Monday, 6 September 2010

Even celebs love 'My Enemy, My Friend'! - Catch Up With Whats Been Going On..

Well a lot has been going on over the last few weeks and although I cannot fit it all in this little blog box, I will try and share with you as much as possible.

I am very excited because I got to meet a few of the Big Brother housemates yesterday at a charity event. Albeit, in my pyjamas! (long story as to why I was in my pyjamas but let me tell you it was embarrassing!)

I'm a big fan of Big Brother because I love people watching. I found this years one extremely entertaining because there were so many great characters, as well as one of the most genuine characters I think we've ever seen on reality TV - Josie. I dont think I've come across one person who doesn't like Josie; her accent, her modesty and just how unbelievably genuine she is.

I also got to meet the lovely Govan on my travels and Sam Pepper was present too, causing havok as usual - gotta love him! Govan and my dog, Milo had a little love affair and fell in love, by the time I had to take Milo home he wouldn't leave Govan to get in the car - he doesnt do this with anyone so Govan must be special! I've promised them that they can see each other again!

Some of the housemates took an interest in my book :) yay! And I've uploaded a picture of Josie and Sam Pepper holding it. Josie and Govan started reading theirs yesterday so I look forward to hearing their views on it.

It has only been 4 months since the book was published but it takes a long time to get the word out there. PR is a tough job these days with so many books being published but luckily I am starting to get a steady following from people all over the world which makes me so happy. I have received emails from USA, Australia, Eastern Europe, Israel and South Africa. It is also starting to make its way into the world of celebrity and I have had a few requests from actors, singers and people in the media to send them the book. Lets hope that this carries on and my story continues to get out there. Dont forget if you'd like to order a copy just go to Amazon and type in 'My Enemy My Friend' or Lauren Vaknine.

There is a very important message that I am trying to send out with this book, and that is to help children with childhood illnesses to deal with their illnesses emotionally from as early on as possible. My resentment towards my illness led me to a very bad place and it took me a long time to find my way back. I still have arthritis but I work at it every single day through homeopathy, meditation, positive thinking, affirmations and power of the mind. I do not take any conventional medication because I believe that everything starts and ends in the mind - our minds are capable of anything. It is my aim to help children with childhood illnesses - and their families - to deal with their illnesses and get emotional help from early on.

I have had meetings at the Houses of Parliament and I am trying, along with MP David Amess, to pass a bill whereby families of children with all childhood illnesses get offered counselling from diagnosis onwards. I believe this can prevent many peoples lives from ending up going down the wrong path simply because emotionally they cannot deal with the strain of their illness.

Next week is the official re-naming of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. It is going to be called the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine. The hospital have kindly invited me along to attend the evening where all patrons and members, including Twiggy and hopefully Prince Charles will be in attendance. Prince Charles kindly asked for a copy of my book a few months ago so hopefully I will finally be able to ask him what he thought of it. We hope that the new name for the hospital will attract more people, people who may not know about homeopathy but trust the term 'integrated medicine'. The hospital does of course offer so much more than just homeopathy. It is a hospital for people who choose not to use, or whose bodies do not accept conventional medicines and would like to take the alternative route. I would recommend it to any person with any illness. It has helped me more than I can express.

Speaking of homeopathy, another piece of news I would like to share is that I have officially been named Trustee for the British Homeopathic Association and I am so excited to get started with them.

Lastly, I would like to wish all my fellow Jews a happy, healthy and prosperous new year filled with only love, light and positivity. And to all those of you who are not Jewish, I wish these blessings to you too.

Love, light and positivity always,

Lauren xx

My Buying Behaviour

Lets talk about buying behaviour, what makes us buy furtniture where we buy it? I buy my furniture from where ever I see something I like! I do find that the best places to pick up unique pieces are abroad because the cultures are so different that you are bound to pick up one of a kind pieces. I have a lot of family in South Africa so whenever I go there I pick up another 'jungle looking' piece. Wooden animal pieces like giraffes are the nicest and they sit nicely against a neutral background and wooden floor to give it a little something extra. If I wasn’t so against animal skins and furs I'd pick up a Springbok rug as I think they look beautiful, but I wouldn’t buy fur.

The great thing about being an interior designer is that I always have so many ideas but I couldnt possibly redecorate my own house with every new idea, so I get to explore them with clients' projects. It always seems that the minute I finish decorating, I already have so many new ideas and would like to start all over again! My buying evolves by what is around me I guess, and what inspires me at the time. I was talking about nature inspired design in the last blog, and that is what inspired the bedroom of my last design. After studying Feng Shui, I did learn that having nature inspired design can ground you and is good for the bedroom which is why I decided on Cole and Son's Woods wallpaper. I also have a little water feature in my garden which I love! The way in which I shop always evolves because I am constantly finding new places to shop. I love finding new furniture or fabric shops and sometimes I'll go on a little road trip just to see a certain shop I've heard if it interests me.

I do think that the media have influenced our buying styles because I subscribe to a few of the Home magazines and if I see certain things I like in them I might go and have a look myself or check them out on the internet. The magazines and internet give me inspiration and teach me about new places that I may not have heard of. They also keep you up to date with exhibitions or design days that are good to know about.
I think the way you shop also changes depending on how much money you have. Most people buy the majority of their furniture at IKEA, and don’t get me wrong, you can do IKEA right if you try and they have some lovely pieces! But if you can afford to spend a bit more, not only can you travel more and pick up pieces abroad, you are also able to explore a bit further and look in shops you may not have looked at before - this definately makes a difference. Unfortunately, good furniture can be very expensive but there are ways of mixing new, expensive pieces with pieces from IKEA and old, antique or vintage finds. I still shop in flea markets and antique fairs and have found my most beautiful pieces from there. I like occasional chairs and like to buy them antique and re upholster them in a unique fabric, something like Designers Guild, Osborne & Little or Sanderson.

New Home Trends

What I like about new home trends at the moment is that you can literally pick an era of time and incorporate that into your design. Every decade really had their own style that is so easily identified, and I think we have now got to a point where, when people look back on 2010, there will be no set design, it will be a lot of different decor styles infused together. At the 2009 exhibitions, we saw a lot of 50's and 60's inspired furniture, but with its own twist.

I have also noticed a strong revival of Art Deco which was first introduced in the 1920's and was then revived in the 80's but this time, though it remains elegant and classy, it has a slight 60's twist to it which makes it fun! A fabulous example of this is furniture made by a wonderful Portugese company called Boca Do Lobo. Their 'soho' cabinet is a perfect example of modern eclecticism. It uses drawers in different shapes and colours. Their Guggenheim drinks cabinet is one of the most beautiful pieces of furniture I've ever seen (picture below somewhere in a previous blog) in its Zebrano wood. I connect with them because their styles are so mixed yet so contemporary at the same time - they are definately creating 'furniture of the future'.

There is a lot of nature inspired furniture, fabric and wallpapers about this year too. Cake stands with tiers held together by steel dragonflies (check out, Cole & Son's Woods wallpaper and many other fabric and wallpaper companies using leaves, trees, animals and many other designs inspired by nature. In an age where we are trying to live more 'green', this is really appealing. It is also very grounding to have a home that has many natural aspects including water features, which Feng Shui believes brings wealth into the house.

Seletti are another company who I think make beautiful modern furniture with a twist, check out their website and have a look at the Assemblage Tricot cabinet and their 'Trip' collection. While on the subject of modern furniture makers with a twist, I think Johnny Egg is the one to look out for innovation. His 'Twisted' and 'Oscar' side tables are one of a kind.
One more company I really admire for their creativity are Andrew Martin. They really revived the 'Best of British' design schemes this year with their Beatles cushions and all things Union Jack!

A New Home

I started to wonder, if I could design my perfect house in my head what would it look like? I discovered that it is a very fun game to play so here goes: Firstly, the heart of the home, the kitchen. I have always liked traditional English type kitchens and I love fresh whites with blues. There was a Kitchens and Bathrooms supplement with Homes and Gardens magazine a while ago and they showed a kitchen made by Smallbones of Devizes (who I think are the best people for kitchens). It was my ideal kitchen; the colours, the space, the design - all of it. I would have white cabinets all around with an Aga, possibly a funky colour one or it could be white with different coloured polka dots on it. There would be a galley island in the middle with pots and pans hanging from the top - traditional English style. There would be a breakfast area with a table which would have a white table and chairs covered with blue and white fabric. There would be white shutters and the kitchen would over look the garden. The blind would match the fabric over the chairs and in another corner there would be space for a few shelves and a sofa and large armchair - on the shelves I'd have funky objects and there would be union jack cushions on the custom made upholstered sofas. Instead of following tradition with the blue and white bone china everywhere, I think I would go a bit more colourful - still classic styles - with the crockery. I saw these gorgeous mugs and plates in John Lewis so those would be on show in a cabinet that had glass windows. Also a toaster with polka dots maybe to match the Aga.

The living area would ideally be set down a few steps from the dining area in a separate room to the kitchen. I like the idea of having sofas a few steps down so you feel like you're low down. I think I'd use muted grey colours with splash's of other colour. Roche Bobois have beautiful furniture for living and dining rooms. I love their Veranda dining chairs (though I cannot seem to source a picture) so would probably use those around a more classic looking table - as much as I love the Saarinen table, I feel it is too modern. My living area that is down a few steps would probably have a slight art deco feel to it, but still relaxed.

I would also like to have a separate sitting room on a higher floor which has a glass ceiling. It would be a meditation and chillout room. Low sofas and cushions of all different colours all over the room, possibly Moroccan style, with insence sticks and chillout music playing. The ceiling of that room would all be glass and one large window that looks out to the view would also be all glass, with the option to close a blind, or a fabric curtain that matches the cushions.

My bedroom would be decorated from start to finish with Graham and Green furniture and a bed from 'And so to bed'. Deep golds and beiges, to keep it neutral and calm, with one of G&Gs gorgeous cabinets and a lovely chandelier and heavy drapes. A nice silk wallpaper would work there too and if I had the option, the bed would be facing a large glass window where you could see out to the greenery. Being close to nature always makes me feel more relaxed and grounded and is good for meditation.

My Indirect Sources of Inspiration for Home Furnishing & Design

Hey everyone, this is an interesting topic I think, because inspiration for home furnishing and design can come from absolutely anywhere! I always see houses in films and think 'ooh i love that' or 'no, not for me'. For instance, I'm sure you've all seen Home Alone... weird example I know, but I love that house! It’s so homely and is a real family home. I love the reds and greens, its a house that will always look fab but especially at Christmas! The key words I would use to describe the inspiration for a house like that is ‘burnt toast’. I can just imagine the smell of nearly burnt toast and fresh coffee wafting up the stairs from the kitchen, making it even more homely and appealing. The deep reds, greens, neutrals and different use of fabrics give it a really warm feel too.

My favourite era for interior design is the Georgian era. Not only did they decorate the interiors really beautifully - less grand than the Victorians but still plush with neutral colours - the structure of the houses were highly attractive.
Speaking of the Victorians though, Buckingham Palace was finished during the reign of Queen Victoria and she moved in not long after her coronation. It is a really stunning palace, very grand of course, being a palace, but the colours, textures and furniture are things I really love. Although I wouldn’t necessarily design a whole project like Buckingham palace, I would take aspects of it and add those. For example, the rugs are designs we still use today, and I would use the sofas with the same frame but maybe upholster them in a more modern fabric. Although I do feel that the modern, minimalistic look of the 90s and 00s are leaving us, making way for a revival of 20's and 80's art deco and incorporating the grandeur of Victorian and Georgian times.

Speaking of Art Deco, I LOVE IT!!!! I don’t think there is anything quite like the glamour of the 1920s. The glamour of the 1920’s was mirrored in every aspect of life from interiors and fashion to gangsters and Hollywood. Elegance and decadence are key words that spring to mind to describe this era and if i could, I would design every project with art deco aspects!

Another place I get inspiration from is fashion designers, like Vivienne Westwood. Her unique quirky style is basically saying 'I don’t conform to any rules, I will mix and match what I like as per my mood' and I love this! Just like interiors, why can’t we take vintage 20s or 50s pieces of furniture and mix them with a modern wallpaper or fabric?? It’s the best way to design in my opinion. I have a book called 'Fashion Designers at Home' and it is the most wonderful book. It shows you the houses of 21 fashion designers from Dolce and Gabbana to Elie Saab. Their interiors really reflect their personalities and their fashion which is great and I have managed to get great inspiration from there.

My favourite glamourpuss of all time is Grace Kelly. I recently went to the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum of all Grace Kelly’s clothes including jewellery. By looking at her style, you can really pick up some inspiration for design, especially seeing as she ended up being a princess living in a palace in Monaco. She is the quintessential fairytale bride!

Lastly, there are some beautiful restaurants out there, especially in London. I love Sketch in Conduit Street, really quirky design I recently went to Wales and went to a beautiful restaurant that was within a revamped barn. Very country-like! So as you can see, my tastes vary from glam to country, but as long as I’m getting inspiration for design it doesn’t matter where it comes from  x

My sources of inspiration for home furnishing

I haven't written a design blog for a while so thought I'd get a few out there. In this one I'll talk about my favourite hotspots for buying home furnishings.

Being an interior designer, there are lots of shops and brands I have discovered along the way, but if I had to choose 3 favourite ones they would be as follows:
Designers Guild:
They are based in Kings Road in Chelsea (London) and they make the most incredible fabrics and wallpapers. Tricia Guild is the very talented lady who started it and she has lots of books to give inspiration. Their fabrics make great use of colour and texture and can be used for all types of moods, rooms or spaces. I used mostly Designers Guild fabrics in my Squint custom made sofa. It was made patchwork style and looked fab. I decorated a house where we really wanted the upstairs hallway to be beautiful and not just a boring place you pass through so we used a gorgeous Designers Guild wallpaper.

The second place I love to shop for homeware is Anthropologie in Regent Street. They have the most wonderful pieces of homeware, especially kitchen stuff. I recently bought a set of tea towels (completely overpriced for tea towels and most people wouldn’t appreciate it but they are just gorgeous!). It is a set of 3 towels. The first one says 'They met and fell in love', the second one says 'They got married', and the 3rd one says 'They lived happily ever after'. I will upload a pic so you can see how sweet they are. I also bought some gorgeous colourful plates and table cloths there. The table cloths are great for garden tables and really cheer up al fresco dining in the summer. (We don’t get much summer in London so its good to make the most of it when its here!)

Another place I love to shop is Cheslea Harbour Design Centre They have 70 showrooms under one roof and over 120 brands. Very expensive but oh so beautiful. They place itself is just designed so beautifully and is so peaceful to spend a day there mooching around. If ever there was a way to wind down, Chelsea Harbour is it for me! Some of my favourite showrooms there include Baker Furniture, which is quite 'classic English gentleman' style. I also absolutely love love love Porta Romana for lighting. Donghia and Fox Linton also have great pieces and fabrics.

1 last favourite to add to the list: It shouldn’t always be about expensive, overpriced furniture and fabrics. Being creative with design also means finding one off vintage or antique pieces at flea markets, antique fairs or antique shops. Alfies Antique Market is wonderful for some great buys, as is Spitalfields Market where there is a great shop called Elemental. After Noah in Islington has some great buys and Decorexi (also in Islington) is somewhere I think I have shopped at for nearly every project I have worked on!