Posts in People
Flowers By Sonja Klein

It's so common when working primarily online to forget what's happening in our local everyday community. I fall into this trap now and then, so I thought today I would highlight a local creative kindred spirit that I only recently discovered who has inspired me so much through her floral arrangements. Her name is Sonja Klein from Blumig Heiraten and she is based in Hannover, Germany where I also live at the moment. My wheels are already spinning in terms of how we could collaborate. These are some of her floral designs for mostly weddings...

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All of the above photos were taken by a team of local wedding photographers that I also recently learned of, I'll list them below in case you are looking for great photographers in Hannover or northern Germany in general. Also the cake and cupcakes are by the lovely local baker, Mundus.

Sebastian WeißChristin Lange (she is amazing, she took photos for our family when Aidan was born) Stephanie Segowrney BrouwerDiana FrohmuellerAnja Schneemann

I love the work that Sonja does, such a great eye - beautiful!

PeopleHolly BeckerComment
Ellie Cashman: Her Process, Her Floral Wallpaper
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Wow. wow. wow. Just wow. I first saw it last year on Instagram in American restaurant Finca in Salt Lake City. This dark and lovely Ellie Cashman wallpaper shown below. Edgy, moody, overscale, smoky, floral. Love. It. finca-design-58

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Both: CityHome Collective

It's intoxicating and beautiful. In fact, we wanted to order and install it in my home to create a room "look" for my next book coming out in the Decorate series, which will release in just a few months in September (I'll tell you more about book number 4 very soon!). We didn't end up having the time or the budget, but I still wanted to talk about it publicly. That's why I had to share it from Selina's new book yesterday on one of her pages. And this is why I have to share more impressions of it in lots of different spaces around the room to inspire you. All of this is Ellie Cashman wallpaper, not all the same pattern, but the same moody large blooms that designers and decorators all over are raving about.

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Top L: Ellie Cashman Top R: Cupcakes and Cashmere Bottom L: Ellie Cashman Bottom R: Pinterest

But first, WHO IS ELLIE CASHMAN? She is an American artist with a Master of Fine Arts from New York University and was born in the same state as I was, Rhode Island, and like me, she expatriated to Europe (she moved to the Netherlands in 2007, I moved to Germany in 2009). Her current largest influence is the still life paintings from the Dutch golden age. She decided to turn her influence into patterns and created hyper realistic, over-scale wallpaper and it went viral on Pinterest in 2013 and since... well, her brand has become a major player in the world of wallpaper. Here is more about her humble beginnings as told by Ellie herself...

"When I designed my 'Dark Floral' wallpaper, I imagined it being used on an accent wall. I mocked it up in Photoshop as the backdrop for a rustic wood table and an Eames chair. What happened next, I hadn't imagined at all! That mockup went viral on Pinterest, and e-mails began to pour in from all around the world. People wanted to know where they could buy the wallpaper. This gave me the guts to go out on my own and find a partner to produce 'Dark Floral.' We were shipping the wallpaper around the world even before the web shop went live. And now, just a short time later, 'Dark Floral' has appeared on the pages of Vogue and Elle. So, real life has exceeded the capacity of my imagination. I feel truly lucky. This little wallpaper that could has had quite a journey so far, and it feels like it's just getting started."

I love stories like this! Ohhh the internet is so good to so many of us! She has since expanded her wallpaper collection into cushion covers, fabric and scarves.

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Top L: Sarah Sherman Samuel. All others: Ellie Cashman

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Styled by Selina Lake, Photographed by Rachel Whiting for Ryland Peters and Small/Botanical Style

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Top L: Goop Pop-up shop, Chicago Top R: Jaimee Rose Interiors Bottom L: Pinterest Bottom R: Lucky Miam

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Florist Nikki Tibbles Home in London via Dear Designer via Domus Nova

Do you wonder how she makes the patterns you see? I did too. Ellie explains below,

"To create my large-scale floral prints, I use a combination of traditional and digital art media. I start with a rough pencil sketch on paper, which I photograph and import into Photoshop. Using customized brushes, a Wacom tablet and pen, I then color and paint on a series of layers, building up from that original sketch to a finished design. This part of my process usually takes me about 6 months to a year. Once a print is complete, a new process begins: sourcing materials and applying it to different products. In this way, a design can evolve over a period of years."

Wonderful! All of these papers can be purchased online in Ellie's shop.

What example above do you like the most? Why? Would you use a dramatic wallpaper in your home like this? Where?

(Photos credited above)

Whimsical Decor By Nathalie Lete
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I'm a big fan of, and subscribe to, Milk Decoration magazine and love reading their website as often as I get a chance. I came by so many great stories there this morning over breakfast but one stood out because I've been getting press release after press release lately for Nathalie Lete. Milk covered her too so I thought I needed to share her latest work because apparently she's all the rage - again! NathalieLete_2

I say again because she was big for awhile and then I didn't see much from her for a period of time but that's changed because now I'm hearing about her newest this and her latest that all of the time!

I first learned about her first in design school. I did a case study on her. Her work is very folksy and colorful and I think it's just great. You may have seen some of her work at stores like Anthropologie, for instance. She's a big name in Japan, they love her over there. Here are some peeks at what she's been up too lately...

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This German-Chinese artist has lived and worked in Paris for so long that everyone assumes she IS French but she's not -- her father is Chinese and her mom is German, which is why her work is so fairytale inspired as Germany is the land of so many of the fairytales westerners grow up hearing. She has her paintings on everything from paper to fabric to clothing and beyond, it's all so interesting to see since I've been following her career for over a decade.

And look at this apartment, it's her atelier and showroom in Paris, check out the sleep space! She worked with French architect Nicolas André and cabinetmakers Antonis Cardew and Matthew Impey to create it - what a unique interior.

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Nathalie is inspired by American artist Kiki Smith, William Morris - "English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. Associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production", Bernard Palissy -"French Huguenot potter, hydraulics engineer and craftsman, famous for having struggled for sixteen years to imitate Chinese porcelain", and American Folk Art.

I always appreciate learning of the inspirations behind famous names in the art world and to then look at the work and see how those inspirations were translated into patterns and objects. Fascinating.

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Rugs, chairs, tiles, pillows, prints, dolls, hangers, wooden stools, wallpaper, glassware, trays, lamps, wall hooks, clothing, tea towels and plates, ceramics (my favorites), wall stickers, stools and tables, silk scarves, there is nothing her imaginative work hasn't touched.

Can you picture being a painter and illustrator and having your work influence so many products and people? It's really a dream come true, she must feel so fulfilled by the outpouring of love for her whimsical work.

(Photography: Karel Balas)

Marbled Wood Flooring By Snedker Studio

I came across some magical wood flooring (and decorative wood for walls too!) last week and still days later, I can't stop thinking about it. This is always a sign that I have to share with all of you! I feel like I could write a glorious intro but the photos so beautifully speak for themselves that I'm not sure I could do better in words. All I can say is that this is wood and these floors and walls make me so deliriously happy. Snedker_05

Designed by Pernille Snedker Hansen of Snedker Studio, these surfaces definitely satisfy my love of interesting floors which is why I adore decorative tile so much. She is both an artist and designer who loves to explore color and patterns and is fascinated by the traditional craft of marbling, a technique she has brought to her wooden surface designs. Her work reminds me a lot of Suminagashi (floating ink) marbling, a Japanese technique that was practiced in the 12th century long before it landed in western cultures.

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In 2012, Pernille won the Wallpaper Design Award and currently exhibits her work in conjunction with the Danish Crafts Council. Beginning today, she is also exhibiting in Copenhagen as part of 3 Days of Design at KONTEMPO, so go and check that out if you can.

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When it comes to surfaces, I love the tile work that I've seen during my travels to North Africa, Turkey and Mexico. Even cities like Lisbon and Berlin have some of the best tiles; and old German tile from the turn of the century is gorgeous. But seeing decorative wooden floors is quite another thing, and it's inspiring because wood is so warm and has a different feel underfoot. It's also not as common to see patterned wood, is it? I've seen some that has had stencils applied to it, or given different washed treatments, but marbled? That's a whole new level of innovation and craftsmanship.

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"The floor is the largest wooden surface in Scandinavian homes. Marbelous Wood reinterprets this classic domestic feature with vibrating colours across its surface. In Marbelous Wood – Refraction, both the form of the parquet floor and the applied pattern are inspired by the refraction of light through a prism, a graduating colour scale from one colour to the next. Its highly organic yet graphic patterning creates an optical experience as your feet move across the floor. The transparent marbling pattern merges with the wood, entering into a dialogue with the inherent ornamentation of wood. Marbelous Wood tells a story about time. Each print captures a unique frozen moment within the process. Produced one drop of colour after another, ring by ring, the pattern is constructed on the water surface. The final result is a reflection of the annual rings of wood."

I enjoyed watching this video from 2013 showing her process and hearing her comment on what's involved in making these floors (she speaks Danish but their are English subtitles). It's both fascinating and fills you with loads of respect for the thought and work involved. The video was made by Danish Crafts 2013 in connection with the exhibition MINDCRAFT13.

I'm so happy that I stumbled upon this flooring, it really made me smile and feel super inspired! Hope it did the same for you. And thank you dear Pernille for working with me to run this story on decor8. And all the best with your new baby, Pernille. And remember dear readers, if you plan to be in Copenhagen for 3 Days of Design, definitely seek out the KONTEMPO exhibition and look for Pernille and tell her hello for me. ;)

(Photographs with permission from Snedker Studio)

Parisian Handmade Flowers Laurence Aguerre

Our trip to Paris yielded so many good experiences and memories, beyond words, really. From meeting (and lunch!) with Artistic Director Daniel Rozensztroch of Merci to hanging out with the delightful Cécile Figuette of Bien Fait, making flowers with shopowner and author Adeline Klam... It was all so fascinating... Oh and did I tell you that we were treated to a beautiful lunch and dessert at Ladurée? We were indeed. We also visited the much envied children's online store Smallable in their first new storefront. Oh, and there was the great hotel that treated us so nicely, Grand Pigalle, with a bathtub I could have slept in... It was a beautiful week. But there's more... I got to meet a fan of my blog who is also an exquisite artist, a textile designer with the hand of a magician, who transforms delicate fabrics into blooms that you simply have to see to believe. Her name is Laurence Aguerre. Morten Toni Vinther for decor8

We spent time with Laurence chatting in mostly French (thank God I had my friend with me to help!) in her tiny, sunny studio that is part of a collaborative artists' space where you have to win a lottery to get your own atelier (or not) there. The  35 ateliers are located in a large building in central Paris called Les Ateliers De Paris, which is known as a incubator of creativity or as the French would say, "L'incubateur des métiers de création."

Laurence was such a joy to meet and as sweet and calm as the flowers she creates. Clearly passionate about textiles and production, it is one of her dreams to see her work in the window at a store like Anthropologie because she wants to touch many more outside of her native France. After working for two decades in fashion, she furthered her education by returning to university to study textile design and today, she's doing installations and creating things from fabric, wire, beads and string that are quite impressive.

Morten Toni Vinther for decor8

Morten Toni Vinther for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Morten Toni Vinther for decor8

Morten Toni Vinther for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Morten Toni Vinther for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Her love for nature, particularly flowers and plants, inspired her recent work to make poetic, dancing flowers that are peeking out of a wood board while others are mounted in raw cement holders. And they do indeed dance. When you pass by, or open a window, they sway magically just as they would in nature. These light and airy blossoms captivated me and I only wish I had been able to spend more time with Laurence to examine each more carefully. Yet the time I was able to observe her creations was so inspirational to me because, upon close inspection, each flower is so meticulously made that you really couldn't walk away without enormous respect for the time that must have went into crafting each bud and blossom.

Thank you Laurence for having us and a special note of thanks to dear Amelie for setting up this special visit for us, and to Toni for the translation and the beautiful photographs. I would be no where without the wonderful people I work with and the fantastic chances I get to meet such special artists. Merci!

(Text: Holly Becker)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

I just returned from a beautiful trip to Paris, then London, so I have a great deal to share with you but first, the highlight. My day at Merci in Paris with Artistic Director Daniel Rozensztroch. First, it was a dream come true to meet with him, not just for an interview, but for a store tour, lunch together and frequent chats throughout the day. He is such a creative man, a true artist, and I loved learning more about his life and travels which I’m thrilled to share with you now through my words and photographs.

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

As Artistic Director, he is solely responsible for the overall image of this famed concept store which is a major design influencer in not only France but worldwide. Before coming to Merci, he was with top French interiors magazine, Marie Claire Maison, for 22 years as Editorial Advisor (Conseiller de la redaction). Now with Merci for 8 years as Artistic Director (Directeur artistique), it’s clear his attention to the brand, the customer, what’s happening globally in design and his own inner radar for what’s appealing fills his mind constantly and is something in which he possesses endless passion.

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(One of the cafes in Merci, the Used Book Cafe, with walls of books to peruse while sipping espresso. This was born from Daniel's creative imagination.)

Daniel combs the globe for inspiration and products to take under his wing and bring into the store but additionally, he organizes and curates massive installations in-store that frequently change, all based around themes which range from microtrends (he has the power to set them) and rising trends in either design, fashion, lifestyle, cooking or movements in thinking. He’s always watching the news to see how current events may influence or shape ideas for upcoming shows at the store. He likes to bring awareness to particular themes while also inspiring Merci customers. He likes to make people think. It’s not all about selling product to him, his passion reaches much farther than the wallet – he wishes to inspire collective consciousness to motivate people to consider their lives and the everyday decisions that they make to move towards greater positivity and joy. And products can certainly help aid in that, if you are shown the right ones, which is something he believes in as well – the power of the object and its ability to bring harmony to life.

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

The current theme, for instance, is sports and wellness and is called Sport in the City. Clearly an important topic as cities globally are expanding awareness on the topic and more juice bars, sports clubs and fitness apparel shops are bursting open. Paris is currently experiencing a great awareness around health and fitness too. I observed this clearly as I saw about 50% less smokers than in times past when I had visited the city.

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(We loved the Lumio lamp and walked away with one of the Marshall portable systems)

After the fitness theme, he gave me an insider’s tip that he’s worked with a team of talented people to develop a monochromatic theme based around African prints, patterns and design, which I cannot wait to see because I only think of saturated color when I think of most African textiles and furnishings.

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(The men's pop up shop, shown above. Daniel went home with that great camo coat and my assistant Toni Vinther left with the camel jacket he is shown wearing. We had a great shopping day!)

What I noticed immediately upon meeting this talented man is that he listens more than he speaks. He believes in moderation, kindness, compassion, and in creating a meaningful home over time and certainly not to impress others. As we spoke, I sensed that he soaks in everything; which in turn helps him to later decipher what would be an interesting topic to explore for the store or for a future design (he is also a Designer). As a listener, when he does speak, there is something of substance to hold on to and consider later. I really appreciated this because it meant that conversation held more value and meaning, and wasn’t full of the typical surface topics which never really move you closer to the core of the person. He’s a lovely man to chat with, for sure.

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(Adidas are so hot right now in Europe, especially these with the black stripes.)

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

I also caught on rather quickly that Daniel is obsessed with everyday items that are aesthetically-pleasing but also practical and functional, from a collapsible strainer he showed me in the Kitchen section along with a Japanese hand broom, to black matte cutlery on the floor for Home. His obsession clearly is what makes him so great at curating, his attention to detail and his dedication to collecting are inspiring because I also get excited over the little things so his passion was completely relatable to me.

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(I loved that they have an Aesop pop-up shop on their ground floor, I grabbed the geranium hand balm from the Auriga kit.)

(Upstairs, they have a gorgeous paper shop. Swoon!)

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

With a home in central Paris (where he tends to his small garden, a huge trend in Paris at the moment is this sort of renegade gardener) and another in the South of France, Daniel is frequently flying between homes but even more, frequently between countries – he travels to lands far and near in search of something that will catch his eye – it could be anything and generally, not always what is obvious. The sign of a true artist is to see something in what others may walk by, tapping into one’s imagination. His imagination is always running wild and his heart, completely open and free to explore, which makes him perfect for what others may consider an overwhelming responsibility to oversee and curate one of the most influential design stores in the world.

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(I spotted a sweet marbleware lampshade that I liked immediately as I began photographing the lower floor near the cafe.)

While lunching at Merci on the lower floor near the gardens, I was seated at a lively table with many languages being spoken, delicious foods constantly arriving before us, a bottle of wine because it’s France after all, and I sat across from Daniel and just felt nothing but warmth and joy as he spoke. During lunch, we spoke about Instagram (he isn’t using it currently but maybe soon, wink wink), social media and blogging in general, his role at Merci and how he decides upon the next big thing to show in-store. Here is Daniel below, this portrait of him really captures his personality well.

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

It was a pleasure to be meet with someone with such a rich background who doesn’t bring ego into it. Our chat was relaxing and made me realize that there is no need to try to impress people when you are impressive enough, you know? Daniel doesn’t need to prove a thing. He is who he is and his confidence reflects that and it’s an endearing quality because it makes others feel at ease. When you leave ego out of your work, you can get REAL work done. You can do what is important.

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(I loved these glass vessels in their Home section and below, all of the ceramics - quite gorgeous. I walked away with the white/black basket shown lower left on the floor for Aidan's toys to discreetly tuck away in our living room.)

After spending nearly a day at Merci eating, shopping, meeting lovely people and photographing the store with Toni Vinther, I walked away more excited to follow Daniel’s work going forward and to keep an eye on the Merci blog and IG to see what he will do for the next installation, and the next, and the next. I also want to return again soon to visit him and maybe steal some time for a coffee because I just liked him as a person. I can’t wait to see where he will go next with his imagination. For me, I loved meeting with someone who brings so much wisdom and value into his work. He’s not fresh out of college or eager, he isn’t insecure or naïve. He’s a seasoned professional, a creative guru, who has seen it all, done it all, and wants to do even more in a fresh, creative and better way.

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(Their linens are to die for. Seriously, the best linen and the best quality ever. They have table linens and an entire room of bedding, as well. You can also order it all online. I also loved the Massimo Castagna flatware with the openwork handles. 

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(I loved how many styles and periods they mix together but also how global it all is - it doesn't look Scandi or French or Italian - it looks well-traveled and interesting, the contrasts are unique and add healthy tension, the focus is on comfort first.)

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(Many of their pieces are handmade, one of a kind, like the lighting show bottom left. These are all sourced and made by hand and sold exclusively at Merci.)

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(The stunning handmade Japanese pitchers on the table was a real highlight. I wanted so much to take one home and fill it with field flowers.)

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(White enamelled metal flatware by Stefania Di Petrillo definitely had my attention and was something else I desperately wanted to take home with me. I also loved the black and white marble enamelware plates, which is trending currently in Europe for the tabletop. I saw it in London in all of the best stores, too. But I spotted it at Merci first!)

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(I had to photograph the flowers and the simplicity of this tabletop. I loved the scalloped edges of this vintage farmhouse table. There is a lot of love in a table like that, and memories too.)

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(So nice to see mustard and black, but even more, the pottery and linen... and glass. Everything was so cozy looking and welcoming but also stylish and current.)

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

Holly Becker for decor8

(I went home with the gorgeous chair above bottom right from HAY, I had to have it.)

Toni Vinther for decor8

Toni Vinther for decor8

I wish Daniel (shown throughout this post and above, with me) nothing but the best and thank him from the bottom of my heart (and my assistant, Toni Vinther, also thanks him too) for treating us like family and with such kindness – this was surely a highlight in my career that I’ll never, ever forget. And a big thanks to Toni for being the best travel partner ever and for all of the help, I couldn't have done this without you!

Holly