Posts in Objects
Designer Saana Ja Olli + What Finnish Design Means To Me

I've been a big fan of Finnish designer for nearly two years since I have one of her and love it. I take it on photo shoots to haul things like pillows and blankets, and I take it when I transport boxes and bulky stuff to the post office, a shop or to see a friend. It's the best bag in the world, and I get tons of comments when I use it - mostly, how fond everyone is by its enormous size and sheer gorgeousness.

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Don't these image give you such a beautiful, restful feeling inside? I like them so much, such pretty, moody lighting and styling too.

I was reminded of Sanna Ja Olli today because I've been ed by (the largest newspaper in Finland) and (Finland's lifestyle site for women) for interviews since I'll soon be in Hensinki lecturing at . I'm so excited that Finland is welcoming me so nicely to their country, what an honor and privilege to be received so warmly during my first visit.

During one of the interviews, I was asked about Finnish design and what attracts me to it and who is designing in Finland that I admire. One of the brands I named was Saana Ja Olli since I'm madly in love with her patterns and the simplicity and naturalness in what she produces.

One of the interviews today was interesting, the journalist asked me what I thought about Finnish design, how I "saw" it. This was a question I'd never been asked, and I hadn't given it much thought until today. I explained that when I think of Finnish design, I imagine nature and powerful shapes and a bit of a Slavic aesthetic - from neighboring Russia mostly. I imagine shapes that are strong, clear and graphic. Finnish design also seems very sensitive to me, like there is an understanding of design in an almost spiritual, elevated sense. I don’t think of mass-produced or a consumer culture – I picture sustainability, sensitivity, emotion and also an excellent marriage of form and function. I also see simplicity but ironically, a bit of a sense of humor in the design – shapes are playful and experimental.

Another thing that came to mind during our interview is that when I think of Finnish interiors, not one interior style comes to mind. Do you know what I mean by this? When I think of a Danish, Dutch, American or Swedish home, I immediately see an interior - some image pops to mind - or a range of "styles" per country...

 

 

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When I think of Finnish design, I think of individual pieces, but not interiors. I couldn't really tell you what a Finnish home looks like. This is a strength I believe, what really makes them stand out. It gives them the power to create their own style through objects that they collect and love because they seem to adhere less to a certain mainstream vision.

I'm not Finnish and I've never been there, so perhaps my perspective is not shared. I'm curious when I get to Helsinki and start inspecting interiors more carefully, what I'll learn?

Do you have any impressions on this topic to share? I'm quite curious to hear them so please comment if you'd like. I don't bite.

(Images: saana ja olli)

Tour a Gorgeous Dutch Ceramics Studio

Hi everyone, this is and today I want to share a gorgeous ceramics studio with you that I photographed not to long ago in Amsterdam. By the way, I know I went missing for a bit on cattledogs, but now I'm back regularly to be your home and shop tours reporter from The Netherlands. Holly (Becker) is really growing her team to have a reporter for you from as many European countries as she can fit, and so I'm handling the Netherlands. Today, let's relax together and view the incredible space of .

 Dutch ceramicist Annemieke Boot

Dutch ceramicist Annemieke Boot

One glance inside Annemieke Boot's Amsterdam ceramics studio and you will see that her work is deeply inspired by Scandinavian simplicity, her designs derived from pure, simple forms.

My work is light, fragile and has something sweet, something soft about it. It is an extension of myself.
— Annemieke Boots
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With a keen eye for detail, Annemieke admits that she once was intent to make each and every piece exactly the same and uniform, but as her love of the discipline grew she came to appreciate the beauty in imperfection.

I have realized that the dents and bumps the occur naturally are precisely what makes hand-turned pottery special. Each item is carefully made with LOVE.
— Annemieke Boots
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When searching for a studio space, light was an essential ingredient for Annemieke. “I spend much of my time in the studio. I’m here five days a week and sometimes also on weekends – creating, filling or emptying the kiln, doing administration or photographing my work. For this reason, the studio on the Buyskade appealed to me right away – it has floods of natural light, is in a great location and is warm, even in the winter. It was meant to be.” A lick of paint and new floors made her studio an ideal backdrop for her ceramics that is every bit as functional as it is lovely.

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Annemieke shares her Amsterdam studio with three other ceramicists – from Copenhagen, Marie-Jose Schulte Fischedick and William Thompson. “We all have our own style, but assist each other in the creative process.” Collaborations also come through social media, such as product exchanges with other makers Annemieke connects with on . “It’s fun to do and I enjoy meeting like-minded creatives in this way. The Instagram community is particularly interested in the work that I do, which is beautiful to see.”

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After running an interiors boutique in Amsterdam selling Asian furniture an accessories for several years, Annemieke was ready for a change and a creative challenge. “At a certain point, I had seen it all and wanted something new,” she explains. “I did the marketing, sales, styling and maintained with the customers. I knew all the tricks from start to finish and was ready for something else. Something creative. I did not know what I wanted to do and frankly I also lacked energy at that time.”

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A visit to at the ceramicist atelier while holidaying at their Swedish summer house couldn’t have come at a better time and was the trigger Annemieke needed to make the change she had been wanting. “While we were there, Ingvar sat behind his turntable and saw the magic in my eyes. He asked if I wanted to learn and the following week I started on basics of modeling. There in his studio it happened. I was behind the turntable, felt the clay in my hands and tears spontaneously prickled in my eyes. This is it! This is what I have to do, make ceramics. When I think back, I get goosebumps all over again. I totally didn’t know how I was going to make money out of it, but I did it anyway.” Upon returning home, Annemieke purchased her first turntable, signed up for a course and went in search of a studio space to practise her new skill. “It may look easy, but I can tell you, it is not!”

Inspiration for her creations comes in various forms. “I love natural tones inspired by nature, such as white, cream, blue and grey.” And while nature plays an important role where shapes and color are concerned, Annemieke also draws inspiration in other art forms such as glass-blowing. “Copying a design does not work for me. It really has to come from within, even the process of kneading the clay. I put my heart and soul into the clay, and only then do I get the desired result.”

“Selling my own work was very daunting at first but it went almost automatically from the get go.” Aside from building on a collection of ceramics for her studio and shop, Annemieke also took on styling commissions which helped to build confidence in her skills and develop her creative network.

“I have always been very shy, but thanks to my shop I learned to strike up a conversation and from there things started coming my way.” Annemieke now stocks several boutiques with her wares and carries out regular commissions for several labels including  (and Avenue favourite) and .

There’s something special about feasting off a beautiful, hand turned plate, I am convinced the food tastes better! But seeing people love my products simply amazes me and fills my with satisfaction and pride. I am so grateful to be able to do what I love every day!
— Annemieke Boots

Though Annemieke is perfectly satisfied mastering her skills with stoneware, she aspires to further broaden her craft, challenger herself and reach goals. “I started with stoneware with the goal of mastering that first before allowing myself to work with porcelain. This is such a special material that I wanted to save it for later. Continuously making the same things is not for me; I know I’ll get bored after a while.”

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Seeing her work feature in publications such as  has given Annemieke the incentive to keep creating pieces of beauty and function, and aspirations on creating more wares for the food industry.

I'll be back next week to give you a sweet little tour that is rather personal to me, so I'll see you then! - Holly Marder

(Photography: Holly Marder for | Copy: Holly Marder, | Assistance: Nina le Blanc)

View IKEA's Collection With HAY Up Close + Personal

Hi cattledogs readers, this is and I’m a new cattledogs columnist based in Stockholm, Sweden where I will bring you the latest interior news from this part of the world. I thought I’d kick off with something that has started a lot of buzz in the interior world recently.

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As you heard here from Holly’s sneak peeks, furniture giant, , is soon launching a creative collaboration that they’ve been working on with the celebrated Danish design company, . From the moment I heard about it, I, like so many interior lovers couldn’t wait to see what the two would create together.  On Tuesday I had the opportunity to do just that and attend the press launch to view the collection before it hits the stores in Europe on October 6.

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The event was held at , a stylish gallery perfectly set among pine trees in the Stockholm archipelago. I’m so excited to be sharing with you what I saw on the day. As cattledogs readers, I know you’ll love it!

Viewing the collection was one wow moment after the other; it’s stunning and being a big fan of HAY, I can say that it is very true to brand.  Something that I did wonder about, and I’m sure that you’ll all be very happy to read, is its affordable price point, hovering somewhat around IKEA’s mid-range.

YPPERLIG, which translates to “excellent”, is a collection true to Scandinavian style that celebrates basics with design and a timeless quality that ages beautifully. You will find larger furniture pieces for the living and dining, along with smaller decorative and practical items for the home.

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There are a few standout pieces for me, the top of the list being the mirrors in three different styles, each in their own colour of burgundy, green or white.  I have been on the lookout for something edgy like this for our small bathroom for a while, but either of the styles would also make a great statement piece in the entry for those quick checks before heading out the door.

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I love the idea of the decorative shelf in birch above a desk, or as a smart place to stow away magazines and papers.  It looks fantastic styled here in front of the solid green.

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Another favorite for me would have to be the boxes, a sweet way to hold little trinkets around the home and something that you can always find a use for. 

A very unlikely yet fun addition to the collection is the updated FRAKTA shopping bag. It’s the same size and use of sturdy material; the big change is the play with color and texture. The end result is a HAY interpretation of probably the most iconic IKEA pieces and the good news is that this will sell for the same as the original blue bag.

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I wouldn’t say that it’s an unlikely collaboration; in fact it makes a lot of sense. Both brands have a strong appreciation of design, yet for different markets. Rolf and Mette Hay, the husband-and-wife duo behind HAY, call it a “mutual exchange of skills”. Here was an opportunity for them to make some of their designs more accessible to the public by using the simplicity of the IKEA supply chain. It was also a smart move for IKEA. While they’ve always had great and clever designs, teaming with such a coveted brand was sure to get some serious attention.  

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I have no doubt that the IKEA stores will be full of design savy shoppers taking advantage of this exciting collaboration when it’s released October 6.

What about you dear readers? Do you think that you’ll be one of them? Do you spot any must-have pieces here? - Mel x

(Text + Photography: Mel Chesneau)

Project 62: Target's Newest Furniture + Accessories Collection

As an American living abroad, you'll hear me pine away for at least a few times a month. I also miss having a on every corner (gasp!), something I used to complain about back home, "Ugh, Starbucks is everywhere!!!". We only have TWO in our entire city (and my city is larger than Boston, imagine that). I digress... Point is, I miss some of the comforts that came from living in the United States.

That's why when I saw the press release that will launch a new furniture and home accessories collection called Project 62, I got just a tad bit envious of my American friends and family who live over there and have full access to one of the best big box stores in the world. Here's a first peak at some of the things you can expect from the new Target collection. Woo hoo!

 Sideboard with brass accent, ceramic vases, lamps, brass mirror and the Plymouth chair in blush pink.

Sideboard with brass accent, ceramic vases, lamps, brass mirror and the Plymouth chair in blush pink.

 Solene pale mint dinnerware.

Solene pale mint dinnerware.

 Royal blue tufted velvet chair

Royal blue tufted velvet chair

 Throw pillows also from the collection.

Throw pillows also from the collection.

 Grey modular sofa and ottoman, Arc Globe floor lamp, Sayer coffee table.

Grey modular sofa and ottoman, Arc Globe floor lamp, Sayer coffee table.

 My favorite: Brass side table with marble top. Also the vase is from the collection.

My favorite: Brass side table with marble top. Also the vase is from the collection.

 A mix of rugs from the collection - beautiful!

A mix of rugs from the collection - beautiful!

Over the next 18 months, we’re introducing four new Home brands with distinct aesthetics, starting with Project 62. We created Project 62 for people who are passionate about modern design at a great value, with thoughtfully designed, approachable pieces for everyday life.
— Mark Tritton, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer, Target

And in case you're wondering... Project 62 won't be replacing any of their current lines, like the lovely things from . Who can live without fabulous , am I right?

Hungry for more? Check out .

(Photography: John Day for Target)