Cool Places, Design, fashion, Hong Kong, People

Cool…Poppy & Jules

29 March 2012

Cool…Poppy & Jules

Eclectic Cool is a big fan of women entrepeneurs who see a gap in the market and rush to fill it.  When Poppy & Jules founders, Hannette Otten and Julia Groenewegen, moved to Hong Kong, they saw a need for easy dresses  that were well priced and could be worn from the beach into cocktail hour.   They developed their concept concentrating on simple shapes and luxurious fabrics.

Unlike most fashion labels, they don’t follow trends but listen to the needs and wants of their customers. Each piece is thoroughly tested for fit, wear and care. Hannette and Julia also pay great attention to quality control, taking regular trips to China to check on the progress of their designs.

The label has been a runaway success as well as a runway success- Poppy & Jules is now sold in Australia, Europe and has recently expanded to Dubai.   They sell their designs through a limited range of stockists but concentrate on home and fair showings to maintain a level of intimacy with their clients.

This spring,  the designs are 60s inspired with bold black and white swirls, a la Biba and Bond Girl tunics to be worn over a swimsuit or paired with skinny white jeans.  A standout this season is the easy to wear navy and white trousers of jersey that would look great with a pair of wedges and a crisp white blouse.

You can check out more of Poppy & Jules on their website along with upcoming sales of their new season styles.

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Collecting, Cool Places, Interiors

Cool…eclectic interior 1

28 March 2012

Cool…eclectic interior 1

I have been searching out the best of eclectic interiors and am starting with this beauty- the home of Spanish interior designer, Isabel Lopez-Quesada.   I can’t tell you how much I love the living room.   Pure magic to mix 18c Venetian paintings with brightly colored mid-century chairs.   Even the use of velvets and bright leather with a bit of chinoiserie thrown in. Mismatched lamps, sigh.

I have been trying to convince my husband that an Eames chair would look great in our interior-even though our most beloved furniture and artworks have all been purchased with our country house in mind.   The second image might convince him.

This is an interior that has clearly evolved and follows no rules.  Complete aesthetic assurance.

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Cool Places, Design, People

Cool…a touch of neon

27 March 2012

Cool…a touch of neon

I’m not a huge fan of  an all white interiors- too clinical for me and not suited to a more eclectic style, but am loving the hint of neutral in this interior.   Maybe with the clear white lights of Norway the white works, but this beautiful interior is set off to perfection by the use of bright neons, warmer tans and greys.

This is the home of ceramicist, Silje Aune Eriksen, recently featured in Elle Decoration.  I am a bit of a sucker for exposed beams and cathedral ceilings too.

Yep, could definitely live here.

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Design, People

Cool…Jesse Rosten, Filmmaker

26 March 2012

Cool…Jesse Rosten, Filmmaker

These three films by filmmaker Jesse Rosten both make you look at two very  different subjects in a different way.

Fotoshop by Adobé is a spoof  about idealized beauty.  Based in Southern California- some would say the birthplace of contemporary beauty ideals, Rosten shows the tools at the disposal of any good photographer or photo editor.    As a blogger and photographer, I use Photoshop a lot and am always tempted to go crazy with all the tools at my disposal to make a better picture.   This spoof really brings home what hopeless ideals we live up to in terms of beauty.

The second is an advertisement about colon cancer, entitled the ‘Rockstars of Gastroenterology’, focussing on the positive action of screening in the prevention of cancer.   By the way, March is Cancer Awareness Month so encourage your loved one to go for that health check.

The final puts two of my all time favorite inventions together- like ham + cheese, Abbott + Costello and Joanne + Alan (that’s me + my love), velcro +ipads really do = 


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Art, Cool Places, Hong Kong

Rachel Hovnanian @ The Cat Street Gallery

24 March 2012

Rachel Hovnanian @ The Cat Street Gallery

If you ever watched any American TV,  you would be familiar with the stereotype the beauty queen. Part girl-next-door, part back-stabber, part BFF, part worst enemy ever, she would have been the one with the cute boyfriend, tons of acolyte girlfriends and tormentor of the underdog but slightly neurotic and very insecure. Clearly, this is about as stereotypical as it gets.

Artist Rachel Hovnanian is a Texan, but now lives and works in NYC. At face value, she seems to be the embodiment of the American ideals she portrays and comments upon. However, her acerbic commentary on a woman’s place in the world does leave you thinking about our obsession with youth culture and beauty. In fact, most would agree, that women are hardest on themselves.

Beauty queens are the central figures in this show and their ubiquitous presence in each of the piece makes you wonder if you are looking at yourself (albeit your bitchy alter-ego) or your nemesis from high school. The tableaux are at once familiar but abhorrent in their own way. In Get Him to Forgive You, bottles of tiny prescription drugs litter a bedroom. In No Prenup, the beauty queen, surrounded by shopping bags is faced by her (much older and balding) husband .
Even our attitude to food is examined: in Beauty and the Doughnuts, the queen is facing a selection of delectable (but forbidden) goodies locked up in a case. Look what happens to your bottom if you eat them, girls!

All of these images make me feel a little bit uncomfortable as we consider the role of  contemporary women and their place in the world. Themes of guilt, pleasure, insecurity within ourselves and our relationships, and our need for love and beauty are examined.   We are left with the impression that Hovnanian doesn’t think all that much of her  sisterhood. It makes for an interesting, if disturbing, show.

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Cool Places, Design

Cool…mad men & newsweek

23 March 2012

Cool…mad men & newsweek

The new season of Mad Men is about to start in the US after an almost 2 year break.   Though the plot lines are compelling and we love to sigh over the un-political correctness of it all, Mad Men is full of great design moments.  Remember Betty buying a turn of the century love seat and putting it into her fabulous new 60s interior, with her designer fainting in horror!

The clothes, the hair and makeup + fab interiors- though I would actually want to live in the 60s, in design it was one of those classic times.   If I had a time machine, I would go back and buy it all.

In honour of the new season of Mad Men, Newsweek collaborated with ad agencies to put together a retro inspired edition.   Some of the ads are originals from the 60s, while some have been designed specifically in the style.   You can see more ads here.


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Collecting, Cool Places, Design, Hong Kong, Shopping

Cool…scandi design

22 March 2012

Cool…scandi design

There is something about the clean lines and lack of fuss of Scandinavian designers that is so timeless and chic it makes their design and and designers so contemporary even though some pieces were designed in the mid 20c. Even when you buy the most humble product from IKEA, it has all the elements of great Scandinavian design (perhaps not the quality or longevity).

Apart from simplicity and a lack of fuss, what makes Scandinavian design so good?

1.  Use of material: the material quality of Scandinavian design is unsurpassed.   Using beautifully grained woods, gorgeous leathers and fabrics and even finely machined metal, the materials are chosen for their unadorned beauty, strength and longevity.

2. Original design: you can pick a Scandinavian design from a mile away.   There is something about the sinuous curves that is unbelievably seductive, just inviting you to look and touch.   These are pieces that make a room interesting, even if the rest of the room were empty.

3. Construction: the way a piece fits together is almost as important as the look of the piece itself.   The whole look of a chair can be ruined by a badly placed screw, or an ill fitting element.

4.  Balance and 360°: the design of a Scandinavian piece always looks as good from the back and sides as from the front.  No matter which direction you approach there is something to look at.  It is perfectly balanced and looks fit for its purpose with no unnecessary extras.

5. It lasts for ever (or indeed a very long time) &  you can’t beat 20thc scandinavian furniture for investment value.   As a collector and sometime dealer, I have been watching the prices of Scandinavian furniture for over 20 years.   I kick myself for not buying an Egg chair then as I see the prices go up and up.   Recently, I bought a new dining table, it was an investment of a lifetime and it is, of course, Danish and made by Fritz Hansen.   I have been watching this dining table rise in price for many years.  It cost an small fortune, but I know, if I ever were to sell it (which I won’t!) I will get my money back and probably make some too.

You will probably notice on my store that I have a lot of Scandinavian products, primarily by GUBI and MUUTO. If you haven’t seen them, head over to the store and take a look.   Both brands have been chosen because they make great products that will last for years.   They are gorgeous, high quality and very reasonably priced! You can’t say better than that.


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Art, Cool Places, London, People

Song Dong’s Waste Not

21 March 2012

Song Dong’s Waste Not

Song Dong’s installation Waste Not looks at first glance to be a collection of , well, rubbish.   His installation of  household waste and items that have not been used for decades is unbelievably vast.   Where did his mother store all this stuff?

However, there is something poignant about this collection, the iron baby clothes, the flattened toothpaste tubes and even parts of his house talk of a personal history in the background of the Cultural Revolution.  In order to fully understand this, it helps to live in China.

Everyday, I pass by the local hardware stores which are ubiquitous around here.   Home Depot  they are not.  Things are piled high and you tend to have to ask for everything (hand signals and drawings help).  It always amazes me that they can find anything.   Maybe it is a cultural thing, but the piles in Song Dong’s installation are so familiar to me.

In Chinese culture there is a principle of :saving and re-using things – wu jin qi yong – ‘waste not’.  In Hong Kong, it is slightly different, everything here is as new as can be…it shows your luck and prosperity.  Old things are discarded.   However, in China a few years ago things were different.

This exhibition shows Song Dong’s mothers fight for survival, where Mao’s reforms could mean famine.  This is not hoarding- in the western ‘unbalanced mind’ kind  of way- it truly is living from hand to mouth. Her collecting was also a way to fill the gap of her husband’s death in 2002.  When the artist suggested making an art installation from the collection, she was pleased, saying ” Keeping those things was useful, wasn’t it?”


Waste Not is at the Barbican Art Gallery, London EC2, from 15 February to 12 June

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Cool Places, Design, People, Sydney

Cool…greenhouse by joost

20 March 2012

Cool…greenhouse by joost

This cool installation only gets better when you find out that it was designed and built in the period from its inception on 23rd December to its opening on the 5th February.  Considering that most of Australia closes down for January, this is most certainly not only a feat of design but  a feat of project management.

Designed by Joost Bakker, a Dutch born designer, he is most famous for his vertical gardens- a trait he must have inherited from his family- a long line of tulip farmers.

Aptly named greenhouse, this installation was about designing a space that brings a connection between people and their source of life and livelihood.

Artichoke magazine put it like this:

The simplicity of the structure is based on a desire to assemble and dismantle, 
should the need arise – with the minimum of financial and energy expenditure. This is central to Bakker’s design philosophy. He wants the Greenhouse to be harmless and it’s eco-impact to be positive.

Taking this very seriously, he shows mind blowing attention to recyclable detail. Each component of the building – from the beer bottles to the use of galvanised steel screws for their ease of recycling – is a testament to years of intricate knowledge, development and the cultivation of the personal micro-networks necessary to support positive impact building.

Artichoke magazine, issue 31, May 2010

The result is a bold statement in the most beautiful of settings.

PS Sydney- I can’t wait to see you in April!

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