Thursday, 4 September 2014

New Website RJV Designs is up and running

It has taken forever, well perhaps not forever,  it just feels like that,  at last RJV Designs has a new look website.   Have a look and let me know what you think.  The portfolio is a bit sparse, but that will soon change: we have lots of new projects on the go which will be photographed and loads of new glossy pictures will be going up.   The blog will be continuing but on the website - to keep up to date with what is interesting and happening in the world of interior design and decoration go to my new blog, see you there!  

In the meantime I would like to thank Lisa Baker, Little Fish Big Fish, for her expert Sales and Marketing advice and Peter Goring of Staxoweb for creating the site and for all their patience while the website was in gestation.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Pulse 2014 a few choice picks


The first step I take when a client asks me to decorate their home, is to understand their personality, their style and their lifestyle needs. After the furnishings, getting the home accessories right means adding touches that inspire, but that also enhance how you use the space. My advice is to choose home accessories that you have a connection with, that have a point of interest or have a practical, clever design element to them.
For creating interest, I love home accessories with an artisan quality to them. A collection of artwork hung together on a wall always creates impact.  Or choose beautifully crafted pieces that have a timeless, elegant appeal.
A visit to Earl Court’s Pulse Exhibition from 11th – 13th May is highly recommended for the latest in design inspiration. Over 500 brands across home, gift, fashion and accessories will exhibit their latest design trends and products. I will definitely pay a visit to the Iron and Clay and Nkuku stands for ethically produced home accessories in beautiful materials, constructed with craftsmanship.
Iron and Clay use organic materials such as beaten copper and forged iron. Their gorgeous hand-crafted clay pottery, like their pitches and vases shown, are full of presence and ideal on a window sill or console table. Their hand-beaten copper bowls would make a wonderful dining table centrepiece with a tea light inserted, as the copper would cast a warm coppery glow. For an interesting way to display your treasured family photos, try Nkuku’s Kiko Frames. I love that these are perfect for customising your interior by inserting your favourite family photos, children’s artwork or postcards from your favourite family holiday. Nkuku have managed to curate an eclectic mix of home-ware from artisans across the globe, with a fair-trade philosophy. I’m looking forward to uncovering these and many more treasures at Pulse to decorate your home.
Iron & Clay's Hand-Crafted Pottery

Nkuku's Large Kiko Frame

Iron & Clay's Beaten Copper Bowls

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Roca Gallery - London

Roca Gallery – London

A sinuous, curvaceous form showroom/gallery designed by  Zaha Hadid.  The inspiration for the shapes and form of the space taken from the effects of water, how it moves and erodes through stone, forming and making caverns and spaces.  But forgetting all that this showroom is a wonderful space!  You are lead through the curving spaces, exploring like child, keen to see what is at the end, behind the bend, in through the arch.  Lit with defused light bouncing off the ceiling from channels of light scribed out of the ceiling.   The tight palette of grey, white and black displays the ‘pedestrian’ bathroom fittings in an exciting way.  The space excites and teases you in equal measure.  What fun – do go and have a look.
Roca Gallery, Station Approach, Townmead Road, London, SW6

Monday, 29 July 2013

Gio Ponti, Hotel Parco dei Principi, Sorrento, Italy

I have just returned from 5 days in Italy, the Amalfi coast, Sorrento - what a wonderful place!  My daughter and I stayed at La Residencia, at the back of the iconic Hotel Parco dei Principi, Sorrento.  Ok, I'll confess my ignorance at the fact I hadn't hear of the architect Gio Ponti, the principle designer and architect of this iconic gem, clinging to the cliff above Sorrento bay - but I am making up for it now.  What a beautiful post war gem this hotel is!

The hotel is perched on the edge of the cliff, a sparkling white  elegant hotel, with it's pared down simple design, is a modern design jewel.  The simplicity of the colour scheme; white and blue, through out - tiles, furniture, pebble detail on the reception desk, lift openings, floors and reception rooms - is dogmatically strict.   The hotel was built in the grounds of the 1792 villa Siracusa.  In 1961, Roberto Fernades commissioned Ponti to design a hotel atop the ruins of a 19th century English Gothic castle but keep the wonderful verdant landscaped gardens, with its grotto, temple to love and picturesque bridges

 The stylish, still modern feeling, interior is full of wonderful design details.  Ponti not only designed the building but collaborated with other artisan designers of the time to create wonderful multi functional furniture (with Ico Parisi), delicious iridescence ceramic panels and the 'pebble' detail on the reception desk, lift and hall ways (with Fausto Melotti).  Each floor and room has the most wonderful geometric blue and white designed ceramic floor.  You cannot fail to appreciate the wholeness of the design, the rigour of the concept and the technical brilliance of it's execution. 

I shall be investigating these designers further.  Not only was the hotel an architectural and interior design feast, but the whole Pompeii, Herculaneum visit an over dose of colour and archeological wonder - but that is for another blog post.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

An Evening of Inspiring Women at the Bingham Hotel, Richmond, London


A great evening organized by Lorena Ostergaard, Mhairi Hindle and Maureen Quantrill, supported by the The Bingham Hotel.  Two great speakers with two different but actually in the end similar messages.

Robyn Scott, MD of OneLeap
First Robyn Scott, Co-founder and Managing Director of OneLeap who spoke movingly about the South African charity Group of Hope - where maximum security prisoners at one of South Africa's most brutal, harsh prisons have combined together to help the orphaned and abandoned children of some of SA's townships, many of whom have Aids - in anyway that they can.  Robyn, described how this all came about;  through the prisoners themselves having the passion and compassion to try and do something for these children.  The charity is beginning to have an effect, helping the wretched lives of the children afflicted by this desperate disease.  A real case of from small acorns......a chance comment at an educational talk in the prison lit a bulb of an idea in one prisoner, who spoke to the right man in the prison management, who knew the right man, who spoke to.............etc etc.    

The above story in a way encapsulates Robyn's second job as Managing Director of OneLeap, which is also all about connections.  One where investors and business leaders are connected with entrepreneurs and small business owners who need: advice, money, mentoring, business know how.  OneLeap links them all together.  It also works the other way.  Some larger companies want the swift on your feet abilities of the small entrepreneur and want them to advise them in the swift moving business world we now find ourselves.

The second speaker of the evening was Life Coach and self improvement coach Dawn Breslin who talked about her depression following the birth of her child, how at a self help workshop she found what it is that she wanted and realized that 'If things aren't working in your life, only you can put it right' ....not that you are to blame, but that you have it within you to sort it out.  And that is what she did!  But like all good stories, things don't always go exactly to plan, and Dawn shared her recent problems; like many the credit crunch has hit her hard, but with a clear plan and confidence in her abilities she can see a way out and  a way through to the next stage of her life.  Life isn't a bed of roses, but with an idea and connections you are not alone and you can sort it out.   

Two very interesting women who stories were inspiring.  Thank you to all involved. 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Cullian Studios - Retro Fit - Seminar April 2013 - Open City

Cullian Studios - Baldwin Terrace side
Thank you to Cullian Studios for opening up their offices and the talk about their escapades in refurbishing their warehouse offices on the canals in N1, Islington.  It was very interesting seeing what hoops they had to jump through to with the planning office, heritage department, structural and cost constraints and changes in sustainable construction best practice. 

Although wind power, solar power and other eco gadgets are fun and of the moment, some of the most effective ways of retro fitting a building with sustainable technology are the old ones - effective insulation, well fitting windows, low energy lighting, and a BMS (building management system) which allows the occupants to monitor and alter the heating and lighting to suit the way the offices are used. 

Lighting over desks, not general to the space - task lighting
4 years ago wind energy was chic and the planning application included them.  Since then thoughts on the effectiveness of wind energy in cities have changed, but getting the planning department to agree to the change was difficult.  The difficulties of refurbishing the building were exacerbated by the realization by the council that the warehouse was the only one left - as 'they' had allowed all the other, probably more architecturally interesting, warehouses to be demolished to make way for architectural 'feature' housing/offices on the canal side.  This meant that the rather mundane Victorian warehouse that were to become the Cullian Studios became significant because of rarity not significance.  This skewed the Heritage and Council's thinking on what they could and couldn't do to the building.

Steel frame that supports the Victorian wall
There were a few important lessons learnt:
  1. It is important that occupants are able to control heating/lighting systems easily.  A lot of building management systems on the market are difficult to install, difficult to use and difficult to maintain, which means that people proably don't use them in the most  efficient way.
  2. BMS and the accompanying technology needs to be simplified - make it accessible to all.  
  3. Planners need to get up to speed with changing technology.
  4. Planners need to have an overall plan of an area, not allow piece meal development without considering the area as a whole.  The wholesale demolition of buildings without long term considerations is negligent.  But, is this really the planners department, they are only paid  individuals, not people who are there for the greater good of the Borough. 
  5. Easy or rather simple is often the most effective
  6. Consider acoustics.  They are more important than you think.
Cullian Studio canal side facade, retention of Victorian warehouse frontage

 Thank you to Open Cities for organizing this seminar.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum

The title of this exhibition has been carefully selected as the curators obviously wanted to show and illustrate the lives of the average Pompeiian, not just the manner of their deaths.  I'm not quite sure what I expected but I did expect more.  I know that archaeologists have unearthed huge amounts of everyday detritus from both sites, which illuminate and illustrate Roman life, enabling us  to understand and appreciate how they (the Pompeian/Romans) lived a life not unlike ours with all mod (2000 year old) cons and luxuries to make life comfortable.  But there really wasn't that much on display.

Basing the exhibition on an existing house, each 'room' of the exhibition was then furnished with products and artifacts appropriate to that area.   I expected more minutiae - lots of it, if fact I expect to be overwhelmed by the smallness of an ancient life, that is so different and yet so similar to our own. Each item on display was interesting and often exquisite in detail and pathos, but there wasn't that much. Which meant that at the really interesting displays there were a lot of people trying to read, look and appreciate the items,  creating a bottle neck and that meant that my son and I looked from a distance and moved on (thank goodness for audio descriptions, in little MP3 players).

Having said that, this exhibition is probably the nearest we will get to Pompeii or Herculaneum for a few years so, we enjoyed and lapped up all the curios, charred food, furniture and mementos of the suddenly stilled lives. Macabre it maybe but also fascinating - and the overwhelming sense that they aren't so very different from us!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Talk at Chelsea Harbour - Sunday 17th March Design Week 2013

A talk with Tricia Guild, Robin Levien and Neisha Crosland.

An interesting conversation with three very different designers who talked with interest and lucidity about coming trends and how they, as designers, work.  The questionnaire managed to get the designers to talk candidly about their design process:  how they collate and come up with ideas and how inspiration comes.

All agreed that ideas and designs come often from things that they have seen and enjoyed many years before.  Both Tricia and Neisha have boards onto which they pin things that interest them.  They may not be for anything specific, but eventually they appear in a design.  

Answering the question 'Should designers follow or inspire trends' Neisha, told the story of inception of a fabric and its design.  It is on trend now, but when inspired and considered she didn't know that it would be.  The design was inspired by a ceiling in India (visited 6 years ago) the colours of some bull fighters (on the inspiration board forever), and drainpipe in Positano with clashing colours of pink and yellow.  None of which taken in isolation would be considered to be on trend,  but being woven now the colours are completely on trend.  Was this happen-chance or just the fact that we are all subconsciously led and influenced by what is going on around us? 

Robin, found some sea worn pottery handles on a beach on holiday many years before, these handles formed the inspiration for some china years later - is this being lead or leading? All his designs are formed in blue dense foam before being made into the actual item.  He feels that it is essential to see and feel, that computer generation is not enough to appreciate the form and function of an item. 

To the question 'Are consumers more informed more now?'  All answered an unwavering yes!  The increase of people travelling, the variety of magazines, the Internet and our openness to different ideas and ways of seeing and doing has changed and altered the buying public interest in design.   Now people get bored quickly and the constant demand for something new and vibrant does make for a challenge.  All agreed that they try and design for the long term, they don't want their products to just be for the season - they want them to be enjoyed and appreciated for many years. 

The speakers all agreed that they are probably the last of a generation of multi-disciplinary artists.  When they trained they tried and were taught in many different aspects of the artistic/manufacturing/designing process.  Now students specialise much earlier.  Students are very interested in the ecological impact of their products, which is often at the forefront of the design process, along with making the items lighter, simpler and they consider the disposal or what happens to their products at the end of their lives.  None of this was even thought about when these designers were at college. 

I think that for me the quote of the day was from Robin Levin whose advice to anyone considering going into product design or design of any nature would be 'Find out what you love and go with it, that way you will always enjoy what you do.'

An enjoyable and interesting talk.  Thank you BIID and Homes and Gardens for arranging it.  

*I haven't written about all that was discussed, but just given a flavour of the talk.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Surface at the Business Design Centre Feb 2013

Going to Surface at the Business Design Centre is rather like being a child in a sweet shop - you just want to try all the finishes, use all the finishes and use them NOW!  There were some wonderfully gloriously textured finishes in particle board, ceramics, wallpaper, coconut wood, water blown aluminium, wood and LED light sheets.  All begging to be used in the next interior.  As I said, child in sweet shop syndrome!

 Look at these wonderful textures - the first one is a full height 2mtr wall panel lit from above which would look fantastic in a hall or living room perhaps as a room divider from Valchromat. The second is an LED light sheet from LED Light Sheets Ltd.   And the third a small section of aluminium formed by blowing water through the setting metal.  Light as a feather and so interesting in texture - imagine this lit from below and used behind glass.

And how about these fabulous wall panels, all texture and interest.  Digitally carved swirls in a wooden panel and woven thin laminate with a lovely silvering effect. 

Other exciting products - LED lit stair handrails by Handrails of Distinction by Charles Crowson, a bit bling but could be fun in the right situation.  
More interesting uses for led light:  the different colours and textures that can be formed with these exciting new lights, from LED light sheets as before. 

These pictures don't do these exciting wallcoverings justice.  
The large print leaf skeletons are about 3 foot long and covered the 3 meter wall in a non repeating pattern.  All these digital papers can be printed to order from Space Innovations Ltd

The whole show was full of fascinating and interesting products. Mother of pearl, shapes, recycled timber panels.  
Different coloured coconut wood flooring - hard, waterproof and interestingly textured from  Eco Palm Flooring

There was glass with grass inside, glass that was textured and styled.  Ceramic tiles with etched patterns in in incredible colours.  Porcelain floor tiles that looked just like wood.  Fabulous  surfaces that could be used for kitchen worktops.  Timber cladding that wasn't timber.  Chain link fabric that could be used to clad buildings and other interesting products from design colleges and a plethora of information for those who wanted to be informed and stimulated. 

Now I just need a client brave enough to use these products and a project that suits them! 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Home - Exhibiton @ Earls Court Jan 2013

HOME - Earls Court 2013

Rather belatedly I write my blog about the HOME exhibition mid January. 

My impressions:  Pantone were 'big' - so many stands had fabulous ideas using the Pantone range.  Folding chairs, china, storage boxes and other accessories.  The wonderful wheel of colour in mugs educating and entertaining at the same time.

What I noticed most about the show was the colour and the bling.  As with Decorex in September, pops of hyper colour were everywhere.  Electric blue, green and yellow seemed favourite. 

  1. Fantastic light fittings from the bubble gum colours of carefully crafted glass dripping chandeliers from Bob Crooks of First Glass which can be made in any colour, any number and etched in different designs. 
  2. The organic forms of Joe Plismy Lighting - sea forms of silk lights that would look good in any situation.
  3. The fun milk bottle lights from Droog 
  4. The last room set from the impressive Coach House who have an excellent range of fixtures, fittings and furniture for the Interior Designer.

 Above are a few items that caught my eye.
  1. These innovative wall bike racks from Outline Works - in various animal head shapes and wild and wonderful colours.
  2. Soft pastel coloured bird feeders in lovely bulbous shapes from  Green and Blue
  3. An innovative light shelf - made of thin coloured Corian with LED lights behind.  An interesting and modern way of making a mantelpiece, or perhaps shelving in a bathroom  The options are endless.  From Belle and Bespoke.
  4. And finally this wonderfully whimsical tea set from Product of Your Environment with Gin (teapot & cup), Tonic (milk jug, )  - other humorous and entertaining items are available on their website - such as the donut plate, the 'I am not a doormat' doormat and the wonderful picture frame pillowcases. 
All in all stimulating exhibition with so many wonderful stands.  I came away invigorated at the ingenuity of the designers and will definitely be going again next year.