Posts in Objects
Mapiful: Beautiful + Meaningful Wall Decor

I'm sure you've seen on blogs and Instagram because this small Swedish start-up has really made a name for themselves in the social media and design world! Not only are their black & white designs the perfect minimalist addition to any home, but their theme satisfies the explorer in us all - whether you're dreaming of a destination, you live in a spot you love or you have been to a special place that forever stays in your heart (like where you had your honeymoon). Mapiful lets you showcase that favorite place in your home through their customized posters.

mapiful-8070_blog.jpg

If you’re familiar with the expat life, then you probably have a few favorite places. I'm an American expat living in northern Germany and next month I celebrate 8 years (!) of living full-time abroad, 10 years total if you include the first two years where we lived in both the United States and Germany (we had two residences) before we made the big jump.

mapiful-8074_blog-1.jpg

A decade of life in Europe changes you. As any expat will tell you, you're not the same person once you leave your home country and make a life in an entirely new culture, speaking a different language each day. I arrived with an open heart and dreams of what my life could become and living abroad has changed my life completely - and I surpassed all of the dreams that I had, quicker than I'd imagined, and now I'm dreaming of what's to come. I've also had some unbelievable challenges and moments when I felt very much like an outsider; it's not all been perfect.

mapiful-close-2_blog.jpg

Yet, I'm so happy that I relocated and I just love the access that I have to other countries and cultures here because Europe allows you to be in so many different places in such a short time, and is very affordable, so I can drive to places like Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland in just a few hours. I take a train to Paris when I feel like I need to relax in one of my favorite cities. It's a total luxury if you love (or like me, crave) adventure, to live in Europe. On Friday morning, I'll be in Spain for holiday. Then, I'm off to Finland in September. Yet, I can't put my finger on a "favorite" spot in Europe. I tried to, but failed because I enjoy so many different cultures and cities for so many different reasons. That's why I wanted my Mapiful poster to feature all those places- it doesn’t center on one spot, but on all of Europe instead.

mapiful-2_blog.jpg

When it comes to the design, you can choose from several different layout options- Modern, Pantone, Strict or Clean. Modern is the classic style, and highlights your beloved place in bold. Pantone, Strict, Clean are for the minimalists out there looking for clean lines and subtle details. If you have a special neighborhood you want to highlight, then you can zoom in and add houses/buildings to your map. You can even zoom out to feature not just one city, but entire countries (or in the case of my map, an entire continent)!

mapiful-8072_blog.jpg

If you want to create a Mapiful poster of your favorite place (or places), you can easily design one by visiting . For a flat rate of $60, they will ship it in a tube anywhere in the world, no shipping fees and you will have within a week or even less.

I just love Mapiful and I hope that you have fun designing a poster on their site. If you order before July 30, 2017, they will give you 15% OFF of your map if you use the discount code DECOR8.

(Photography: Holly Becker for cattledogs)

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Mapiful. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep cattledogs blogging for over 11 years. :)

Farrow & Ball Wallpaper In My Living Room

I'm off to Hamburg today but first, I have to show you something that I'm very excited about! My wallpaper! I worked on a beautiful project for  that gave me a chance to select any wallpaper for my home that I wanted for one room, so I scooped up the Hornbeam pattern shown below. Why? It's neutral, understated and just so pretty - I kept going back to it again and again. I love that it goes with anything. I wanted time to live with the wallpaper before reviewing it here on my blog to see how it would look over time - would it stand up, would it peel, would it fade, could I still even live with it after time passed...

living-room-farrow-ball-03.jpg

In fact, that was always my decorating fear. Choosing a pattern and then feeling stuck with it or getting sick of it in a month. Luckily, I chose the perfect pattern for me because I actually like it more today than I did when we had it installed - and I loved it then!

When I was looking for the right pattern, I made of short list of what I wanted. First, it needed to have a natural, organic pattern. We live on the border of a massive forest in the city, so it needed to feel urban enough but also forest-y. I also didn't want anything geometric and whatever pattern I went with had to complement the ginko leaf stucco on the ceiling. Another essential was that it needed to be strong and somewhat thick because the walls are 117 years old and not perfectly smooth. We smoothed them out but still, you can't get perfect in a home this old. I also wanted it to feel a bit feminine and curvy. I know that sounds strange, but the windows and the room itself has a lot of lines. The room itself is a massive rectangle. That's why I went with a soft, feather pendent light to work with the wallpaper and soften the lines of the room too. Another must was that it can't fade and in this spot in my living room, wallpaper is prone to fading because it's in the sun all day long (I never close my linen curtains). Hornbeam ticked off all the boxes, so I ordered it!

After two years the wallpaper looks the same as it did the day we installed it - the color and pattern are still perfect.But the wallpaper did exactly what I set out for it to do.

 is a gorgeous company through and through but keep in mind that it's not budget. It will not be at the same price point as something Made in China or in some massive factory. I toured their small but mighty workshop in southern England (), met their Head of Creative, Charlotte Crosby and watched their elaborate process for both making paint and producing wallpaper - it's intensive, expensive to manufacturer, and they have to employ true experts to work on every part of the process. I met many workers in the factory and all were like a part of the F&B family; their pride was evident. I left with nothing but respect for the brand.

Thing is, when you make something time-consuming, beautiful and of quality, and have to pay experts to make it, your products will not (and should not) be at the same price as what is cheaply made in sweat shops. That is the beauty of Farrow & Ball, it is a pure luxury to have them in your home and you take pride in that ownership. It's not just wallpaper or paint, it's Farrow & Ball wallpaper and paint produced in England by a company who really, truly loves what they do.

Here is the wallpaper in my living room, shown throughout this post. While I'm currently on the hunt to add-in some art and a few pieces of furniture, I am very happy with how the wall looks. It's just the right amount of pattern without overwhelming my moody and calm living room.

living-room-farrow-ball-01.jpg
farrow-ball-living-room-04.jpg
farrow-ball-living-room-06.jpg
living-room-farrow-ball-02.jpg

If you have a copy of my latest book, , this room may feel familiar to you. You can see it in the book only not as a living room. For the party theme in the book, I transformed this space =into a dining room and worked the theme around the Hornbeam-patterned wallpaper. This paper works beautifully in any room of the home.

I hope that you like my choice, it was definitely a great pick and came out exactly how I had envisioned it. My next goal: Add color to the room through accessories. I really want a cozy new sofa, more comfortable chairs, a large round white marble coffee table, art for above the sofa, new table lighting, new sofa side table. What will I do with everything currently here? Move it to another room and use in other ways, of course. But the wallpaper STAYS.

Thank you for the beautiful wallpaper, what a truly lovely statement it makes in my space.

(Photography: Holly Becker for cattledogs)

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo Schtakleff

While in Milan last month on assignment for , my mission was to spot the trends and let my inspirations be my guide. Not a particularly hard job after you've been in the design industry actively for over a decade, especially in Milan! I recall quite a few experiences there that left me breathless, but the first was and the work of Founder/Director Pavlo Schtakleff which I'll share with you today. Pavlo is such an inspiration - you must know more about him and  But first, some visuals...

Se-Ensemble_Milan08.jpg

In warm, sunny Milan on a beautiful terrace complete with sunshine and birdsong, I chatted with Pavlo to learn more about his background, his brand, and the rooms he'd created with his team for , his second year in a row. Under his direction, an inspiring and gorgeous "show" apartment in Galleria Rossana Orlandi was beautifully designed and curated with Sé Ensemble furnishings along with contributions from some of his dearest friends to include wallpaper, artwork, mobiles, rugs and more. When I walked in, I was instantly aware of my senses - the way I felt, the way the space felt, the dazzling display of color and pattern, texture and the overall beauty of it all... Ahhhh. I've included a glimpse of what this apartment looked like inside as I walked around... Dazzling!

Pavlo_Se_HollyBecker_cattledogs.jpg

Pavlo and I on the terrace

Se-Ensemble_Milan05.jpg

The front sitting room

Se-Ensemble_Milan01.jpg

The fitting room

Se-Ensemble_Milan03.jpg

Dining room

Se-Ensemble_Milan07.jpg
Se-Ensemble_Milan06.jpg
Se-Ensemble_Milan02.jpg

It was a genuine "experience" to see the collections of Sé Ensemble in a series of four rooms. The overall atmosphere made you feel like you had stepped into someone's private space. I loved the idea of this apartment, to not only show one collection but also to bring in other designers who inspire Pavlo to be part of this curated apartment. I'm always proud to see creative people in the interior design sector collaborating and finding success together. This is not so common in the world of fashion, to see designers supporting other designers, people who are happy to bring smaller labels into the light. Pavlo's genuine community spirit was obvious when we spoke, his ego doesn't drive his work - his passion and interest in design and creative people push him forward.

Pavlo was one of the best interviews I've had in awhile because he was so genuine, down-to-earth and open-minded - his relaxed nature the sign of a confident man who knows what he wants and even when he doesn't, he is confident he'll figure it out. A true entrepreneur. He was warm and welcoming to both my assistant and I; we even had the chance to join him, his wife Amalia and his hilariously funny French agent Daniel Cuzon-Verrier for dinner on the same day. Long story short,  we were roaming the center of Milan searching for a restaurant that wasn't fully booked, when we spotted one that looked perfect and in the doorway was Pavlo! He recognized us, asked if we'd like to share a table, and the rest is history. Once you break bread with a someone, you definitely see "them", which made me even more determined to share   with all of you.

1cbe9eea8ff600763e412f95e69ab925.jpg

Let's revisit the apartment and the memorable time that I spent in 's universe for another moment, shall we? The sheer experience of walking through each room was one I'll remember for months to come as the overall vibe was warm, cozy, glamorous and eclectic but with a definite red thread that ran through each object connecting them to the overall scheme. As a details person myself, I instantly noticed the attention to detail placed in the overall decor, from the scented candles to the gorgeous overflowing arrangements of fresh flowers, decorative objects and plants. The result was a sensual, tactile experience that didn't feel pretentious or too posh. The color palette was stunning and on-trend in rust, teal, brass, blush, salmon, blue and black.

My favorite room was the dining room and the first living room in the front, with the ivory sofa. I still dream about the series of three marble sofa tables in that room because I have been hunting for the perfect sofa table for so long and there it was in the most unexpected of places! My next favorite room was the dining room - the mobile twinkling in the sunlight, the massive floral arrangement, stunning artwork and those chairs! The chairs stole the show. I could have moved in to this space without hesitation. You know that feeling, right? It was that kind of space - cozy AND glamorous, two words you rarely hear in the same sentence when describing a room.

Along with the collections of Sé Ensemble, rooms were filled with rugs, artisanal wallpapers by in Brooklyn, and metal sculptures by whom I had a nice chat with last year while attending a craft fair in London. I've linked a complete source list below if you'd like to view all of the designers and artists who were part of this collaborative design experience.

eb04c1d15d3f0231a5d3dfbf2e1dce55.jpg

Before I wrap up, let's chat briefly about Pavlo himself now that you had a virtual visit to the Sé Ensemble apartment (if you'd like to download the apartment tour as a PDF, ). Pavlo founded Sé over a decade ago after working in furniture sales in New York for Flou, where he established their first US store, their largest worldwide. He then returned to Europe and connected with a man who would become his new business partner, Marc Sharifi, who wanted to partner on a furniture venture together. Pavlo had a vision to start a furniture line so it made sense to work with Marc and jump on the chance. He thought to bring some of the world's most talented designers together to build a single brand of gorgeously curated design objects - Sé was a result of that vision. Through his company, he works mainly with French designer Damien Langlois-Meurinne, Slovenia-based Nika Zupanc and Spanish-born Jaime Hayon (who was one of the most talked about designers at the Salone this year) and his small staff, including his wife Amalia, based in London where they have a new flagship showroom on Fulham Road.

As Director, Pavlo works closely with the London team and his satellite design team on a collection and simultaneously employs the best European crafters and artisans (read more about their production ) to form each piece using the best materials, most recently in Slovenia. The strong lean to Hollywood Regency is clear but to my American eye, much fresher as he and his team bring their unique European design sensibility to the collections through a "less is more" aesthetic, clean lines, fine craftsmanship and that forever coveted casual European elegance.

In summary, I hope you have enjoyed learning more about this brand today and are inspired by what you see, along with the apartment, and that you'll visit  online to peruse their beautiful work. Before I went to Milan, I was suffering design burn-out. I felt like I'd seen it all and was getting really bored with the direction interiors seemed to be taking (overly minimalist or super brashy/color chaos) but Milan was the cure and I have Sé to thank for being a big part of that since I've been buzzing around with new creative energy and vision ever since. Grazie Milano.

Apartment Resources:

  • Furnishings - Sé Ensemble
  • Art - , and 
  • Metalwork bowls/sculptures - 
  • Bespoke wallpaper -
  • Mobile sculpture -
  • Fabrics -
  • Rugs -

(images: with permission from sé ensemble)

The Stelton Emma Pitcher In My Urban Kitchen

Hello friends! Do you want to see a room in my house that I never, ever show? MY KITCHEN. And even now, I'm just giving you a behind-the-curtains peek. Maybe I'll show more on my Instagram soon... But for now, this is my blue, Nordic-inspired, kitchen. And the best part? I've filled it with things that I love like the new from  along with their glasses and concave vases, all linked at the bottom of this post.

stelton_emma_blog.jpg
stelton_emma-7704-e1495551737121.jpg

I love combining budget pieces with nicer, well-made ones to create a space that works for me and my family. Take for instance my kitchen. I have affordable cabinets from a big box store, a custom counter from a local kitchen store, inexpensive shelves and paint on the walls from a very exclusive paint brand. I think the paint was more expensive than the countertop! And the countertop was more expensive than the shelves. While it may seem my priorities are whack, I know what I want. I can get white cabinets from anywhere but I can't always find the perfect paint color that speaks to my heart. My heart leads when I'm decorating, always.

Maybe you are the same? Even when it comes to my wallet, I don't mind spending a little more on things that make me happy, even if it means saving up for them. That is why my next investment will be a home that I own so I can build the kitchen of my dreams. Fingers crossed. But until that day, I take pride in what I have and make my urban rental my own. One way I do this is to only purchase what I plan to use and love, but also things that I can see loving a year or two from now. I'm trying hard to be less wasteful when it comes to everything in my life, especially with material possessions. I don't need 20 bottles of perfume and 200 vases stored in my home, do I? But I do need functional objects in my kitchen that I use each day and enjoy, and if they are not cheap, even better - because then I will keep them for longer and they won't break and end up in the trash can.

stelton_emma01-2-e1495551530737.jpg

This is why I love Danish design and always go back to it, even after periods when I get a little tired of seeing it, I return again and again. It seems the Danes have a keen eye for detail, beauty, all things natural, craftsmanship, simplicity, and functional.

If you've not heard of Copenhagen-based brand , then you have to check out their website and see for yourself how right the Danish do it. I have many Stelton products in my kitchen and enjoy them year after year. I given Stelton as gifts to friends for special occasions, my friend who recently bought her first home was gifted a copper , for instance. I know she will love it for many years and use it. I know it won't break in a month or even a year from now.

If you notice in this post, you will see my current favorite product from them - the Stelton Emma Pitcher. It was designed by Sebastian Holmbäck and Ulrik Nordentoft, who met while attending the Danish Design School. A decade after school, they founded their own design studio, HolmbäckNordentoft, and collaborated with Stelton to create products like the Emma Pitcher, available in gray and blue. The Emma Pitcher has a 50s Danish vibe but incorporates modern materials like stainless steel and a coated beechwood handle. I love how these designers have made this classic design fresh and new.

When I use the Pitcher at home, I like to place the optional top on it (made for refrigerator-use) and store herb-infused or fruit-infused water. My goal is to drink one pitcher per day now that I have Emma in my life. Today, I have mint in my water with some fresh ginger and lemon. Tomorrow, I may opt for raspberries and mint. This Pitcher if perfect for me to meet my goal to drink more water each day.

stelton_emma-7712-e1495551753601.jpg
stelton_emma_blog-7758-e1495551651339.jpg

You can see in my kitchen, complete with my generic inexpensive cabinets, what happens when you mix in well-crafted and beautiful things to your interiors like Stelton products, the overall look goes from budget to personal and even a bit classy. Plus, these iconic brands make an impression on you and your guests each time you use them. They just feel better. People notice them when they visit, and you can tell them a little about them. In some ways, it's the difference between owning a fancy car and very inexpensive, no-frills car - the fancy car gives you a lot more to talk about - not brag, just to discuss. I like that about owning nice things.

stelton_emma-7714-e1495610364474.jpg

It's not about showing off, because my friends know me better than that anyway... But it is about showing that you care about having a few good pieces because they make you happy to just own them and share them with guests, too. I also like having some things that not everyone else has. If it sounds pretentious, well fair enough. But being pretentious is to pretend you have something better than you really do. But if you DO have good things and you're not pretending, then you are not pretentious are you? You just like what you like and quality, long-lasting pieces come with a price. They don't have to be expensive, but they also won't be from the dollar store. The older I get, the more I require good products in my life. I don't want to be surrounded by things that break easily or end up in the trash in six months. Quality over quantity wins.

stelton_emma-7753-e1495617927176.jpg

 Shown above from Stelton:

  • , in gray (on counter)
  • , large (on shelf)
  • , medium (on counter)
  • , gray (on counter/shelf)

On my wishlist from Stelton:

More because 4 isn't enough, a  and the  - would love to start making coffee at home like this vs. using the Nepresso.

For a limited time, you can WIN the #EmmaPitcher by signing up for the Stelton newsletter (wait for the pop-up in the lower right).

I hope you have enjoyed seeing a view of my kitchen and these products that I love so much.

Psst: Need some Kitchen inspiration? Here you go: , , .

(Note: This post has been sponsored by Stelton, a friend of mine for several years who is very supportive of cattledogs and the work that I do. It's through occasional sponsors like Stelton that I can keep working full-time in a creative profession that I love, support my family, and keep cattledogs ad-free. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. I only review what I own, use and love.)

I Am Enough

Hello everyone, I have a little story to tell you today. I was thinking recently about my trip to Zurich last November, when I worked for , and how I fell in love with a very special little owl. Would you like to know more? It's short, and sweet, and just may make you feel all the feels but my goal is that maybe my story will make you see that you are enough, too. So there I was at a shop in Zurich, I cannot recall the name of it but it was so well curated and honestly, one of the best I'd seen in all of Zurich for interiors. In a corner, there sat a little owl and many of his friends. A real owl? To me, yes. But to everyone else, he was only porcelain and merely a decorative object for the home.

owl.jpg

That little owl represented more in my eyes though, so I looked a bit more closely to examine his details. Why was this little figurine calling to me, beckoning me to take a closer look? Upon closer inspection, I understood why I felt a heart connection with this lovely little bird. Let me explain.

Do you see the little mouse he is holding under his wing so gently? In nature, the mouse would have been devoured in a moment, owls are not vegetarians! They're hunters and must be in order to survive. The artist who made this owl though, , is of course allowed to tell stories through her creative expressions; to alter reality to create a new idea, a new way of looking at the world. That is the only job of an artist, if you can even call it that - to spark a reaction. If someone is drawn in, the artist accomplished a goal.

When I stood before the little owl, I was a little girl again. Not a strong woman with a family and a company. I thought about the owl as if it were going to start moving about on the table, making its way over to sit on my hand. It had a magical quality, but again, most likely only to me because the other shoppers walked on by.

I realized in that moment that the owl represented me but I couldn't quite figure out why. I thought some more. Perhaps it was tied in to my desire to heal, protect and show love. To be liked, to please others. To be kind. I am a caring person yet I often forget to show it and can come across as very headstrong - like I have no fears or problems, like I have it all under control. Yet, I have suffered from feelings of self doubt since I was a child. I always wanted to be protected and loved but losing my father when I was 18 was devastating. Not because he died, he didn't, but because he divorced my mother and started a new life and I never saw him again.

Over the years, I wanted to protect and heal everyone as a result so they didn't hurt as much as I had hurt. I didn't realize that getting hurt was character building and if faced and resolved, getting hurt can be a huge stepping stone. Guarding people from getting hurt emotionally is less important than helping to support them through the pain. It's like a caterpillar emerging from a cocoon, pushing its way through a tiny hole, the force of it all, the struggle, is making it stronger so once it emerges, it can fly. Did you know that if you cut the sack right before the butterfly appears, it will be limp and just lay there and most likely, die? This is because the force of pushing itself out is what the wings needed to become strong.

I read a quote once from that resonated with me, "You are enough". When I met the little owl in November, he reminded me that I am enough. That being human is okay and to focus on others and to guide them, while also caring for myself, is okay. But now in my life, the most important thing is caring for my son, being a watchful owl, a guide, a consistent source of love. He is my little mouse, I am his mama. That is enough because to him, I am enough. This owl made me see that I don't need to heal the world, I really just need to be there for my child and then, everyone else can come later as time allows. This was a refreshing perspective for me and a first, for sure.

eule_bg_01.jpg.5000x480_q90.jpg

Flashback to Zurich in that little shop... So you won't believe this... The next day after encountering the little own, unknown to me, I ran into the artist at the fair! In fact, I was a jury member and we had to pick nominees for an award. As I roamed the fair searching for a winner, looking at hundreds of products, there was the little owl! It couldn't be! And the artist was there with it and all of her other creations too. I was so shy to say anything to her, so I only grabbed her business card and later, returned to meet with the other jury members and told them, "I nominate !".

Months later, the little owl still stayed on my mind. I thought about it nearly every day. Then one day an email arrived and it said, "It was very nice meeting you at Blickfang Zürich. I would love to invite you to my open studio this Friday, if you are in Zurich!". It was from Babette. How could it be? She remembered me? I felt that the little owl was working behind-the-scenes. I felt he somehow wanted to live in my home.

Guess what? The owl lives in Hannover now. He arrived right before the birthday of my son. has a permanent spot in my heart now through this small bird. I've been wanting to tell you this story for months, but I've been so overwhelmed with travel in the past few months (Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Paris, Milan, Cuxhaven, Berlin, Oberhausen...) that I couldn't find a moment to type all of this out until today.

Thank you Babette for putting your work into the world and for touching hearts, like mine. Thank you for letting this owl remind me that to my son, and even to those I work with, and to my family and friends, that I am enough. What I give is enough. And that all of you reading are enough too. Focus on what matters and let the rest wait.

That feels nice.

Holly

Italian Design Preview 2017 From Milan

Hi everyone, it's me Holly and I'm back from exciting adventures in Milan, Portofino and Genoa. I spent a week in Milan on assignment for to attend the wonderful . The Salone personally invited me as 1 of 100 journalists globally to attend as a special guest, too (Thank you Katie and !). If that weren't enough, I was also invited by Milan's to join a tour organized in collaboration with 11 major Italian design brands (listed below). The lovely Francesca Russo of  led us, a group of European design bloggers with cameras ready, through stands at Salone del Mobile - you can watch a video of it (you can see me speaking at 9:10). The day was fast-paced and interesting, so I'll spare you the details and present you with some of my favorite things from a few of the brands that we visited throughout this post.

bookcase.jpg

Isola Shelving System from  which just won the Wallpaper design award

Okay so, because this is a blog and it's my space to say whatever I want, I have to be honest here... Before this tour I wasn't that thrilled to visit Italian home brands because few of them appealed to me - too over-the-top and ornate for my taste. I was reluctant to go on this tour, but my friend sort of convinced me and because she has great taste and I trusted her I figured WHY NOT? Plus, I wanted to hang out with her and my other friends  and and going on this tour was a great excuse because they'd all be there!

LEGO.jpg
legomancer.jpg

from JCP

Cookies_S.jpg

Cookie table from 

As I approached the fairgrounds, I thought that I really need to open up and stop being so stuck on Scandinavian design. This tour didn't have to ONLY be about being with Agata, Anastasia and Desiree and meeting the DDN team, it could also be so much more -- broadening my views in design,

I spent my teens and all of my twenties being positively addicted to French design and fashion and all of the interiors coming out of London. I nearly moved to Paris twice and London three times when I was single. I've only been big on Nordic design for a decade now, mostly since relocating to northern Germany where Nordic design was once considered boring but has sense grown to become the leading design style in the northern part of the country.

I love Scandi style, but I felt like I needed to branch out and get back to my roots of mi and matching themes again to make my home feel more personal but also warmer and more sophisticated. Going on this tour, and to Italy in general, changed the game for me. I'm back to my roots again. I can rock Scandi while bringing in things from all over the world, including the beautiful pieces from Italian designers shown throughout this post.

MDF.jpg

Sign Filo chairs in gold and copper from

If there is one thing we ALL need to do more of, it's to pull out of our comfort zone and step wayyyy back and see everything we think we know, again. The last time I really LOOKED at Italian magazines was, well, too long to admit. I'd never been to Italy before last week. I obviously love Italian life and culture, half of my family in the states married into Italian families, my uncle is Italian and my mother remarried an Italian.... Some of my closest friends are Italian. What was my problem then with Italian design? Why did I only regard it as dated, stuffy and distasteful? I was so wrong and I'm glad my week in Milan gave me a brand new viewpoint because it was needed.

from JCP 

While some of the brands we visited didn't resonate with me, I was completely transformed not only by the presentation and design overall, but from visiting with the designers and hearing their perspective on what they'd created.

In fact, not only on the tour but also in the many design studios I'd visited throughout the city, the lighting brands, all of it - was really inspiring. And don't get me started on the Italian bathrooms and kitchens ( bathrooms left me speechless in Brera, and ask my friend Toni who assisted me on this trip, I am RARELY speechless), they were simply incredible.

0007_CloudPouf_105.jpg

Cloud pouf from 

FLOWSOFA.jpg

Cozy sofa from in pink (love!)

Papillon wall lights from Arflex

cavalli.jpg

Chair and pouf from e

Corolle.jpg

from Arflex

kartell.jpg

by Laufen mirrors and shelves

FLOWCOLOR.jpg

Flow Color chairs from

Here are the brands that we visited, linked below:

I'm still not completely sold on the over-the-top luxury brands that just drip with luxury and look better suited to a hotel or casino than my humble home, but just as German design has evolved over the years, and American styles too, Italian interiors are experiencing a metamorphosis as well. I could feel a rumble beneath the surface while in Milan that the smaller design communities there are making - the shift - and I feel Milan is only going to get better and better in the years to come - stronger and stronger. I'm curious to see where the years ahead will take the fair and Design Week in general and I'm definitely going back to Milan next year because that was truly the best interior design fair and citywide design event I'd ever visited - five stars!

-Holly