Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Oh What To Do?

World Record Hug

Did you know that 21st January is National Hugging Day? WTF I hear you say!! Doesn't it seem you can create a "day" for any whimsy that takes your fancy? This one however does lead to something potentially interesting...

At 7am on Thursday 19th January, a World Record Hug attempt shall take place at London's St Pancras Station. Sounds fun? You can still (just!) apply to take part, but choose your partner wisely. To break the record you're going to have to hug for over 24 hours and 34 minutes!

Dale Chihuly @ The Halcyon Gallery

Image courtesy of The Halcyon Gallery

I find the work of Chihuly incredibly inspiring. From his initial glass forms of which his mother daubed "The Uglies", Chihuly's sculptural works are now installed in hotels, galleries and institutions around the globe.

The Halcyon Gallery is currently showing a major exhibition of Chihuly's work and has also collated the artists sketches and paintings alongside the glass sculptures, so a visit will glimpse a true insight into the mind of this creative glass artist.
Halcyon Gallery, 144-146 New Bond St, London until 31st March 2012

Design Hero - Achille Castiglioni

I can remember when I was 18, I was sat at work, my first job in a real design studio. It was my lunch break and I was flicking through a magazine which had a feature on design icons. I flipped the page and saw this image of Achille Castiglioni. A big smile came to face. When I started to research him and his work I always felt a sense of fun, both in his designs and his personality.

Mezzandro Stool for Zanotta 1957. Image c/o Studio Museum Achille Castiglioni

A trained architect, he first began working with his 2 brothers in the 1940's, exploring urban planning and industrial design. I can imagine working alongside your siblings (all with lyrical Italian tongues!) could be frustrating, but I'm sure this must be where his working philosophy took hold. Debating and exploring new ideas must have resulted in lots of good humored banter! One of my favorite Castiglioni quotations resonates strongly with me, and I try to abide by his words in my own work:

“There has to be irony, both in design and in the objects. I see around me a professional disease of taking everything too seriously. One of my secrets is to joke all the time.”

The Sprugen Blau lamp, in collaboration with his brother Pier Giacomo, was his first design for the renowned lighting firm Flos in 1961. This piece today looks fresh and modern, but just think at the time how futuristic and daring it would have seemed. Pushing boundaries and exploring possibilities resonates through all Achille Castiglioni's products and, of course, a sense of fun.

Sprugen Blau Pendant & Arco Floor Lamp both Flos

Castiglioni worked throughout his life, commissioned by the leading design firms across the globe, including Zanotta, Alessi, Kartell, Poltrona Frau and many more. He gained many awards for his design achievements, producing 100's of designs in his lifetime, many of which are still manufactured today.

Studio Musem Achille Castiglioni

Castligioni passed away in Milan on December 2, 2002. Today his studio serves as a museum to his life's work and teachings. Arranged guided tours are available by his wife, Irma and daughter, Giovanna who is also curating something of a travelling Castiglioni studio, "At Castiglioni's Home - A Place For Everything & Everything In It's Place". Perhaps somewhat in effort to raise the funds it needs to stay open, a reason therefore (if you need one) to take time to visit Studio Museum Achille Castiglioni when you are next in Milan.

There is much more information on the Achille Castiglioni website with regards to his biography of work, projects and publications.

A Lot Can Happen

A lot can happen, as they say. So what has happened to me? Well... a lot! In fact, just about everything has changed, and I think it's for the better!

Soulful Toaster has a whole new outlook and direction too...

For a long time I would sit and think, "one day I will have a little shop and I'll restore and sell vintage furniture"....

Then, something happened and I thought,
"what am I waiting for"?!

So, I've been running around finding lots of retro goodies, cleaning them, fixing, up-cycling and painting.I'm not quite there yet, a long way and a lot of hard work to go, but, I'm really enjoying things and have had lots of lovely feedback on the items, which is really encouraging.

I truly hope this year will bring me good luck and opportunities and I can continue to do the things which make me happy. And I wish the same for all of you

Been Away So Long!

I didn't realise quite how long it had been since I'd written a post on the Soulful Toaster blog. (shame face!).

So I've said it before, but now I'm saying it again.... I will write more! :)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Willowlamp has been around since 2005, but they are new to me and feel like a breath of fresh air! A testament I guess to the design duo Adam Hoets and Sian Elliot who formed the company and together create the beautiful lighting designs. Sian is also a jeweller, and I think you do see this in each piece as they truely feel like jewellery pieces for the home. They create light and warmth, but also make a real statement and hang as objects of beauty to be admired.

My favourite (at the moment!) is The Faraway Tree chandelier. The form from the outside is organic and unusual, then peep underneath and you see the true beauty of the design, showing the tree branches fanning out and dripping with metal. It would be just stunning at the top of a simple staircase.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Herve van der Straeten - Modern, Luxury Craft

I've long admired the works of Herve van der Straeten, as they seem to me the most beautiful representation of luxury modern design embracing traditional craftsmanship and expertise.

What I find most exciting is that he continues to design such contemporary pieces, and yet they have an instant timelessness. This is true in both the furniture & lighting items and the stunning jewellery collections.

Furniture & lighting are available through Ralph Pucci International and jewellery from Blue Velvet Boutique, among others. For now though they will have to remain on the wish list...

Trumpeting in the New Year!

I know it's late, and I know there hasn't been a post since October, but am promising this - I will do better! So to get down to it....

I stumbled across the fantastic Gramophone Chandelier on the Leigh Harmer website and am just in love with the bold design! You look at it, and try to understand it, and then all you want is for it to burst into song!

The Gramaphone piece has been exclusively designed for Leigh Harmer by the talented Alex Randall. A browse through her website is like opening a box of hidden treasures, I could write pages but it's probably best if you just take a look for yourself...