people, and then again was used by the Navy as offices, warehouses and apartments.
The hotel consists of 2 long buildings, so if you're staying in the second building like I was, you hop outside and use your keycard to get across.
As The Long Row buildings are part of Sweden's heritage, the entire interior is removable without deteriorating the original parts of the building. The walls in the breakfast room for example, are made of glass panels. Clever solution, right?
Breakfast at Hotel Skeppsholmen is really good. It includes beautiful homemade breads, traditional Swedish crisp bread, delicious granola & muesli, fresh juices, bacon & scrambled eggs & sausages ( presented in beautiful Le Creuset cookware! ) and of course homemade kannelbullar <3
Everything I needed to start a beautiful day in Stockholm!
Hope you like it so far! There is much more I want to share with you, so check back soon as I'll show you my room and some Swedish design elements from the hotel...
* I stayed at Hotel Skeppsholmen free of charge, but all words and images are my own. I had a wonderful stay :o)
A walk around Stockholm
Flying to a tropical island in the middle of the winter to get a boost of sunshine & vitamines (and additional tan!) may sound attractive. But to me visiting Stockholm, with temperatures at around 0°C had the same effect. Except for that tan of course. The extremely blue skies reflected by the water and the fresh frosty air were just what I needed to keep me going until spring.
The sun shining through the windows of the National Museum, on the last day of a beautiful exhibition called Slow Art, about contemporary fine craftsmanship:
Winter in Stockholm means shorter days, from about 8:30AM to 3:30PM, which made the blue tones of the sky change fast...
But don't worry, Stockholm by night is almost just as pretty:
And the best thing was that I didn't feel unsafe even once. Or well maybe 1 time, when I saw the outlines of this homeless fox statue in the dark... creepy but funny when I saw it again the next morning :o)
When traveling there are so many things that catch my eye, like beautiful typography, pretty street art or bold colors. Here are two unexpected drawings I liked: above a comic drawing by Got & Pétillon in the French capital of comic books: Angoulême.
And below the beautiful traces of the sea on a beach in Galicia, Spain. What do you like to spot when you travel?
"Seriously, aren't you bored with sheep?", Le Baron Noir by Got et Pétillon:
The Chateau of Chantilly seems to be the favorite spot of many fellow Isariens. All the people I've met for Styloise mentioned it. Chantilly is actually Versailles' lesser known little brother and is at only 10 minutes from our home.
We come here often for a walk around the famous racecourse or through the primal forests. Or we visit the Musée Condé with it's extensive art collection ( second after the Louvre! ) and the precious library. I can't get enough of the portrait paintings in the portrait gallery: the faces are so quirky, detailed and unique!
Walking around the racecourse, where many kiters practise their skills, is always fun. If you love horses ( like Rose! ) you should definitely visit Chantilly, as it's known as the Horse Capital. The Living Horse museum is famous for its horse shows and its expertise in Haute-Ecole training.
Chantilly covered in snow is extra magical... and even a bit romantic:
Short days, more light!
Rise & shine it's monday morning! I hope you had a lovely weekend? Mine was filled with snow, Saint Nicholas treats and family fun. So let's start off this week with some nice lightning. I'm usually not a big fan of exposed lightbulbs because they blind my eyes. But the bulbs above ( several dozens (!) in the cafeteria of the Verbeke Foundation ) and the bulbs below ( at restaurant Grazie in Paris ) are pretty nice though!
Reminds me that I really like Plumen too. Do you know them?
More Verbeke Foundation
We felt extra lucky that the sun started to shine after leaving Antwerp ( at 20 minutes ) in the pouring rain. The autumn sun was just what we needed for a walk around the extensive park (12ha!) of the Verbeke Foundation, which is filled with creative buildings in reclaimed materials of all kinds. I showed you my favorite already, but here are some of the other creations you will find in the park:
Above: the exterior & inside of the observation tower in steel sheet metal.
Below: a former safety capsule now used as a "Capsule Hotel" by Denis Oudendijk.
Below the wooden "Dome" by Aenaes Wilder. The view from the inside is spectacular. I haven't done any research on the construction but I somehow hope the wooden beams keep in place under their own weight and that there is no invisible secret like nails or wire. ( update: there is... screws! )
The Verbeke Foundation also offers B&B opportunities. In the summer it must be amazing to sleep in one of the bubbles or even in the "campingflat": 4 tents on a scaffolding construction. The Blob VB3 below by dmvA Architects is beautiful from the inside:
Curious about the WEIRD things you can see inside the Verbeke Foundation? Check my Facebook page!
Open Space @ Verbeke Foundation
After our sunday brunch in rainy Antwerp, we left for the Verbeke Foundation just outside the city. I was told it is a bit of a lugubrious art center and indeed certains pieces & rooms gave me the shivers. But overall it presents an unpolished view on contemporary art, which is rather refreshing.
Walking around the extensive park (12ha!) was lovely as it is filled with creative buildings in reclaimed materials of all kinds. Culture, nature and ecology go hand in hand at the Verbeke Foundation.
My favorite building in the Verbeke park was this structure by Jason van der Woude. He built it during his artist in residence program, in 2009-2010, out of leftover doors & windows from a renovation project in Breda (NL). It is called Open Space, Open Function and has no particular function. Read more about his adventure here.
You can't go wrong with a palm tree, at least in my world!
The squares of the windows recall a little bit of Mondrian, but mostly: they made me dream of replacing our damaged windows at Studio Sapique by a pattern like this! For many reasons that wouldn't be an option, but it would be so pretty!
So what do you think of this space? It has no particular function, but what would you use it for?
The gems of Antwerp
One month before Christmas means time for one of our family traditions: a weekend trip to Antwerp - Belgium for a full day of shopping (& eating), sunday brunch and a hint of culture.
During our shopping spree we visited some of my favorites, like Espoo ( Nordic interior design ), RA13 ( fashion design music books ), YOUR concept store, Elsa ( shoes ), Donum ( interior design ), but also a few new spots.
't Stad leest (Steenhouwersvest 16) was a new discovery: a unique bookshop with a beautiful selection of fiction & non-fiction, paper goods and children's books. A must visit if you're a book lover like me.
Tom Dixon's new showroom in the Kammenstraat is so pretty. Ace Lighting presents a very cool collection of lights by the world famous designer.
Don't judge a bookstore by its cover... Bacardi is celebrating 150 years of bringing people together by throwing 150 parties.
Check back soon as I'll show you around one of the weirdest museums just outside Antwerp...
Outside A Cidade da Cultura
It took me a while to sort out all the photos & videos I shot at A Cidade da Cultura, the City of Culture of Galicia. I already showed you some images of A Cantina and today I'll show you the exterior. Here we go!
Located on a small hill overlooking Santiago de Compostela, the Cidade is a huge cultural center for the province of Galicia. It was designed like a chopped off mountain top and is smooth & forrowed, much as a seashell, the age-old symbol of Santiago.
Peter Eisenman's "architectural extravagance" houses a library, archives, a museum, an art center, central services and of course a performing arts theater ( Björk performed here in june! ).
The use of local granite from Galicia was imposed to the architect. It contains so many different colors:
Many refer to the site as a ghosttown. And it's true that there were very little people when we visited. I liked that because it makes it easier to appreciate the buildings and interiors. It's also a little sad, because it means so much lost potential. But at the same time A Cidade is not nearly finished and still a huge excavation site, which makes me optimistic about future projects.
I also made a little wobbly video ( click here if the video doesn't show )
Check back soon as I'll take you inside the museum!
Would you live in a colored house?
Maybe it's because I grew up in a house with a bright red panel on the facade. Or because one of my favorite children's books told a story about a bunch of kids who painted their house in bright colors when their parents were on holiday. Anyway I'm always intrigued by colored houses. Why did someone choose to paint the shutters pink or green? Or blue?
Both pictures above were made in Bayonne, South East France. How typical to find the same grey sky and the colored houses close to home, in Beauvais!
Would you ever consider living in a colored house like these?
A Cantina @ Santiago
The only place on my wishlist of places to visit in Galicia was A Cidade da Cultura de Galicia in Santiago de Compostela: the regional cultural center. I was told it is a big modern building on the top of a hill. And that is exactly it. I think I've never seen any cultural site of this dimension: it is HUGE!
Before our trip, I read about the small bar & restaurant on Petite Passport which looked interesting. After a quick visit to the old city center of Santiago ( which we didn't like at all ) we sat down at A Cantina for drinks. Look at those beer taps, they're beautiful!
The view from the terrace was impressive & we couldn't wait to finish our drinks and walk around the site. Next time I'll take you further into the Cidade da Cultura, because there is much more to see!
I hope you're not getting bored by all the yellow I'm sharing this week? These pictures are from my typography hunt in Spain & Portugal. On a trip along the coast I spotted this beautiful "discoteca" sign, but didn't take a picture right away.
It was only until we drove back, that I saw the building attached to the sign had these amazing colors. Yellow/orange-ish. And look at that mint green & green K-sign in the alley. Such a weird combo! Would you ever consider painting your house yellow? Or any other bold color?
Faro de Lariño
Our little house in Galicia Spain (booked through AirBnB <3 ) was situated near the Faro de Lariño. Somehow it surprised me that the light didn't rotate, but pointed in one direction. Lighthouses on this part of the Spanish coast play an important role. Because so many shipwrecks occured here, it's called Costa da Morte, coast of death...
Anyway, I really liked "our" Faro, and the locals are very proud of it too: the village restaurant has a scale model on display which is very cute. Do you have a favorite lighthouse? Or did you ever sleep in a lighthouse hotel?
Weekend tip: La Sucrerie
For the past 10 years I've been living in the Oise: a French department situated 35km north of Paris. Of course Studio Sapique is a remnant of (recent) industrial heritage, but not far away from here, is the old industrial Sugar Factory of Francières. It's an impressive site with red bricks, which was recently renovated & opened to the public.
Surrounded by sugar beet fields, now mostly converted to cereal crops, La Sucrerie was active from 1829 to 1969 and is one of the oldest sugar factories of the Picardy region. The sugar industry has always played a prominent role in the economy of the region & that's why a local Association decided to save this place and turn it into an interactive Center of the Sugar & Agro Resources Industry.
Quirky detail: La Sucrerie is located near the rue du Bout du Monde ( the street at the end of the world ), which is exactly what it feels like: desolate but intriguing. Unfortunately La Sucrerie was closed when we visited, but I'll definitely check back in a few months. I'm curious to see what it looks like from the inside & to learn how a raw sugar beet becomes sugar.
La Sucrerie de Francières /// Route Nationale 17 /// 60190 Francières
Open on request. Contact the Picardy Region: +33 (0) 8 00 02 60 80
Some urban colors
Some urban colors to pimp up this grey & cold friday. Above: a two-headed fish in the making near the Canal Saint Martin, Paris.
Some poetry in Beauvais (Oise, France) by Ray Charles: Je suis aveugle mais construire plus malheureux que soi... j'aurai pu être noir.
Aloha my name is... lots of stickers outside Album Comics store near Saint Germain des Prés, Paris.
I love this stork! Boulevard Magenta, Paris.
Rendre à l'art la simplicité de ne pas l'être. Stencil by William Benhamou.
If you've ever been in France, you've seen a pharmacy, for sure. They are everywhere and their green neon cross signs light up most of the streets. There's even a law requiring to have one pharmacy open on sundays & holidays per neighbourhood.
The French tend to visit their pharmacy ever so often because their GP's just LOVE writing prescriptions. Or they just browse through the beauty related products most pharmacies are packed with (like the famous Embryolisse!). Personally I'm not very fond of visiting my pharmacy. It's filled with stuff I don't particularly need, most packaging is boring and I don't like the smell. But that could change in a flash if my pharmacie looks like this tomorrow:
This is such a clever and clean designed pharmacie. It couldn't be further opposite to the brown bottled pharmacies from ancient times. Marketing Jazz, the agency that created the concept for the Elsa Acosta Licensed Pharmacy in Santa Cruz de Tenerife did an excellent job. Many more photos on Retail Design Blog.
By the way did you know that if the green neon cross sign of a French pharmacy includes blue, it means they sell veterinary products as well?
As of yesterday you can book your tickets for the Avignon theatre festival. In only a few weeks the Festival d'Avignon will start and during 1 month the rhythm of this city in Southern France will be defined by street theatre performances, tons of visitors (over 150.000!) and great theatre productions. But not last week. Of course the Palais des Papes and the Pont d'Avignon attract tourists all year round, but off the beaten path it was still nice & calm.
The tiles of this Beauty salon on the Boulevard Raspail, reminded me of the Camper boutique in Covent Garden, London.
I also stumbled upon quite a few interesting small boutiques & shops, like Kulte (their hipster owners were enjoying the sun on the pavement) and Le Carré de Blé, a nice biological bakery & pastry shop & "snacking haut de gamme". With beautiful bikes in front of the shop too.
Through Les Bon Plans d'Avignon I found Milkshop, where Thibaut and Maxime serve homemade milkshakes & delicous pastries & quiches with local ingredients. It's on my list for next time!
A provocative stencil on the pavement of Avignon and a beautiful poster drawing by Bastard Fly. So much more interesting than this year's dull festival poster...
If you're in Provence this summer, don't miss out on the Avignon festival. Buy yourself a ticket to 1 of the OFF performances and let some upcoming theatre talents surprise you. Enjoy!
Ich bin kein Berliner
Berlin is amazing. This city is so very big, streets are wide, it's airy (you can actually breathe here!), has a creative feel and is very green too. The façades of the (huge!) buildings are very flat and most streets have lots of trees. I walked for hours without seeing any tourists. I now understand why Sandra Juto likes 10-hour walks across the city, I really enjoyed it too!
Here a some of the photos I took, more to follow...
Above: you're looking at a piece of the Berlin Wall.
Façade of Espressobar Mörder, Torstrasse 199.
Standing on former East & West Berlin at the same time.
Design Panoptikum, The Museum of Extraordinary Objects. A supercool store & museum with the most curious and extraordinary objects. I was so intrigued by the mystery of the items that when the owner who was sitting in the dark, said "Hallo" I freaked out and ran outside. The museum is on my list for next time!
The Euro-Flohmarkt (flea market), Berliner Straße 80-82.
What the jelly?
Bompas & Parr work with jelly ever so often, but take jelly to a whole new level. Sam Bompas & Harry Parr design spectacular architectural settings of jelly with a strong technology background. They collaborate with curators, cultural practitioners, and scientists for their projects. And recently with Kitchen Aid on a super cool project called A Culinary Odyssey, in order to look at the food of the future through prototyping the dishes of science fiction.
The event opens fresh areas for culinary speculation and food ethics by examining the physical, biological and astronomical possibilities of cocktails and canapes. The Experimental Cocktail Club (ECC) is making science fiction cocktails, Rhea Thierstein is designing sets that include the entire solar system in papier-mâché, Poietic Studio are building food levitation devices and the tropism well and Andrew Stellitano is developing the menu. On the evening, Future Laboratory will launch a report on science fiction prototyping and food preparation in the future.
The videos and photos of the event in London just look surreal. But what would this "cuisine extraordinaire" taste like?
Light & Airy
The world record attempt of most sky lanterns flown simultaneously in Poland looks just magical. I wonder if they are using the biodegradable and more animal friendly version with flame resistant wool in stead of the wires.
Cool down in a church like this one in Melle, France where Mathieu Lehanneur designed a smooth white marble choir.
The New Gipsies photo series by Ian McKell isn't necessarily light, but definitely breathtakingly beautiful. Ian McKell offers us a glimpse into the lives of present-day nomads whose culture is built around ideals of freedom, nature, and simplicity.
This ain't no disco
A Bigger Splash
I wonder how any fish in this fish tank feels on a sunday.
Happily ever after
This happy bright summer is almost over, but fortunately you can keep eating these beautiful icecreams all year round. If you like something to stay happy on a daily basis, have a look at these yummy sandwiches. And if you're hungry for some happy funky jewellery visit Denise's website. Her traditional costumes are worth a visit too! I've been looking for some nice bold socks (without Snoopy or teddy bears) and finally found Happy Socks. Bright, classic, happy! Sarah recently opened her supermarket. It's fun to shop around. For all the male fashion addicts around there, did you know these architectural designs by Nahum Villasana? And finally: a poetic video to get you through these last few weeks of summer.
Tonight I'll watch Into the Wild. I already love the songs Eddie Vedder wrote for this movie, but I'm very curious to finally discover Christopher's great adventure to Alaska. A very different adventure about Alaska is I love Alaska. This documentary reveals the life of a middle aged woman from Housten, Texas, through her personal search engine queries. Interesting concept, but also very sad.
Browsing through a project book of The Gates by Christo and Jeanne-Claude made me really want to go to New York City again. To discover the people and other highlights of the city. To eat a hot pretzel, visit the MoMa plus some other musea and just wander around. In the mean time I have some old jews telling me jokes. Or I have a look at the different volumes of the S+M+L project by Marvie. Or I dream of doing some 3D printing.
In case you need it to get through this cold and snowy february month: here is some help.
The end of the season
The Sultan's Elephant
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