Tea with Bluebellgray's Fi Douglas

Yesterday, the Covet Garden team sat down for a delightful conversation with Fiona Douglas, the Glasgow-based designer behind Bluebellgray—a company best known for its painterly, floral print bed linens, pillows and furniture.

We've been following the five-year-old textile company through British design mags and blogs for a while now, so we were thrilled to learn that the Hudson’s Bay Company has brought the brand to Canada in an exclusive partnership—and to get the opportunity to meet Douglas and members of her team in person.

Why do we love Bluebellgray so much? It makes us happy! “I want to give that little bit of happiness to people,” says Douglas. “It’s hard to be sad when you’re surrounded by flowers and colour.”

One of Douglas’ earliest memories is a teacher telling her to colour within the lines, which of course, she did not want to do. While she was studying painting in art school, she found the fine arts department drew a similar line between art and craft. “A friend was in the textile department and said, ‘Fi, you’re a textile artist, I just know it.’”

Douglas’ friend was right. “For me textiles is a way to take painting and pattern and colour and interpret it in a different way,” she says. At school, she was also able to experiment with the modern medium of digital printing, which allowed her to bring her delicate watercolours to life on traditional materials such as linen and wool. “It’s freedom! It allows so many possibilities because there are no restrictions in the form or the process.”

Douglas gets so much joy from bringing happiness to others. But she also loves to travel, create DIY projects and spend time with her husband Phillip (who helped her start the business at their kitchen table) and 14-month-old son, Archie. Where does such a busy lady get her inspiration? “Open your eyes and take things in and appreciate them,” she says. She uses Archie as an example. “He loves to walk down the driveway and pick up every pinecone and examine it. He gets this expression on his little face that’s pure amazement.”

Another reason that Douglas is such a kindred spirit to us is that she believes that people are happy when they surround themselves with things that have meaning. Every Bluebellgray print or pattern starts out as an original painting. The things the studio creates aren’t meant to be seasonal or trendy, she says, rather “it’s about mixing them in with what you already love and then building up over the years.”

We also love the fact that even as Bluebellgray spreads its recipe for cheerfulness globally, they have made an effort to be conscious locally in their collaboration with The Hudson’s Bay. For example, the cushion designs are printed in the UK and are sewn locally in Canada. The two furniture pieces in the exclusive Hudson’s Bay collection, a tufted headboard and accent chair (pictured at top), are also manufactured in Canada. The Bluebellgray line is available online and in stores now at the Hudson's Bay.


5 Minute Tour: Pure Green Mag

This Sunday, Covet Garden is thrilled to be partnering up with Celine MacKay of Pure Green Magazine at Word on the Street in Toronto. Celine and Pure Green have been a big inspiration to us—especially when we were putting together our special print edition, Covet Garden Home. We wanted to pass on the Pure Green goodness, so we asked Celine a few questions about her creative process to share with you.

1. Why did you start Pure Green?
I was raised in a very ecologically minded way. It wasn't about being trendy or hippy, it was just how we did things as a family, or rather how my mom did things in order to be healthy. We made our yogurt, ground our own flour to make bread and pasta. After growing up this way, it's only natural that such a mindset was a part of my being. My husband and I together opened a store called Sustain, which specializes in green building and design, and I found that I heard people say every day how surprised they were that green could 'look this way'. And it's so true—when you think of green design, I bet you think of either something uber modern, or something Earthship-esque. There's no balance, and it doesn't feel achievable. We were determined to present green homes in a way that felt achievable, stylish, and healthy.
At the heart of Pure Green is a positive message. In the face of climate change it's easy to feel insignificant, which in turn can lead to apathy. I wanted to help spread a different message, one that encourages a subtle shift in mindset so that you realize that small things do have an impact, and then you realize that seemingly everyday things, like vintage ephemera, are actually very green.  And by focusing on natural, beautiful images, we hope to inspire readers, in the purest sense of the word, so that the Pure Green lifestyle is not only desired, but achievable on whatever scale possible.


2. How has the magazine changed your life?
Creating the magazine has meant countless hours at my desk, and it's been stressful. But, in the face of all that, I feel validated each and every day, because without fail, someone shares something positive with me about the magazine, either by email or social media, or in person. Hearing that feedback has helped me realize that we all need to be a little easier on ourselves and take pride in our work. 
Another change that I value so very much is all the amazing friendships that I've formed through the magazine. The contributors I work with each and every day are so incredible. They are beautiful creative spirits and so talented, I feel honoured to cross paths with them and help promote their work through the magazine. 
Lastly, I'm a very creative person at heart, but I'm not artistic in the sense that I can paint, or draw, etc. Pure Green has really helped bring my creative self to life, as creating each issue continues to expand those creative parameters, and I learn something new every day. I love it! I'm a new parent (I have an 18-month-old daughter, Charlie), and I use this creativeness with her every day, through the projects I dream up for us to do each day, and even just the things I'm willing to try. I really feel it's made me a better parent!


3. After 4 plus years, how do you find creative inspiration?
Right now it's easy! I have more trouble narrowing down my ideas than finding them. But, when I do need creative inspiration, or a fresh take on a challenge I'm facing, the answer is always the same: get out in nature. That love of the outdoors is also what fuels my passion for conscious living, because more than anything I want this to still be here for my daughter and grandchildren, etc. When I go for a walk, it reopens my capacity to feel wonder. I know that sounds funny, but I find that things get dulled when we're so entrenched in working and day to day life. When I go for a walk on a beautiful day, I notice the intense colours in nature, the feel of the air, textures and patterns, and so much more. I often ponder if this is just how I'm made, or if it's something my parents nurtured in me, because I want Charlie to feel that wonder too. I hope it's something I never lose. In terms of finding my creative spark, walking in the woods seems to free my mind in such a way that I feel better able to really think things through, and usually by the end of my walk I'm in a rush to get home so I can make notes! 


4. What advice would you give to people who want to make healthier choices in their lifestyle, but feel intimidated by the change?
The message I try and spread every day is to do two things. One, take a look at your life as it is now and try and find a few things, no matter how small, that are eco-friendly. It might require some creative thinking, but a conscious lifestyle is so much more than recycling, if you know what I mean! As an example, loving your vintage collections is green: it's upcycling and keeping really great quality stuff out of the landfill.

The second thing, is to start with just one thing, and build from there. When my husband and I first started our relationship, I literally followed him around the house with a running commentary of "Oh my gosh, your               is toxic!" It came from a good place on my part, but it was the wrong approach because my husband found it overwhelming, as do my friends, which can be a huge barrier to change. You quickly feel like giving up just from sheer exhaustion! The right way to do it, in my mind, is to start with one part of your life, educate yourself in that area, make some targeted changes slowly so that your whole family can adapt, and then move on to something new once the new habits are formed. I suggest starting with food and personal care products, because those two areas carry a lot of weight and directly affect your heath as well. 

5. What's the best piece of advice you ever got?
To live in the present, and shift your mindset so that you are always thinking of what you want out of life as if you have it. If you can do that, it will come more easily.

Pure Green has just completed a blog and instagram hashtag project called #PGMinseason (visit to learn more, or follow @puregreenmag) focused on eating in-season, locally sourced foods as a pathway to a more conscious and healthy life. And don't forget to visit the Pure Green/Covet Garden booth at Word on the Street this Sunday!

All images from Issue 8 of Pure Green Magazine.

Politics of Fashion | Fashion of Politics Sneak Peek

[Jean-Charles de Castelbajac Obama Dress, 2008]

Just as we believe that how you dress your home helps tell your story, what we wear also speaks volumes. In fact, that's the message of Politics of Fashion | Fashion of Politics—a new exhibition at Design Exchange that opens this Thursday.

Featuring a diverse range of garments from Hussein Chalayan, Jeremy Scott, Moschino, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, Mary Quant and Rudi Gernreich, the show not only examines how the personal beliefs of designers shapes their work, it also looks at how changing social, economic and political mores affect fashion.

[Paper dress, Bobby Kennedy, 1968]

[Paper dress, Pierre Trudeau, 1968]

Another amazing layer to the show, which is curated by Jeanne Beker and Sara Nickelson, is the fact that the clothes, videos and other ephemera are all culled from the archives of the designers or noted collectors. History, as they say, is written by the winners, and in this case it's the curators and collectors that provide the context for why certain messages still have relevance in today's society. For example, Mary Quant and Rudi Gernreich's were emblems of 1960s sexual freedom, but what do miniskirts and monokinis say about empowerment today?

[Malandrino Flag Dress. Photo: Pascale Richard]

[Rad Hourani]

The exhibition space was designed by Toronto's own Jeremy Laing. And, everybody who purchases a Politics of Fashion | Fashion of Politics ticket will receive a 12-issue digital subscription to FLARE, compliments of Design Exchange. The show runs until January 25.


Best of Etsy: In Love With Fall


For everything there is a season. And while we are sad to see summer go, the Covet Garden team also embraces the fact that for every season, there are lots of things to enjoy. For example, we look forward to fall because we enjoy sipping hot coffee and supping on soups, taking warm baths and snuggling up underneath toasty blankets.

We've also enjoyed touring Etsy for great things that put us in an Autumnal spirit. Here are just a few of the  many reasons we found to celebrate the changing seasons. Click here to visit our full Fall Favourites curated list.

1. Fig and Yarrow Woods Bath and Body Oil; 2. Brooklyn Candle Studio Sandalwood Scented Soy Candle 3. Dutch Details vintage Daisy soup pot by Kaj Franck for Arabia; 4. Retro Fat Lava vinatge West German vase by Scheurichl; 5. This is Knockout set of Four Yellow Mugs; 6. Little Journey Chicag Bolivian Frazada handwoven blanket.


Jessica's Underwater Inspiration at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

On my trip to California, I drove from Los Angeles to San Fransicso. Happily we were able to were able to stop by the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium along the way.  I was so taken with the jellyfish That I could have watched them all day. Their beautiful luminessence, their graceful movement and delicate colours... So much inspiration. 

[jellfy fish photos by Jessica Reid]

[dress from Ellie Saab's Fall 2014 Couture collection via]

[Pillowme Jellyfish Pillow, $40.]

[QiDesign Aurelia Lamp, $495.]

[Heather Marchand's paper jellies from Covet Garden Issue 4. Photo by Kim Jeffery.]