Posts in People
Artist Raven Roxanne + Seashore Birds

Good morning friends, how are you? Autumn is definitely here, in full swing actually… But I’m still dreaming of all the days spent on Danish and north German beaches and imagining my next trip to the coast again. Seeing the work of Raven Roxanne in my inbox recently gave me some good energy, since her Seashore Birds paintings made me smile and think of happy times chasing my little boy with his sandy blonde hair and bare bum down pristine beaches. And always chasing seashore birds.

  Raven Roxanne

Raven Roxanne

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I wrote about 8 Southern (United States) artists four years ago here and one of those artists was abstract and impressionist painter Raven Roxane located in Charleston, South Carolina. I never forgot about her.

“My artistic practice is a response to the colors, energies, textures, and composition of my life,” Raven says. I can see that in her work, which is why I believe I’m drawn to it in the first place.

Raven continues, “I have created a lifestyle surrounding my work, thriving on the strength of women, the beauty of imperfection, and the harmony of mental and physical well-being of the figure.”

This is such a lovely statement. I had to sit with it for a moment and let it sink in…

Through my work, I hope to invoke a connection for my viewers while representing the truest version of myself.
— Raven Roxanne, Artist
Roxanne Raven Artist
Raven Roxanne Artist
 My personal favorite,  Fly Away , limited edition print.

My personal favorite, Fly Away, limited edition print.

Roxanne Raven Artist
Raven Roxanne Artist

I’m so inspired by her artwork, it’s dreamy and feminine and the colors are always such a delight. I particularly connect to Seabirds though because of the overall theme but also the muted colors are much more soothing to me and what I would use in my home.

I want to call attention to a really HELPFUL blog post that Raven wrote recently because I believe it will be interesting for many of you to read. It’s called, What I Learned Along The Way. In the piece, Raven gives some solid advice to artists and anyone really who wants to grow their business.

Most of the photos in this post were shoot by Elizabeth Ervin, so be sure to check out her portfolio online because it’s just stunning - and also her ‘journal’ has loads of fantastic photos. Also, check out VE magazine for more about Raven and her fantastic life as an artist.

If you’d like to own a print or an original of her work, please visit her website or contact her directly to talk about it. Her prints are available online and also some of her original paintings too, or I’m sure you can commission a piece if you have a special project in mind.

Have a lovely Wednesday!

Love,

Holly

PeopleHolly Becker Comment
My Chat with Jonathan Adler and his Launch Party at KaDeWe Berlin

Hello friends! I have a very special guest today on decor8, Mr. Jonathan Adler himself! Swoon! I had the pleasure of working with Jonathan and his team recently because he officially launched Jonathan Adler Germany and I got to be a part of that, which was an absolute honor and career highlight for me. 

My relationship with the brand started in 2006, when JA advertised on decor8, which really helped me to quickly gain credibility as a new journalist and blogger. I will always be grateful for his support. Later, I asked if I could work in his home for a day in 2011 to style and photograph it for Decorate, and he accepted gladly, another special moment in my career.

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I’ve been around his products for years, I’ve watched how his collections have evolved, and I even own a lamp, serving dishes, Christmas ornaments, candles and bookends. I also have most of his books too, and last month, he signed one for me which made me so happy.

If you’re like me and don’t live near a JA retail store, you may have also only shopped his collection online, but good news for me now! He has a concession in nearby Berlin in one of the oldest, most famous and decadent department store in Germany called KaDeWe. In fact, last month he was in Berlin to launch his collection and I was there to meet him and see his latest creations up close and personal and it was great.

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But first, the pre-party. I met JA the night before the KaDeWe launch at a swanky French bistro with a small group of journalists and friends/colleagues of his in Germany, including Dag, his new German distributor, and Micah, from the New York office. With us was also his London-based PR firm who were in charge of organizing the pre-launch and launch. Naturally I have to shout them out because they are the reason I got this spectacular invitation to work with his team in the first place.

Because it was Fashion Week in Berlin, the restaurant was filled to the gills with fashionistas wearing very expensive, and expressive, frocks. It was fun to be immersed in this gigantic French-inspired restaurant, eating schnitzel, sitting across from Jonathan discussing the horrors of nudity in German saunas, and general people-watching in this beyond loud hot spot, but the buzz and energy was just fantastic.

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At his KaDeWe launch the next day, many of his fans showed up and all eyes were on Jonathan. A few were quite star struck, three of my friends’ hands were shaking when they walked up to him, because it was a big deal for them to meet their interiors idol. Luckily though, he’s a nice guy, grounded and funny, so the evening felt very relaxed and friendly.

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I also respected so much that he offered to sign ceramics for his guests who purchased them during the party – I was so impressed and regret that I didn’t think to ask him for a signed piece. I was so caught up in the moment that it didn’t occur to me until I was on the train ride home that I’d missed out on such a special opportunity.

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I must confess, I’m even more endeared to his collection than before I met him. Something clicked when we spoke, in the sense that I felt like he really works hard for his success, earned everything he has, and continues to show commitment to his brand, team and products. JA is involved in all aspects of his business and has a very close relationship with his staff but also with his workers abroad who are dispersed all over. He visits them, watches them make his products, inspects, gives his opinions, he's present and involved. Respect.

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When I interviewed Jonathan, one of my first questions was, "Since you are always on the go, when do you even have the time to design new collections?", and he explained that while on the road, he’ll have an idea and immediately, he'll call his team and/or sketch the idea out. He also added a good point that I often think about a lot, "We are all very lucky to live in this age because the internet makes it so easy to get our work out there but also to run and manage a business, you can text or phone your staff instantly!", and from there, at least for him, it's done!

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You should surround yourself with stuff that means something to you. Sometimes people just get things that are fine, and “will do”, and I feel like you should never settle, you should always seek the sublime.
— Jonathan Adler

I find it worth mentioning a little about his background, since we always tend to judge someone successful as having had it all handed to them somehow. Jonathan openly shared that he grew up on a farm in southern New Jersey, definitely not in a hot spot for design. He explained that this somewhat mundane environment fueled his creativity because he aspired for more - to dream and design.

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I asked him about what he thinks when young people come from similar places, not from the hot spots like New York City where he has lived now for many years, and he responded without hesitation that he actually worries about the kids in NYC that he knows, because they are growing up so privileged with everything handed to them, and he wonders what they will have to look forward to someday. I was touched by his honesty, because often when you are flying among the stars all day, you lose touch with reality and forget how most of the world lives. I can tell Jonathan has never lost touch with his roots and that he is relatable and genuine and this made me see him and his work in a whole new way. For me, it gave me a clearer picture of who he really is and before, that was always missing.

We are all very lucky to live in this age because the internet makes it so easy to get our work out there but also to run and manage a business...
— Jonathan Adler
KaDeWe - Event: Jonathan Adler - 17.01.2018

We also chatted about his overall line, as it has evolved since years back. He has grown it in a more sophisticated direction, which I like, because it fits his products and price point much better, while still retaining his tongue-in-cheek wit that made him famous in the first place. I believe that his sense-of-humor (combined with his obvious talent) really put him on the map because he came into design with his unexpected and eccentric pieces at a time when design was still pretty serious business in the United States. Vases were meant to be beautiful objects of art at the price point in which he sells at. But he challenged how we see objects. He made things that were cheeky and today, he still does. His humor is his strongest selling point, and it runs through everything that he designs, and I believe JA will be embraced by Germans since, once you really have a German friend, you learn quickly that all of the serious professionalism that they show publicly is often just one face; behind closed doors they are fun-loving, warm and quite funny.

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I asked Jonathan to articulate how he personally sees his collection because I enjoy listening to how someone defines their own work. He explained, “I call it Modern American Glamour. Modern in the sense that I always try to make things that are new, creative and have never been seen before. American, as I feel like my stuff has an American-ness, which is impossible to define, but you can see it in my collection, an optimism, the freedom in America, so my work feels American. And Glamour, it’s another tough word to define but to me Glamour is about making stuff that is bold, memorable and shiny.”

KaDeWe - Event: Jonathan Adler - 17.01.2018

We also discussed his philosophy when it comes to the home and how he feels about the things we bring into it and he explained, “Your home should make you happy and should be eccentric and personal. You should surround yourself with stuff that means something to you. Sometimes people just get things that are fine, and “will do”, and I feel like you should never settle, you should always seek the sublime.”

KaDeWe - Event: Jonathan Adler - 17.01.2018

We spoke briefly about his line in Germany, since it just officially launched here, and how it’s been received so far by consumers. He remarked, “Luckily it’s been really well received, thank God, and gives me an excuse to always come back here… I think that to me a lot of contemporary German homes are quite minimal and in that sense my stuff works perfectly because my actual objects are minimalist.”

I thought about that for a moment, because I never in my life would have thought of anything from him as minimalist, but stepping back I believe what he meant was that you could take a lamp from his collection, or a vase, or a single object and place it in a more minimalist environment and it would still work and fit nicely. His objects only become "maximalist" when you place them all together or in spaces that are already very full-on and decorated.

Your home should make you happy and should be eccentric and personal.
— Jonathan Adler
KaDeWe - Event: Jonathan Adler - 17.01.2018

If you live (or are visiting) Germany, please visit the official Jonathan Adler shop within KaDeWe on the 4th floor or visit Coop Raum Werk in Munich or The Interior Club in Dusseldorf to experience his products in person.

Jonathan, it was an honor and pleasure to meet you, and thank you so much for signing my book and for the time that you spent with me – it was a very nice few days in Berlin with you and Team JA! All the best, and welcome to Germany!

(Photos: With permission from the KaDeWe Group)

 

Exclusive Interview With Tom Dixon Regarding His IKEA DELAKTIG Collaboration

We’ve all heard about IKEA hacks right? Well they’ve now come up with the first official hackable product, designed by Tom Dixon for IKEA and which is open for your interpretation and imagination. 

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Last week my adopted city of Stockholm was jam-packed with events around town for Design Week, in conjunction with the Stockholm Furniture & Lighting Fair. One of the events I attended was a press talk on sustainable design and circular economy with IKEA and Tom Dixon, to coincide with the release of their collaboration, DELAKTIG. At the end of the talk I had the opportunity to interview Tom, which I’m so excited to share with you here on decor8! But first, some background about their partnership. 

I attended an evening in conversation with Tom in Auckland, New Zealand a few years ago and one thing that struck me about this iconic British designer is that he is anything but conventional. So when I heard that he spent time in car factories when researching for a new functional and sustainable furniture line for his collaboration with IKEA, I wasn’t surprised. From there, he looked at smartphones, where people are constantly downloading and changing the applications and interface to suit their changing needs. He then got to work on the project with seventy-five design students around the world as part of their Masters degree, a great way to look at design through another generation’s eyes and needs. 

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To Tom, sustainability is very much about the longevity of a product that will stick around for longer, as people use it differently and as their lives evolve.  He came up with a base that is a comfortable and affordable bed and that has add-on components, to make it into a sofa. What I find exciting here, is that is that not all parts for DELAKTIG, which translates to, “involved”, are available at IKEA. I’ll explain how it works.

You’ll find the base, which comes in three different sizes, along with backrests, tables, sides and light units at IKEA. All of it is very functional and adaptable as is, however as a world first, approved hacks can be purchased elsewhere. Tom Dixon has covers and add-ons available exclusively through him and Bemz who are known for their custom sewn IKEA sofa covers. You can, of course, get creative and hack the product yourself, hence the aluminum frame, that, along with its durability, is a metal that’s easy to design in grooves and parts, making it easy to hack in. 

It’s an interesting idea, as a designer you’re always trying to create the perfect iconic product to sell and market. Here we were doing the opposite, it was: How can we make the perfect base for people to do what they want? It’s both thrilling and terrifying.
— Tom Dixon

The day before the interview, I walked along Hamngatan, a main shopping strip here in Stockholm. The four main windows of the department store, Nordiska Kompaniet, were dedicated to Tom Dixon, design icon. Seeing his creations there all together reminded me of just how huge this man is in the design world and I admit, it stirred up a few healthy nerves in me. Tom soon put me at ease though. He is sharp, super passionate and he is self-taught, which I suspect might be his weapon in pushing the boundaries of design. 

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Mel: I love the idea of good design being available to everybody. Is that one of the reasons that you teamed up with IKEA?

Tom: I worked for ten years as creative director of Habitat, which was owned by IKEA at the time, so I had a much deeper insight into what they do and how they do it, than most other designers.  In that context, when I started my company and after ten to twelve years working as an independent and building my own brand, I did miss the affordability, mass production and the might of working with experts in that field. So those two factors and also the fact that realistically I don’t think that we’ll ever do beds because of the logistically they are complex with comfort levels and various mattress sizes in different territories. It’s not the sort of thing that we’d be able to do properly because IKEA dominate in this area. In that context, it was the right person to go to. I also like that more luxury fashion labels are working with high street and doing something that is mutually beneficially stretching themselves. I loved the Commes des Garcons and H&M collaboration.

M: Did you learn anything through IKEA’s production chain? 

T: The learnings were more about the mentality towards change and working with a company that has resources to pull on and can make big decisions that have got global impact. They spoke about that earlier in regards to the amount of glue they use (referring to how IKEA is now developing a more environmentally friendly glue which will reduce 2% of their emissions). You learn a hell of a lot from the work methods and the way they are organised. There is also a kind of second generation in IKEA coming through now and they are intent on changing the way in which they work. There are bigger openings. The hacking idea three or four years would have been impossible because they were keeping their secrets. We were talking about this project once it (hacking) started. Why would we do that for, when there is nothing to buy, so why would we talk about it? But in the modern world, that’s what you do. You also have access to vast amount of data of what goes on in people’s lives and how they live, which you never get in a small company.

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M: What do you think about sustainability in general and how are designers like yourself trying to solve the problem? 

T: I think it’s essential to have an aptitude to it and take it very seriously. Every designer has a duty to do that but then again, so does every consumer and every government. It has become such a pressing thing and obviously for most of us, it’s very hard to unravel the complexity of what one should do about it. I think just being active is definitely what you have to do and be conscious. Then also, without a doubt, my thing always comes back to making something that will stick around long enough to justify the production in the first place. Then there’s aluminium, obviously there are all sorts of issues in terms of mining but if you make it, it can be recycled, it’s valuable enough that if you left the sofa on the street, someone will recycle it because there is a few pounds in it. You can also recycle it forever, you have to add a small percentage of virtual material, something like ten or fifteen percent, but it is infinitely recyclable, unlike plastic.

M: What designers have your attention in London at the moment?

T: There are more conceptual artists at the moment that are amazing like, Philippe Malouin and Max Lamb. Watch out for Faye Toogood who is a stylist turned furniture and fashion designer. I can’t think about any stores off the top of my head though. 

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M: On the topic of retail, what do you think about the future of it, and how can shops keep people coming in, as apposed to shopping online?

T: It sounds cliché but you have to entertain people, you have to go into the world of entertainment and activity and exclusivity for some things. You have to work harder than ever before because locations are expensive. That’s not why we’ve gone into having a restaurant in place but you want to keep the place alive then people will want to visit. People will still want to go places, whether they buy in store or later online is almost immaterial but you need to engage and you’ve got to work a lot harder than before. 

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Okay lovely decor8 readers, I have a question for you now. How do you shop for things for your home these days? Do you pay attention to whether the product has had a sustainability component in the design process? What do you think about a product like DELAKTIG adapting to your changing needs and would something like that work in your life?

(Article: Mel Chesneau, Photos, IKEA and BEMZ)

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo Schtakleff

While in Milan last month on assignment for Kvadrat, my mission was to spot the trends and let my inspirations be my guide. Not a particularly hard job after you've been in the design industry actively for over a decade, especially in Milan! I recall quite a few experiences there that left me breathless, but the first was Sé Ensemble and the work of Founder/Director Pavlo Schtakleff which I'll share with you today. Pavlo is such an inspiration - you must know more about him and Sé Ensemble! But first, some visuals...

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In warm, sunny Milan on a beautiful terrace complete with sunshine and birdsong, I chatted with Pavlo to learn more about his background, his brand, and the rooms he'd created with his team for Galleria Rossana Orlandi, his second year in a row. Under his direction, an inspiring and gorgeous "show" apartment in Galleria Rossana Orlandi was beautifully designed and curated with Sé Ensemble furnishings along with contributions from some of his dearest friends to include wallpaper, artwork, mobiles, rugs and more. When I walked in, I was instantly aware of my senses - the way I felt, the way the space felt, the dazzling display of color and pattern, texture and the overall beauty of it all... Ahhhh. I've included a glimpse of what this apartment looked like inside as I walked around... Dazzling!

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Pavlo and I on the terrace

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The front sitting room

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The fitting room

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Dining room

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It was a genuine "experience" to see the collections of Sé Ensemble in a series of four rooms. The overall atmosphere made you feel like you had stepped into someone's private space. I loved the idea of this apartment, to not only show one collection but also to bring in other designers who inspire Pavlo to be part of this curated apartment. I'm always proud to see creative people in the interior design sector collaborating and finding success together. This is not so common in the world of fashion, to see designers supporting other designers, people who are happy to bring smaller labels into the light. Pavlo's genuine community spirit was obvious when we spoke, his ego doesn't drive his work - his passion and interest in design and creative people push him forward.

Pavlo was one of the best interviews I've had in awhile because he was so genuine, down-to-earth and open-minded - his relaxed nature the sign of a confident man who knows what he wants and even when he doesn't, he is confident he'll figure it out. A true entrepreneur. He was warm and welcoming to both my assistant and I; we even had the chance to join him, his wife Amalia and his hilariously funny French agent Daniel Cuzon-Verrier for dinner on the same day. Long story short,  we were roaming the center of Milan searching for a restaurant that wasn't fully booked, when we spotted one that looked perfect and in the doorway was Pavlo! He recognized us, asked if we'd like to share a table, and the rest is history. Once you break bread with a someone, you definitely see "them", which made me even more determined to share  Sé Ensemble with all of you.

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Let's revisit the apartment and the memorable time that I spent in Sé Ensemble's universe for another moment, shall we? The sheer experience of walking through each room was one I'll remember for months to come as the overall vibe was warm, cozy, glamorous and eclectic but with a definite red thread that ran through each object connecting them to the overall scheme. As a details person myself, I instantly noticed the attention to detail placed in the overall decor, from the scented candles to the gorgeous overflowing arrangements of fresh flowers, decorative objects and plants. The result was a sensual, tactile experience that didn't feel pretentious or too posh. The color palette was stunning and on-trend in rust, teal, brass, blush, salmon, blue and black.

My favorite room was the dining room and the first living room in the front, with the ivory sofa. I still dream about the series of three marble sofa tables in that room because I have been hunting for the perfect sofa table for so long and there it was in the most unexpected of places! My next favorite room was the dining room - the mobile twinkling in the sunlight, the massive floral arrangement, stunning artwork and those chairs! The chairs stole the show. I could have moved in to this space without hesitation. You know that feeling, right? It was that kind of space - cozy AND glamorous, two words you rarely hear in the same sentence when describing a room.

Along with the collections of Sé Ensemble, rooms were filled with La Manufacture Cogolin rugs, artisanal wallpapers by Calico Wallpaper in Brooklyn, and metal sculptures by Ane Christensen whom I had a nice chat with last year while attending a craft fair in London. I've linked a complete source list below if you'd like to view all of the designers and artists who were part of this collaborative design experience.

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Before I wrap up, let's chat briefly about Pavlo himself now that you had a virtual visit to the Sé Ensemble apartment (if you'd like to download the apartment tour as a PDF, click here). Pavlo founded Sé over a decade ago after working in furniture sales in New York for Flou, where he established their first US store, their largest worldwide. He then returned to Europe and connected with a man who would become his new business partner, Marc Sharifi, who wanted to partner on a furniture venture together. Pavlo had a vision to start a furniture line so it made sense to work with Marc and jump on the chance. He thought to bring some of the world's most talented designers together to build a single brand of gorgeously curated design objects - Sé was a result of that vision. Through his company, he works mainly with French designer Damien Langlois-Meurinne, Slovenia-based Nika Zupanc and Spanish-born Jaime Hayon (who was one of the most talked about designers at the Salone this year) and his small staff, including his wife Amalia, based in London where they have a new flagship showroom on Fulham Road.

As Director, Pavlo works closely with the London team and his satellite design team on a collection and simultaneously employs the best European crafters and artisans (read more about their production here) to form each piece using the best materials, most recently in Slovenia. The strong lean to Hollywood Regency is clear but to my American eye, much fresher as he and his team bring their unique European design sensibility to the collections through a "less is more" aesthetic, clean lines, fine craftsmanship and that forever coveted casual European elegance.

In summary, I hope you have enjoyed learning more about this brand today and are inspired by what you see, along with the apartment, and that you'll visit Sé Ensemble online to peruse their beautiful work. Before I went to Milan, I was suffering design burn-out. I felt like I'd seen it all and was getting really bored with the direction interiors seemed to be taking (overly minimalist or super brashy/color chaos) but Milan was the cure and I have Sé to thank for being a big part of that since I've been buzzing around with new creative energy and vision ever since. Grazie Milano.

Apartment Resources:

(images: with permission from sé ensemble)