The-Dean

Who amongst us hasn’t fantasised about the bookish glamour of elite American colleges and dorms characterised in Hollywood films and TV sitcoms? I know for me it’s the functional but homely interiors featured in these narratives that really set off my daydreaming – nestled in a quintessentially American university campus with green and sprawling lawns dotted with historic buildings designed to inspire learning – bliss!

If academic charm is your thing, then you will love the interiors of The Dean, a new boutique hotel in Providence, Rhode Island, home to renowned educational institutions such as Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design.

A 52-room hotel in the heart of the Providence’s Downcity historic district, room categories are named such - The Kin, The Classmates, The Patrons, The Mates, The Gang, The King, The Guardian Suite and The Heights - working their way up from dorm style bunk-beds, to elite connected rooms on the top floor of the hotel.

Each room is filled with custom furniture from the New England area – craftwork from local purveyors, bath products made with native plants and herbs and beds are dressed in luxurious, Massachusetts-based Matouk linens and blankets from Maine’s Brahms Mount. 

Not purely dedicated to academic study – the hotel has a number of stylish bars and eateries – German restaurant Faust’s Hofbrauhaus and hotel bar The Magdalenae Room are designed to keep guests sated and entertained, while local coffee roaster The Bolt has set up shop in the lobby. Here, you will also find Providence’s first and only karaoke lounge, The Boombox!

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All images courtesy of The Dean Hotel and Ash NYC

May-Design-Series

& Tradtion / Bethan Gray

Unable to make any international trade shows this year because of my pregnancy [I am seething with jealousy over my Instagram feed from Milan Design Week right now] I have been looking for any opportunity for design inspiration closer to home.

Back for its second year, May Design Series is a new design show which aims to tie up the European show cycle with exciting new design products, spark conversations, inspire and inject a little bit of fun into the trade show experience

Held in the Excel Centre in London, this year the trade show is comprised of five design districts: The Furniture Show, Lighting, Decor, DX [Design Excellence] and Kitchen + Bathroom.

Having missed out on the action at Milan Design Week, the show still promises appearances from the cream of the crop. Among those debuting new collections are young Danish company & Tradition, iconic British designer Bethan Gray, Italian furniture company Casamania, innovative wallpaper brand Cole and Son, exciting new rug company Front and award winning British furniture brand James UK.

Inspiring talks will be held throughout the event, like - Interior Trends: Enduring or Fads, chaired by Carole King and Arianna Trapani, co-editors of Heart Home Magazine and interior stylist Pippa Jameson, 20 Things You Didn’t Learn in Design School lead by Architect, interior designer and, most recently, TV presenter Daniel Hopwood and Spaces at Work, dissecting the future of workplace design.

The May Design Series will take place from 18th – 20th May at London’s ExCeL exhibition centre. Entry is free – Register here.

This was a Sponsored Post.

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Casamania / Cole and Son / Front/ James UK

…it would be rocking these ridiculously beautiful accessories – in fact I have a mind to just get them for myself… or for my baby…!

Adding to its pet product collection DOnG at Milan Design Week this week, Japanese accessories brand Sfera is launching new products designed for dogs and those who admire them. In the collection are exquisite copper and brass dry food caddies, handcrafted walnut wood brushes and dog toys, woven dog beds and brass trimmed dog beds, handmade dog bowls and kidskin and calfskin collars in stylish hues.

Chowtime_junior Donut-dog-bowls CucciaSnooze-Junior- SproutBrush Bone-&-Branch-dog-toys Sleigh-dog-bed CeramicDogBowl Sainte-Anne-dog-collars

What is it about Spring and its charged tendrils which permeate sneakily under thresholds and curl through the cracks in windows to make us feel restless and impatient for the new. Is it a natural instinct of re-birth and renewal that resounds in our bones like in animals and plants?

A literal sweeping of cobwebs, I am all about the Spring update. It is the bane of my husband’s life that there is a constant flux of homeware products in our household – I am forever buying new glassware and tableware [luckily for me he breaks a lot of it] and if something hangs around for more than two years and is looking a bit knackered [cheap bedside tables i'm looking at you] out it goes.

I believe it’s not my fault and re-invention is in my blood. Every Spring since I was a child my grandmother in Calcutta has re-painted her entire home, re-upholstered her furniture and updated her soft furnishings including curtains for a new season – now that’s my kind of lady!

So in homage to a new season, here are five of my Spring essentials that will go a long way to make your home feel refreshed even if you can’t afford an entire image re-haul.

FermLivingPlanters

I have had my eye on Ferm Living’s mid-century style Plant Stands since their launch this Winter. I’ve always had an issue with plant pots cluttering up window sills, especially since we have a lot of blinds and this very retro and elegant way of displaying plants seems the perfect solution. The Plant Stands come in two heights priced from 30 Euros. The Brass Hexagon Pots are sold separately and priced from 36 Euros.

ToastStonewarePlate

Tableware is my Achilles’ heel and frankly I don’t have enough of it to my liking. The Eve collection at Toast is constantly evolving in seasonal hues and although pricey at £28 for a Dinner Plate, these large plates look great as serving dishes. With a juicy matt pink top glaze and partially glazed underside it’s just the right amount of pretty to brighten up a buffet table at a gathering.

PBTeen

As much as I like things, the frequent rotation of items [by this I mean the inexpensive fun stuff, textiles, crockery and decor] at home means we never feel cluttered – because we live in a flat, I work really hard to make sure that we do not have more of what we can use. Bedding is one of those things – I buy one set of bedding that I really love and wash, dry immediately and use it to death. Bedding, thrifty and fun from Ikea or a splurge from John Lewis is the perfect Spring rejuvenator. Nothing better than sliding into clean new sheets. On my wishlist is this beautiful Metallic Stripe and Dots Set from £22 at Pottery Barn Teen [who ship to the UK]. Part of a collection inspired by whimsical vintage Americana by US stylists Emily Current & Meritt Elliot I love the simple graphic layering of the ever popular dots and stripes in a subtle metallic finish.

 

Version Retocada

I usually have very pared back taste but often an update deserves something crazy to add to the mix. I love a new water pitcher for the warm months, it just makes my day seeing something pretty and eccentric dotted in the middle of a sophisticated spread. This pretty and playful Leaf Jug is 29.99 at Zara Home made of luminous green glass with raised leaf details it makes me want to clap my hands in glee! I must have it! Great value as usual at Zara Home for such an original piece.

Anthropologie

Finally, there is a strong division of camps that think wind-chimes are either super beautiful or super creepy. I am of the opinion that they evoke memories of lazy summer days in English gardens with a tinkling sound carried down through the thick summer air from a neighbouring garden – or beachside bars on exotic holidays as the sun sets and the evening air passes through the trees - essentially all things good. Anthropologie have an array of beautiful chimes in store this season from stoneware and jute Teaflower Chimes priced from £18, to exotic Manali Charm Bells from £14 in varying metal shapes.

PBN

Swiftly becoming a highlight in my yearly calendar, last week I attended the 4th annual Penguin Bloggers Night. Held as usual on the lofty top floor of Foyles Bookstore in Charing Cross, the evening serves as a showcase of the publisher’s key books for that year with a programme of notable authors reading excerpts from them.

Aside from tables piled with delectable books and Penguin totes to greedily fill, the night is a great chance to talk to favourite authors and for me to discover books that are out of my comfort zone – i.e not historical fiction or sinister gothic tales.

I also love the pianist who has become a staple at the events who intros each reading with a catchy theme tune – my favourite was the intro for Elizabeth Fremantle’s new historical book ‘Sisters of Treason’ she walked on to Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ – naturally. Sheer brilliance.

Here are some of the books and readings from the night that caught my eye and ears.

ElizabethIsMissing

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healy

A mesmerising reading and no doubt multi-layered debut novel by young and talented author Emma Healy - Maud, an ageing grandmother, is slowly losing her memory-and her grip on everyday life.

Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger. But no one will listen to Maud-not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend. Publication Date, June 2014

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Man At The Helm by Nina Stibbe

This reading had everyone in stitches… nostalgic and funny, Man At The Helm follows a divorced mother and her children, including nine-year-old Lizzie, in the 1970s as they move to a village in the English countryside. All alone and shunned by the villagers, Lizzie’s mother becomes a drunk and a playwright. Worried about becoming wards of court, Lizzie and her sister decide to write letters to the suitable men in the area in order to find a man at the helm for their mother.

After reading up more about this author, none of whose books I had heard of before – I stumbled onto her much acclaimed biographical book published earlier this year Love, Nina: Dispatches from Family Life which sounded equally hilarious. Then I realised I hardly ever, in fact ever, read funny books. I have resolved to begin. Publication Date, August 2014

Everland

Everland, Rebecca Hunt

Two groups, almost a hundred years apart, find themselves on the same desolate Antarctic island in this tense and compelling novel.

1913: Dinners, Millet-Bass, and Napps – three men bound not by friendship, but by an intense dependence founded on survival – will be immortalised by their decision to volunteer to scout out a series of uncharted and unknown islands in the Antarctic, a big, indifferent kingdom.

2013: Brix, Jess, and Decker – three researchers with their own reasons for being far from home – set out on a field trip to the same ancient lumps of rock and snow, home to nothing but colonies of penguins and seals.

Under the harsh ultraviolet light, as all colours bleach out, and the world of simple everyday pleasures recedes, they unknowingly begin to mirror the expedition of 100 years ago. Publication Date, March 2014

SistersofTreason

Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Fremantle

A delicious Tudor drama [with an amazing theme tune] Sister’s of Treason is a gripping tale about  two sisters who tread as dangerously close to the crown as their tragic sister, Lady Jane Grey, executed after just nine days on the throne.

When Lady Jane Grey is executed by her cousin Mary Tudor, it is court painter Levina Teerlinc who  helps Jane’s young sisters, Mary and Catherine,  survive the Queen’s reign. But when the hot-headed  Elizabeth inherits the crown, court life becomes  increasingly treacherous for the Grey girls . . . Publication Date, May 2014

A few other books on the table published last year or earlier this year which caught my eye…

penguinbooks

Em and the Big Hoom, Jerry Pinto. In a tiny flat in Bombay Imelda Mendes – Em to her children – holds her family in thrall with her flamboyance, her manic affection and her cruel candour. Her husband – ‘The Big Hoom’ – and her two children must bear her ‘microweathers’, her swings from laugh-out-loud joy to dark malevolence, and her frequent wish to die.

The Violet Hour, Katherine Hill . A love story that begins with the end of a marriage, The Violet Hour follows a 21st century American family through past and present, from a lavish New York wedding to the family funeral home in suburban Washington, from a drunken PTA party to a scene of unexpected public violence.

The Strangler Vine, M.J. Carter Calcutta 1837. The East India Company rules India – or most of it; and its most notorious and celebrated son, Xavier Mountstuart, has gone missing. William Avery, a down-at-heel junior officer in the Company’s army, is sent to find him, in the unlikely company of the enigmatic and uncouth Jeremiah Blake. A more mismatched duo couldn’t be imagined, but they must bury their differences as they are caught up in a search that turns up too many unanswered questions and seems bound to end in failure.

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