Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
It was a complete thrill for The Balcony Gardener team to speak with internationally renowned hair colourist Josh Wood, a leading global trend setter in the fields of hair and beauty. Born in Barnsley, Josh has since gone on to colour the hair of supermodels and princesses, and travels regularly across the world for personal colour appointments. He contributes to international campaigns and his work has graced the pages of Vogue, Grazia, Elle and is often seen on the catwalks of Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen. He has also recently been announced as the hair columnist for The Sunday Times Style Magazine.
What we really love though – is Josh’s ingenious approach to his hair salons. Actually less salon, and more an Atelier – a harmonious space and shrine to relax in whilst you hair is tended to. The highlight for us are the walls of living plants surrounding the work stations, living walls to maximise oxygen levels in the salon. We spoke with Josh about his living walls and how greenery inspires his work….
Lush indoor planting feature heavily in your beautiful salons, do you like to be surrounded by greenery? Does this help your work process?
I love nature and I think bringing outdoors indoors is a real way to make a salon feel more calm and tranquil. Any help to hush a salon environment makes for a more enhanced experience.
We love the living green walls, what was the impulse to plant them?
Living walls have been something I have wanted to use and work with for a long time. Having a living wall as an integral part of both of my ateliers interiors is something which will continue to be part of my design concept for future salon spaces.
The Living Wall at Josh Wood Atelier, Lansdowne.
How do your customers respond to the use of greenery in your salons?
They love the fact that not only do the walls look good but they are also great to re-oxygenate the environment.
You’re famed for your work with colour, do you look to nature for colour inspiration?
Nature to me is the starting point for most of the colour work I do –taking tones and hues that are found in nature and developing them to suit someone’s skin tone and eye colour I find both stimulating and challenging.
Do you have a favourite garden or outdoor green space? How do they inspire you? - What are your own favourite plants / flowers?
Gardens: Tuilleries in Paris, Trelissick in Cornwall, Majorelle in Marrakesh, Derek Jarman in Dungeness, Plants/Flowers: olive trees, hyacinths and poppies, grans of any description
How about home – do you incorporate indoor planting and greenery at home?
I have a very small garden but I love planting new colour schemes and watching the garden develop. I have plants or cut flowers in my home all the time – it’s a very important visual to me to have something living and add colour to my day to day life.
Thursday, April 11th, 2013
We were delighted when David Lewi invited us to his North London home to view the remarkable large Ordnance Survey map which adorns the walls of his office. Not only is it a great geographical reference but it’s also a wonderful addition to home interiors and looks great on the walls. Ordnance Survey maps have long been the geographical aid for hikers, drivers, explorers and girl guides and boy scouts. The incredibly detailed maps cover all the streets and geographical locations of Great Britain, and in this time of confusing sat-navs you can be sure that if you have an ordnance survey map to hand you’ll be able to find your way.
David had always wanted to put together a large scale map of London and the South East – all areas close to his own life. He had heard about the large Ordnance Survey maps – and how they create made to order maps based on your own grid references and specifications – which you can then hang as your own custom made wallpaper. So if you live in the Scottish Highlands – you can in theory have a wallpaper printed detailing the specific map of your home area. David had wanted to create his own map, after requesting his specific area with Ordnance Survey – the map took a few days to arrive and then a decorator mounted it for him in his office; it was made to fit and covered the wall perfectly. The map is the standard scale and covers every road in his chosen area meaning he can trace his own routes to his own favourite places – including the South Downs and across the coast.
The history of the Ordnance Survey mapping is interesting; it was back in 1791, during the height of the French Revolution, that the British Government feared invasion and soon came to realise that the South Coast of England needed to be comprehensively and accurately mapped. The Government instructed the Board of Ordnance – the defence ministry of the day to carry out the necessary survey work and thus, the Ordnance Survey was born. A new different revolution faces the Ordnance Survey today – the ongoing digital revolution with web mapping services transforming businesses and web mapping serves. No longer part of the British government, the Ordnance Survey now employs 1200 people including 300 surveyors – and in this digital age they still sell 2.5 million maps each year. But digital mapping now accounts for 90% of their current business.
Look for your own Ordnance Survey map here.
With thanks to David Lewi and Ordnance Survey.
Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
Image – Bla Bla Car
In the past we have featured our most desired destinations on the Travel Lust List, they can occasionally be pretty far flung though – tree housing in New Zealand? Poppy fields in China? Great additions to a travel bucket list, but not always the most realistic and economic spots for a week long break. Over the past few months we’ve noticed different ways of travelling, there are some amazing travel websites that make the world that little bit smaller and connect you with more people around the world for an often more authentic – and better priced! – travelling adventure. We’ve put together our top three best and sustainable travel sites…
Found some great flights to Amsterdam but don’t have a clue as to where to stay? You must check out Airbnb then. This site is huge in America – founded by a couple of guys in San Francisco it provides a platform for individuals referred to as “hosts”, generally private parties, to rent unoccupied living space and other short-term lodging to guests.There are over 250,000 listings in 30,000 cities and 192 countries. The listings range from private rooms, entire apartments, castles, boats, mansions, castles, tree houses and private islands. We love nothing more than having a nose around someone’s flat – and this is the best way to do it! There are plenty of designer flats, and you can create your own wish lists of where you want to stay.
We’ve featured this great site before, the website matches up people with gardens with those looking to camp. The website allows homeowners to advertise their garden as a temporary campsite, and campers can search for a spot where they can camp comfortably and safely. The website soon became a surprise hit after 1,100 members signed up in its first month and now a staggering 2,500 people a day are currently visiting campinmygarden.com to promote their lawn for hire or to find a cheap place to stay. Campers can pay homeowners as little as £2 per person per night to stay in their garden, often getting access to their bathroom, barbecue and wireless internet.
Hitchhiking seems a little too Stephen King for us, so instead why not try car sharing for an economic way to explore Europe? Sign up to BlaBlaCar and offer or find a ride to the destination of your choice. Passengers pay reasonable petrol costs and both drivers and riders are rigorously vetted by the site (and rated by fellow users) to ensure that everyone is who they say they are, insurance is up to date, the cars are in good nick and the drivers reliable. BlaBlaCar was born one Christmas, when founder Frédéric Mazzella, a student at Stanford, wanted to get home to his family in the French countryside. He had no car. The trains were full. The roads, too, were full of people driving home, alone in their car. It occurred to him that he should try and find one of the drivers going his way and offer to share petrol costs in exchange for use of an empty seat. He thought he could do it online, but no such site existed… The adventure had begun and Fred created an entire new transport network built on people.
Thursday, February 7th, 2013
The Edible Selby Front Cover © Todd Selby
Todd Selby’s website The Selby has been a favourite online destination for us, it is a wealth of interiors and trends inspiration, for many years he has curated the interiors of different people – revealing their personality and quirks through their belongings. Through this creative work, he has become more and more curious about people’s kitchens, their refrigerators and how we eat. His most recent book “Edibly Selby” is a celebration of food obsessives and creatives, people who have a vocation for creating food.
It’s not a recipe book per se, instead it’s a global culinary encyclopedia featuring local pockets of people passionate about food and eating it. Unlike other food books, Edible Selby doesn’t feel as if it has been styled by a number of food stylists, photographers and assistants – instead here it’s just Todd Selby and his camera capturing the everyday and food of a bakery, restaurant, fishmongers or vinery.
Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, Brooklyn New York © Todd Selby
Todd starts his journey in San Francisco, he was born and grew up in Orange County slightly further down the West Coast – so he starts close to home. It’s an interesting story – Mission Chinese Food – a Chinese restaurant started inside another Chinese restaurant in the heart of Chinatown, San Francisco. The two restauranteurs Danny Bowien and Anthony Myint had little capital at the start so created a restaurant inside a restaurant, they meld American Chinese food with California cuisine and touches of Oklahoma barbecue like white bread and Coca-cola sauce.
Towpath, London © Todd Selby
Todd travels further afield on his culinary journey, he explores London featuring Violet Cakes in Hackney, Towpath in Haggerston and St John’s in Spitalfields. He spends the whole day with his chosen spot, photographing them in action (there’s a great shot of Fergus Henderson enjoying his elevenses break of seed cake and a glass of madeira) and chats to them about their food and menus.
Violet Cakes, London © Todd Selby
Some of the most beautiful photos are taken outside of your usual restaurant and cafe, and feature the food suppliers and part-time restauranturs – an un-manned eating spot in the hills of Italy, just help yourself to Prosecco from the fridge and delicious salami direct from the factory. The Nordic Food Lab is a food research laboratory housed on a houeboat in Copenhagen, they research “old and new techniques and raw materials” of Nordic cookery, they have been examining and experimenting with seaweed and other wild foods. Sa Forada is a paella restaurant in Mallorca that is only accessible by boat or climbing a fence and hiking, Yoshida Farm is a cheese-making facility in the heart of rural Japan and Rockaway Taco is a part-time taco shack in Queens, New York – only open when the owner Andrew Field isn’t chasing the surfing waves around the world.
Edible Selby is a real foodie celebration, Todd has explored and met a collection of personalities who all celebrate food and its vibrancy in their often very different fields. A great book for your favourite foodie (and we also loved the fridge magnets!).
Edible Selby by Todd Selby is published by Abrams
Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
We invited Katie Treggiden from the design blog “confessions of a design geek” to edit the blog this week, Katie is at the forefront of monitoring design and interior trends, her brilliant blog is a go-to for anyone looking for savvy design tips, we were pleased this week to see the launch of the confessions of a design geek bursary at Home, London. Katie is a keen advocate for the wonderful work by the UK cancer charity Maggie’s and their different design projects. Katie interviewed the garden designer Lily Jencks and discussed her work with Maggie’s for the Balcony Gardener blog….
…..Cancer charity Maggie’s provides “emotional, practical and social support for people with cancer and their families and friends.” They do this from striking Centres built within the grounds of specialist cancer hospitals, designed by architects like Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. They are well known within architectural circles, but their gardens are arguably the unsung heroes. I spoke to Lily Jencks, landscape architect for the Stirling Prize nominated Gartnavel Centre and daughter of Maggie’s co-founders, Charles Jencks and the late Maggie Keswick Jencks.
Pictured above: the garden at Maggie’s Gartnavel
What was the inspiration behind the garden at Maggie’s Gartnavel?
The brief from Maggie’s, and an intuitive understanding of what Maggie’s needs from a garden, were my starting points, which led to an idea based around the sense of the relationship between the body and its environment relating to the relationship between a building and its landscape.
How did the relationship between architecture and landscape design work in this project?
I actually worked for the architect [Rem Koolhaas] on the building design before I was asked to design the garden. So, they are very intimately connected; with both the views into the landscape and the views into the building very considered and controlled.
Maggie’s Gartnavel is a circular glass building with a courtyard garden at its centre. Did the garden being such a central part of the design put you under more pressure than usual?
Yes, that, and the fact that I was designing in my mother’s memory, and that the architect is my hero. I was quite young to be working on a project with the person I respect most in architecture, so yes, there was a certain amount of pressure!
But we didn’t want to be too precious about the courtyard design. The building is wonderful in its openness with glass on both sides, so we wanted a landscape that felt as though it flowed through the building. We used the same planting inside the courtyard and surrounding the building, for example we planted birch in the courtyard and again in the surrounding landscape, but though using with varieties of birch there is a sense of the landscape changing but not being different.
Tell me a bit more about some of the specific plants and trees you chose.
White birch was one. The building is off-white concrete and we wanted to create a light, hopeful feeling around it. We also used Scots pine, which is very dark and evergreen and so the two play nicely off each other. The courtyard continues this mostly woodland planting but we included more delicate flowering perennials in planters, where we welcome the visitors to plant their own favourite species. We wanted to create a sense of demarcation so Centre visitors would feel comfortable getting involved in gardening in those planters – obviously they can plant wherever they like, but it helps having a designated space.
Why is it important for Maggie’s Centres to have gardens – what role do they play?
I think it comes back to this idea that the human body is affected by its environment – that idea is central to Maggie’s, that environment can help or hinder in healthcare. So in a metaphorical way, in the same way that Maggie’s wouldn’t consider a person in isolation, you can’t consider a building in isolation. Maggie’s always views a person in the context of their life, their friends and family, their groups… so we did the same with the building and the landscape surrounding it.
We also know that access to views and nature can be very healing; access to time, to the seasons changing, seeing the snowdrops come up, and daffodils bloom… when you’re ill, seeing the flows of nature can be quite calming.
What is your favourite feature of the garden?
The reflection courtyard; the mirror piece. It’s a wonderful meditative space. You can sit outside and have a moment of reflection and calmness. It’s quite a strange thing to see the sky reflected on the dark forest floor. People don’t always realise what they’re looking at to start with, so it takes them out of themselves, and into the moment. Being sick with cancer can so often be all consuming, so for a second to be delighted, to be surprised, to see the sky on the forest floor, can lift people. I heard about a ten-year-old girl who came and sat there for an hour while her parents were having a meeting at Maggie’s and she felt it was her place, somewhere she could just be and not think about being ill for a while.
What tips would you give to someone wanting to create a similar haven at home?
I like the orange seats we have in the courtyard – they add a bit of colour and brightness. And even though it’s artificial colour, the rusty red of the planters and the orange Corian of these seats adds a brightness all year round – in the winter it’s the strongest colour, and in the summer it’s surrounded by leaves and green, so it changes as the landscape changes around it. I think a bit of colour and brightness is really important, especially on dark grey days in Glasgow.
To find out more about Maggie’s, visit maggiescentres.org