Posts in People
Parisian Handmade Flowers Laurence Aguerre

Our trip to Paris yielded so many good experiences and memories, beyond words, really. From meeting (and lunch!) with Artistic Director Daniel Rozensztroch of to hanging out with the delightful Cécile Figuette of , making flowers with shopowner and author Adeline Klam... It was all so fascinating... Oh and did I tell you that we were treated to a beautiful lunch and dessert at ? We were indeed. We also visited the much envied children's online store  in their first new storefront. Oh, and there was the great hotel that treated us so nicely, , with a bathtub I could have slept in... It was a beautiful week. But there's more... I got to meet a fan of my blog who is also an exquisite artist, a textile designer with the hand of a magician, who transforms delicate fabrics into blooms that you simply have to see to believe. Her name is . Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

We spent time with Laurence chatting in mostly French (thank God I had my friend with me to help!) in her tiny, sunny studio that is part of a collaborative artists' space where you have to win a lottery to get your own atelier (or not) there. The  35 ateliers are located in a large building in central Paris called , which is known as a incubator of creativity or as the French would say, "L'incubateur des métiers de création."

Laurence was such a joy to meet and as sweet and calm as the flowers she creates. Clearly passionate about textiles and production, it is one of her dreams to see her work in the window at a store like because she wants to touch many more outside of her native France. After working for two decades in fashion, she furthered her education by returning to university to study textile design and today, she's doing installations and creating things from fabric, wire, beads and string that are quite impressive.

Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Morten Toni Vinther for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Her love for nature, particularly flowers and plants, inspired her recent work to make poetic, dancing flowers that are peeking out of a wood board while others are mounted in raw cement holders. And they do indeed dance. When you pass by, or open a window, they sway magically just as they would in nature. These light and airy blossoms captivated me and I only wish I had been able to spend more time with Laurence to examine each more carefully. Yet the time I was able to observe her creations was so inspirational to me because, upon close inspection, each flower is so meticulously made that you really couldn't walk away without enormous respect for the time that must have went into crafting each bud and blossom.

Thank you Laurence for having us and a special note of thanks to dear Amelie for setting up this special visit for us, and to Toni for the translation and the beautiful photographs. I would be no where without the wonderful people I work with and the fantastic chances I get to meet such special artists. Merci!

(Text: Holly Becker)

Conversation With Daniel Rozensztroch at Merci Paris

I just returned from a beautiful trip to Paris, then London, so I have a great deal to share with you but first, the highlight. My day at in Paris with Artistic Director Daniel Rozensztroch. First, it was a dream come true to meet with him, not just for an interview, but for a store tour, lunch together and frequent chats throughout the day. He is such a creative man, a true artist, and I loved learning more about his life and travels which I’m thrilled to share with you now through my words and photographs.

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

As Artistic Director, he is solely responsible for the overall image of this famed concept store which is a major design influencer in not only France but worldwide. Before coming to Merci, he was with top French interiors magazine, , for 22 years as Editorial Advisor (Conseiller de la redaction). Now with Merci for 8 years as Artistic Director (Directeur artistique), it’s clear his attention to the brand, the customer, what’s happening globally in design and his own inner radar for what’s appealing fills his mind constantly and is something in which he possesses endless passion.

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(One of the cafes in Merci, the Used Book Cafe, with walls of books to peruse while sipping espresso. This was born from Daniel's creative imagination.)

Daniel combs the globe for inspiration and products to take under his wing and bring into the store but additionally, he organizes and curates massive installations in-store that frequently change, all based around themes which range from microtrends (he has the power to set them) and rising trends in either design, fashion, lifestyle, cooking or movements in thinking. He’s always watching the news to see how current events may influence or shape ideas for upcoming shows at the store. He likes to bring awareness to particular themes while also inspiring Merci customers. He likes to make people think. It’s not all about selling product to him, his passion reaches much farther than the wallet – he wishes to inspire collective consciousness to motivate people to consider their lives and the everyday decisions that they make to move towards greater positivity and joy. And products can certainly help aid in that, if you are shown the right ones, which is something he believes in as well – the power of the object and its ability to bring harmony to life.

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

The current theme, for instance, is sports and wellness and is called . Clearly an important topic as cities globally are expanding awareness on the topic and more juice bars, sports clubs and fitness apparel shops are bursting open. Paris is currently experiencing a great awareness around health and fitness too. I observed this clearly as I saw about 50% less smokers than in times past when I had visited the city.

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(We loved the and walked away with one of the )

After the fitness theme, he gave me an insider’s tip that he’s worked with a team of talented people to develop a monochromatic theme based around African prints, patterns and design, which I cannot wait to see because I only think of saturated color when I think of most African textiles and furnishings.

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(The men's pop up shop, shown above. Daniel went home with that great camo coat and my assistant Toni Vinther left with the camel jacket he is shown wearing. We had a great shopping day!)

What I noticed immediately upon meeting this talented man is that he listens more than he speaks. He believes in moderation, kindness, compassion, and in creating a meaningful home over time and certainly not to impress others. As we spoke, I sensed that he soaks in everything; which in turn helps him to later decipher what would be an interesting topic to explore for the store or for a future design (he is also a Designer). As a listener, when he does speak, there is something of substance to hold on to and consider later. I really appreciated this because it meant that conversation held more value and meaning, and wasn’t full of the typical surface topics which never really move you closer to the core of the person. He’s a lovely man to chat with, for sure.

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(Adidas are so hot right now in Europe, especially these with the black stripes.)

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

I also caught on rather quickly that Daniel is obsessed with everyday items that are aesthetically-pleasing but also practical and functional, from a he showed me in the Kitchen section along with a Japanese hand broom, to black matte cutlery on the floor for Home. His obsession clearly is what makes him so great at curating, his attention to detail and his dedication to collecting are inspiring because I also get excited over the little things so his passion was completely relatable to me.

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(I loved that they have an Aesop pop-up shop on their ground floor, I grabbed the geranium hand balm from the .)

(Upstairs, they have a gorgeous paper shop. Swoon!)

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

With a home in central Paris (where he tends to his small garden, a huge trend in Paris at the moment is this sort of renegade gardener) and another in the South of France, Daniel is frequently flying between homes but even more, frequently between countries – he travels to lands far and near in search of something that will catch his eye – it could be anything and generally, not always what is obvious. The sign of a true artist is to see something in what others may walk by, tapping into one’s imagination. His imagination is always running wild and his heart, completely open and free to explore, which makes him perfect for what others may consider an overwhelming responsibility to oversee and curate one of the most influential design stores in the world.

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(I spotted a that I liked immediately as I began photographing the lower floor near the cafe.)

While lunching at Merci on the lower floor near the gardens, I was seated at a lively table with many languages being spoken, delicious foods constantly arriving before us, a bottle of wine because it’s France after all, and I sat across from Daniel and just felt nothing but warmth and joy as he spoke. During lunch, we spoke about Instagram (he isn’t using it currently but maybe soon, wink wink), social media and blogging in general, his role at Merci and how he decides upon the next big thing to show in-store. Here is Daniel below, this portrait of him really captures his personality well.

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

It was a pleasure to be meet with someone with such a rich background who doesn’t bring ego into it. Our chat was rela and made me realize that there is no need to try to impress people when you are impressive enough, you know? Daniel doesn’t need to prove a thing. He is who he is and his confidence reflects that and it’s an endearing quality because it makes others feel at ease. When you leave ego out of your work, you can get REAL work done. You can do what is important.

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(I loved these glass vessels in their Home section and below, all of the ceramics - quite gorgeous. I walked away with the white/black basket shown lower left on the floor for Aidan's toys to discreetly tuck away in our living room.)

After spending nearly a day at Merci eating, shopping, meeting lovely people and photographing the store with Toni Vinther, I walked away more excited to follow Daniel’s work going forward and to keep an eye on the and to see what he will do for the next installation, and the next, and the next. I also want to return again soon to visit him and maybe steal some time for a coffee because I just liked him as a person. I can’t wait to see where he will go next with his imagination. For me, I loved meeting with someone who brings so much wisdom and value into his work. He’s not fresh out of college or eager, he isn’t insecure or naïve. He’s a seasoned professional, a creative guru, who has seen it all, done it all, and wants to do even more in a fresh, creative and better way.

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(Their linens are to die for. Seriously, the best linen and the best quality ever. They have and an entire room of bedding, as well. You can also order it all . I also loved the  with the openwork handles. 

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(I loved how many styles and periods they mix together but also how global it all is - it doesn't look Scandi or French or Italian - it looks well-traveled and interesting, the contrasts are unique and add healthy tension, the focus is on comfort first.)

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(Many of their pieces are handmade, one of a kind, like the lighting show bottom left. These are all sourced and made by hand and sold exclusively at Merci.)

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(The stunning handmade Japanese pitchers on the table was a real highlight. I wanted so much to take one home and fill it with field flowers.)

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(White by Stefania Di Petrillo definitely had my attention and was something else I desperately wanted to take home with me. I also loved the black and white , which is trending currently in Europe for the tabletop. I saw it in London in all of the best stores, too. But I spotted it at Merci first!)

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(I had to photograph the flowers and the simplicity of this tabletop. I loved the scalloped edges of this vintage farmhouse table. There is a lot of love in a table like that, and memories too.)

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(So nice to see mustard and black, but even more, the pottery and linen... and glass. Everything was so cozy looking and welcoming but also stylish and current.)

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

Holly Becker for cattledogs

(I went home with the gorgeous chair above bottom right from HAY, I had to have it.)

Toni Vinther for cattledogs

Toni Vinther for cattledogs

I wish Daniel (shown throughout this post and above, with me) nothing but the best and thank him from the bottom of my heart (and my assistant, Toni Vinther, also thanks him too) for treating us like family and with such kindness – this was surely a highlight in my career that I’ll never, ever forget. And a big thanks to Toni for being the best travel partner ever and for all of the help, I couldn't have done this without you!

Holly

 

Our Food Stories in Berlin

Berlin is fast becoming a food-lovers city, a place for foodies from all over the country and beyond to gather with drinks, eats and stories in the many biergartens, trendy cafes and edgy-urban outdoor spaces. Along with this big wave of food, you also have a rising up of food trucks, markets and bloggers - all of which are quite impressive with their culinary passion shining through. In fact, I predict that the food culture in Germany will only grow, and leading the scene is definitely the great city of multicultural, forward-moving Berlin (with Hamburg in second place). Between the low rents in Berlin (compared to other German cities), innovative youngsters and middle-agers who want to bring fresh ideas to life, and the abundance of food that is available sourced locally at affordable prices, it's definitely fertile ground to make your culinary dreams come true in Berlin. HI5A8481

I was recently reading the Michelin Star Report 2015 and found that their are now 15 Berlin restaurants (I want to try ,  and ) that hold the high honor of receiving Michelin stars and an additional 5 have received their newest award, Bib Gourmand, one of which I'm dying to try called . This brings the total up to 20 eateries in Berlin alone that are included in the new Michelin report. Not bad.

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As mentioned already, there is a great number of food bloggers in Germany and many are exceptional - as good as my fellow American food bloggers which is saying a lot because food bloggers in America are a large and extraordinary crowd of gifted people. In Berlin, there are a few food bloggers that I follow but today I'll highlight one that you may enjoy because it's written in English and it's called .

foodstories

Our Food Stories is a collaboration of two Berliners,Nora Eisermann and Laura Muthesius, who also spend time living in the countryside cultivating their gardens. Nora studied fashion design but works currently as a food stylist and Laura is a professional photographer. Their recipes are vegetarian, organic, sourced locally, gluten-free and some are low on histamines. Whether you eat gluten-free or not, their blog and recipes are definitely worth checking out.

ourfoodstories2

Aside from their gorgeous styling, yummy recipes and beautiful photography I'm in love with their props and surfaces. They seem to have a real affection, like me, for Scandinavian tableware and vintage accessories, and they love to work in flowers! Flowers bring so much life to their work and incorporating them makes total sense given how they split time between Berlin and the countryside where you can find so many wildflowers, especially at the many local "cut your own" flower fields.I've fallen in love with the concept of picking your own blooms and go as often as I can.

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It's hard to believe that these photos are from a blog - I mean, they're clearly so professional and definitely book-worthy. I also like when I catch glimpses of their apartment, I'm always waiting to see if they've posted other views. I find Nora's photography so moody and cozy, I really like her aesthetic.

Are you fans of this blog too? Psst: I also follow both Nora and Laura along with their 270,000 (!) other Instafans.

How's that for Monday morning inspiration?!

(Photography with permission: © ourfoodstories // © Laura Muthesius & Nora Eisermann)

Stylist Luke Edward Hall

I was recently introduced to , a British interior designer, prop stylist, illustrator and protege of Ben Pentreath, and found his new line of home decor so very English and inspiring. My favorites are the "Delicious" plates and the hand drawn tiger cushions. Here is a glimpse of some of his styling and illustration work below along with a photo of him from a great story I read in  mag. I've included some shots from his too since I found it very inspirational to follow.

"Luke Edward Hall (25) is an interior designer, stylist and illustrator. After graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2012 with a degree in Menswear Fashion Design, Luke and two like-minded friends ran Fox and Flyte, a thriving online antiques shop. Combining his passion for design and retail, Luke founded his eponymous range of homewares and fabrics in 2014 and has been carefully growing his interior empire into a full home offering. Luke also currently works in the interior decoration department of the acclaimed architectural designer Ben Pentreath, in London’s Bloomsbury and is about to launch a new collection of illustrated plates through his ."

This moody dark English style is so appealing to me. My father used to own an English pub (in addition to his daytime career) and the bar was shipped over from England to South Carolina where we lived and it was such a moody, dark place that the locals really loved. I used to go there every day after school and wait for my mother to bring me home since she managed it during the day, and I remember it being such a cozy space in all of the dark moody greens, navy, burnt umber, dark red, mustard... Leathers and woods. Very Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch version).

It was such a contrast to our family home, which was light, bright and very colorful like my mother. It was even in such contrast to the neighborhood - a beachfront community. You could escape the sunshine for the pub and instantly feel like you were on vacation in England ordering a pint. My father's family has English blood, which was why he had such a passion for opening a place like that. Whenever I see spaces like this, I think fondly of my father and his decorating style.

In fact, whenever I'm in London I think about my English ancestry and understand why I like it there so much - there is part of me who definitely feels a link despite how very American I am.

Isn't Luke on such a great path for his age? I'm always so impressed when I see people in their early twenties, fresh from design school, with product lines already. It seems like today there is nothing stopping anyone with ambition as the start up costs of getting things made and the whole "free" internet makes it so much easier than in times' past. I think he has a lot of potential and can't wait to see what else he does down the road.

Do you find this eclectic mix of objects coupled with lots of dark hues to your liking? 

(photos: , Luke Edward Hall and )

Sara Svenningrud Photography

Good morning friends. Hope you are doing well and for those of you getting hit by snowstorms, keep warm and read blogs! So let's get started with some inspiration for you today. I really like the interiors shot by Swedish photographer . After living in LA and London, she's now back in Sweden working with clients for magazine and catalog work along with ad campaigns. She's also produced fashion shows! Her photos are always quite obvious to me when I see them in Scandinavian and even German interiors mags - I think it's because she's photographed a lot of homes like (whom has also worked with her as an interiors stylist) and I'm quite a fan of Maire's work combined with Sara's magical eye.

Marie's signature style includes loads of soft and creamy hues, yummy texture, fresh greenery and a flea market meets global industrial vibe and Sara's photos are all about achieving perfect composition, drawing you in and allowing for a lot of natural creamy light to illuminate everything very evenly. Here is a glimpse from her portfolio below. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

I have to comment on this image above because where I live, it's very easy to find old school charts with these beige linen-like backs. You can even source them on eBay. I've flipped over one of mine before and used it over my desk as a mood board, but I also love using it as a backdrop for showing some of your favorite artwork with simple black tape too. It's so imaginative and a nice change from showing art on walls with tape.

The chandelier is so very delicate and pretty and I love the lightbulb-esque table lamp and the contrast between the gold table and the modern elements around it. Also, every home needs a big round frameless mirror, right?

Love this loo! What a sweet little bathroom and that graphic, bold floor set amidst all of that blackness, it's just the best. The wire basket filled with toilet paper is a good one, I've been seeing this for years but like it best in a black/white bathroom like this one. It works.

Gosh that leather sofa on the right is so interesting, almost seems to transform into a bed, am I right? Who makes that thing, is it a classic piece or? I'm stumped for the first time, I usually identify every piece in a room but this sofa - nope!

 

How stunning, right? Hope you are doing well today.

(images: Sara Svenningrud/styling + home: Marie Olsson Nylander)

Happy Family Decorating From Photographer Hans Mossel

I found lots of fun family homes recently in the photography portfolio of  and couldn't resist sharing some because they represent how lots of us really want to live - a bit cluttered, personal, a little messy, creative and unapologetic. Polished-perfect spaces in all of their gorgeous unattainableness just isn't cutting it for most of us anymore. At the end of the day you, especially if you have children, you simply want a home that feels like YOU and allows your family to feel supported, cozy and genuinely at home without having to fight with them over keeping it super tidy or free from fingerprints.

And sure, it can be beautifully decorated, no shame in that, but I find casual creative homes have so much more life - so much more appeal - than slick glossy pads with expensive furnishings that lack personality. Maybe that's a life phase that we go through when we're single and young, when impressing others is at the top of our list. But as you enter your thirties and beyond, you just want to be comfortable at home. I've always said this, on my blog and in my books but now with an 8-month-old who has been crawling for two months and is trying to walk, well, you can imagine that my decorating style is evolving still and I love it. These fun and quirky spaces, I hope, will inspire you just as they did me. These rooms are happy and family-friendly. Enjoy!

I love the photography of , who is located Groningen, Netherlands and shoots for some of the country's best publications, like magazine VTWonen where I've spotted his work before since I've been a subscriber for over 5 years. What I've shown you is a mere snippet of his work - for more inspiration visit his vast and beautiful portfolio online . You can also follow him on and   too.

What lovely homes with so many details to absorb and try in your own home. Did you spot anything that you liked? I loved the colors - mint, pinky peach, bold orange, blue - so fun!

(images:hans mossel)