Urban Family Living
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Hail Britannia in Contemporary Ballet

Hail Britannia in Contemporary Ballet

Shaadi Dance

George Balanchine, who was one of the early promoters of contemporary ballet, described his work as a melange of different influences weaved into a form which itself is a mesh of classical ballet and modern dance.

“God creates.  I do not create.  I assemble and I steal from everywhere to do it – from what I see, from what the dancers can do, from what others do…”

George Balanchine

Hail Britannia…

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Mt Rushmore: A Capsule History of the American Spirit

Mt Rushmore: A Capsule History of the American Spirit

washington in profile at rushmore

Near to Crazy Horse Memorial, there is the iconic mountain carving of four great American presidents, Mt. Rushmore.  We have seen Mt. Rushmore in so many images and movies, we were really looking forward to visiting this national park.

Leading up to the mountain, Mt Rushmore has a grand plaza with all the states’ flags and the dates they joined the Union.  The states are in alphabetic order so we…

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Hex-quisite Design.  Design Hex and the City.  Interiors Hex-traordinary.  Please, someone stop me.  The bad puns just keep popping into my head.  In addition to geometrics generally, it seems the interiors world has gone crazy for hexagons, specifically.

One of my favourite mid-century modern designer, Isamu Noguchi, created a design classic with the Prismatic side table in 1957.  The three-legged table is a beautiful, simple, geometric shape made entirely of folded aluminium.  Inspired by origami (the Japanese art of paper folding) the Prismatic table was also the last piece of furniture Noguchi designed.

Noguchi Prismatic table

Image credit: Vitra

The hexagon side table comes in many iterations.  Not only are most of them easy to configure in multiples and move about as needed, they look great too.  Here are six of my favourites.

Clockwise from top left:  Hexxed by Diesel (available in 2 heights and 3 colour combinations including black and metallics); the double-decker Hex table from Dwell in white, wood or stone; the Hex side table from West Elm with a marble top and steel legs; the Hive collection from B&B Italia are side tables in two heights and ottomans in a leather finish; Hex glass mirror from Gram & Green with a ground glass top and a trio of gold Hexagonal legs; the Slit table from Hay is available in 6 metal colours and also mirror and brass.

Interestingly, the Hay table like Noguchi’s table was influenced by origami and is named after the slit that is formed when the metal frame is folded underneath the table top. The B&B Italia Hive Collection was inspired by the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.  This natural phenomenon of 40,000+ polygonal basalt columns is a UNESCO Heritage site.  The resemblance is really striking isn’t it?

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway
Image Credit: Andrew Hurley

The patterns you can make with hexagons work really well on the wall too.  Check out this simple shelving idea which makes a big impact.  The blog, Nestful of Love, has directions on how to make your own hexagon shelving.  Alternatively, you can buy hexagonal shelves as a set of three at Next Home.

Hexagonal mirrors also look great on a wall.  I can see these mirrored tiles creating an interesting honeycomb configuration in a hallway.  From Graham & Green, the mirrored tiles come in sets of 18.

Hexagonal tile mirrors

Image credit: Graham and Green

In addition to mirrors, many more tiles are now available in hexagon shapes.  Here are examples  created by Spanish designer, Patricia Urquiola from the Dechirer range which blend contemporary large-format tiles with an artisanal cement heritage.

For you commitment-phones, there are lots of hexagonal accessories which won’t require you either to spend so much or to make a long-term design decision.  I think a group of this hexagon boxes on a table is a really cool way to clear clutter.

evie group hex boxes

image credit: Evie Group

Although contemporary Danish design brand, Hay have had their Kaleido tray system for some time, they are now available in new colours of chocolate, jade and blue.  You can use them individually or mix and match for a fun modular look.  This season they have added these sweet trio of hexagon-shaped notebooks.  Yes, they are notebooks! They are almost too pretty to disturb never mind use.

On the British design side, Tom Dixon has added to his hexagon tea light holders this year with this new etched wood design on steel, brass or copper.  I also loved the hand-hammered hexagonal bowl in still-trendy copper.

What do you think?  Would you consider hexagonal side tables, shelves hex-cetera in your home?

Put a Hex-agon on Your Room Hex-quisite Design.  Design Hex and the City.  Interiors Hex-traordinary.  Please, someone stop me.  The bad puns just keep popping into my head.  

Just in case you think I have a general disdain for property developers, I should clarify that you can get some really good developments.  What separates the good from the bad just comes down to the care given to the details and finish.

I visited a new development on Saturday that I thought was really well done.  Once again, this development is near Casa del Dumpo.  This time, however, the development is a small block of flats instead of a McMansion.  Although each flat is 3 bedrooms, the layouts differ as does the square footage.  It’s not as cookie-cutter as it sounds!

living room sofa

The living room is spacious and has engineered dark oak flooring.  The ceiling is slightly dropped to allow for shadow lighting and the air-conditioning. I am neurotic enough to worry that the dropped ceiling is just a dust-trap but it is a minor niggle.  The whole flat has air-conditioning.  I guess air-conditioning really is de rigeur in high-end developments now!

living room ceiling

The living room opens onto the Poggenpohl kitchen with sliding pocket doors which is a nice touch.  I like pocket doors because they allow you to open or divide space as the occasion needs.  The beautiful kitchen furniture is a high-gloss grey with dark wood combination which is different from the usual white kitchen.

poggenpohl kitchen

Many of the Miele appliances come in pairs.  For example, each of the two refrigerators and freezers are side by side. I think this is a clever idea because two medium-size refrigerators can hold more than one large refrigerator.  Moreover, things get lost in a big refrigerator in the back.  It would be easier to separate out food into groups with two refrigerators.  It doesn’t look like there are that many units but that is because the handleless unit doors cover the drawers inside.  The look is sleeker than having individual handleless cupboards or drawers.  Check out how nicely the cabinets join the ceiling.

kitchen sink

I really like the way the worktop becomes the splash back.  Visually, it’s a very clean line and also more hygienic.  No cracks for dirt to fall into!


The clean lines and simple yet luxurious finish extends into the bathrooms as well.


The bathrooms are luxuriously clad in marble from floor to ceiling.  I like the marble being mosaic tiling on the shower floor – a little detail which will prevent slipping on the water.


I like this simple detail of a cut-out in the glass for opening the shower door.

shower door

shower door handle

The master bathroom is relatively small.  My daughter fell in love with the television at the end of the tub in the master bath.  She’s added that detail to her wish list for her future room.  I’ve told her though that if she’s not having a television in her bedroom, she’s definitely not having one in her bathroom.  I also noticed the Artelinea moulded-glass bathroom sinks in the master bath.  Love!  The bathroom lights are on motion sensors like in the other development I saw.

Artilinea vanity unit

The bedrooms are carpeted and plush.  Two of the three bedrooms are a good size with built-in wardrobes.  The master bedroom even has a dressing area with wardrobes.  The third bedroom in the show flat was furnished as a study.  It didn’t have any fitted wardrobes detracting from the floor space which would probably only have emphasised that it was a small double/large single.  These flats average about 1800 square feet – there’s definitely room for 3 good-sized bedrooms especially as they are all en-suite.  I think that was a mistake in the design of the floor plan.

grey bedroom

The only heating is under-floor heating.  Presumably with a new build, the requirements for air-tightness and insulation are so high you may not need traditional radiators to heat the rooms.


The lighting is controlled by a Rako system which I hear is becoming increasingly popular.  We used Lutron in our last house which used to be a fairly-standard for the high end market.  Apparently, Rako is just as good but much cheaper.  I will definitely be investigating (and possibly writing a post on that in the future!).

The system is controlled by an iPad set on the wall.  Having done that ourselves in our last house, I would not do that again.  First of all, the iPad was continuously going missing since the children could find it fairly easily on the wall and take it down to play.  Second, I don’t want to put my bets on a control system based on Apple technology which rolls out new models every year. Presumably after putting in a state of the art system, you don’t want the control obsolete in a year.  For example, we had our glass backsplash in the kitchen cut to fit an iPad II inset holder, but within months, Apple introduced the iPad Air which is a different size inset. Upgrading the inset would have meant replacing the whole backsplash – annoying!

What did you think of this developer’s show flat?  Do you like subtle-luxe as much as I do?

A Subtle-Luxe London Flat Just in case you think I have a general disdain for property developers, I should clarify that you can get some really good developments.  

The World’s Largest Mountain Carving: Crazy Horse Memorial

The World’s Largest Mountain Carving: Crazy Horse Memorial

crazy horse face

Many people have heard of Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota.  Lesser known is the Crazy Horse Memorial which is being built nearby on a scale to dwarf Mt. Rushmore.  When the Crazy Horse Memorial is finished, it will be the largest mountain sculpture in the world.

crazy horse face

The Sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski

The Crazy Horse Memorial has been a work in progress for the last 50+ years and is expected to take…

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The entrance to the Decorex 2014 show is always special and this year was no different.  Unlike last year when only one designer, Kit Kemp, inspired with her vision of The Silk Route, this year a handful of leading designers were tasked with the project of the entrance.  Different designers created vignettes based on each of the eight prints from A Rakes Progress, William Hogarth’s indictment of the moral failures of Georgian Society.  The prints show the story of Tom Rakewell, a rich merchant’s son who comes to London, wastes his money on a decadent lifestyle, ends up in debtor’s prison and ultimately goes insane.  Happy times!


Here is the original print which is the inspiration for my favourite vignette, The Prison.  Not only do his debtors want his money, his wife is having histrionics and his faithful mistress has brought his illegitimate son to visit – no wonder he goes a little loony. In my opinion, stitutionalisation would be a welcome respite from all that chaos!

Hogarth's The Prison

The Prison print by Hogarth

The Prison was created by Shaun Clarkson whose style and store (Pitfield London) in East London I love.  Pitfield London is a treasure trove of vintage pieces and homewares that I could easily browse for hours.

The Prison

The Prison
image credit: Decorex

I love the dark moodiness of this room which works really well for a bedroom.  Dear old Tom has not given up his love of luxury as indicated by the sumptuous furnishings and the liquor in the room.  He’s probably only sorry that he lost all his money and has no real regrets about his decadent lifestyle.  This story is clearly not a Victorian morality tale.

A lot of the furnishings were antique or one-off pieces sourced by Clarkson. For example, the four poster bed, the Napoleon chair and the cabinet are from Pitfield London and the antique telescope from Sisters Antiques.  I created a digital mood board of some of the other accessories.

moody decadence

Clockwise, from the top right, we have the following in the above mood board:  angel wings from Cowshed Interiors; leather and fabrics from Altfield London; caged chandelier from Vaughan Design; cushion from Fine Cell Work; and more fabrics from Altfield London.  

Note that all the sumptuous fabrics and accessories are layered.  The luxurious look does not really invite minimalism.  Here are some more affordable alternatives just in case you don’t want to spend £4000 on a chandelier for a decadent bedroom design.  Tom’s decadent lifestyle is after all a cautionary tale to lavish money wisely.

For the bed, try the Eleanor four poster scaffolding bed from The Wrought Iron & Brass Bed Company in a raw metal finish.  The burnished pewter finish has a lovely sheen which will go well with the rest of the golds and greys.

Then layer up the texture for luxurious curtains, wallpapers and fabrics.  The luxe finish in accessories is completely on trend for moody and metallics this season.

luxe decadence

The background is John Lewis cut pile velvet fabric in putty.  Top row, from left to right:  Vintage Brass Candelabra from Etsy (£29); Supersoft Fur Throw from Cox & Cox (£185); and Carved Angel Wings from Cox & Cox (£65).  Middle row, from left to right:  Modesty painting from Abigail Ahern (£179); Acrylic Napoleon Chair from The French Bedroom Company (£125); and Chantal Crystal Drop Chandelier from Graham & Green (£170). Bottow row, from left to right:  Lisbon Silk Quilt and Cushions from The White Company (£30 -$330); Black Baroque Mirror from Debenhams (£120); Andrew Martin Atlantis Wallpaper (£70).

What do you think?  Would you try out a moody boudoir?

Moody Decadent Bedrooms at Decorex 2014 The entrance to the Decorex 2014 show is always special and this year was no different.  Unlike last year when only one designer, Kit Kemp, inspired with her vision of…