Category Archives: Quirky

For the love of NEON!

“One might not think of light as a matter of fact, but I do. And it is, as I said, as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find.” Dan Flavin – American minimalist artist famous for creating sculptural objects and installations from commercially available fluorescent light fixtures.

I’ve always had a thing for lighting, in particular neon… In my first year at art college I went on a trip to Blackpool to see the lights in November. I was totally blown away by the gaudiness, the colours, the assault on the senses. I was in neon heaven! Neon has come in and out of fashion, and to a certain degree has become a bit of a design cliche of late. I haven’t let this deter me though. I still have a massive soft spot for all things neon.

It’s been used as a medium of expression over the years by many artists – Tracey Emin, Jason Rhoades, and Dylan Neuwirth to name but a few. It smacks of Soho and many an insalubrious area; circus tents and theme parks; Las Vegas and excess… and I love the fact that neon has a seedy edge to it. But it is also a thing of upmost beauty and the art of neon is incredible. My neon hero is Chris Bracey of God’s Own Junkyard, who sadly passed away in November 2014. I had the pleasure of various email communications with Chris prior to his death. If you have never heard of him I urge you to investigate his vast collection of work. “His work can be seen in films as diverse as Batman, Blade Runner and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Rainbow Fancy Dress and Sonata Jazz Café signs in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut are both his: they now form part of the 700-strong collection in the Walthamstow workshop-cum-neon-museum.” The Guardian online, November 2014.

And if you are like me and dyeing to make something in neon yourself, then have a look at The Neon Workshop company based in Yorkshire. Set up by artist Richard William Wheater with the aim of teaching and exploring neon, it offers a number of different workshops. If you would like something closer to London, then why not try the fabulous Indytute – brainchild of the highly talented Calypso Rose – which offers neon-making courses delivered by The Neon Workshop.

With all this rain and grey sky, it’s a perfect time to be thinking about bringing a little light and colour into your home.

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Neon by artist Chris Bracey. (mbds.com)
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Saatchi Art Artist: Darren West; Neon 2014 Sculpture “Neon Stag”
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(pinterest)
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Lips S3 – Steel Kiss Oil on board with neon light outine, 60x80cm http://www.sarapope.co.uk/
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KATE SPADE NY shop display (pinterest)
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Moschino Cheap & Chic LFW Debut – ‘Make up Your Life!’

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Todd Sanders uses time-tested methods and no computers to hand-build his custom neon art. (pinterest)
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Airan Kang – “109 Lighting Books” Photo by Gerard Dalmon on Flickr.com
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Design Milk Jung Lee, I Want To Be Your Love, 2012
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Jason Rhoades at Institute of Contemporary Art (pinterest)
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By Tracey Emin (Bloglovin’)
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Gods Own Junkyard | Neon ‘On Air’ Angel sculpture (godsownjunkyard.co.uk)
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Forever in My Heart, by Chris Bracey. Beautifully kitsch neon art.
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The pitter patter of tiny feet…

Happy New Year to all you lovely people. I hope you and yours had a wonderful festive period and that 2016 will be filled with loads of good stuff for us all. I am personally not-so-secretly delighted…

In a little over three months I will be welcoming baby number 3 into the world. It’s a boy this time. I am filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension at the unknown quantity that is a small boy-child. I have two gorgeous daughters so all things girl-related I am highly versed in, but a boy…? It’s going to be a whole new adventure and one I am sure I will find incredible if at times nerve wracking.

So with the joys of a mostly wet and grey January ahead of me, I have started to turn my head to something not remotely drab and dreary… the design of the nursery. My wish-list is currently: bold, kitsch, quirky, bright, snug, surprising and as eclectic as possible to incorporate things we already have in our home. I am drawn to the colour yellow at the moment, but a 1950s yellow a la extraordinarily talented Lucienne Day or modern-day MissPrint, whose Dandelion Mobile fabric I just adore.

I am sure the design and scheme will morph organically over the coming months, but for the moment, here are some visuals that are inspiring me. Hope you enjoy.

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Loving the colours used here and the kitsch prints are inspired. (retourdechine.canalblog.com)
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Perhaps not pink for a boy’s room, but the different scale of items works really well and I love the shelves/letters. (petitspetitstresors.tumblr.com)
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This mustard yellow pouf is spot on and I love the suspended lamp too. (petitandsmall.com)
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This vibrant print is stunning… (shelleysdavies.com)
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MissPrint Dandelion Mobile print.
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Great shelving ideas. (handmadecharlotte.com)
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Animal alphabet cards for the nursery – educational and also look adorable on the wall! (etsy.com)
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Loving this DIY cloud light from handmadecharlotte.com.
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A room full of colour and character. (flickr.com)
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Bold wallpaper really works for me. (petitandsmall.com)
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How to make a statement! (diyordie.elleinterior.se)
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Habitat 1964 (handmadecharlotte.com)
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Cute hanging solution. A beautifully organised and bright nursery. (chalkkids.co.uk)
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A simple and effective way to create a quiet snug area. Love the colour of the side unit too! (dig-mig.blogspot.nl)
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Great colour combo. Am particularly loving the roof pattern. (mommodesign.com)

I’ll let you into a little secret…

I am a Christmas decorations hoarder! My obsession is getting a little out of hand I think… the Christmas tree is positively creaking under the weight of them this year. But this won’t deter me. I’ve been collecting them for years. My current favourites are four beautiful exquisitely delicate hand-blown glass birds that we picked up in Prague earlier this year after a particularly red-wine fuelled lunch… the next day I worked out how much I’d spent on them and let’s just say it was a lot more than I’d originally thought.

There has never really been a Christmas tree “theme” at home. It’s definitely a case of more is more – as it should be in The Maximalist home! – a veritable feast of heirloom treasures, handmade delights the children have made over the years, gifts from friends, charity-shop vintage finds, mementos from our travels, treats I’ve bought myself at designer-maker fairs, all mixed up with new decorations I inevitably buy during the course of each year. I love combining different textures such as glass, metal, porcelain, glitter balls, fabric, felt, beads, paper… it makes for an extremely tactile tree and one that conjures up every child’s (and grown-up kid’s) dream of a magical Christmas land where fairies hang out next to robots, sequined butterflies and fantastically feathered exotic birds.

So I thought I would share this decoration delight with you and point you in the direction of some truly gorgeous Xmas decs. This is by no means an exhaustive list, as there is so much out there at the moment. There’s still time to get hold of them, and there’s always next year after all!

For a magical twist on tradition head over to the frankly incredible Christmas Shop at Liberty. There are some wonderful tongue-in-cheek iconic decs shouting “London”, such as the double-decker bus, Big Ben, the Royal corgi dog, and of course a stunning crown. I especially adore the glass globe range of decorations, my favourite being the blue crested bird… might just have to get that one myself! There’s also the Queen in a globe, which made me chuckle. I am also loving the very striking glass humming bird on sale at the moment.

I’ve always been a fan of Paperchase‘s quirky, kitsch take on Xmas tree decorations: in the past I’ve bought robots, dinosaurs, and this year it’s the Jesus effigies that are really making me smile.

Rockett St George has an absolutely fantastic Christmas shop this year. I could very nearly buy everything there! I am completely in love with the glass whale decoration, the set of six glass Mexico baubles and the Love Has Wings dec… I strongly advise a virtual visit! They have some fantastic lights too.

Anthropologie has some beautifully unusual Xmas decs on offer. The scarfed critter ornaments are particularly inspired! And the forest soiree creatures are the stuff of childhood dreams…

If you would like something a little less fussy, have a look at the smooth lines offered by Jonathan Adler.

For something a little more unique, personalised and hand-crafted consider NotOnTheHighStreet, etsy, and folksy. From a quick cursory look, I particularly like the mini kiko frames and the Bombki range (you’ll see a crossover with Liberty) on NOTHS; the fused glass Christmas tree decs and gold ceramic bird decorations from etsy; and the button tree decorations and the laser-cut reindeer dec from folksy.

So get exploring and do that Christmas tree proud with glorious decorations this year! Happy decorating.

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Love Has Wings from Rockett St George.
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Vintage-style coloured glass baubles from Tinker & Toad in Heathfield, East Sussex. http://www.tinkerandtoad.co.uk
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The Maximalist christmas tree festooned in an eclectic mix of festive decorations.
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A beautiful Russian doll from the Bombki range on NotOnTheHighStreet.

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Cactus and Day of the Dead skull decorations from Rockett St George.
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A gorgeous whale from Rockett St George. I am definitely getting one of these!

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Christmas isn’t christmas without a few flamingos! From Paperchase.
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Christ effigies in bright pops of colour from Paperchase.
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Cute animal heads from Paperchase.
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A gorgeous scarfed critter from Anthropologie.
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Forest Soiree: Fairytale creatures from Anthropologie.
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A golden antler. Every tree should have at least one! From Anthropologie.
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The glorious glass hummingbird from Liberty… I must have one!
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Who doesn’t love a corgi. From Liberty.
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Kitsch blue crested bird from Liberty. In a glass globe no less!
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A stunning Faberge-esque Liberty bauble.
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A crown is a must! From Liberty also.

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Gorgeous glass Mexican baubles. From Rockett St George.
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Porcelain bling. Just perfect for any tree. Rockett St George.
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Oversized tassels. Love, love, love. Rockett St George.
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Pineapple fairy lights. Add a tropical twist to your festive decorations this year. Rockett St George.

Good old British eccentricity…

What do you get if you throw eccentricity, britishness, a predilection for all things Baroque, and a hefty dose of wit into a bag and give it a thoroughly good shake up? Why, you get seriously exciting design ideas…

Yep, today I am flying the flag for British design and all its wonderful quirkiness. My current favourites are Mineheart, Abigail Ahern, House of Hackney, Dupenny, Witch and Watchman, Deborah Bowness and Squint Limited. They all share a love of bold statement design that can really bring an element of theatre to a home.

I would also like to point you in the direction of Mister Finch – the super-talented textile artist whose exquisite oversized insects should adorn every interior in my humble opinion; Alex MacArthur Interiors – a veritable cabinet of curiosities; and Melody Rose – bone china “marrying the unexpected with the traditional; images that shock and please in equal measure; the juxtaposition of quaint and quirky.”

So as winter approaches and we get ready to hunker down for a cold spell, why not inject a bit of good old-fashioned drama into your home interior. Surround yourself with unusual objects and create a cocoon of design statements. Think open fires, rugs, lots of texture, dark walls, creative lighting, kooky accessories, witty artworks, and a large dollop of weird and wonderful eccentricity. If nothing else, it will make you smile as you sip your mulled wine and listen to the wind and rain beating down outside. Home should after all be a sanctuary…

A page from one of my scrapbooks.
A page from one of my scrapbooks.
Striking wall art from Mineheart. (www.mineheart.com)
Striking wall art from Mineheart. (www.mineheart.com)
More striking wall art from Mineheart. (www.mineheart.com)
More striking wall art from Mineheart. (www.mineheart.com)
A cabinet of curiosities from Alex Macarthur Interiors. (www.alexmacarthur.co.uk)
A cabinet of curiosities from Alex MacArthur Interiors. (www.alexmacarthur.co.uk)
Lush, dark, wallpaper design from Witch and Watchman. http://witchandwatchman.com
Lush, dark, wallpaper design from Witch and Watchman. http://witchandwatchman.com
Transform your home into a treasure chest. (pinterest)
Transform your home into a treasure chest. (pinterest)
Annabelle rug from Mineheart. (www.mineheart.com)
Annabelle rug from Mineheart. (www.mineheart.com)
Dark walls, an open fire, and some taxidermy. What's not to love! (thisivyhouse.tumblr.com)
Dark walls, an open fire, and some antlers. What’s not to love! (thisivyhouse.tumblr.com)
Cosy up a corner to snuggle up in.(homedesignlover.com)
Cosy up a corner to snuggle up in.(homedesignlover.com)
Burlesque wallpaper from Dupenny. (www.dupenny.com/wallpaper/burlesque)
Add a bit of cheeky humour to a room. Burlesque wallpaper from Dupenny. (www.dupenny.com/wallpaper/burlesque)
Lady Peacock cushions. (www.mineheart.com)
Lady Peacock cushions. (www.mineheart.com)
Oversized moths by textile artist Mr Finch. (www.mister-finch.com)
Oversized moths by textile artist Mister Finch. (www.mister-finch.com)
Velvet-flocked cherubs from Squint Limited. (www.squintlimited.com)
Velvet-flocked cherubs from Squint Limited. (www.squintlimited.com)
Nostalgia and whimsy combine in this charming wallpaper from Elli Popp. (http://ellipopp.co.uk)
Nostalgia and whimsy combine in this charming wallpaper from Elli Popp. (http://ellipopp.co.uk)
'Rinse' artwork from Abigail Ahern. (http://abigailahern.com)
‘Rinse’ artwork from Abigail Ahern. (http://abigailahern.com)
Abigail Ahern lighting for Debenhams. (www.debenhams.com)
Abigail Ahern lighting for Debenhams. (www.debenhams.com)
Wallpapers by the uber-talented Deborah Bowness. (www.deborahbowness.com)
Wallpapers by the uber-talented Deborah Bowness. (www.deborahbowness.com)
"The Melody Rose brand is known for high quality, contemporary bone china tableware with an elegant twist." (www.melodyrose.co.uk)
“The Melody Rose brand is known for high quality, contemporary bone china tableware with an elegant twist.” (www.melodyrose.co.uk)
Majestic textile swan from Mister Finch. (www.mister-finch.com)
Majestic textile swan from Mister Finch. (www.mister-finch.com)
Print heaven from House of Hackney, the Artemis collection. (www.houseofhackney.com)
Print heaven from House of Hackney, the Artemis collection. (www.houseofhackney.com)
Butterfly domes from Alex MacArthur Interiors. (www.alexmacarthur.co.uk)
Butterfly domes from Alex MacArthur Interiors. (www.alexmacarthur.co.uk)
More scrummy wallpapers from Deborah Bowness. (www.deborahbowness.com)
More scrummy wallpapers from Deborah Bowness. (www.deborahbowness.com)
Taxidermy taken to the extreme. (by Decorista Daydreams from bloglovin.com)
Taxidermy taken to the extreme. (by Decorista Daydreams from bloglovin.com)