The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marked the end of World War One and is now a day when countries around the world honour those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those who continue to serve. It is a holiday unique to every nation but in Canada and many Commonwealth countries, Remembrance Day is a memorial wrapped in vibrant red. Why red? For the symbol of Remembrance Day itself – the poppy. Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian artist, doctor and solider, wrote the now iconic poem “In Flanders Fields” in 1915 as he processed seeing the bodies of so many fallen comrades intermingled with the bright red poppies that now marked their graves. The poem was published shortly after and spread across the world. Its first two lines, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row” inspired the use of poppies as a symbol of remembrance. The blooms are sold each year to raise money for Veteran services and worn as a promise to never forget those who served and continue to serve.
I didn’t mean to turn this post into a rambling history lesson (although I have been asked by many a tourist what the red flower is for!) Overall, Remembrance Day is a day of honour, reflection and red. The poppy is an enduring symbol of gratitude and I am always struck by their beauty and meaning. Combined with the colours of military ribbons and uniform neutrals, it is a day of poignant colour palettes and a vivid poppy red that ensures we always remember. The image above of lights is of Vancouver’s war memorial in Victory Square Park and is a piece of local art I really love. Eleven lights based on WW1 helmets encircle the memorial and, when lit at night, always feel like a hauntingly beautiful tribute to all of those we lost and are beyond thankful to…
If you have trouble keeping a good dinner party pace, you need these Dinner Candles by Adam + Harborth, a Berlin-based design studio. Lit as the party begins, the candles slowly burn off the icons of each course so you know when to move on to the next portion of your meal. I love the bed illustration at the end as it would certainly inform lingering guests that it is time to go! I think the first symbol is a bouquet of roses? I now want to throw a dinner party just to test these clever candles (oh and receive floral hostess gifts…)
Colour Nativity is the latest thought-provoking creation of industrial designer Sebastian Bergne. A set of seven handmade and painted wood blocks make up a minimalist nativity scene while the wooden storage box becomes a manger and the gold divider becomes a modern Star of Bethlehem. I love the way the pieces look in the box. Like a religious television test pattern perhaps? It’s quite striking how such an iconic scene can still be recognizable when reduced to a simplistic set of blocks. The power of colour, proportion and placement is certainly on display in this piece. A Christmas decoration to consider for your modern mantle…
I hadn’t really thought about it until today but it is quite amazing how many shades of brown you can achieve when toasting a piece of bread. For his series ‘Toasted’, photographer Henry Hargreaves created large-scale portraits of pop culture icons with hundreds of pieces of toast. The level of detail and eye for subtleties of hue are quite astounding. A glimpse at the level of work can be seen in the last shot where toasted crumpets are being meticulously arranged to create a portrait of Pippa Middleton. I may never look at a piece of burnt toast the same way again! (Bread toasted by Angela Barrow and Osvaldo Ponton)
(from top: Marilyn Monroe, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Che Guevara, Jim Morrison and Pippa Middleton)
What a beautiful album cover and inside photography for French artist Ornette. Personally, I think any great art project ends with hands that look like that. I would be so intrigued to see an entire book or editorial done in this style featuring music icons like Madonna, Elton John, Prince or Lady Gaga. It would be stunning! Kind of makes me want to try a new “look” tomorrow too… Design and art direction by Leslie David, photography by Gregoire Alexandre and make-up by Anthony Preel.
Man Blowing a Bubble, a short film by Mitch Ansara has officially made my day. Perhaps because of my inappropriate use of emoticons in business correspondence or my love for Mary Tyler Moore’s stylish typewriting, this film set on paper just makes me happy.
I love the Hermetic series by creative Italian company Seletti. Unlike the regular plastic type, these handsome fridge containers are porcelain with colourful silicone tops. Not only will your fridge look instantly full of good design but your leftovers can go straight to the oven without the negative health effects of heating plastic. Come to think of it, your leftovers can go straight to your dinner party table without anyone knowing any better!
Flowers are definitely one of the best parts of the world of colour and one of my biggest personal influences. From a vivid magenta-blue to glowing golden yellow, there are hues found in florals that are simply unmatched. I have been visiting the blog of Barcelona floral studio Flowers by Bornay for a few months now and have fallen in love with their untraditional creativity, eye for colour and use of flowers in a beautifully architectural way. Bornay makes exquisite bouquets that are often seen on the cover of Vogue España but it is their bowls of compact blooms that I find the most striking. These big floral dishes become their own colour palettes while showcasing the mesmerizing shape, texture and patterns of different flowers. They feel almost textile-like, don’t you think? In addition to a fabulous portfolio, Bornay’s blog frequently posts flowers inspired by artists, movies and occupations. I love their bouquets and arrangements created for a tailor, fisherman, Monet and James Bond’s Goldfinger. Yep, their blog needs to be one of your bookmarks!
From dishes of architectural blooms to high fashion editorial bouquets to blog arrangements created for pop culture icons, it is hard not to be wildly inspired by Flowers by Bornay. They turn flowers into true design. Add to all of that a distinct talent for stunning textured colour and you can see why Bornay is a true ‘colour hero’. One day, when I finally make it to Barcelona, I hope to visit the Bornay studio and see magic in action. Don’t be surprised if I get in trouble trying to smuggle a bouquet in my suitcase…
Black music notes sprinkled across a white page have their own beauty deeply rooted in tradition and history. However, I am always intrigued by news ways to visualize music – particularly with colour. Designer Laia Clos, of Barcelona’s Mot Studio, created a visual language called “SisTeMu” that turns every note of music into a system of geometric shapes and bright colours. Laia has explored several pieces of music in creating this language but perhaps most notable is her interpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Using the lead violin position, a system of colours are used as musical notes and the tempo of the music dictates the size and placement of the circles. While I can’t say I completely understand SisTeMu, Laia’s language really gives a sense of “seeing” music in a uniquely mesmerizing and colourful way. I would love to get my hands on Laia’s booklet explaining how the system works! I would also love to see this idea applied to modern music. Can you imagine a gorgeous coffee table book devoted to the hits of The Beatles, U2 or similarly iconic artists? Hmm… perhaps one day a conductor will ask his orchestra to start again from the turquoise section!
UNA is the official wine of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. Combining 20 wines from native grapes, UNA highlights the rich history of Italian wine as well as expressing “the true spirit of Italy, the love for their land, the expertise, art and industriousness of its people”. Italian studio Cibic Workshop designed this packaging that begins with a gorgeous locking box made from ash wood, a popular tree throughout Italy. The bottle shapes are meant to reflect a man and woman with the masculine red merging a classic Italian flask with an iconic Bordeaux bottle and the feminine white showcasing a redesign of classic clear Italian wine bottles. A handsome and luxurious package design that puts a modern spin on Italian history. One of my favourite details? How the key ribbons match the pops of colour on the bottles!
This book and video of the Wimbledon Men’s Final (Federer vs. Nadal) by designer Bryan Ku is the perfect merger of three of my very favourite things: books, tennis and cleverness. How brilliant and creative to interpret a sport this way. Love those sport scores in iconic tennis ball yellow-green too. Here’s hoping Bryan ponders doing a whole sport series!
I’ve always loved Picasso’s portrait of his adored dachshund, Lump. Picasso loved animals and his work is rich with depictions of them. In contrast to his usual beautifully complex style, I love Picasso’s animal drawings for their simplicity and minimalism. There is even a book devoted to the artist and his best friend – Picasso & Lump: A Dachshund’s Odyssey. I love this drawing and that so many of Picasso’s pieces have his dachshund as a muse but most of all, I love that a dog named Lump became an icon in modern art!