Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Twitter, Serendipity and School Food Matters

Twitter is a funny thing.   I went to an interesting networking event last Wednesday where three very erudite women were asked to talk about their passions.  One of the women presenting, Stephanie Wood - gave an excellent, concise and impassioned talk on her charity -  School Food Matters.

School Food Matters is a small charity that has picked up the baton that Jamie Oliver so obviously held and waved when doing his series of TV programmes about school meals.  The aim of the charity is to engage schools and school children in food - the food that is cooked at school, how it is cooked, where it is grown and to give the school the tools and impetus to improve the quality of the food presented from the kitchen.  The other aim of the charity is to encourage the children/schools to grow some of their own food - to reconnect children with the cycle of life. Plant, water, grow, harvest, cook and eat (and if there is a surplus, sell at the local Waitrose).

Now serendipity -  I get to spend and hour with Stephanie in a little coffee shop in Sheen talking about Twitter - nothing to do with food - because somehow, somewhere along the line people have found that I know stuff about Twitter and that I can teach them things that they don't know, and that is what I have just done - an hour and a half lesson in Twitter and hopefully Stephanie will be a more effective Twitterer!

Who would have thought 10 months ago when I started this twitter adventure I would be doing this!  Life is an interesting adventure and twitter can make it so much more so!

To follow Stephanie on Twitter @sfmtweets

Monday, 5 November 2012

Being an Interior Designer is child's play, right?

      Ok, I'm feeling slightly peeved.  Nice English expression that - peeved, upset, disappointed after a throw away comment by a client, 'It's not that difficult interior design, is it?'.   Grrrr,  There is a reason that we Designers often make a better job of organising interiors - we are trained and know what we are doing.   There is a an  unappreciated skill in making spaces work,  in making them look good and work for the family, organisation, individual who is going to use it and within the budget.

With the proliferation of TV programmes that seem to show that you can redo your house in 24hrs with the minimum of disruption, everyone thinks that they can do it.  What they don't see is the planning that went into the programme prior to starting (I hope they plan, budget and schedule the work) to make sure that it all works on the day, week, month that has been alotted for this particular programme.

I will admit that being an Interior Designer is not rocket science, but it does help if you have a very definite skill set: 
  1. Being able to see the end product - seeing through the mess that is in front of you.
  2. Being able to see things from another perspective.
  3. Understanding the people that you are working for, and what they want even if they don't quite know.
  4. Be very good at planning and organising.
  5. Working with a lot of very different people, contractors and artisans.
  6.  Keeping up to date with what is on the market & changes in regulations and planning. 
  7. Patience of a saint!
There are other more intellectual aspects to the job, but for the purpose of this blog I won't discuss them.   What I want to discuss is why do people think that they can do it themselves?  I am not an accountant - I therefore use an accountant to do my books, I am not a carpenter and would use a professional to do that job, if you are not any good at space planning interiors why wouldn't you get some advice from an interior designer?  You don't have to use us for everything, but we can give you relevant and useful advice?

Interior Design is not child's play and not everyone can do it!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Twitter - what advice would I give - 5 pointers for beginners

I wouldn't class myself as a beginner on Twitter after 8 month of active use.  So, what advice would the now more proficient and able twitter me give a beginner?

1.     Always have a profile picture and bio - people do look at it and often visit the website given too.  It's a first port of call and therefore essential that it gives a flavour of who you are and what you do.

2.    Don't go hell for leather trying to get followers or even follow people.  Try out twitter, see how comfortable you feel with it and select the people you follow carefully.  If you are doing it properly it is not a numbers game.  People who interact with you and are interesting may not be the obvious ones.

3.     Think hard about why you are on twitter and what you want to do with it:

  • To promote yourself and your services, a book, shop, product or idea: - Promoting yourself and your services - you have to make sure that you are promoting to people who can either use your services, or know people who might be interested.  Twitter does give you a profile on social media that other platforms don't but as to how effective a selling medium it is I don't know. Perhaps others could let me know.
  • Keeping up to date within your chosen field of interest - that has proved to be one of the best aspects of Twitter for me.  I have been amazed at how much information there is out there and how readily people share
  • For the laugh and to 'meet' interesting people - that definitely is possible, lots of laughs and facinating people, but beware Twitter is and can be a huge time waster.  Monitor your time carefully.
  • Celebrity chasing - you only follow 'influential' people - Celebrity chasing - well what can I say, it does it for some people.
  • To chat with your friends why do that on Twitter I can do that in other ways.  For me Twitter has proved to be a network of interesting people that I would not normally have made contact with - so why just chat with your friends?  Get out and tweet new people. 

4.   Interact with people - if you see a tweet that you find interesting - comment and get a dialogue going.  It does rather feel like butting in on a conversation but sometime they can be the most interesting interactions. 

5.    Don't worry about who is following you - or who unfollows you.  It is not a numbers game and to follow or not is their choice - it's not personal (hopefully).

The most important thing I have learnt about being on Twitter is
 (drum roll) 
Be yourself!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Decorex 2012

Decorex 2012 London
Trade Show for Interior Designers, Decorators and Specifiers 

"Good designers are praised for their technique, great designers for their impact"   Tate Linden

Christopher Guy Styrofoam Furniture Pile

Corita Rose Fabrics
I  always enjoy going to Decorex - it is informative, innovative and full of interesting companies with beautiful products and this year was no exception.  It is also great  to say hello to people and companies that you use and update yourself on their new ranges and  to see what the interior trends are and find new and exciting  wall coverings, fabrics, furniture and lighting.  

What did I notice about Decorex this year?  That bling is big!  Silver, gold and shine were everywhere.  It may have been accented with black and dabs of colour namely orange - but there was no getting away from the glitz.  Taupe or griz as a colour is still very popular especially for carpet and wallcoverings.  But here and there accents of eye popping colour made themselves known. Byron and Byron  curtain poles and the bright and beautiful fabric from  Corita Rose Fabrics.

Sharon Marston
There were  some fabulous lighting companies - I particularly loved the elegant, liquid lights by  Sharon Marston Delicate cascades of fibre optic lights that are formed into organic sculptures with or without the elegant porcelain shades.  These lights can be made into chandeliers, wall sculptures or set into the ceiling to glissen like stars at night.   The permutations are as endless as your imagination.

Another wonderful lighting stand with elegant glass lamps and fittings was Richard Taylor Designs whose bulbous table lamps in scrumptious colours enticed and delighted.  They also had matching chandeliers that can be made larger or smaller as required.   I also liked their organic form furniture - a console table can be seen in the picture.  

Encompass Furniture
Amongst the fabric and furniture houses was a great outdoor furniture supplier Encompass Furniture - with this wonderful metal brazier.  Something that I would love to have in my back garden.  A large table, with inset fire bowl and place to store the logs!  Would make marshmallow cooking easy.

Beaton Fabrics
And then to top off all of the wonderful things on show there was the #beatontweetup held at the Cecil Beaton Fabrics stand @beatonfabrics.  It was lovely to meet so many of the people that I have been in twitter contact with - putting real faces to twitter names and making some new twitter connections.  I met in the flesh @moregeous @madabouthehouse @karenhaller @charduck @nick_gee @Dreamwalls and many others.  In my excitement I failed to take a single photo - but that might have been the mind numbing effects of the cocktails being served by Beaton Fabrics to whom a big thank you is owed - (I think)?  
Goodie bags from Beaton Fabrics and Mad About the House

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Debbie Frank - Astrology

 “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open.”
Frank Zappa

Twitter is an amazingly broad network.  I have met some fantastic and interesting people on my recent journey through the Twitterverse. One such person was Debbie Franks who came to one of my beginners workshops on Twitter.    Following on from that meeting we have been in occasional Twitter contact discussing how difficult Twitter can be, how to manage your time on Twitter etc.   In exchange for some more advice on how to manage her twitter account and how to make the most of Twitter for her and her two businesses  Debbie asked me if I would like to have my astrological chart read.    
I will admit that I have always taken astrology with a pinch of salt, believing what will happen will and there isn’t much you can do about it – a sort of fatalist mentality.  What I hadn’t appreciated is how much about your personality and the way you tackle problems and deal with issues is apparently decided by the alignment of the stars at your birth.    I won’t tell everyone here exactly what Debbie said in relation to my stars but I will say that she was extremely accurate – uncannily so, especially since she didn’t know me.  She picked up on issues and things going on in my life that I haven’t discussed with anyone.  She didn’t tell me how to sort out these issues, but she did say that now or the next 14 months would be a good time to do this.  It was a very interesting experience: to have someone dissect your personality from the interplay of the constellations and the interpretation thereof.  

If you want an accurate and informative reading of your astrological stars I would recommend Debbie.  She was frank and no nonsense in her advice and interpretation.  No woolly I see in the future a tall, dark….. etc.  If you look on her website you will see that she has been doing this for a long time and is very well known (something I hadn’t appreciated when I went to see her).  It was for me a very cathartic experience – not something I was expecting at all.     
Debbie also does readings by phone or email.  If you are interested email her on debbie@redthreadagency.com  or look at her website www.debbiefrank.co.uk

Oh, and she is on Twitter as @DebbieRedThread should you want to follow her.  Debbie has other strings to her bow, but that is another story.  

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Good Interior Design Doesn't Date

The importance of space planning and design.
By Rowena Vaughan, RJV Designs Ltd

15 Year Old Kitchen

A client of mine recently walked into a now quite old (15 years) kitchen that I had designed and said “This, this is what I want!  A room that doesn’t date, that works well and will take me through the next 20 years of life.”   I have to say that I took this as a compliment.  

What was so effective about this room?  It wasn’t the amount of money spent!  15 years ago most of the funds had been used  turning two flats back into a house – with all the plumbing, electrics and internal works that entails.  By the time the clients came to do the kitchen,  finances were tight.   The kitchen units are simple painted Shaker style, the appliances are just white or chrome, the sink nothing special but the room and kitchen work.  Why?  Because  a lot of time had been  spent considering the room; how it would be used and how the family’s life might change with the years and planning for it.  A well designed property will retain its value and continues to look good through all the trials and tribulations that family life will throw at it.  An interior designer can’t organize a house to self clean, but we can set it out so that keeping it tidy is easier.

Good interior design is not just about the decoration, furniture and curtains.  It is about the design, the space planning, the ergonomics,  the small and important details that make a room work over the long term.  Once this aspect of the interior is sorted then the ‘fun’ part of the decoration and fabrics can be arranged.
Some of the most important details to consider are:
  • Lighting – lighting for different tasks and being able to change and adapt the lighting to suit the purposes.  Providing options and variables.
  • Storage – it is an axiom with London houses that you can NEVER have too much storage.  Plan not just for now, but for future requirements.  A small child and their primary plastic toy collection, morphs into one with a huge amount of sports equipment.
  • Sockets – in our electronic age, with all our gadgets and gizmos you can never have too many of these and placing them in accessible areas is equally essential.
  • Flow – how people will move around a room, a space, a floor.  How will a space be used for a party, children playing, just the family.  All are different but need to be considered.
2 Year Old Kitchen
  • Focal point – a room with a focal point looks better visually – a picture window, a fireplace, a large picture all these provide good focal points.
  • Materials – what to use on the floor, worktops, unit finishes.
I could go on!  But these are just a few of the details to consider. 
Good design does not date.  Well planned and thought out houses,  even if the decoration is old and tired,  will sell easier and better than their hotch-potched and ill considered twin.  A house that has been added to over the years without an overall plan can often look a mess, even if a lot of money has been spent on the property.  An expensive bathroom badly planned  is an annoyance.  An extension which increases the floor area of the property but doesn’t add to the functionality of the house or room is a shame.  All that effort for little gain.

William Morris had it right: 
“Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Monday, 3 September 2012

Off topic but it was AMAZING!

The Day The Centre of London Became A Circus


Wow what a day!  The whole of Regents Street and Piccadilly Circus was closed to traffic and opened to pedestrians for an afternoon and evening of circus performers on 12 stages along the length of the street.   The most amazing acrobats, gymnasts, high wire acts, jugglers, opera singers et al performed all afternoon and into the evening.   Everywhere you looked another amazing person was contorting their body in in human ways in scenic London locations.  

Hand stands and acrobatics between the pillars high up in the buildings.

An acrobatic contraption at the end of Regents Street - with views down to Green Park/St James's.

This artist managed to do this portrait of Elvis - in three colours, upside down and in 5 minutes!

 These two were part of the Alternative Opera, 20ft high opera singers - 3 in number, belting out various aria and choruses from well know operas, ably assisted by the green and yellow drum orchestra with glum clowns (are there other kind?).

Amazing acrobatics on rings hung from gantries in Piccadilly (and no safety harnes).  It must be the mother in me but I find it difficult to watch these acrobats when they don't have a harness - what if it went wrong?
The most amazing Hula Hoop exhibition from around the world.  Never seen so many hoops whirled at the same time. 

Part of the team that slid on high wires above Piccadilly Circus having pillow fights, dancing and drowning us in 1.5 tonnes of white feathers. 

 The Angel of Piccadilly?
 That isn't snow - it's feathers!

 Close enough to snow to earn a feather fight!

The clean up crew!  All you can see are their florescent stripes - I do believe there were motorized street cleaners too, but they hadn't arrived.

It was the most amazing afternoon.  I just wish that more people had known about it.

Friday, 31 August 2012

A Rant About Twitter!

Why Can't You Manage The People You Follow on Twitter?
I want a Twitter address book!

Tooled up and ready to tweet
From www.saltywaffle.com

There is something that really, really irritates me about Twitter - don't get me wrong, I am still the Twitter convert of a earlier this year, I still think that it is the most amazing small business marketing and profile raising medium that I have ever come across - but! .......................Why is there no way of being able to search easily amongst either your followers or those you follow to find that one person you remember following ummm about 4 weeks ago, that did something specific that you knew would be useful at some point, but now you can't remember their name, or when you followed them, or what their name is or.............................Well you get the gist - I can't remember them.

What I would like is a Twitter address book.   A way of categorising those people who I follow.  Some I follow because they are in the same/similar business, some because of their blogs, some because they are amusing, newsworthy, interesting, local, different, useful etc But there are a few, a minority that I just come across and think  oh they could be useful I'll follow them - but then I can't find them again.

I was looking for, you see I can't quite remember how they described themselves - I think it was an Eco somebody in buildings.  Can I find them?  No!  Can I forward their details on to someone who I know they would be useful too - no!  

So all you wonderfully amazing computer, internet, fantastic people could you please design a way of sorting out our followers into an address book - and before you ask - lists don't work if that person doesn't tweet much!