FloraForager

These days if anyone asks me where I go to find inspiration for my work and really somewhere to find ideas that are on that exciting cusp of discovery  – I always say Instagram. You can get wonderfully lost in a trail of discovery from click through to click through and in this very way I stumbled across the magical account of Flora Forager.

Flora Forager aka Bridget Beth Collins – is a botanical artist from Seattle who has been peppering my feed with her playful and skilful arrangements of flowers and injecting it with a dose of permanent summer.

To my awe, Bridget’s story showed the true power of Instagram, as it turned out her business began only a few months ago and just by posting her addictive arrangements she has garnered more than 90.5K followers and grown her business a hundred-fold. I quizzed her about her very new business. Follow her on Instagram @flora.forager

Bridget

Credit: Jaimie Spiro

Tell me about Flora Forager.

Flora Forager began in the Fall of 2014 (only a few months ago) when I was contacted by the editor of the Chalkboard Mag to feature some of my floral mandalas.  I had made a few for my personal instagram.  She told me I ought to start an instagram with just my floral work, and that she knew of people who had made careers out of selling prints of their instagrams and collaborations.I laughed and thought it was a little bit silly, but made up Flora Forager off the top of my head late one night and started posting some pieces to it. I had no idea how much people were craving flowers in their lives.  It took like wildfire.
Flora4
 

What is your background?

I majored in Theatre at Seattle Pacific University. I have been painting professionally and been a full time mom to my three wily boys for the last eight years. I grew up in a sea town called Edmonds just north of Seattle and would practically live in the woods when I was a child. My mother is an avid gardener and my father is an adventurer and biology wiz so I grew up with a love and appreciation for nature.

 

FloraFrida
 

What is your business?

I collaborate with brands and sell prints of my work. My husband is the silent partner behind the website, orders, and shipping.  Flora Forager would only be an Instagram account without him! He’s the math and organisation guy and I’m the creative and social gal.  We are a great team.

FlorsHouse
 

How would you describe your very unique aesthetic?

Creative, detailed arrangements of botanicals, showcasing the ordinary or unusual in surprising ways. To put it more lightly, I “paint” with flowers.

FloraGiraffe
FloraShower2
 

What is your inspiration?

My inspiration is nature itself. Beautiful designs and patterns can be found in the leaves and petals themselves. I go on walks in my neighbourhood gardens, meadows, and forests and am continually enamoured and delighted. I’ll see feathers in petals or scales in succulents and wont rest until I’ve made them so.

Flora3
Where do you source your flowers from?I have a little garden in the city that never ceases to amaze me with its amount of flowers, and my mother has a huge rose garden with 70 different varieties of roses. The area I live has such an abundance of flowers and plants. I feel like practically anything can grow in the northwest, save for desert plants.

A walk through a green belt or a stroll down the street can give you a full bouquet of flowers. I love finding overgrown abandoned gardens with flowers trailing over the fence.  It doesn’t take much to create one of my pieces, just a few flowers usually. I’ll buy anything really rare or prized from the market, but everything else is foraged.

FloraBulbs2

 
Where do you work? My attic studio or my kitchen table.
 
How does Instagram play a part your business? Instagram IS my business! It’s where I post all of my photos, collaborations, and advertise my prints.  My website is kind of an extension of it.

Flora

 

 

CityBreak

I have just returned from a short but sweet first trip to a city that has experienced a renaissance in recent years.

Lisbon – Portugal’s capital city boasts a year round Mediterranean climate [it was a cat in the sun stretching 20 degrees this past weekend] old world European charm with cobbled streets and traditional shops plucked from the pages of Dickens, wooden trams and iron funiculars that still lurch and rumble their way amongst the city’s seven steep hills and a burgeoning hipster culture of bohemian bars and trendy eateries.

AirBnB

The reason for the getaway was to celebrate the upcoming wedding of my oldest friend. The celebration comprised of a tiny but perfectly formed party of three girlfriends together since the age of eleven, and though having been on group holidays every year for the past few decades – this was the first time we found ourselves as a trio.

With under three days to pack as much as we could in, Lisbon was good to us – providing ample and inspiring cobbled streets and architecture to gaze upon,  quaint squares with dreamy trickling fountains to meander through and the hot lazy sun on our backs as we did what we do best which is laugh and bicker and talk nonsense to our hearts content.

We flew from London Stanstead to the heart of Lisbon in under three hours. Staying in Bairro Alto the city’s main party district, we set up camp in a cute and quiet Airbnb studio 15 minutes from the airport with our very own terrace and stunning views of the city.

Rooftop

Day 1 The first day we took in the the lay of the land from our beautiful rooftop terrace, and indulged in our favourite thing to do on the first day of holiday, a lunch of fresh delicacies and wine from the local market. I feel this tradition always gives us the opportunity to quickly asses the neighbourhood whilst giving you time to wind down at home from an early morning flight.

We had a quick nap and then woke for an evening of bar crawling. We kicked off the night in a place I had read abut in my Wallpaper Guide ‘Park’ a converted car park rooftop with 180 degree view over the city.

The bar has an exciting clandestine feel accessed through the lift of a still working car park and that ‘is this it? no it can’t be.’ feeling that all the best finds have. The bar itself has a bohemian luxe aesthetic filled with wooden crate-like furniture and small potted trees to create the feeling of a garden. We sat in the enclosed but still panoramic indoor area – had giant glasses of wine and gin and tonics [they are generous with drinks in Lisbon] and ate their delicious gourmet burgers out of camping style tin bowls.

Park

Burger-1

The rest of the night was spent popping into bars we liked the look of and frankly all of them were good, with friendly bar staff, good large drinks, DJ’s playing eclectic jazz and to our pleasant surprise a fun-loving older crowd in their 50-60’s dancing and having a great time – a rarity in London bars.

Lisbon

Day 2 This mainly consisted of a morning of long walks in the sun to walk off our hangover. We had scheduled in a brunch at one of Lisbon’s beautiful and oldest patisseries Pastelaria Padaria Sao Roque which provided much needed sustenance with it’s strong coffee and Pastel de Natas – or egg custard tarts. These custard tarts proceeded to be constant fuel for the rest of the trip!

Patisserie

Next we walked and walked – took in the view at the ‘miradouros’ [view points], explored some great home-ware stores, sat and soaked up the sun in historic squares like the locals. We ate the most delicious lunch at Terra a vegetarian restaurant housed in an 18h century building and drank Sangria in the hush of their terrace garden.

We listened to bands playing in squares and bought a book from a travelling book store. Lisbon seems to have lots of these great surprise experiences dotted about that are vintage in aesthetic yet contemporary and fun and never seem to be trying too hard.

Lisbon

One of the most distinctive things about the city was its stunning tile work on the buildings known as azulejos which provided us with hours of inspiration and conversation.

The tiles decorate everything from walls of churches and monasteries, to palaces, ordinary houses, park seats, fountains, shops, and railway stations, often portraying scenes from the history of the country, showing its landmarks, or simply serve as street signs, nameplates, or house numbers.

Tiles

A Vida Portuguesa was a store that was on my list from my Wallpaper Guide too – well worth a visit, it sells the most fabulous artisanal Portuguese products, from kitchenware to soaps, candles, books and wooden kids toys.

VidaP

That night we spent the evening in Lisbon’s trendy dockside area which houses venues fashioned out of the shells of former 19th-century warehouses.

Kais was a much talked about restaurant during my research and serves modern Portuguese cuisine. A cavernous restaurant originally a warehouse for Lisbon’s beautiful trams – the interior combines gothic grandeur and industrial elements – the size and design is jaw-dropping.

Short but ever so sweet – Lisbon left us with a taste for more. We will be back with more to explore and most importantly with a good pair of walking shoes!

Kais

 

 

Spending this past month in India kicked off my new year with a wealth of design inspiration.

We spent three weeks hunkering down with family in Calcutta – a bustling Indian city nestled in West Bengal – known for its rich history of craft and talented artisans – from embroidery to sculpture and sketching to metal crafts.

Then a week in Mumbai one of India’s most exciting cities. Known as the gateway to India its aesthetic straddles the best of the east and west, resulting in an exquisite design landscape.

Here is a snapshot of inspiration from my travels from shops to eateries to family homes – all of which I will elaborate on in the weeks to come. Happy New Year!

Design Details1

Above: Block print fabric from Anokhi. Mirror at my grandmothers sisters home. A clay plate being decorated at Aarya’s First Rice ceremony by her grandmother using ground rice paste.

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Above: The ‘British’ marble lions that guard Victoria Memorial. R&D Laboratory at The Horticultural Gardens in Calcutta. Iconic buildings on Marine Drive, Mumbai. Pavements in Calcutta. Door handle display and knocker at The Corner Courtyard. Antique Mirror at The Taj Bengal.

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Above: Mumbai’s first luxury boutique hotel Abode. Mirror at Bungalow 8.  Pali Village Cafe, in Bandra. Last two images both Tote on The Turf restaurant, Mumbai.

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Above: Wall treatment and cool plant detail at a family home. Embroidered bangles at By Loom Calcutta. Ceramics and textiles at Sasha in Calcutta. Colonial interiors at the Bombay Gymkhana.

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Above: Etched brass floor treatment on the stairwell at Good Earth. Luxurious textiles at 85 Lansdowne. The balcony at our family home. A ghostly Victoria Memorial at night. My favourite detail at our family home – the marble floor with brass inlay.

 

RembrandtPressView

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to the press preview of ‘Rembrandt: The Late Works’ at The National Gallery which opens to the public today.

Each time I visit one of our city’s beautiful museums I never fail to be astounded by the sheer grandeur and rich detail of our galleries. The National Gallery looks out onto the cinematic vista of Trafalgar Square, which as Londoners we are quick to dismiss as a busy tourist trap, but it is a tourist trap with astonishingly good reason as witnessed from the gallery steps.

View

Inside, intricate floor mosaics and striking palatial architecture is mixed seamlessly with modern details as the galleries expand.

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Natonal Gallery Steps

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WomanSitting

But back to the exhibition. Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art and the most important in Dutch history.

Interested in capturing the world around him without prejudice, his works recorded the ordinary people, places and things he would have seen every day in Amsterdam.

Gallery

WomanBathingintheRiver

Having already suffered the early loss of his wife and three of their children, Rembrandt’s later years were burdened with bankruptcy, acrimonious legal proceedings with a former lover, and the loss of his common-law wife and only remaining son.

However, far from diminishing as he aged, Rembrandt’s creativity gathered new energy. The once-in-a-lifetime exhibition explores Rembrandt’s final years of painting when he achieved ultimate greatness.

Rem

Rembrandt2

Quietly breathtaking, the exhibition comprises of approximately 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints, revelling in Rembrandt’s iconic use of combined light and shadow.

From the moment you step into the hush of the first room filled with luminous self-portraits chronicling the last decade of Rembrandt’s life –  and his exceptional honesty in recording his own features as he aged – you are ensnared [it is worth visiting for just this room].

SelfPortraitWithTwoCircles

Drawn further and further into his expressions of intimacy, contemplation, conflict and reconciliation, I felt as though I was gazing upon familiar friends as I sat mesmerised by the tender depictions of the ‘Old Woman Reading a Book’ and ‘A Woman Bathing in a Stream’ and even ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Joan Deyman’ and I am itching to go back and sit with them again.

My photographs do none of the great artist’s luminous, multilayered and expressive masterpieces any justice so please go visit and gaze upon their spine-tingling beauty for yourselves.

Rembrandt, The Late Works
The National Gallery
Sainsbury Wing
15 October 2014 – 18 January 2015

 AnOldWomanReading

Exhibition  TheAnatomyLesson

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TheSamplingOfficials

Titus

Navigating London Design Festival with a four month old baby on the blistering September city streets was no mean feat, but hell bent on getting my design fix during the design worlds version of fashion week, I was determined to make it work! Here are my highlights from the week’s festivities.

Newbie Taiwanese Studio IF ‘s striking chandeliers immediately caught my eye at Tent London with its simple and intuitive beauty. Delicate copper and glass combined to create ethereal clouds of bubbles which when used with a pulley system lit up in a whimsical sequence.

British designer Sue Pryke launched a covetable collection of hand-carved Oak chopping boards with leather details in collaboration with outdoorsy brand Wild and Wood, I love their stylish simplicity.  Prices start from £30.

SuePyke

Cute contemporary hand mirrors by Czech brand Oaza.

Oaza

I wrote about being taken by illustrator Louise Wilkinson’s work last year when she had just launched her first collection, so it was lovely to rediscover her again at Tent. She exhibited a beautiful range of patterned textiles with a fun folksy feel which on closer inspection contained witty narratives hidden within!

Louise-Wilkinson
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