Reclaimed Renovation – Terracotta floor tiles

Reclaimed terracotta herringbone parquet tiles reclaimed renovation

“Is that what the kids are calling it these days?” a friend messaged me in response to my “weekend working on the floor with my husband.” Despite distractions, including mould and moths, our renovation is moving along. We now have reclaimed terracotta roof tiles for flooring in a parquet pattern in our kitchen and hall. 

The floor before
Reclaimed terracotta herringbone parquet tiles
The floor after

If like me, you’re also struggling with moths – have you tried essential oils or filling sachets with dried mint or lavender?

© Matchesfashion.com

Before herringbone terracotta started tiling up everywhere, including a Matchesfashion.com newsletter this week, I first fell for them when Salvo Code member Natural Stone Consulting listed them on SalvoWEB a few years ago. I adored the raw elegance of the colours and textural story hinting at their past life as roof tiles. One of the many benefits of designing with reclaimed materials is even when something is trending, your iteration will still stand out from the crowd. The finish you want to achieve can be equally unique, so after having the tiles laid we are gradually finishing the job ourselves.

Living in our London flat whilst starting our reclaimed renovation
We lived in the flat whilst renovating

Step one was sealing them. We were ready to say goodbye to brick dust, as we were living in the flat throughout the project, yet we wanted to maintain the dusty pink shade of the tiles in their natural state, so we opted for a barely-there sealant. But it was there and we did the water dropper test – where you check that the liquid remains on the surface rather than seeping in to prove it. The terracotta tiles from Natural Stone Consulting were salvaged from derelict rural farmhouses and outhouses in Europe so we wanted to show off the time-worn character which dates back to around 1860. If you choose terracotta or another porous stone then it’s worth doing a quick water drop test every year or so in areas like kitchens to check that your protection is still holding up.

Reclaiming terracotta tiles
Typical farmhouse where the terracotta tiles are reclaimed © Courtesy of Natural Stone consulting
Sorting reclaimed terracotta tiles
Sorting reclaimed terracotta tiles © Courtesy of Natural Stone consulting

Step two was mixing the subtlest sandy grout before applying a second coat of sealer. We had the tiles laid as close as possible, as initially, we were considering going groutless. However, reclaimed terracotta tiles aren’t like laying traditional timber parquet, and they varied in size, so we made a high sand content grout that would blend well with the warm tones of the terracotta. 

I’m not going to lie, tilers were in high demand when we embarked on the project, and ours wasn’t attracting the same quantity of interest as quick regular tiling jobs. So although we didn’t lay the tiles, our hours spent on the floor are totting up to more than our builders’. Step three was sourcing a model makers’ kit of tiny tools to attach to our drill and smooth out signs of our floor layers’ learning curve. It was their first time working with reclaimed tiles.

Model makers' kit to finished our reclaimed stone floor
Our model makers’ kit

So my friend wasn’t wrong, my husband and I are sharing bonding sessions on our floor, and the earplugs he bought us for raves have come in handy to drown out the drilling. I hear that’s what the kids are using them for these days; house music. 

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Natural Stone Consulting

The Art of Tribal 

Art and design have the enviable ability to break down barriers that traditionally divide cultures. The universality of interiors that involve and speak to people around the world is surely something worth celebrating, so why was I nervous to talk about Tribal Art? My fashion background and thrill in finding antique textiles has given me the chance to see rare tribal pieces over the years. However, like many people attracted to Tribal Art, I have a knowledge gap that can make buying or even discussing the topic intimidating.

I need not have held back as I was in great hands with the insightful words and work of Ian Shaw and Anthony Hepworth, whom you can catch and chat with yourself at the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair 1 – 3 April 2022.

From the exhibition series ‘An Eclectic Eye’ © Anthony Hepworth Fine Art

The creative cohesion we find when people blend different periods with contemporary pieces or different styles arguably defines our time. Some of the most exciting spaces are a reflection of many cultures, as people seek to research their heritage or look for connection through pieces from places that keep craft skills alive out of human necessity. Artefacts like this provide a stark contrast to the consumer culture that exists across the world.

Both Ian Shaw and Anthony Hepworth are experienced collectors so if you are captivated by tribal objects, but conscious of appropriation in design then their memorable discoveries and tips for finding true Tribal Art are a good place to start.

Ian Shaw, the man behind Tribal Arts & Textiles encapsulates the nuances of cultural appropriation early into our conversation with a lovely picture of his wife with her niece, who are both Ashante from Ghana. They are wearing textiles of the Ewe people so they had to ask permission before wearing them for the photo. “Cultural appropriation isn’t just relevant to Europeans, it is relevant to the indigenous population also because these are religious objects within their own spheres,” he says.

Staying safely in the realms of appreciation rather than appropriation, African weaving artistry can be celebrated through interior design and the daily enjoyment for people from different cultures. For example, Ian tells me that some of the textiles work well as personal pieces like bedspreads as they are very durable.

If you keep missing, get closer to the basket

Ian has done his research and explains “there are not that many people that will attempt to deal in (antique) African baskets.” He points out that there are many of them around and people try to fake it but especially “the Tutsi, Chokwe and the Kuba peoples have special techniques for making these baskets that no one can replicate. Only the local women know how to make these and that’s been handed down from generation to generation.”

Both keen runners, Ian met his wife at the National Stadium training. She was a police officer at the time as well as an international runner for Ghana. However, it was long before Ian met his wife, back in 1989 when he was introduced to Tribal Art by friends. Two Glasgow artists dragged him to the Museum of Mankind in London. He describes eyeing huge Easter Island figures whilst ascending a big marble staircase before entering a large room full of Yoruba carvings from Nigeria. “Walking into that room, I didn’t know anything about the images that were there. Even with no knowledge, you had to be impressed by the sculptural quality, it was just incredible.”

You never forget your first

Ian was off on his journey with learnings from friends about art history and the powerful influence on painters such as Matisse and Modigliani, who had big collections of African Tribal Art. Eight years later, a lovely Yoruba kola nut bowl carved as a chicken was Ian’s first purchase, and objects he could never part with include an extremely rare Yoruba Geledi mask. Before you buy a tribal piece it is essential to ask questions, so meeting dealers at longstanding fairs like Bath Decorative is a good first move. Find out about the provenance so that you know what you have is genuine and that your intended purpose is in tune with trustworthy knowledge of what it is.

Norwegian church tapestry circa 1913 Tribal Art & Textiles
Norwegian church tapestry circa 1913 © Tribal Arts & Textiles

Although Ian focuses on textiles of West Africa, he recently discovered a piece from Scandinavia that he will bring to Bath. “Not normally my area, but I do have a smattering of knowledge of these things and this is a really beautiful Norwegian church tapestry.” We muse about the story of how it got here and relate over the joyous moment when particularly textiles just speak to you.

An Eclectic Eye

Anthony Hepworth’s eye for pairing Tribal Art with Modern British Painting and Sculpture can be traced to the ‘70s from art college to the start of his career for the British Museum.

A series of 'An Eclectic Eye' exhibitions Anthony Hepworth Fine Art
From the exhibition series ‘An Eclectic Eye’ © Anthony Hepworth Fine Art

“A museum by its very nature has all of these different cultures, different ages all together. The departments can be quite insular, but when they put on shows all of these things come together.” He recalls a library show with “big glass cases, and at one time they had fabulous Oceanic objects in a cabinet and then they had an African object, and then some Greek objects. That’s what set me off.”

Anthony Hepworth Fine Art was established in Bath in 1989 with locations in London and their own returning exhibition ‘An Eclectic Eye’ held over the years. Today they represent Scottish artist Peter Seal and you can see their dual passions collide at fairs with Anthony’s specialism in Modern British and Post-War Painting and Sculpture with African and Oceanic Tribal Art.

“We used to spend ages, I mean two days arranging the things, and that’s how I live in my house…So at the moment, I am sitting in a room with a 16th-century carving next to a 1958 painting with some African objects surrounded by Japanese bronzes to the right and then I’ve got some Greek antiquities to the left and a Hawaiian bowl, and then pre-Columbian pieces and 18th-century glass next to a little Henry Moore. It’s just fun. It’s a pleasure to live in this way.”

The cherry on top of this storied setting is that Anthony lives in a reclaimed house, having swapped their Bath townhouse for a bungalow built by the city architect from reclaimed Cotswold stone with a Cotswold stone roof and a bell tower.

Provenance is incredibly important to him, and the stand at Bath will feature things like Oceanic clubs and paddles. “Genuinely old things that were made by a tribal person, for a tribal person’s use. That’s how we define Tribal Art or objects.” Anthony touches on how things have changed and how the TV show Frasier affected the market in the ‘90s with the apartment filled with tribal objects and the “decorator influence.”

Sometimes it feels like the respectful line that art or comedy must tread has become more complex, but for me, Anthony simplifies it beautifully as “professionalism.” It is not about ‘get the look’ it’s about the feeling of truly Tribal Art.

See Tribal Arts & Textiles and Anthony Hepworth Fine Art at the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair. Get your tickets here

Bath Decorative Antiques Fair
Date: 1-3 April 2022
TRADE PREVIEW Thursday 31 March
Venue: The Pavilion, North Parade Road, Bath, BA2 4EU

Rainbows & Tiles

My new flat is the equivalent of workout leggings. It’s comfortable and a little styling goes a long way, but I am anxious that renovating at a slow pace will be the home equivalent of a hard transition out of trousers with an elasticated waist. 

My current sense of urgency is fighting my better judgment and past experience, which proves that slow design enables more reuse because it gives you time to see existing potential and consider possibilities that you might have otherwise missed. To reuse as much as possible and work with antique and salvaged materials is our priority, but this reclaimed reno is more intensive than my last and includes a big (by London standards) bathroom, a kitchen, 2 bedrooms, floors and a possible extension to do.

We need to pace ourselves budget-wise so we just started with the flooring in the hall and kitchen. This was good because consciously planning an area at a time was conducive to more reuse. However, a delay in work on our kitchen means that most of this space will take shape in phase two, which means our flat is starting to look like a salvage yard with a sink here, a copper fire hood there… But as Dolly Parton put it “if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

The trouble with not doing everything at once is that your memory is fresh enough to remember the dust that comes with a renovation. We are still discovering dust inside cupboards that we didn’t know existed from reno round one. I’m excited to share our reclaimed herringbone terracotta tiled floor once we have finished grinding and sealing, but I need to work on our lighting because the cold coloured surgical-like kitchen downlighters are countering what should be a characterful floor of pink and orange tones. With the kitchen as it is our vegetables aren’t so much chopped but dissected. 

There has been a flurry of home renovations over the last two years, so I am curious to hear your experiences. Has the WFH lifestyle made it easier to keep a closer eye on your design projects or have you found the lack of opportunity to escape ongoing building work more challenging? 

Let’s get physical

©Simon Wharton Antiques

As the leaves start to fall, it’s time to feel again with a plethora of physical decorative antiques fairs in the diary. 

The last eighteen months have been challenging, but thanks to an unwavering business drive, digital community (and sales!) the architectural salvage and decorative antiques industries will emerge stronger. Bath Decorative Antiques Fair will be an opportunity to see familiar faces, and new faces with more and more people on the lookout for personality pieces. If you are new to the antiques fair scene then Bath is a great one as it is both fiercely stylish and friendly. 

©Simon Wharton Antiques

Bath Decorative Antiques Fair has a special buzz about it, as returning exhibitor, Simon Wharton Antiques describes it, and the holiday atmosphere that charms anyone exhibiting or visiting the event. Here, Simon Wharton and Geraint Jones, co-founder of Greencore Design which is showing at Bath Decorative for the first time, share reasons to get excited for the next instalment. 

“Digital saved me during Covid,” says Simon, with antiques at a hand’s reach as people shopped from smartphones on their sofas, but “there’s no substitution for meeting people in the flesh.” People are excited to be handling things face to face again, and nothing awakens our senses like feeling the character and hearing the stories from the people that discovered these one-off pieces. Anecdotes include unforgettable fireplace rescue missions, where Simon recalls one particularly hilarious time, with the benefit of hindsight. “We had to let it down a ladder from the window” he describes, having survived being at the bottom as two guys with a combined age of 160 lowered the ropes on a fireplace travelling towards him. 

©Simon Wharton Antiques

Moving magnificent chimneypieces goes with the territory, as Simon’s signature is architectural antiques, stone fireplaces, and boy does he know how to dress them – with decorative and garden delights that complete his collection. The setting of Bath Decorative lends itself to some serious stand decoration, so even just walking around will give you ideas and good connections. I’ll never forget seeing one of Simon’s displays at Bath for the first time. 

Despite the changes that Brexit brought about, nothing has changed business like the pandemic. Simon saw his best August for fireplaces yet, and there is an increasing demand from customers in the countryside in France, as people everywhere opt for a life outside of the city. As well as a strong customer base both sides of the channel, they continue to come from as far as Australia and America. If a desire for eco-friendly design is partly driving your visit to Bath Decorative then you might be interested to know that even Simon’s heaviest antiques could be shipped to America and still save more energy than the embodied carbon cost of making a new fireplace. We know because me and Salvo have been doing tonnes of work on carbon and reclamation this year.

Antique French oak table ©Greencore Design

The attraction to antiques and the urge to design with tactile treasures is also influencing restoration trends with interior designers and other customers seeking unrestored or a lighter touch and less polish. But as Geraint of Greencore Design explains, that doesn’t equal less attention to detail. “Each piece is ‘house ready’ whether it be an old industrial piece or a high end designer piece, we pride ourselves on each item being clean, sound and ready to enjoy. ‘Patina’ does not equal dirt and ‘character’ does not equal a wobbly leg or a broken drawer.”

If you are looking for quality, craftsmanship and a design mash-up that mixes an 18th-century country house piece with a sixties leather chair then you’ll enjoy seeing Greencore Design’s first showing at Bath.

Mid-century modern armchairs by Pieff of Worcester ©Greencore Design
Primitive farmhouse bench seat ©Greencore Design

The company has been trading since 2005, having had a career in architectural cast iron and restoration work on historic buildings, they were initially involved in architectural salvage. “The one great thing in this business is that you never quite know where you will be next,” says Geraint, who rebranded and launched Greencore Design in 2019 with a focus on decorative antiques and vintage furniture. 

Constantly striving to achieve the “right look and feel”, Greencore Design always has some Welsh staples. Geraint explains Wales has it all, from large manor houses to farmhouses, to industrial, which explains why so many of us are falling for Welsh antiques.

“A lot of traditional Welsh furniture has a simplicity and naivety to it which makes them versatile. Very often made from local wood, especially oak so it lasts forever. Interior designers have really embraced antique and vintage furniture and increasingly using new and old alongside each other, which is great to see, both from design viewpoint and the environment.”

Antique Welsh blanket ©Greencore Design

Green to the core, Geraint shows me how they incorporated elements of reclaimed stone into their new build. This got me excited as a sign of where our built environments could expand on what the antiques industry is doing so brilliantly in breaking down the barriers of what eras should sit with what. 

Rules certainly went out of the window in Geraint’s recent rescue of a pair of aesthetic hall lanterns. 

Lanterns before restoration ©Greencore Design

“They were in a sorry state but working with Jolene Farmer Studio, we managed to bring them back to life. The glass proved tricky, I was keen to use some 19th-century glass we had in stock, previously salvaged from a Welsh Church dating to 1860. The glass was a large single pane with a beautiful cross pattern, and the restoration work required us to precisely cut the glazed panel into smaller pieces to fit the faceted lantern sides. Enlisting the expertise of Jolene Farmer we set about finding someone to cut the glass, Jolene had tried all her contacts in London but they all refused on the ground that they could not guarantee that the glass could be cut due to the age and complexity of the glass. In the end, we found someone in Dorset, who worked on old churches and was confident in cutting the glass. The skill and effort that goes into the restoration cannot be underestimated, the cost is also high but it’s an important part of the industry and is essential to save pieces from being lost forever.”

Welsh Church glass cut by Jamie Clark for the restoration ©Greencore Design
Lanterns after restoration ©Greencore Design

See Simon Wharton Antiques and Greencore Design at Bath Decorative Antiques Fair. Here are the details you need to know: 

Bath Decorative Antiques Fair
Date: 22-24 October 2021. Open 11am – 5pm
TRADE PREVIEW Thursday 21 October. Open 12noon – 5pm
Venue: The Pavilion, North Parade Road, Bath, BA2 4EU

Get your tickets here

Salvo Fest of imperfect beauty

Save the dates 16 – 19 June 2021 because the original architectural salvage fair has found its new home, with the best bits of the virtual and real world to toast Salvo’s 30th Pearl Anniversary.

Seven years ago I hadn’t even stepped foot inside a salvage yard, so my renovation took me on a complete education, and Salvo became my go-to resource to find reclaimed materials for my home. Now I am a fully fledged member of the Salvo team, and our upcoming festival is a celebration of reclamation and reuse, Salvo’s last thirty years, and also a taste of the next flirtiest chapter.

As well as architectural salvage, antiques and reclaimed building materials, we are introducing vintage and recrafted fashion for Salvo’s Pearl Anniversary. Slowly, but surely, we are growing Salvo as the destination for reuse to help you not only build, but dress your home and yourself for the world you want.

Our vision represents my belief that the choices we make for ourselves and our homes are so interconnected, as that was my experience and the guiding light behind Reclaimed Woman. Renovating my home with reclaimed, eco-friendly materials gave me daily inspiration to make bigger changes in all areas of my life. With so much in the world already, I am embracing reuse as a lifestyle. For me, some of the most exciting eco fashion out there is either reimagined vintage or upcycled, so I am thrilled to share the designers, makers and collectors that rock this area of the sustainable fashion scene.

We-ResonateSalvo Fest fashion exhibitor

Imperfect beauty is our festival theme, as an ode to Salvo’s Pearl Anniversary.  The concept of perfection is inspiring much debate and the diversification of what the world considers beautiful can only be good – encouraging more reuse.  Our special Pearl Anniversary edit will feature one of a kind garden, fashion and interiors from 60s Dior earrings to Rococo fireplaces to mismatched harlequin flooring. 

Register here for the 24 hour Trade Day preview or the first look at the festival line-up of digital events, plus a handful of real world pop-ups.

60s Dior koi fish earrings from ethazonSalvo Fest Pearl Anniversary edit

Salvofair.com

Aware, thoughtful and deliberate with Wolf & Gypsy, ethical jewellery by Tori Shay

Comfortable clothes continue to rule, and it’s hard to imagine what could come along to convince us otherwise, but that doesn’t come at the sacrifice of decoration. 

Speaking to friends, jewellery has been the mood lifter, and yes an opportunity to shine on conference calls, but particularly if you have gone a while without wearing it, the deliberate act of adding jewellery can positively impact your day. Tori Shay, the founder of Wolf & Gypsy reflects on her journey and creating a brand that gives back to the environment rather than taking away.

I love the expression ‘life can turn on a sixpence’ and often share one of my life’s turning points as an example of how quickly life can change. In short, on the first night of a six day trip to San Francisco, at a restaurant reservation that me and my friend almost cancelled, I met the man that three months and three dates later became my fiancé.  Wolf & Gypsy’s Sixpence pendant pictured below was designed using an original sixpence coin, dated 1914.

One of Tori’s sixpence turns came when she started her brand…

“It was so very important that Wolf & Gypsy was a responsible brand.  When finding a manufacturer, I travelled to India to see the workshops so that I could make sure that they had the same values” 

Anyone can speak of sustainability, and at the moment it feels like anyone is! But Wolf & Gypsy’s commitment as a member of 1% For The Planet not only talks, it walks the walk with a minimum of 1% of annual sales to support environmental non-profit organisations. Wolf & Gypsy jewellery is realised in recycled silver and gold with ethically sourced conflict-free gemstones.

“I think it’s really important in this day and age to be very aware of the choices you make and how that impacts our world… Be aware, thoughtful and deliberate.  I try to stay positive and upbeat in every situation, which has been especially important this year”

Whilst raising her young family, Tori retrained under a talented goldsmith, whose designs were snapped-up by Liberty and Harvey Nichols in the seventies. Swapping a career in event design, she began to create jewellery and practise the art of ear curation, adding professional ear piercing to her new skills before launching Wolf & Gypsy in 2018.

Tori’s journey into jewellery gives the Wolf & Gypsy collection artful earrings designed for different piercings. Rediscovered vintage pieces come re-furbished ‘as-new’ and compliment the rest of the range, which is also designed to last. Necklaces, rings, bracelets and bangles are made for experimenting, layering, mixing and matching. It feels like she’s sharing her personal treasure trove of pieces collected over time.

I ask Tori the impossible, to name her favourite piece. Failing a single favourite, today she is wearing the Pear Rainbow Moonstone ring with diamond halo, the Snake bangle and a personalised necklace with her name on it.

Tori’s high jewellery Pear Rainbow Moonstone ring is available by pre-order

For many, this moment and stagnant lockdown life feels ripe for a sixpence turn and a change of luck. The brand’s name was inspired by her young son Rafe, whose name means ‘wolf,’ and ‘gypsy’ is derived from Tori’s love of travel and adventure. So how does she soothe her adventurous spirit in these unique circumstances? 

“I’m finding happiness from the little things in life and enjoying the beautiful countryside that we have to offer in this country with my children.”

It may seem self centred to think about self-adornment in the middle of a pandemic, but sometimes simply putting on a piece of deliberate design can help you get up in the morning. And jewellery particularly can connect us to people that we may not have the privilege of seeing at the moment. 

One of Tori’s memories of jewellery impacting her day was the first day she went through her Grandmother’s jewellery box: “It was then that I fell in love with jewellery.” 

I think most of us would enjoy reliving childhood moments, where dress up wasn’t about going anywhere, it was simply for the fun of play.

See the complete Wolf & Gypsy collection

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman and most courtesy of Wolf & Gypsy

Reclaimed Woman gifts full of goodness

Reclaimed Eames style leather office chair to make a loved one more comfy wfh. Architectural Forum on Salvo

Organic & Botanic Madagascan coconut rejuvenating night moisturiser Dr Botanicals

Reclaimed vintage silks headband by War & Drobe + We-Resonate. See more styles from the latest collaboration on War & Drobe

House shoes never needed to make us feel chic, so thanks Birdsong for creating these reclaimed leather slippers. [Order before the 26th November to get them in time for Christmas in the UK]

1960s Charles Jourdan mock lizard bag in our latest thrifte edit on ethazon. Follow our private account or message me for details

May you make extra merry this Christmas 🥰

1960s Paris Fashion photos by French Finds under CC by 2.0 license, Old Fashioned Christmas Tree photo by Catherine Clarke under CC by-SA 2.0 license

How to shop art now

Kissing Couple silver brooch ©Modern Decorative

The moment we’re experiencing is quite rightly making us pause for thought, what should we be buying if we feel we can spend money right now? No matter what the pandemic has done for your personal budget for life’s decorative things, I think we all want our purchases to be more purposeful. Cue art and objects that add to our lives on the daily.

I recently discovered Modern Decorative, a unique online gallery that sells undiscovered art and antiques. With handy extra eyes from his father, Gary Jackson, who was in the antique business for years before becoming a painter, the founder Joe spots underrated and underpriced pieces for his thoughtful collection. Unlike my usual knack for eyeing the exact items that sit way outside of my price range, the silver kissing couple brooch above and 1970s etching below are both around the one hundred pounds mark. The etching is signed, but Joe and his father Gary take the philosophy that the best signature is the painting itself.

“Behind every painting, there’s a soul, a person who loves to paint, a life story that will influence the work no matter how abstract that influence is.”

Gary Jackson, Modern Decorative

Etching with Nude Figures and Abstract Design ©Modern Decorative

For me buying art is a distinctive way to identify a moment in time, like when I moved into the first home of my own and soon bought a piece of urban art that matched my first big salvage purchase, plus encapsulated my emotions during that period. Sometimes you’re looking for something for a particular space and other times the right piece just finds you.

When buying art and decorative pieces to dress your home, I think it’s important to only go for what you really really, let’s throw another really in there, love. It’s good to ask yourself how much do I love it? Sometimes you know instantly and at a market, it’s tempting and sometimes necessary to act on immediate impulse, but the benefit of shopping online gives you the chance to scroll, and see a piece in the place you intend for it to live. Just take a look at Modern Decorative’s Instagram if you have any doubt that a photograph can capture the mood and texture of a painting.

Detail by Gustavo Carbó Berthold ©Modern Decorative & Detail of Abstract above ©Modern Decorative

The secondary art market suits an increasing appetite amongst young, highly visual art appreciators that can discover and own originals at a good value. There is not currently much demand for 19th-century art, but it can look unexpectedly exquisite in a modern setting. If you want to reject the fashion for 20th-century modern pieces then something like this watercolour could put you ahead of style’s pendulum swing.

Detail of watercolour of woman ©Modern Decorative

I enjoyed virtually escaping through their feed of natural landscapes and one particular sunny still life with flowers, which is as close as I am getting to the Mediterranean for a while. Before the pandemic, Joe luckily expanded from London to a studio space in Barcelona, which in normal times gives him a perfect position to source works between Spain and France.

Detail of still life ©Modern Decorative

From a market stall in my hood on Portobello Road, Gary and his twin brother Paul used to deal in antiques together, and Joe would help out from an early age. Paul now specialises in twentieth-century Scandinavian design from Stockholm with his business Jackson Design AB. The twins’ other brother Simon started restoring in their dad’s garage before winning a scholarship to West Dean, where he met his wife, and now Simon and Frauke restore and sell antique and Mid-mod furniture in Bath. From sleek to classic to delightfully unusual, the eye is strong in this family.

No dates are in the diary yet, but if you are eager to exercise your eyes in the real world then check the website to see Modern Decorative at fairs in the future.

© Photographs courtesy of Modern Decorative

ethazon

Wearing accessories from my new carbon conscious label ethazon

When Beck and I first came together to create ethazon we desired an eco fashion place for people to dress for the world they want. Fast forward two years and we have seen a flurry of fashion trying to clean up its act, which is great for the movement, but with sustainability suddenly the word of the moment it is even harder to separate the green from the washing, so our founding mission is potentially more apt now than ever.

ethazon is about taste and transparency. We’re building an eco fashion place for people to dress deliberately from carefully selected designers and makers. We’re still working on our website, but we’ve launched a private Instagram so that followers get the first look at our recrafted accessories and thrifte vintage, whilst bigger collaborations with designers in eco fashion and dealers in reclaimed interiors are on the horizon. 

If like us you’re emerging from lockdown conscious of the world in distress and are seeking a new look or a new outlook then join us. Follow @ethazon for our secret carbon conscious collection of things to dress yourself and your home. 

Becky wearing one our recrafted bags made of sixties towelling with reclaimed judo belt handles @ethazon
Me wearing thrifte vintage accessories from our upcoming edit @ethazon

© Photographs ethazon

Buying vintage bins in the time of Coronavirus

I am not sure where “bins” the abbreviation for glasses comes from, but considering my need for increasingly telescopic lenses it seems appropriate to refer to them as my binoculars. 

I enjoy the time when it comes to choose new glasses, well new old glasses as I always opt for vintage when it comes to opticals. If you are more conscious of buying vintage personal items during the pandemic then rest assured that many vintage specs have never been used.

For me, part of the fun usually involves visiting a shop dressed with antique cabinets, drawers and trays presenting styles for a try-on session. I had my eyes on a market, where online vintage eyewear emporium, Retro Spectacle was exhibiting but coronavirus ruled that impossible so I took the plunge and picked from pictures. Their selection of frames spans spectacles, sunglasses, designer names and desirable collectables like NHS styles, which date back to the late ‘40s.

In this day and age you can even shop reclaimed shop display cabinets online to add to the magic when looking at stock irl. These [from a selection on Salvo] soothed my craving.

Brass framed shop display cabinet c1970 from Art Furniture
Gilded Domed Display Cabinet from Edward Haes 

There is something about lockdown that heightens your screen experiences, and exchanges with Retro Spectacle’s owner Charlotte made it for me. She is an optician in practise so advised me well on frames that would work with my prescription, and shared selfies to help me choose between the seven styles I was eyeing; particularly kind as few people felt like taking selfies in lockdown. Apart from the tech between us, it felt like good old fashioned service, the kind that I dream the customers of couturier Christian Lacroix were treated to back in the day. Needless to say I chose vintage cat eye glasses by Christian Lacroix and an unapologetic ’80s pair by Christian Dior. Some people spent on earrings to jazz up video calls, but I’m wearing glasses more, so I got two vintage pairs for less than you would pay for a new pair of designer glasses.  

Picture of my mum wearing ’80s glasses, in the ’80s
My ’80s Dior frames from Retro Spectacle

Prices start from £29 at Retro Spectacle. They also do lenses but after all that screen time I had to get my eyes tested. Travelling on the tube again – just me in the carriage, I had time to take-in my new masked reflection and it confirmed that personality eyewear was a good investment right now. 

I personally love vintage glasses for their uniqueness, handmade quality and because it’s a more sustainable option, and I definitely needed to do something right by the planet given the amount of plastic PPE involved in eye examinations now. Plastic-free July fail. However, my first “normal” errand in a while did have its thrills. I left with the knowledge of the tissue trick. Listen up glasses wearers, if you place a tissue over your nose before positioning your face mask then it helps with the condensation. Handy, because I hope to be able to see in my new glasses. 

My Christian Lacroix frames from Retro Spectacle
Mid-Century Industrial Steel Vitrine Glass Display Cabinet from The Architectural Forum 

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Retro Spectacle and Salvo