Travel

Breezy, Beachy Style Tips

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Dylan Thomas Fringe

It’s hot where we are. Truly, scorchingly hot. Hot despite being used to the temperatures of South Africa. It’s days like these when only the beach will do. Days by the water are so nourishing: refreshing, meditative. If you’re with a young family, also loads of fun. If you live to far from the water, here’s som easy breezy beachy inspiration to bring the coastal life to  you.

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Exotic shells can be displayed almost anywhere to instantly evoke the ocean and add some sculptural beauty to your decor. Mounted on a stand, scattered on a mantle or overflowing in an oversized woven basket, nothing brings you seaside faster.

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Shop our Shells Here

I will warn that when trying to bring some seaside style home, people tend to go a bit overboard (pun intended!). Leave the sailboat and anchor motif at the store and instead try to use natural materials that you’d find by the shore. Driftwood, natural grasses, glass and shell are great options. I also absolutely adore the Ronel Jordaan rock and stone pillows.

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These stunning pieces are made entirely from felt and have no seams. The rock veins are created through a unique hand-felting process. They are incredible to behold and work both inside and out. A perfect way to blend your environments.

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Shop our Ronel Jordaan Felt Rocks here

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One of our favourite things about decorating in the summer is that you are encouraged to be relaxed. Like the room pictured above, sometimes simplicity can be so refreshing. Handwoven poofs, baskets echo the organic texture and colour from the coast and are also incredibly functional pieces that can travel outside with you.

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Shop our Baskets Here

Get the look with our range of hand-woven natural grass baskets, like the reclaimed fisherman’s baskets above. Smart storage, gorgeous texture and style that is perfect for summer.

a 101 on Traditional African Masks

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 2.53.53 PM African Masks have been an important part of traditional African art and culture for literally millions of years, with the first masks thought to date back to BEFORE the Paleolithic era. That’s right, more than 2.6 million years ago. With more than 2.6 million years to hone their craft, it’s no wonder Traditional African Masks have inspired an international audience -and artists- over centuries. Often these traditional masks are created to represent the spirits of animals or ancestors, mythological heroes and also are used to share moral lessons and values of a culture. Abstract in form, masks were used in spiritual and ceremonial rituals. In some cultures, like the Nigerian Yoruba and Edo cultures, masked rituals resemble the western notion of theatre. 800px-Traditional_dogon_masque When wearing the mask, it’s thought the the wearer sheds his or her identity to become the bearer of the spirit within the mask itself. The mask therefore acts as a sort of medium between the dead or nature spirits. The use of masks usually accompanies music, dance and elaborate costumes for ceremonies and celebrations like weddings, funerals and initiation rites. Animals like the crocodile, buffalo, hyena and antelope are represented in masks. The antelope is the most widely referenced animal and symbolizes agriculture. The female face – the beauty ideal – is another theme for traditional African masks as are those that represent the dead. 800px-Brooklyn_Museum_22.1582_Mwaash_aMbooy_Mask The craft of mask-making was generally passed down from father to son, and mask makers were awarded a special status within the community. Often carved from wood or made from pottery, they also are adorned with metals like copper and bronze, shells, textiles, light stone, hair and bone. snob mask window Today what you’d call traditional African Masks tend to be created for an international tourist market. Now mass produced, we’re losing the artisanal handiwork passed down through generations. There are also a lot of knock-offs being passed off as genuine artifacts. It can be hard to know the real deal from the fakes, but with experience you learn what to look for. Every now and again we are lucky enough to source some centuries old traditional masks for Snob. But these days, I also love to celebrate the work of contemporary artists who are bringing this art form back to life. Weaving tradition and the pulse of the world today into their exquisite work.    

The Antique Modern Mix

Darryl Carter
Photo by Clarkson PotterLook for traditional entryway design inspiration

Do you find that you don’t quite fit a box when it comes to interior design? Maybe you veer towards modern, but feel it’s too cold? Or perhaps you love traditional pieces,

antique and finely build wood furniture, but you don’t want the place to look like granny’s. Here are some tips for mixing design styles without looking totally unhinged.

Mixing styles is a great way to reflect your personality. It says your fun and adventurous, culturally and historically savvy. But there are certainly wrong ways to go about it.

PICK A MOOD
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The See-Through House
Photo by Bernbaum-Magadini ArchitectsBrowse midcentury living room ideas

It’s not so much about individual pieces as it is about the mood you want to create in your room. If you’re going for something stark, choose pieces in monochromatic shades and accent with wooden furniture made with simple lines.

If you’re going for something warm and casual, ensure any antique wooden pieces are made with warm woods like pine rather than more traditional woods like mahogany.

IT’S NOT 50/50
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Sure you may want to include some antique or vintage elements, but don’t give equal play to every design era. Representing two styles equally will look busy and poorly designed. Choose a dominant look and then accent with a secondary one. Just a few choice elements will do. For instance, I love the way this modern kitchen and dining area is immediately warmed up with mismatched antique farm chairs.

PLAY IT UP WITH TEXTILES
Snob - kuba cloth and antique chair meet to make something modern

Did you find an amazing antique chair at a flea market or were you lucky enough to inherit something special from your great aunt? If you find the traditional look just doesn’t go with your sense of style, don’t be afraid to refinish the thing. Bold paint and fun textiles can take the most traditional Victorian chair and make it at home in you eclectic interiors. Doesn’t this chair make you smile? It totally says, “I’m fun and adventurous.”

Antique rugs are another way to include a nod to the past in a modern home.

PIECES THAT MELD TWO STYLES IN ONE
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Another way to make multiple design eras work in one room is to choose a piece of furniture that marries two styles in one. The Philippe Stark Ghost Chair for Kartell is a perfect embodiment of this. It’s a Louis XV-style chair done in clear lucite. Gorgeous!

LET COLOUR BE YOUR GUIDE
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If you’re looking to mix styles in a room, be sure to commit to a colour palette. In this room the highlights in a sunny amber is what pulls it all together: lucite table, wicker chair, antique 17th century floral wall sconces, and a simple wooden credenza all work because the hue works.

What do you think? What’s your favourite technique to mixing and matching styles?

A Buying Trip to South Africa and Cameroon

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Today a fun peak behind the scenes as Denise travels on a buying trip to South African and Cameroon. Oh to lead the jet-setting life. Above gives a sense at the wonder and beauty of the South African landscape. Ahh, to live somewhere where mountains were part of my day…

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This is the Bird Man. An amazing sculpture who works primarily with rock and stone. Can you believe these beauties are carved by hand to create such lovely, light and character-filled pieces?

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Once back in Canada, Denise likes to gold leaf the beaks and perch and plant them in a lucite base. They make the perfect, whimsical home accessory.

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No visit to South Africa would be complete without a visit to the MonkeyBiz workshop and boutique. Denise picked out some real beauties including some human forms and larger scale beaded sculptures. Denise says it’s always such a pleasure to speak with the artists and see all the lovely works together in one place.

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How amazing is this big owl dude? I simply love him! The patterning here created with the beads takes such talent and skill. And time to do!

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Denise snapped a few pictures of the artwork hanging in cafes she frequented on her trip. The scale of these photographs are breathtaking and I love how they celebrate culture, history and the human form.

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Another cafe, another gorgeous piece of art.

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Do you recognize those birds on the roof? If you’ve stopped by our showroom or seen our latest lookbook, they’ll look familiar.

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Here a few of them are in our showroom, just hanging out. Denise says she was drawn to these sculptures as soon as she laid eyes on them. Made from recycled metal and then painted they really embody the good life.

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And in Cameroon, Denise went a little wild, buying up Juju feather headdresses, tonga and senufo stool artifacts, weavings, Namji dolls, sculpture and more. I can’t wait to see these pieces adorning the showroom in the coming weeks!

Kuba, Kente and Mud Cloth Textiles

african textiles desire to inspire 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 pinterest 2 Snob - African textiles make perfect throws and pillows for your seated areas 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 cloth - design sponge   light fixtures 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 05aafda0e3464c5c2b41452bb5b00a13     kente cloth   20151005_060902 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.

Bonkers for Baskets

20150930_083804 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. 20150930_095202 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. 20151007_100831_resized_1 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. 20151012_044407_resized 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. 20151012_044426_resized 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. 20151012_044442_resized 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!

Best of the Best

20150817_155213 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. 20150818_163017 This year we were there as partners with Zenza, you know, those gorgeous lights we’re always going on about? 20150816_151550 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! 20150818_163005 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. 20150818_163030 Shop Zenza here.
 

India, A Trip of a Lifetime

Mumbai food marketNot too long ago I went on a trip of a lifetime to India with some family and friends. Here are some of the hidden gems and special stops I made en vacance. Laundry One fascinating observation during this trip was seeing two worlds colliding, of old and new, rich and poor. There’s so much development happening, especially in Mumbai. But this is happening amidst street markets and ancient temples. The image above is where the city’s laundry is done, but in the distance you can see towers being erected. Below is a temple with intricate carvings done to its exterior. This is juxtaposition I mean. Temple 2 We used guides while in Mumbai and highly recommend them. One tip is to use student guides. Their perspective on modern India is so interesting and if you’re up for it, they’ll take you to see more than just the famous monuments. Shashi 1 Shashi 2 One of the most special evenings we had in Udaipur was a cooking class we took with Shashi. The food we learned to make was so flavourful and the evening was full of laughter and new friends. Pictured here on the left is Barney Saltzberg and his lovely wife. If you’ve got kids in your life, you’ve likely heard of Barney’s wonderful books, among them my favourite Beautiful Oops. A loving story about fostering creativity and how there are no mistakes when it comes to creating something beautiful. Brass pots Beyond phenomenal food, I also was on a personal buying trip for my home. Those brass pots I just couldn’t leave behind. Mirrored pillows India is known for its textiles and I did find some glorious treasures, like the mirrored pillows above, and the mirrored textiles below. The textiles I decided to frame and I am so happy with the result. What do you think? Textiles 2   photo The pots and mirrored textiles are from a shop called Design Pataki. International shipping was very straight forward and clearly they’re well experienced with retailing internationally. You can check them out for yourself here.   Elephants arriving for a wedding   And outside our hotel one morning, these magnificent elephants were arriving. All decked out, they were here for a big wedding. Here are some of my best tips:

  • Go with a reputable tour agency, or recommended tour guide. When you can, use student guides if you want an interesting perspective on modern India.
  • Not many young people speak English, so studying a phrase book will serve you well. Bring one with you.

In Jaipur

  • Fab shopping at Anokhi Textiles– look for dazzling clothes and home accessories in traditional printed fabrics
  • AKFD is Jaipur’s first Interior Design Shop

In Udaipur

In Mumbai

       

A Trip To Senegal

Snob Senegal trip masks at the market Oh Senegal, how I love thee! On the coast of west Africa, nestled between Guinea, Mali and Mauritania, it’s a beautiful country I love to visit. Between the warm people, the local talent creating stunning art and designs and the fine fine food, it’s a favourite place for me. The masks above are hand-carved. Look at that striking display in the market — each is imbued with so much personality. senegal blog Metal chair While mask-carving is a time-honoured tradition in Senegal, there’s so much more to the arts and design market here. Weaving, carving, metal work and textile design are perfected arts that will make your jaw drop as you wander through Senegalese markets. It’s astonishing to watch artisans work with what the environment provides. Take for instance this fabulous chair made from recycled tin drums. It’s really quite comfortable and I love how it’s shape is defined by both positive and negative space. Senegal blog - resting man in fabulous textiles I wasn’t joking about its comfort! Just look at this stylish man in repose. Senegal is known for its fabulous textiles as you can plainly see in this most amazing outfit. Behind him, you’ll see more examples of textile designs and some finely woven baskets. Senegal Carving by foot 1 I was so lucky to get a peak into a workshop to see some artisans working on delicate and detailed wood sculptures. Primarily creating human and animal forms, it was a privilege to see these artists at work. With deft skill and speed, pieces full of life would emerge from a simple block of wood. It was a mesmerizing and inspirational process to watch. senegal reclining woman sculpture Here are a few examples of the the finished product. Not bringing home this woman is one of my regrets. I look back at this photo with such a sense of coulda-shoulda-woulda. This is the one that got away. Do you ever feel that way about souvenirs you decide not to buy? Senegal blog - sculptures And a few more examples in the market. Love the embracing forms. Senegal blog Sculpture - giraffe Now these metal giraffes are everything, wouldn’t you agree? They’ve got a little sparkle, interesting form and texture, fine detail in their faces and spots. They hold the story of their country and their culture, the person who created them. This is the perfect sort of home accessory. It livens a space with its incredible dimension. Senegal blog - eating No trip of mine is complete without a fine meal with friends. My hubby joined me on this trip and as you can see was as enamoured as I with the local cuisine.Senegal hotel And here’s part of our view from the hotel located on the coast. It was one of the most amazing places. All in all, it was a wonderful trip, full of great memories and fabulous finds I sourced for Snob.

The Incredible Work of Education without Borders

Unseen-Hero-3Have you heard of Education Without Borders? It’s a very special charitable organization established right here in Canada with a mandate to support the broadening of educational opportunities in disadvantaged regions across the world. They believe that it’s education and skills-building that opens doors to allow individuals to exert greater choice and control over their lives. While their mandate is global, right now, their primary focus is on Fezeka Secondary School in the township of Gugulethu near Cape Town, South Africa.Education without Borders is deeply involved with this community. EwB has decided to focus on this one area to really dig deeply into the issues that face the community, address root problems and invest in infrastructure. They are in the middle of a 5-year plan to improve academic outcomes in this heavily populated and very poor region. Some of the issues addressing this shanty town include:

  • High rates of violence and crime as the region wrestles with the aftereffects of Apartheid. The drop-out rate in high school is very high and there exist serious infrastructure problems including a crumbling school, overcrowded classrooms and dedicated teachers who lack proper resources and supports.
  • The region has a whopping 60% unemployment rate. And it’s this poverty thats’s the underlining issue limiting progress.

photography1 Having built new primary classrooms, EwB is expanding tutoring services at the secondary level, specifically addressing strengthening students’ literacy and mathematics. They have also introduced arts programming (with a focus on singing, dance and photography) which has united and inspired students. With EwB’s support, new adult learning and career counselling services are in place to help address part of the socioeconomic problems.   Their after school and tutoring programs include hot meals. So not only are do these programs provide safe spaces for kids and teens after school, they are also provided the only hot meal many of these students get in a day. Purchases from Snob include a donation to Education Without Borders and I am so proud and pleased of the work being done at Fezeka Secondary School. Won’t you consider clicking over to their website for information on all that is being done? It’s truly moving and impressive.