Leave it to British Design Icon Kelly Hoppen  to push the wallpaper envelope.

She’s created two immersive images for manufacturer Graham & Brown.

Her co-designer on the project,  Magician Dynamo. “His skill for illusion and my experience as a designer came together and create something truly unique and experimental.” Hoppen says.

Perhaps the most striking of the two is the Enigma design, the square pillars create a mesmerizing optical illusion.


A Clever Drip

Dripping candles are such a…drip. But we humans are such clever-clogs or at least  Benjamin Shine is.

The British Artist/Designer developed an ingenious candleholder called the Rekindle. Just pop a candle on top, as the wax drips it collects below in a clear plastic mold that also contains a fresh wick. The old candle burns down and presto, a new candle is being formed. How cool is that?

While it’s not going to last forever as candles do dissipate, it will certainly Rekindle at least a handful of times.


Far Away From Far Away

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that the Fogo Island Inn is in the middle of nowhere. Actually, it is on the outskirts of nowhere, closer to far away from far away. Fogo Island sits off the north coast of Newfoundland. Flat earth believers say it marked one of the four corners of the earth. They weren’t that wrong, Fogo is one of the most beautiful end of the world places anyone can find anywhere.

The 29 room Fogo Island Inn is perched on a rocky piece of land overlooking the powerful North Atlantic Ocean. The hotel is the brain child of brainy child, Zita Cobb, a high-tech multi millionaire who found success on the mainland only to return off shore with a desire to encourage more people to explore this wild and beautiful island.

Cobb enlisted the design gravitas of fellow Newfoundlander Todd Saunders to craft the modern architectural skin & bones of the award winning Inn. Then she pulled from local artisans to embellish it with bespoke furniture, soft goods and art. Her vision for the retreat was further realized with the return of Newfoundland Chef, Murray McDonald, who created a trendsetting Nordic Canadian menu.

While the floor to ceiling windows offer unrestrained views of the unflinching tides, the building vistas are supported by the Inn’s interior rustic glamour and amenities; wood burning stoves en suite, heated floors, heated towel warmers, heated toilet seats, organic king sized beds, wireless internet, 24 hour room service, even beer brewed with water from a 25,000 year old iceberg. The Inn was featured in the most recent edition of Architectural Digest .





Pony on up to the bar


When I thought I had enough of cowskin covered everything, the team at Canadian design firm Powell & Bonnell ‘udderly’ changed my mind….sorry for the pun, I couldn’t help myself. It is called the Contralto Stools and yes, it is pitch perfect.

First of all it is meticulously tailored. The ‘ponyhair’ is partnered with an elegant black metal frame. The marriage makes for a contemporary stool that would suit most decors. What’s more, the seat itself is designed to be roomier, measuring about 20X20 inches, perfect for sitting and chatting and sipping for extended periods around the breakfast bar.

Contralto Stool

Contralto Stool



Wild Ride

When art met furniture in the studio of  Maximo Riera  the Spanish artist unleashed an homage to fauna wild and sea creatures wilder. His statement pieces are chairs formed from sculpted polyurethane plastic on metal frame.

To my eye they are indeed sculptural beauties. Riera, who is perhaps better known for his pop art and photography, says “I wanted to create a strong linkage between the piece, the spectator and the surroundings”. He hit the mark. No doubt the chairs would be the focal point in any room.

While the animals seem to be captured in a state of elegant repose, the price tags are certainly more beastly. They start at about $70,000 dollars.



Not Just For Colouring

Crayola crayons. Every first world child has had them, coloured with them and yes, I admit it, even eaten them…they don’t taste as good as they look.

Still,  Hoang Tran, a young California based artist, looked at his crayons and saw something else;  Darth Vader, cats, foxes, Dr Who,  a bride & groom, even a kraken. The colourful tiny sculptures are crafted by hand and feature iconic images from pop culture. Best of all for burgeoning art collectors like me, they are available for sale on his Etsy site at about $30 a pop.

Great House Sigils of a Game of Thrones carved crayon set




Cat carved crayon

Doctor Who Dalek carved crayon

Star Wars Darth Vader carved crayon




Wood, fire heat. This unconventional indoor fireplace makes it as simple as that.

The Spruce Stove is the brain child of Roel de Boer and Michiel Martens, Dutch designers who have taken most of the fuss out of building a real fire. Forget all the chopping and splitting of wood logs. Drag the whole blasted tree in the house and let it burn bit by bit. The tree trunk rests on a wheeled stand which is simply pushed slowly into the cylindrical stove.

Wouldn’t it be amazing in a non traditional apartment, an industrial loft or a modern house in the woods?


A good read ?

I love discovering new magazines.

In fact, it’s such a great pleasure to head to the International Magazine store and leaf through publications that are big and glossy and offer a design perspective that is fresh and foreign. The toll on my credit card is not so fresh mind you.

As I work on my new project, my stack of magazines is like a big airy paper soufflé; always on the rise.


Thank God for those online discoveries.  Residence Magazine is a beautiful publication based in Stockholm.

Attractive pictures that capture a fresh Nordic approach to design, new products, and profiles…love it.

My only problem is that I can’t understand a word of the text.  My translation program is getting a thorough workout. Still, a picture is worth a thousand words.





Slow Down

It’s so easy to let life get in the way of  inspiration. I am so often preoccupied by the stuff of life (most of it mundane) that I often tune out the myriad of things around me that can inspire or simply bring a smile to my face.

I guess you can call this is a ‘slow down and smell the roses’ moment.

Today I slowed down and found this beautiful styled, eclectic apartment in San Sebastian, Spain. Designed thoughtfully by Mikel Irastorza .




My Kind Of Subdivision

You know, It’s not right..

I recently came across pictures of one of the most amazing housing subdivision I’ve ever seen. Sadly, it’s not in the GTA.

This modern housing scheme, comprised of 6 semi-detached dwellings, is in Valencia Spain. Designed by Antonio Altarriba Comes (www.antonioaltarribaarquitecto.com) each unit has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and 2 light and airy storeys.

It could be built here in the Toronto area… should be… no reason it isn’t. Sad to say that local developers all too often take the easy road travelled.

How much more difficult is it to create beautiful designs, fresh with enchanted indoor and outdoor living spaces? I think it’s what everyone is after, isn’t it?








Mid-Century Modernist

I’ve got a love hate relationship with Mid-Century modern. Maybe hate is too strong a word.

The problem with the style is that it reminds me of my parent’s basement. When I was a youngster I certainly couldn’t appreciate the formed wood and laminates used in shelving and cabinetry that my parents stored books and records on. My mother’s love of shag rugs, minimalist upholstery and accessories made with colourful plastics and glass, was to me, oh so boring.

Still, I’ve grown up and so has my taste. This mid-century inspired Manhattan apartment by wUNDERground Architecture (http://www.wundergroundnyc.com/main.php) elegantly mixes Mid-Century modern with 21st Century modernism…My parent’s basement was never this beautiful.


Big, bad, tufted

For those of you who have a hard time getting out of the house each morning, skip this story. The reason? You may never want to leave the house ever again.

This has to be the biggest, baddest, most comfortable, over the top, glorious tufted sofa in the world. It’s 12 feet long by 7.5 feet deep, designed to make you feel like you’ve landed on a cloud. Just imagine chilling out here, drink in hand, watching Star Trek on you 65 inch 3D TV. Joy enough to bring a small tear to your eye? You bet.

Ok, most of us don’t have the square feet of living room space for this beauty…we should perhaps be grateful, one less excuse to stay home.