Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Making Wallpaper Fashionable...Again!

Cole & Son, the well known purveyor of wallpaper has joined forces with British fashion legend Vivienne Westwood for a line of new wallpapers. The line was introduced in the UK last October, but won’t be coming to America until March 2010. Westwood lends her trademark quirky style to this line that portrays her verve in a brand new medium. These papers aren’t for everyone, but they bring an alternate point of view to the existing Cole & Son range.
The designer of the latest Cole & Son range...The fabulous Vivienne Westwood.

The company will be presenting the new Westwood collection, along with new patterns in their Classix II at the upcoming Maison et Objet in Paris January 22nd through the 26th.
"Magnolia" by Vivienne Westwood for Cole & Son.

"Tromp O'leil" by Vivienne Westwood for Cole & Son.
"Dogtooth" by Vivienne Westwood for Cole & Son.

The new Westwood line is in keeping with the company’s attitude of collaborating with noteworthy contemporary designers. In the past these have included David Easton, Tom Dixon, and the archives of Piero Fornasetti. Each of these collaborations has broadened the company’s offerings and made them the wallpaper of choice among designer and client alike.
"Libris Maximus" by Cole & Son.
"Indian" by Cole & Son.

A contemporary classic "woods" by Cole & Son.

"Classix II-Canonbury" flocked wallpaper by Cole & Son.

"Checkmate" handprinted wallpaper by Cole & Son.
Anyone interested in interior design has seen a Cole & Son wallpaper, and the company’s offerings have become quite iconic. With the resurgence and renewed interest in wallpaper over the last few years the fascination with Cole and Son has only multiplied. The firm has positioned itself as the standard since 1873 when it was originally known as John Perry Ltd. Since many of their papers are hand printed with wood blocks or silk screens. It is interesting to learn where some of the wood blocks originated from. Cole and Son has steadily acquired wood printing blocks from other notable wallpaper manufacturers throughout the years as these firms have gone out of business. By 1941 the company owned the most significant collection of wooden printing blocks in Britain, and perhaps the world. Many of these patterns the company acquired throughout the years have been used in stately homes and castles throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. Cole and Son wallpaper has even been used in the White House here in America.

Screenprinting the "Rajapur" pattern. Each repeat is done by hand.
Hand printing the "Catwalk" pattern.

Screen printing the "Aragon" pattern.

Cole & Son is available in San Francisco through Lee Jofa. My thanks go out to Savannah Amerson, the manager of our local showroom for connecting me with images and content from the home office in the UK.

Savannah in the Lee Jofa showroom with a wallpaper by Piero Fornasetti.

I look forward to seeing the Westwood range first hand!

David Hansen
* Please Note: We did not receive compensation for this post. We really love the wallpaper!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti Still Needs You!

It seems difficult to go on without mentioning the astounding earthquake in Haiti, especially since we here in the Bay area are so prone to earthquakes ourselves.

If you think you can swing it please take a moment to send a donation to help with the relief effort.

Since there are a plethora of ways to give we have chosen a link to Oxfam’s donation web site.

We are keeping the people affected by this tragedy in our thoughts with hopes for a swift recovery.

Please donate here.

Barbara Ashfield & David Hansen

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Butterflies Are Free!

Linda Evangelista communing with the butterflies.

A couple of months ago, I took a little “local adventure” - which by moi’s definition would be something within a 3-hour drive that promises to be so fabulous that I can’t stand not to see it. Of course, this is only local. I would go to the ends of the earth in a heartbeat, given the opportunity, to explore some thing or some place deemed wonderful.

Monarch butterflies in flight in Mexico-Image by Frans Lanting of Corbis.

Life magazine cover from 1907.

Blue Morpho butterflies.

And so it was, in November of 2009, that once and for all I made the trip to see the infamous Monarch butterflies at Pacific Grove near Carmel, California. Somehow I had imagined that seeing this miraculous spectacle of nature would take me to a higher consciousness in design (I may also feel this way about the swallows of Capistrano and all those salmon swimming upstream to spawn). It’s the miracle of Mother Nature – the greatest designer of them all, no? Alas, although I had triumphed in my quest to seek out the elusive butterfly en masse, this year’s spectacle was not as spectacular as promised – a mere 900 rather than the 9,000 seen in previous years. But it was absolutely monumental to think that, while gazing at these little creatures clinging together in “hives” among the tall Eucalyptus trees was the result the miracle of nature. There you go.

African butterflies whose wings operate in a similar way to LED lights.
Installation in the Dior Homme store in Paris.

Wood shavings made to look like butterflies. Via Paris Parfait. Image by Tara Bradford.
For many of us, just hearing the word butterfly instantly evokes an image of delicate beauty awash in exuberant color, either literally or figuratively. Be it through the medium of music, painting, or cuisine, the image of butterfly has been captured in fashion, jewelry, and interior design, to name a few.

Butterfly hat by Alexander McQueen.

Butterfly dress by Luly Yang.

The butterfly has adorned the clothing of the Queen of England and the Duchess of Windsor; after all, one variety is named “Monarch” – and why do you think that is? …because it is the King of the insect world - not by power, but by grace. Even though they are small creatures, they do phenomenal things. Just think that each autumn; thousands of these Monarch butterflies gather in southern Canada to migrate south, travelling thousands of miles just to overwinter in places such as Mexico, while others head for Cuba, Pacific Grove and Newark, California. Go figure.

Barbara Ashfield

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Move Towards The Light!

Via Google images.
Happy New Year! We are now safely in 2010 and it seems people couldn’t be happier, myself included. 2009 was challenging in many ways, which I know I don’t need to go into here. Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking to all kinds of people and I’ve never experienced so much optimism and excitement about a new year since I can remember. Perhaps it’s because we’re also in a new decade, but I think it’s fair to say that this will be the year for new outlooks and new attitudes!
Image from

I think like most people I can’t help but sum up the previous year and find ways to improve and change myself for the better. Personally, I prefer to have goals rather than resolutions. I find resolutions are a trap, and set one up for almost certain disappointment. I know it’s probably just semantics, but I’ll stick with my goals!
Image by Adrian Reilly from the BBC web site.

Besides having goals I think it’s important to have a mantra or manifesto of sorts to define the year. I’ve decided that this year’s mantra will be ”Move towards the light!”. I speak of light metaphorically here, but it sure seems to work for the plants in my garden. I refuse to be affected by the negative, and promise to find the upside in all situations. It’s truly all about optimism…The literal light at the end of the tunnel.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

When I think of “Move towards the light” I can’t help but think of those classic Science Fiction films where the earth dweller walks blindly towards the light (the alien spacecraft). This is the other aspect of this particular mantra: moving toward something you know nothing about. I promise to do that as well this year. Barbara and I starting blogging (in earnest) last year and we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we have found it to be a rich, rewarding experience, and so goes life!
The New York apartment of Keith Johnson and Glen Senk from Elle Decor 10/2009.

My wish for everyone is to find that metaphorical light and move toward it! If you do, perhaps we will see you on your journey!
The Dining room of Keith Johson and Glen Senk from Elle Decor 10/2009.
I leave you with a quote on optimism and some interiors where natural light is a key component.

“Optimism is faith that leads to achievement” Helen Keller

Happy New Year 2010!

David Hansen