Monthly Archives: February 2013


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Gorgeous panels.




Le Marais.

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Coral door.

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Red door.

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Lavender Doors, Dijon, France.

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Pink Door.

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Turquoise door.

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Blue door.



Navy blue door.



Rue de Rivoli.

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Tiel blue door.


Green door.

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30, Rue de l’Echiquier.


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This is Fosco. It is my last deal. Last week , I found this terrier in a junk deal in Turin. It was sleeping in a old trunk overwhelmed by toys and blankets. It is a early stuffed toy. It is mohair covered over excelsior-filled body, embroidered mouth, nose and feet, mounted on four cast iron wheels with brown glass eyes, short tail, felt-lined ears, leather collars, marked Steiff, 15″ long and high. It is a rare collectible toy. Now it is with us in Milan. It has an intelligent expression and the eyes are shrewd and alert. I put it near our armchair, it keeps us company.

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The Steiff toy factory is the world’s oldest plush manufacturer and has grown to be synonymous with top quality the world over. Founded in 1880 in Giengen – Germany by Margarete Steiff, a seamstress who was limited to sewing with one hand due to polio. Margarete Steiff was inspired to create a delightful felt pincushion in the shape of an elephant. Intended to be a functional item, the enchanting design meant that it quickly captured children’s hearts and imaginations and, encouraged by her family, she opened her own felt toy company, Maragrete Steiff GmbH. Within five years she had sold over 5000 elephants, further Steiff animals were added to the range and the family company grew steadily.Steiff is best known as the company that invented the Teddy bear. In 1902, Richard Steiff, a nephew of Margarete and a gifted artist-inventor, presented the idea to Margarete. At first, she was not enthusiastic. But with Richard’s persistence, she finally relented. And the rest is history.

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The east block from 1903 is the front pavilion to the left. The others were built between 1904 and 1908. Picture from the early 1920s.

Steiff factory inside

Steiff workers. Traditional hand labor is still the norm in the factory; they believe there is no substitute for products that are completely handmade. This is in keeping with Margarete philosophy, which still motivates the company today, “Only the best is good enough for our children.”

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Exhibited in Leipzig in 1903, this bear had been a failure until at the last minute on the final day of the fair, an American toy buyer stopped in front of the stand. He was so charmed by Margarete’s bear that he immediately ordered 3,000 of them. Nevertheless, the final twist in the story comes when this same American buyer displayed the bears in New York where, quite by chance, they were noticed by the designer responsible for decorating the tables at Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter’s wedding reception. Wanting to display some witty originality amongst his decorations, he immediately purchased one of the little brown bears. Remembering the president’s love of hunting – bear hunting in particular – the guests at the wedding joked about the “Teddy” bear. Thus the teddy bear was born, the teddy boom was launched and the two stories surrounding his creation became one. In 1907 alone, Steiff produced 974,000 bears all made by hand and the company had become universally known and loved.

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The famous “Button in Ear” trademark, introduced by Franz Steiff, another of Margarete’s nephews, in 1904, distinguishes every Steiff Teddy bear or animal. It stands for superior quality, richness of ideas, and an entrepreneurial spirit.

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Richard Steiff – 1897.

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Margarete Steiff. 



Behind the façade of the art – deco – influenced exterior, lies a perfectly preserved and ultra – luxurious piece of Chanel history. The apartment, situated above the flagship boutique on Rue Cambon, remains exactly as Chanel left it. Today, just a restricted number of  VIP with a badge are permitted into the building.


In contrast to Coco’s personal space, the staircase had a heavy art- deco influence. It is still covered with cream carpet, while the walls are lined with panels of mirrors. During the fashion shows, which took place downstairs, Gabrielle Chanel would sit on the staircase. Thanks to the mirrors she could see everything taking place, but no one could see her. She wanted to know the immediate reaction, if the journalists and clients were pleased with the collection.


She had this chandelier custom made. Can you see the iconic 5’s?


The clear table in the picture below was the first piece of merchandising furniture for Chanel. Coco asked the designer to do something very clean and very simple to have all the costume jewelry, make-up, skincare, and perfume merchandised. It was to enhance the beauty of the product. At the time, it was very clever as she was one of the first to do this.

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“An Interior is the natural projection of the soul and Balzac was right to give as much importance to it, as to the way people dress…”, she once confided to biographer Paul Morland.


The entrance to Coco’s apartment where an original work-chair is still where she left it. Lower chairs were used for fittings as it was easier to sew and work with the fabric closer  to the ground.

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The octagonal shape of the mirror on the wall was the inspiration for the cap of CHANEL No.5. It is also the same shape of the iconic Place Vendome, which Coco could see out of her window of her residence at the Ritz Hotel.


The gold boxes on the coffee table were a gift from the Duke of Westminster.


A small herd of carved wood deer silently occupy the space...

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The scale of the chandeliers, the coromandel screens, the mirrors: all reflected her intrepid personality. Coco had an eclectic mix of decor. French classic furniture, antiquities, Italian influences and Japanese deers. At the time, it was really exceptional to mix Orient and Occident- when East meets West.


Above and below: a Greek statue over the fireplace’s mantle.


The desk where Coco sketched her creations on paper.


All of Coco’s books have deep red tones. Just like the iconic lipstick and the inside lining of the bags she created.


Coco was very superstitious. Elements of this can be seen all over her apartment with sculptures of different animals and religious artifacts. She wanted to feel protected at all times. Chanel was a Leo and she incorporated its symbol, the Lion, into her personal space.


The pig keeper of silver and gems may have been found by Chanel at a flea market.



Chanel considered wheat to be her lucky charm… it glints in gold on the book bindings of the Old Testament.


This tiny birdcage was a present from a retiring employee and was the inspiration  for the 1992 Coco perfume campaign, starring Vanessa Paradis, that was set in the Chanel apartment on Rue Cambon.

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The ornate Chinese screens and wall panels feature coromandel birds and camelia flowers, which came to be a signature for the Chanel fashion house that continues to be used to this day. It symbolized purity and longevity in Asia and was very prevalent in her designs.


The Salon where Chanel entertained her guests including Elizabeth Taylor, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky and Salvador Dali. She is said to have hated doors and obscured them with Chinese screens.

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Chanel herself designed this long, sensuous sofa in the salon at 31 Rue Cambon. It was important to her that it was comfortable, and she took the unusual decision to have it made in suede, rather than silk or velvet. It was very cutting edge. An entire wall of leather bound books. Beige, brown and fawn colors are accented with black and crystal.


The open mouth of a frog brings love, luck, money and health. If you look closely you can see a crystal placed in its mouth. Once, while Givenchy sat in the drawing room, a piece of crystal fell from the chandelier. He placed it in the mouth of the frog and it was never removed.


Coco was photographed many times in this iconic white chair.


A French trumeau over the fireplace, flanked on either side by Spanish vestry mirrors, crystal laden table lamps, and large rock crystal chandelier bejewel the main salon


Mirrors were designed to be octagonal in shape. The top of the two tables below are black lacquer but were originally marble. Gabrielle Chanel wanted to take off the marble and have the black lacquer. It may remind you of CHANEL’s make-up-black lacquer with the logo on top.


This hand sculpture was made for Chanel by the Italian artist Alberto Giacometti.


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Coco’s trademark black-and-white allover aesthetic.


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If anyone knows how to make domesticity interesting, it’s Alastair Hendy, the British chef and photographer. His new Home Store in Hastings, East Sussex, mixes a dash of history with a bit of theater—offering a mix of old and new utilitarian objects.

A design impresario, Hendy’s resume includes: Theater and costume designer at Central St. Martins; display manager at Habitat; chef for Antonio Carluccio; cookbook author; and well-known food and lifestyle photographer. His interests converge at Hendy’s Home Store, where he sells vintage tableware, brooms of every kind, candles, sinks, garden tools, and even some sensible furniture. On the weekends when he’s is down from London, the shop is also a restaurant, where Hendy serves up simple plates of fresh-off-the-boat seafood. “I am not an ornament person,” he says. “I like practical things, such as scissors, brushes, and string. My mum was a collector, and my grandfather—well, his life was held up by string; bailer’s twine held his coat together. It’s in my blood.”


The store is housed in a three-story Georgian townhouse, which started life in 1823 as a soda-bottling shop. The restoration of the building took three years.


Hendy has been collecting the wares over the past decade.

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A full set of Woods Beryl Ware: “A pale green tea china that would befriend a rock cake or a shortbread slice,” says Hendy.


Hendy’s Home Store is modeled on a traditional department store; selling a little bit of everything.


A vintage desk lamp along with rustic linens.

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The proprietor’s experience in shop displays is evident.


A range of household objects on display in wooden bins.

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The brooms and brushes range from ostrich feather dusters and goat’s-hair parquet-floor brooms to copper-wire barbecue scrubbers and horsehair cobweb brooms.


Seafood fresh-off-the-boat is available on the weekends.

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The Home Store Kitchen is a new building behind Hendy’s Home Store. Hendy won over the planners of Old Town Hastings by designing a building that is sympathetic to its surroundings.


The white wall tiles are handmade and recreated from original Victorian tiles. The floor is made from reclaimed brick, which has been sealed for hygienic reasons.

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The galvanized wall lights were sourced from an antiques market: Hendy frequents the international antique and collectors fairs at Newark and Ardingly.


On the weekends, when Hendy is down from London, he will cook at the end of the zinc-covered island and serve his guests around the table; seating around six. Another six guests can be accommodated in a small dining room. The fresh-off-the-boat seafood comes from the local fishermen huts at the beach.

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I love the ambience of this new restaurant in Amsterdam and the contrast between the wall finish and the new furniture is spot on.



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Les Trois Garcons is situated in a converted Victorian pub from 1880 in Shoreditch. Hassan, Michel and Stefan acquired the building in 1996 as their home, coming from Malaysia, France and Sweden they find living in a Victorian pub the epitome of Englishness. In 2000 the garcons decided to open the ground floor as a restaurant with the kitchen, chef’s table (a room for up to 10 persons with a one way window overlooking the kitchen) and the wine cellar in the basement and they continue to live on the other 2 floors above.
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“It’s been nearly a decade since Les Trois Garcons first opened its doors. And during this time, nearly every restaurant in town has paid homage to its exaggerated chic style – some taxidermy here, a bejewelled gee gaw there. But no one has done it with as much verve as the triumvirate behind this ultra-deluxe bistro” – SQUARE MEAL.
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1 Club Row – London E1 6JX
Tel: 020 7613 1924