Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. It really is the perfect time of year to hold your boo close. The long cold nights of winter are perfect for romantic retreats, dinners and dates and just simply cocooning together. Even if it’s a small token of your affection, don’t be caught off guard without a little gift. Here are some of our favourite things that will make your love’s heart beat a little faster. Something Beaded These beaded Namji Dolls are handmade and absolutely exquisite. Traditionally these would be given to a bride on their wedding day and are imbued with good energy to help with fertility. The Monkey Biz beaded animals are another fabulous gift. These are one-of-a-kind pieces created by women artisans in South Africa. Not only are they elevating South Africa’s beaded arts and bringing them to an international audience, Monkey Biz is also a not-for-profit that employs and trains women and reinvests funds directly into the community to better empower these women. Something Ceramic A vase or a delicate piece of ceramic or pottery is also a lovely gesture. Fill it with flowers, favourite teas or chocolates to present the perfect present. Everything Aglow Beautiful candles, accompanied by this handmade candle snuffer is a great way to set the mood of a room. Who doesn’t love candle light? Special Storage A pretty box not only is a lovely home accessory, adding texture and a dash of colour to your tabletops and shelves, they can also hold your most treasured things. With or without a gem inside, these boxes are a perfect way to say you treasure what your love does. Pampered Nothing is more pampering than breakfast in bed. A tray like this one is exotic, beautiful and romantic in its own rite and will make a fabulous accessory long after Valentine’s Day is gone. To romance! To long lie-ins in bed! To time spent with those that make your heart go pitter-pat!
Ever see gorgeous African textiles in design magazines and wonder what, where, how? Textile design is a true art form across the continent of Africa, and many designs are specific, not just to a region, but to a particular tribe or family. Some designs are like a coat of arms. Today we present a 101 on some of the designs that have made it into North American interiors. Mud Cloth from Mali Mud cloth (bogolanfini, or bogolan) is a culturally important tradition in Mali dating back to the 12th century. Cotton fabrics are traditionally dyed using fermented clays and muds, that give the cloth the rich dark colours and patterns. Historically, the cotton fabrics are weaved by men, while the intricate patterning created in the dyeing process is done by women. Mud cloth is enjoying its moment in the sun right now, where these textiles are being incorporated into high end interior design and fashion. Mud cloth is made by bathing the cotton in a yellow solution made from mashed and boiled leaves of the n’gallama tree. Left in the sun to dry, clay and mud is then applied as a painted layer to create the beautiful motifs. There are many artisans who continue to create these textiles using time-honoured techniques, but some modern makers have come up with new processes that speed up their creation. Kuba Textiles Kuba cloths are generally rectangular or square pieces of woven raffia that are embellished with embroidered geometric patterns. Originating from the DRC (formerly Zaire), these textiles have been intricately made by hand. Once the raffia fabric is woven, typically by men, women hand embroider the geometric patterns by sewing in the desired pattern with raffia thread, stitch by stitch, clipping or cutting each thread. This makes the embroidery process painstakingly long, but the final effect are patterned pieces that resemble velvet in texture. The pattern and repetition you see in Kuba cloth tell stories. Mathematicians have long been intrigued by the elaborate use of patterning in traditional Kuba cloths and marvel at how they also seem to represent the traditional music and song of the Kuba people, which you see in off-beat phrasing that seems to interrupt an expected pattern. Just think, that’s not simply art on your wall, or headboard at your bed, but hidden within that pattern is a myth, a song, a story. Kente Cloth Created by the Asanti people of Ghana and the Cote d’Ivoire, Kente cloth derives its name from kenten, for basket, because its woven look is so similar. The fabric itself is woven using specialized looms to create the brightly coloured and intricate patterns of the final product. Every colour used in Kente cloth carries a meaning, so that each finished piece of textile tells its own story. For instance:
- White: denotes purity, peace, innocence and spirituality
- Yellow: represents gold and signifies royalty, wealth and fertility
- Black: is the symbol for bereavement and darkness, but also for secrecy and mystery
- Blue: represents wisdom, humility, harmony and love. It’s the symbol for big spaces like the sun and ocean.
- Green: denotes life, growth, and youth
- Brown: is the colour of mother earth, and represents healing
- Pink: is associated with femininity, tenderness, calmness and the essence of life.
Various colour combinations also carry different meanings. Some weaving patterns represent entire tribes and families. The richness of these textiles, the stories and cultural narratives they hold make each one uniquely special. These should never be treated just as home trends, but understood in their context of history, geography and culture. I love these cloths and textiles. I’ve never seen any like them and so enjoy these voices in the spaces I live and work.
Dolls have long been a treasured plaything, talisman and display piece across both history and cultures. From Asia to Africa, North and South America, many iterations of the doll have been cherished over centuries – if not millennia- and used to teach care and develop empathy in children.
Today we’ll look at the beautiful dolls created by the The Namji people of Cameroon. These stunning dolls are hand-carved from African rosewood. Each is carved from a single piece of timber. They’re complete once they’re adorned with seed beads, leather strips, coins, metal pieces and cowrie shells. It’s said that these decorative trinkets is what gives each doll protective charms.
It’s quite striking to see the level of detail that goes into creating each one. Each is unique and chock full of personality. I simply love their expressions.
Traditionally these dolls are fertility talisman, presented to brides at their wedding. Women carry them around as they would babies, until they conceive. They are also passed down to girls where they become a very special toy. There are also masculine versions of these Namji dolls, gifted to men with the same intention to help inspire fertility.
We have a variety of Namji dolls, both artifacts and new versions based on traditional techniques. They are a beautiful table top display, either on their own or grouped together. We work with a master carver in Cameroon who does wonderful work. If you’re looking to add one of these special pieces to your interior, be in touch. We can have one created just for you if we don’t have one on hand that suits your fancy.
There really is something special about dolls and these in particular. They conjure up the magic of childhood, they carry a strong cultural voice and they are truly beautiful.
It’s winter here, and while we were lucky to get a pretty warm fall and early winter, it’s starting to get pretty nippy. This is the time to layer. And not just with fashion but our homes too. But a lot of people are hard-pressed to know how to pull this off and have the finished look be sleek and stylish. Here are some fun tips that will keep you and your home warm. Layer yourself with ponchos and capes, your home with rugs and carpetsI for one, love ponchos and capes. They are the height of sophistication. I love the rich texture of wools and the the amazing patterns we’ve seen emerge over the last few seasons. What better way to cozy up in a drafty office or resto than by ever-so-casually throwing on a cape or poncho. Carry this look off in the home by layering rugs and carpets. You’ll keep your tootsies happy while also creating cozy and warm ambience. Layering carpets can be done to add loads of pattern and colour, but it’s just as easy to layer in neutrals too for that rich and sophisticated look. Layering mirrors to make the most of sunlight and adding bling to sparkle and shine While the winter sun can be nice and bright, the fact that it rises late and sets early means it’s hard to feel like we’ve soaked up enough rays. Try layering mirrors on a mantle or using mirror in more than one place in a room to really reflect the light that does make it in. For the fashionable you, get the same dazzle by layering your jewellery. Stacked rings, layers of necklaces, a jumble of bracelets is just what you need to feel and look dazzling. Metal, gems and crystal always pick up the light and add just the right sparkle. Play with texture and length If you’re worried you will look boxy in layers or your home will look too busy, keep in mind that playing with length and texture is a good way to get the sleek balance you want to achieve. Long flowing drapes with a cozy sheep skin gives this nook the perfect harmony between heavy and airy. Same goes with fashion: a short chunky seater looks great over a long light blouse, just as tall boots look great over tights or jeans. What are your fashion and design tricks to stay warm in the dead of winter?
Happy New Year dear readers and Snob friends. I for one, enjoy the fresh start the new calendar brings. A time to renew and maybe let go of some of the harder parts of the year we’re leaving behind. For many it’s a time to finally hunker down and get organized. Stuff accumulates so fast, doesn’t it? You turn around and suddenly there’s a stack of papers, a pile of magazines and books where before there were clear surfaces. New clothes with tags still attached slump in the dressing room and that much needed kitchen gadget never did find its permanent home in the kitchen. I don’t know that there’s a hard and fast rule about how much stuff to keep around, but I do think an unorganized home can affect your mood and productivity. When you find yourself spending more than 10 minutes a day just looking for things, it’s time for change.
Stuff ends of taking on the weight of our memories and sometimes we need to let go. So I propose you go through, room by room, starting with social space and then your sanctuary, and decide what needs a permanent home (and move out those things that no longer do). Once you have a sense of what needs to be put away, it’s time to get your furniture and accessories working along with your new decluttered space.
Baskets and boxes are a great storage solution that are also so pretty. Baskets in foyers and entryways can help house cold weather accessories, especially if you have little ones around. Mounted to the wall or tucked under a console, these make it easy to find what you need as you scramble to get out of the house.
Baskets too are wonderful for children’s toys. Not only do they carry a load, but tossing playthings back into a basket teaches even toddler the importance of care and cleaning of our things.
Boxes meanwhile can be fun, funky or sophisticated and are great to have in key drop zones in your house. A place to put your keys in the foyer. A safe place for jewllery in the washroom. A place to keep those “in process” documents in your office.
Storage with doors is also your best friend. Don’t be afraid to get something customized to your space and needs. Getting ill-fitting furniture or settling for a piece that doesn’t quite meet your needs isn’t doing you any favours, especially if you end up upgrading it a year or two down the line. Being able to tuck things behind closed doors is always nice. You – and your guests – simply don’t need to see all your things all the time. It starts to make a space feel frenetic. You can cultivate all sorts of moods and energies in your home, frenetic generally isn’t one to go for.
Wide shelving, be it a bookcase or floating units are also very versatile when it comes to proper organizing. With wider shelves, you can store boxes and baskets as well as books and your most treasured accessories.
Good luck with your resolutions. I wish you fortitude and calm as you integrate changes that will make for a happier and calmer 2016.
I’m going to make a prediction about a colour trend this year. I’m not one who likes to stay on-trend in general. I favour timeless, original and eclectic in both my fashion and interiors. But still, I think this year we’re going to be seeing more pink. Pink is given such a hard time. It’s so often seen as girly and not in a nice way. Think prim and childish or garish. We think Barbie and Pepto. But it can be so powerful, sophisticated, playful, romantic and subtle. It all comes down to styling. Fuchsia might be my favourite of the pinks. It’s so bright and powerful. It can be playful but it’s also got a luxe factor to it. I love the look of the velvet sofa. While it’s commanding, it’s also exceptionally inviting. I think we’ll be seeing pink paired with greys and natural wood. And it goes so very well, it’s amazing we haven’t seen it more before.
I think we’ll see pink in the veins of marble. And blush pinks will be used in monochromatic rooms to warm them up.
I think we’ll see it in the use of rose golds and coppers which immediately elevate a space. Rose golds and coppers are even colours the most masculine of men can wrap their head’s around. I think this is the year of pink. What do you think? What colours do you see setting trends this year?
Want a peak behind the scenes? A recent buying trip to South Africa was ever so fruitful. It was baskets galore that I ended up finding. Handwoven works of art these are. It’s quite something the different techniques and versatility of the finished product. Take a look at these beauties. Displayed on tabletops, stands or mounted to the wall, I love the combination of pattern and texture. Here are a few that I chose. I love the tassled baskets! And the black and white baskets will look so sophisticated in a grouping on the wall. The amount of work that went into creating these large and colourful baskets is really quite astounding. The picture doesn’t do them justice, but trust me that they are very large and very very sturdy. Handwoven with all these brightly coloured strands in all those different patterns takes quite a lot of time. I am blown away by the craftsmanship that goes into making these. A gorgeous hamper, toy box, or foyer catch-all, they work just about anywhere and will keep you organized. These were lovlies were totally new to me and it was love at first sight. The technique used to make them is – ready for it – crochet! The baskets are crocheted and then treated with a resin to give them structure. They look like lace. In so many colours, sizes and patterns to choose from, I couldn’t find just one favourite. The oversized crocheted pieces can be used as end tables. They are far sturdier than they look. That’s the magic of them, I think. They look light as air, have such an ethereal feel to them and yet they can be used as furniture and functional vessels. Knitting and crochet has really been elevated in recent years. It’s no longer the pass-time of our grannies. Love, love, love! So do you have a favourite? How would you use these in your interiors? We’d love to hear!
We didn’t say much about it at the time, we were in such
a mad rush preparing, but Snob was lucky enough to
exhibit at the New York Now Gift Show this past August. It’s a fabulous show, one where only the cream of the crop get a booth. We’ve attended as guests in the past and always delight to see what the best of the best from around the world have to showcase. This is the place to go to see unique and beautiful home accessories and other giftware. This year we were there as partners with Zenza, you know, those gorgeous lights we’re always going on about? Here’s the mind-boggling part. With all these arbiters of style and beauty in attendance, it was us who were chosen as Best of New York Now! Yes,
our display and product was chosen as ‘Best of the Best’ by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) in their lighting category! It was quite the honour. essay writers But more than that, we’re just pleased that the amazing work of the artisans in Egypt are getting their due in the North American spotlight. Because truly, each piece is work of art. Hand-punctured with no stencil, means no two will ever by identical. Shop Zenza here.
So how amazing are these beauties? Strong, sculptural, elegant. Their presence commands attention. They’re also as old as several hundred years. While the title of this post might give it away, would you have guessed without this clue that these artifacts were used as currency across Africa once? We’ve been so very lucky to source these genuine artifacts. These were traded once upon a time, especially among agricultural communities in Africa.
Each piece is detailed metalwork created by blacksmiths who hand-forged currency from iron. This makes each one unique. Hardly today’s pocket change, wealth was often proudly displayed in the home when not used for active trading. We’ve been riffing on this idea, by using currency artifacts in creative ways. One of my favourite ways to display the currency as unique door handles on furniture. There’s no way you’re getting a more one-of-a-kind piece than these!
This is a mirrored-topped bar, clad in ostrich skin. We’ve cut a piece of currency in two to create the handles. This gorgeous and sophisticated piece has been hand-bronzed! We used stately over-sized currency as the closures here to balance the dark form from the open white shelves. The currency handles really is
the touch that makes the piece exciting and modern. If you’re not after a custom piece of furniture, you can always display these African currency pieces on table tops or frame them for your wall. You’ll note that some of these currency designs include European influences, an effect of colonisation. It’s so interesting – and I’d argue important – to have pieces with such strong histories and narratives in our home. It reminds us of distant places and times, of personal and collective stories, conflicts and triumphs. For this reason, I especially love these artifacts.
Not every space is generous in size but that doesn’t mean it can’t be generous in design. These gorgeous small space designs are downright luxurious! They include art and accessories – that final layer that makes a house a home – embrace colour and texture. Come take a look.
All About Texture
I love so much about this tiny dining space. It’s so very beautifully layered and chock full of wonderful textures. From the architectural woven chair, to the sheep skin on top, you just want to sink into this space with a cup of tea and a wonderful friend for conversation.
Making an Impact with Lighting
It’s all about the Zenza pendant in this tiny powder room. It’s the perfect impact piece, creating intricate shadow and light patterns through its punctured metal casing. Reflected in the mirror its impact is grand.
Get the look by choosing a pendant light that is the correct size for the room. Don’t go too big, these pendants, even in their smallest and most delicate form, carry a big statement.
Get the Look by shopping Zenza lights here
Embracing Floating Furniture
This is a hardworking tiny space. It’s sleek and modern and offers loads of understated texture through the carpet and leather ottomans/stools. But more than anything I love the built in TV stand which offers a beautiful backdrop for the TV and a ton of storage options.
Making a Space with Dramatic Wall Art and Fabulous Accessories
via House and Home
Yes! Yes! Yes! This tiny foyer packs a lot of art despite the meagre size. The periwinkle blue wall, the gorgeous vessels, the pretty rug, and the piece de resistance, those fabulous woven baskets. This foyer is so inviting to guests and hints at the eclectic art and worldly design in the rooms ahead.
Get the look with our fabulous vase and vessel collection and beautiful handwoven baskets. These can be mounted on a stand, on your wall, or even framed.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
It’s a tried and true technique, oversized mirrors in small spaces make them seem bigger by reflecting the light and space itself. The trick is to choose something stylish, something that makes a statement with its frame as these mirrors stand in as wall art to a degree.
The takeaway here is to not be afraid to layer. Just because your space is small, doesn’t mean it can’t have loads of personality, art and accessories. Keep an editing eye, but do use colour, texture. Minimalist just looks undone in a small space.