Posts in Places
My Farrow & Ball Factory Tour

I just returned from England and spent a beautiful day in the southwest along the coast for an exclusive tour, interview with Head of Creative, Charlotte Crosby, a special lunch at , and a tour of the headquarters along with a private showing of the . What a great day it was because there was so much to see and just be inspired by, so first I'll start with the tour and then wrap up with my very informal chat with Charlotte. Located in Wimborne, Dorset, their headquarters consists of several office spaces, the wallpaper and paint factory, and a showroom. When I arrived, my tour of the paint factory began so l'll share that with you now... farrowandball3

Farrow & Ball was launched in 1946 by John Farrow and Richard Ball who shared a passion for creating paint in accordance with the original formulations, using only traditional methods in making paint (and later, wallpaper) by skilled craftsman and they wanted the ingredients to be only the best quality.


While touring, I spoke to several of these "makers" from the guys in the lab who do quality assurance to ensure that all paint pots are 100% perfect before leaving the facility, to the guys who mix the colors, work on the lines and pack the paints. They were so polite and clearly dedicated to their trade; you could sense the pride and that alone was inspiring since I always pictured factory work as being either stressful or passionless (or both).


I want to buy and support their products even more now that I've seen them being made first hand, and meeting so many of the men who work hard to create the perfect tints and tones. While touring, I heard a little story about how some of the guys get excited when they blend a color that may not be correct for Farrow & Ball (more of a happy accident) and so they pull it but they show the staff anyway because they sometimes think it's a great color and should be considered for the next collection. I thought that was very sweet, because they too enjoy being involved in the creative process and are inspired by the colors around them, tuned in to the work they are doing and feel a sense of pride for it.




I was also struck that none of the paint or wallpapers are mass-produced in some factory overseas. Everything is made right there in Dorset.

After touring the paint factory, it was on to the wallpaper factory only a few buildings away. First, their wallpapers are not made using ink (most today are), which is already impressive. Another thing that impressed me is that each background color on the wallpaper is painted with a layer of eco-friendly water-based paint (they have over 70 background colors!). Not only do I love that each roll is painted first but that they are using non-toxic paints and vanishes. I knew this though the moment I walked in because I have allergies and normally get headaches when I'm around paint and wallpaper but the paint factory only smelled a bit like clay and the wallpaper factory, like a newly cracked-open book.I am impressed by their dedication to producing products that don't make your home smell toxic for days after it is installed. In fact, when I painted my son's nursery a few weeks before he was born, I was surprised by how it didn't smell at all. It made me feel safer to put a baby in the room.


It was actually refreshing to be in a factory that was so bright, clean and fume-free with cheerful workers. These points really stood out for me. So now, back to the process... After the papers are painted, they then move through a large machine where they are dried.



You can see the paint being applied above inside of the red machine, see the large brush sweeping the color back and forth? Applying paint to the rolls first gives the paper that tactile texture that their customers love so much for that truly one-of-a-kind feel.


Rolls are then stored until pattern is applied. From there, there are three different methods to applying pattern: roller block printing, flat bed block printing or trough method. I was able to experience all three and was so impressed by how much care is giving to a single roll of paper. It also impressed upon me why I love their wallpaper so much - it is so tactile and beautiful.


I loved watching the flat bed block printing and the roller printing. The machines were working hard but none were left alone, each had a dedicated professional keeping their eagle-eye on every step ensuring the best quality. They had to even check to see that the prints were always being applied straight and that the new print that was rolled on was perfectly aligned with the one before it. The worker and the machine, were one. A strong team churning out incredible wallpaper.



After touring the wallpaper factory, I met with Head of Creative, Charlotte Cosby (pictured below) who combs the globe for color inspiration both new and old, many of the colors are repurposed from historical properties. Their historically-derived paint colors and patterns is such an inspiration to so many who have purchased old homes and want to inject them with color that fits the style or era but others simply love to put their chalky-matte colors in their modern homes to make them even more beautiful.


Charlotte studied Management Science at University and worked in finance only to realize that banking wasn't for her. She moved to London to work for an ad agency but still wasn't "feeling" her job, she yearned to be more creative so she took on work as a freelance interior designer and then, gallery owner. In only her early 20's at the time, she got a job at Farrow & Ball and her career really set off. Now in her early 30's, she heads a team of creatives that choose new paints and wallpaper patterns for upcoming collections. A dream job to so many!


This is primarily where Charlotte and her team plan and invent new colors and ideas for the brand.





Charlotte is here showing the 9 new colors for their collection, I wrote and shared the colors a few days ago here.

I'm so glad that I was able to visit Farrow & Ball and spend time around their busy makers and creatives for the day. I learned so much about how much work is truly involved in making their products which gave me even greater respect for the brand overall. I hope you have enjoyed this tour and my photographs... I'll be back next week with some inspiration from London and Paris for you, so stay tuned.

A big thanks to F&B for having me!

This post was brought to you by Farrow & Ball. All photography and words are my own.

(Photography + Text: Holly Becker)



Paris Travel Tips Wanted

Hello lovely friends. I will go to Paris later this month for a week to work. First, for my new client , and then to visit the along with a bunch of other fun studios to visit crammed along the way. I'm very excited and you can follow my Paris adventures on my beginning January 18!  SO I'm looking for some suggestions from YOU. I love pretty cafes, dessert, jazz clubs, shows, boat rides, I'll take any tips honestly. Just need fresh and inspiring places to see and photograph. brokenarmPARIS I scoured my favorite blogs for tips but so many of them have posts that were written a year or more ago and we all know that cities like Paris change so frequently that I'm more interested in what is hot NOW. Also, flower shops and lunch spots. I don't care about museums or monuments or tourist spots because I've been to Paris many times and hit those already.

I would love a tip for Korean food, a good Japanese place with excellent Udon soup and definitely a Lebanese place with amazing tabbouleh, falafel, hummus, etc. Also, any good Spanish places with tapas? And maybe something very Italian and delicious? A very hip and cool restaurant would be great too. I'm really open when it comes to dining out, so don't hold back. Please leave website links in your comments so I can easily find these places if you don't mind. I'm so grateful, in advance, so thank you!

Do you also have some great ideas for photogenic spots in Paris other than the usual suspects (Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower)? I'm very much a fan of hills and architecture and pale white buildings and streets with a lot of ambiance that aren't totally commercial and littered with phone card and cell phone shops. I remember my last time in Paris, there were less of these streets (though I was close to the river and Notre Dame but still) so I'd love to be in districts where I can find privately owned bakeries and foodie spots - in other words, pretty spots to photograph so I can create content for this blog that I'm proud of upon my return!

I will be in these neighborhoods from what I know so far: Haut-Marais, Saint-German-de-Pres and Bastille. I've never been to Montmartre, is that worthy of a see?

P.S. Doesn't the look nice and the I think looks like fun along with . I love casual and unusual places and Asian food but also great places for breakfast. My dear friend Susanne from just went to Paris and has a lot of bakeries on her blog, so I'm going to look over there now...

Thank you all so much, since getting pregnant in 2013 and then having my son nearly two years ago, I've only been to Berlin for a day and Amsterdam for 3 days, so this is mama's adventure so I want to soak in as much as I possibly can to make up for all of those lost trips. Though I must say, being with my little boy has been worth it but I am ready for some stimulation and fun so please give me some of your lovely ideas... I'd appreciate it so much.



Blickfang Design Fair Hamburg: Review

Want to see some fresh design that hasn't been all over the web (yet)? Well, I had the pleasure of attending the in Hamburg last Friday on opening day and found it to be so well done - beautifully curated and organized. Of course, the most important thing to me was whether or not the booths were interesting, would I like any of the designs, was anything looking new or fresh? Homebanner01

I'm happy to report - yes and what a great show! Of course, you always see things that look like a designer was heavily influenced by something already on the market, but this fair was actually very original and interesting to attend because I found a lot of the designers had their own sense of style and certainly were well trained and as a result, pride in developing a product from the heart was apparent at every turn. I imagine after spending years at design school, the last thing you'd feel good about doing is to copy what someone else's studio is producing already. I didn't spot a single copycat at this fair and that alone was both rare and refreshing.


I don't know if you follow me on , but I posted photos as I was touring the show with Johanna, the Blickfang press manager. She gave me some excellent insight into many of the designers as we perused the halls and I IG'd as we walked (and later from the train ride home!). A glimpse below of my Instagram stream from Friday... I was a busy bee and a quite inspired one, too.


Above: Row 1, Images 1-3 by . They are a German product design studio that creates contemporary nordic lighting and furniture (and now ceramics). Images 5 + 6: . Dutch design team, who are also husband and wife Tineke Beunders and Nathan Wierink, who create glassware, vases, candles and other lovely things for the home.

Row 2, Image 1 . Florian Vogel, the founder, once designed for the famous Ingo Maurer and since 2012, started his own lighting brand based in Hamburg, Germany. Images 2-3 . Table bases, vases and other furniture designed and crafted in the Czech Republic. Image 5 . This design firm, who specializes  is also from the Czech Republic. I went a little crazy for the  and their lamps. Image 6 - . This Australian lighting firm had these table lamps in black, copper and gold that made my heart pitter pat.

Row 3, Image 1. . Watches designed in The Netherlands that were affordable and had great colors. Image 2. . A Danish illustrator living in Hamburg with the cutest prints and cards. Image 3. Ontwerpduo (again). Image 5 from Denmark. The best frames ever. You can see them in this post in a few places. I wish I had taken a few home. Image 6 . Hamburg-based paper design firm and though I loved the products and grabbed some to take home, I really loved the founder and designer. She was so friendly and just lovely.






I'll definitely hit up Blickfang again next year in Hamburg - no doubt! The location was perfect (next door to the main train station) and beautiful, they had several places to eat there, you could buy what you saw, they incorporate interiors with fashion, there was even activities for kids and a special area for men to shop. I heard they had some lectures too but I missed those.

If you missed the show, you can see and even shop it online .

Snug Studio Tour in Hannover

Hello dear friends and happy Friday to you! So! I decided a few months ago to shake things up and challenge myself to a new project - to focus on my photography and build my skills in that area. I've been hiring photographers on projects for years but lately, I'm shooting more for clients and even for my next book which has made me happier than I had expected. My uncle and grandfather were both professional photographers so who knows, perhaps it's a little bit of a calling? I'm not becoming a photographer but I thought I'd challenge myself to take better photos outside of my studio and home and shoot in other locations where I'd be forced to deal with different lighting, objects, people, work with others, make them happy, be in new settings... You know, stuff you need to do in order to push outside of your comfort zone. snug1LOWRES

I made an appointment several months ago with , a local design firm that I've been following since they launched, and yesterday I visited them to put together this little story for all of you.  This creative firm consists of three friends, Berit, Kerstin and Heiko and their assistant, Bettina. Above is a glimpse of their studio. In hindsight, there are many things I could have done better on this shoot and I'm a little embarrassed that their portrait didn't come out sharp below (hands over eyes), but you know what? It was my first time ever shooting a space like this and it felt pretty damn great! It only took me about 90 minutes but the buzz I felt after being there has traveled with me ever since - I loved it!

I want to create more stories for cattledogs that are about my friends, local and afar, so I plan to work diligently to keep booking appointments and push myself to get out there and really create stories from scratch - style, shoot and then write about it. So here's my first attempt. I hope that you enjoy my little story about snug as much as I do!


The moment I arrived yesterday morning to their loft, which is in an old former German factory, I was greeted by warm and lovely Berit. As she showed me to their space, her partner (in life and in business) peeked out from around the corner in their massive stock area with yet another very warm hallo, and as I walked into their light-filled loft with soaring ceilings and industrial concrete floors, in came Kerstin who kindly gave me a hug and made me feel right at home, too. People make a space and although where they work is gorgeous, I was struck by their modesty, curiosity for what I was exactly going to do there, warmth and their overall openness to having me in the first place. That set the tone for the shoot and I was inspired before even taking out my camera.


I love their story because they were friends first before creating a business and I remember when they had just started snug and it was only Berit and Kerstin - and today they have a team of four and a massive loft and warehouse and work with companies near and far. It's great to see creatives go for their dreams and turn ideas into a reality. They are even up for a prestigious German design award for some of their products. What an accomplishment!

So, let's talk about some of their products. But first, below are pieces of plywood that they use to test colors to see how they'll end up looking on wood since wood and paper are what they work with most. I don't know, I just grabbed them and had to take a photo because I like seeing what goes into product design and small glimpses like this make me appreciate product design even more.


I asked Kerstin what was the inspiration behind the snug brand and she said they really are inspired by organic shapes and nature but combine them with pure, graphic motifs to give them a fresh look. I love mi graphic and organic shapes but find it's quite hard to do because it's a real practice of restraint, yet snug does it with such ease - I really enjoy how everything they produce flows so nicely from one item to the next so it's obvious they are all being produced by the same firm. snug1LOWRES1

One of my favorite new products from snug are these wooden trees, shown above, that you can use to form just about any shape you fancy. You can also stack them and let the children play with them. love the colors and how simple yet versatile they are. I thought later that it would be so pretty to form patterns on a tabletop like the snowflakes I made above only in the center, place simple tealights.


This ABC poster is a favorite of mine, it's available in 5 colorways but my favorite is the black and white. snug14LOWRES

These cuties above are from their first big collaboration - slipper socks for kids and adults, a partnership with French design firm . Berit told me that they've just been shown at Maison + Objet in Paris, which is really exciting news. I personally must own a pair little Aidan, I love the pattern so much.


Behind their open loft space is a little eating nook, which you can see in the first image I shared at the top of this post - just look through the little window! This space consists of lighting equipment since they do all of their product photography on their own, a table and chairs for lunch, a storage dresser and a piece of plywood that they use to tack up latest inspirations.


In their lunch room I also found a few random images on the wall that Kerstin said was inspiring her lately...


They so nicely invited me to take a break with cake and coffee, but I politely declined because I had to wrap up the shoot and go home to watch my little boy. But those cakes sure looked tempting. oh my goodness! The and wooden and boards are all snug studio products.


This light from in the Netherlands made me smile, I really like their work and was pleasantly surprised to spot it! snug25LOWRES

This is a brand new product that they'll soon release being modeled by Berit - their ABC Tea Towel. Yes, please! I tagged this as another favorite of mine. snug2LOWRES

Another view from the lunch area looking back through into their work space. The  almost came home with me! Also in this photo are their new and postcards, a , , , and other snug goodies that you can find in their online shop . snug6LOWRES

This is the view when you leave their lunch room... Behind Heiko is their stock room, a freight elevator and a small kitchen.


More random inspirations pinned to the walls, this time in the main work area.


I asked Kerstin to show us their in square format - these are of three different bears - a koala, panda and polar. I adore how simple they are but also so strong!


It was nice to look down and spot this little detail in the corner of a window. A simple water glass with hydrangea. I am so touched by people who pay attention to little details. To even think to place flowers in such a random spot gives me a good feeling because it shows a certain sensitivity and appreciation for little things. This made me smile so I had to take a quick photo.


I was so in love with their floor that I asked if we could arrange a few things on it for a photo. Everything you see is their product except, of course, the sweet little succulent.


Here's the lovely portrait I took that I screwed up a little by not making sure my camera settings were correct, so Heiko is a bit blurry. Sorry dear Heiko, but they all look so cute anyway, and joyful about their work, that I didn't want to not show this photo. I was talking to someone recently and I told them that when you put your ego aside, you work better with others and feel better inside. I thought to apply my own advice here. To put my ego aside... It may not result in the best photo technically-speaking but it does give you a good feeling to see them together in their space doesn't it? For me, it's my favorite photo from the shoot.


And finally, their new wall (another fave of mine, great color!) and their new deco balls which are not yet listed on their website - coming soon!

Thank you snug for welcoming me to your Hannover studio this week to give your worldwide fans a chance to see where you create your products, right here in my city. It was an honor to spend time with you!

Have a nice weekend everyone, see you on Monday. I'm off to the zoo with my little boy!

(Photography: Holly Becker for cattledogs)

Yoga & Breakfast Events in Stockholm

Are you doing yoga regularly? What do you like about it? I did lots of yoga positions when I was pregnant and later, I relied on certain poses to relax my muscles and encourage delivery. As a general practice though, I am not into yoga at all. My friends are different, they are so dedicated and go at least 3-4 times a week. I'm so inspired by their commitment to mind and body and wonder if I need to give it a try too. An outlet for me to plug into right now which encourages mindfulness, builds strength and increases blood flow, flexibility and brings more self awareness sounds positively lovely.

Now that my son is sleeping consistently 3 hours a day, I could definitely fit it in during nap time or in the evening when he's asleep. Hmmm. I've been doing some research lately and it seems there is a huge trend (at least in Europe) to attend yoga retreats in beautiful, tropical locations. Have you noticed the same where you live? I recently stumbled across another concept called , which is equally interesting to me.

Founder, Yoga instructor, recipe developer, photographer and stylist (wow, right!?) Belén Vazquez Amar, is originally from Barcelona but currently is based in Stockholm. She offers her traveling Yoga & Breakfast workshops to studios where she brings together food and fitness, and I find the idea so calming, unexpected and heartwarming. You can learn more about her upcoming events on her , too.


Yoga and a delicious healthy meal all at once? Sounds so nice.

(photos: )

Sandberg Raphael Wallpaper + Hehlen Castle

On Valentine's Day we went with our little son to (Hehlen Castle), a very sweet castle built in the 1500's located about an hour away and enjoyed the most beautiful cakes in their cafe, , on the castle grounds. Aidan enjoyed his so much and when I took his little hand and walked him around the cafe, he was thrilled. I was too and I particularly loved the wallpaper near the fireplace, so I snapped it and posted on . Within seconds, the wallpaper manufacturer identified it as the Raphael in Green by . I didn't even tag it! That's the beauty of - you can post nearly anything and someone will identify the place, the product, even the person within mere minutes.

(my iphone photo above)

After visiting the Sandberg website I also found it in a few other colorways but the instantly resonated with me as the room it's shown in looks exactly like my living room - the large window to the right, the linen sheer curtains, even a similar pendant light! You can imagine how this reawakened my need to wallpaper a feature wall in living room! Now I'm trying to decide - will it be a Sandberg, Designers Guild or Farrow & Ball wallpaper? Hmmm.

Isn't the lovely? I particularly love it with the marble table and the pretty plants and wooden seating. Fresh and simple with a touch of rustic romance.

(images: sandberg //the snap of me and my little one by )