Wednesday
May042016

Covet Garden 61 is Now Live!

[photography by Donna Griffith]

Today is a bittersweet day. Sweet because after five years and 61 issues Covet Garden is celebrating with the fantastic home of Toni, Eduoaurd, Yiako and Aina. This west end house is filled with amazing artifacts and incredible creative energy. It exemplifies everything we search for in a space.

Which is why its fitting that this feature is also our swan song. 

We've had a good run. especially in a volatile online environment. We found a loyal following of readers from  all across the world and got to do some amazing collaborations with incredibly talented photographers, artists and entrepreneurs. We ran a successful Indiegogo campaign to publish our print version, Covet Garden Home

The most important factor in our success was that we never wavered from our mission statement — to share homes that were unstaged and decorated by their inhabitants. This did limit our opportunities to do a lot of sponsored projects. At the end, we knew that to grow creatively we need more resources. For more resources we needed more money. Which meant that we would either have to tear Covet Garden down and retrofit it or move on to a different venture.

We thought long and hard about our options.

Covet Garden was a labour of love. We never lost money. We never really made any either. And having to juggle full-time freelance careers to finance a full-time creative career becomes exhausting after a while. It's also frustrating that all online content is supposed to be free when any other media can charge much higher ad rates as well as cover/subscription prices. We are not alone in the blogosphere — in fact, Justina at the Jungalow wrote an excellent post breaking down the business of blogging. Online magazines and blogs have value and that requires compensation.

In the end we decided that it was time to move on. Covet Garden will still live through the back issues. And you can follow us on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for updates on our future steps. But today we say thank you for all of your support and enjoy your tour of Toni and Eduoard's abode!

Saturday
Jan302016

Covet Garden 60 is Now Live!

[photo by: Donna Griffith]

2016 is a leap year which means we get a whole extra day to spend touring Andjelija and Ivan fun and flexible home. While Covet Garden likes pretty things as much as the next magazine, we are also intrigued by the way people put those things together, this couple's house caught our fancy because of the playful approach they approach they take to life and their living space. Andjelija says they like to fill the rooms with energy more so than objects (although there's plenty of amazing art and books to catch our fancy). And Donna Griffith’s photos really bring this sense of bonhomie to life!

View the new issue now.

Saturday
Jan302016

Broom/Dixon

[Tom Dixon]

Covet Garden recently had the opportunity to meet legendary designers Tom Dixon and Lee Broom at the 2016 International Design Show (IDS) in Toronto. 

[Lee Broom]

Dixon is, of course, the brains behind such now diverse and iconic designs as Cappellini S Chair (1991) and the Beat, Void and Melt lighting series. The prolific Broom (since 2007, he has produced over 75 furniture and lighting objects) is celebrated for his use of signature materials such as crystal and brass.

[Tom Dixon's Melt light] 

[Dixon's Ceasarstone Ice kitchen installation at IDS]

[Lee Broom's Crescent light]

While Dixon and Broom come from different generations, the two share a deep respect for British arts and crafts. Both have used historically techniques such as parquetry, crystal cutting and art pottery and both employ British manufacturers as much as possible in order to keep these traditions alive. They are also both self-taught—both in design and business—and got their starts making objects by hand.

We spoke to them about how they got started and how the material world informs their aesthetics.

ON BEGINNINGS

Dixon: The interesting thing about London is that it has evolved over the last 30 years. It wasn’t a design city then but rather an epicentre of trades. The worlds of theatre, finance, and art all fed into each other and made it a more interesting place for creativity.

 

Broom: I was born in the Midlands. Growing up, London seemed like the centre of the universe. But Birmingham has a strong manufacturing tradition steeped in history and heritage as well as a cultural diversity that makes it young. You realize how lucky you are to live in that environment.

 

Dixon: My whole career is unexpected. I never had an ambition to be a designer. Instead, I had a series of experiences making things with my own hands. I created an aesthetic of my own because I didn’t have to go through the critique process. There’s a lot to be said for being anonymous for a while. If you have problem you can solve it without anyone knowing.

 

Broom: Neither of us went through formal training. And because we had no frame of reference of how things were supposed to be done, we had no boundaries. Tom’s work is unique because he’s doing his own thing.

 

ON THE MAKER MOVEMENT

Dixon: Before, designers would graduate from college and then have to wait for someone to pick them up before your ideas could be produced. While creating your own brand is tougher than you think, now you can take control of your own destiny.  You can use digital technology to promote yourself something to a wider audience. [Advances in manufacturing, technology] also means that you don’t have to make things in large quantities in low-wage economies to be profitable.

 

Broom: Designers just got tired of waiting for someone to come along and discover them. There is more competition and that you can’t be just the designer, but also the maker and you have to find the means and ways to get your ideas out there. But these are exciting times of high risk and huge opportunity.

 

Dixon: Good design always involves some constraints, from manufacturing techniques to solving functional problems.

 

ON INSPIRATION AND MANUFACTRING

Broom: I like to think about form, materials and silhouettes. [One of the reasons] I like to work with traditional materials like crystal and marble so much is that I like to find new ways to represent it.

[Lee Broom's Podium vessels]

 

Dixon: I’m obsessed with materials. I went to a school with a good pottery department and when I saw them transforming clay into all kinds of objects. That’s the transformational nature of design; you can take any substance and make it more colourful, more textured, more woven.

[Dixon's Cappellini chair]

Broom: And when working with manufacturers the key is to do something that hasn’t been done before. It makes it more interesting.

 

Dixon: We get also knocked off. I’m flattered and pissed off at the same time. We could work faster to get designs out before they are copied. But things that are made fast and cheap are not good. [By working with local manufacturers] it makes it harder to copy.

 

ON THE FUTURE

Dixon: I’ve had a few encounters with textiles recently. It is my next obsession.

Broom: I started out in theatre [Broom was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company as a teen]. I’ve always wanted to design and create a pop concert or spectacle.

Friday
Jan152016

Get Centred

Everyone wants to start the year with a clean slate: prioritizing order, goal setting and generally getting stuff done! A good place to begin is by making sure that you have an organizational centre in your home so that your chances of keeping on track with your goals are increased. 

Our own Jess Reid and her Make Good Design partner, Iza Iseri took on a project recently for a client that we thought may inspire you to do the same!

The Problem: The family needed a large calender to keep track of the family's appointments, classes and commitments and a simple paper one kept getting lost in the chaos. They needed place to keep important school and kid-related forms and papers and a place to store smaller vital items in the home like phone accessories, pens, batteries, shopping bags, etc. 

The Solution: It seemed a large, chalkboard wall calendar made the most sense to anchor the space and there was a free nook by a powder room on the way to the kitchen that made the most sense to utilize.

A neutral gray chalkboard paint colour was chosen that would be dark enough for the chalk markers to read and not too dark to overwhelm the space. The wall was taped off so that the wall colour underneath would serve as the frame for the calendar. After the area was painted, the frame border was toned down a bit with a watered down version of the chalkboard paint so that the white area would not get as stained over time by the chalk markers. Each family member got a colour-coded marker to write down their commitments.

A couple of clip boards (one for each child) serve to keep permission slips, school reminders and other important documents in one place. 

A simple organizational unit from Ikea with drawer labels was installed so that small items and seasonal accessories can be easily located.

Finally, a tray with a few containers to hold all the necessary accessories required for the station (pens, chalk markers, paper clips, Post-it Notes, etc.) were added.

Now this family can start the year off on the right foot with everything in its place! What have you decided to do differently in your home this year to make your life easier?

[photos by Make Good Design. Have a room, reno or design project you need help with? Contact Make Good Design.]

Wednesday
Jan062016

Lynda Lets The Light One In

Lately I've been addicted to many Scandanavian shows on Netflix. Sure they have original and intelligent plot lines but do you know what else they have? Awesome home decor! And the recurring character that  really caught my eye is the candle. 

Norwegians, Swedes, Finns and Danes love their fire and candles are lit on the breakfast table, office desks, and in bathrooms at any time of day. Welcoming candles are placed in small dishes and set in the snow by front doors to greet visitors.
Here in Canada we also feel the effects of dark winters. Every year at this time, I start to struggle with the lack of sunshine. So this year I thought I'd channel my inner St. Lucia—the bearer of light. But instead of attaching candles to my head I'm going to fill my home with the warm glow of candle light in beautiful holders like these.