HOOKED ON NOOKS



 

By François-Joseph Graf

By François-Joseph Graf

 
A friends’ reunion in an idyllically cosy farmhouse in Cornwall last weekend made A-Gent of Style think about nook areas in a house, whether they are in a kitchen, a bedroom or a landing, either tucked away in a corner of a room, situated on a window sill or built between two bookcases, providing an intimate and semi-private cocoon where one can relax, take refuge or cuddle up with a book, an Ipad or just one’s thoughts.

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A DECORATIVE GARDEN OF EDEN: CRESSIDA BELL’S CHRISTMAS OPEN STUDIO








Last Saturday, A-Gent of Style travelled to Hackney in North London to attend Cressida Bell’s Christmas Open Studio. A-Gent has always been very much aware of the artist and designer but also Charleston House in East Sussex and of course Bell’s famous lineage, so without hesitation, he enjoyed a jaunt to Clarence Mews,
“a bucolic enclave in the heart of Hackney”.




A-Gent of Style was thrilled not only to see for the first time under one roof the colourful, bold and highly patterned artefacts Cressida Bell is renowned for but also to meet the designer and visit the enchanting studio where she works her magic.




Cressida Bell is a direct descendant of the major members of the Bloomsbury group; her grandmother was the artist Vanessa Bell and her grandfather the critic
Clive Bell, her great-aunt Virginia Woolf and her father, the critic, author and artist Quentin Bell. Bell studied fashion and textile design at St. Martins School of Art followed in 1984 by an M.A in textile design from the Royal College of Art.
Despite being exposed at Charleston to paintings, painted walls, stained glass and textiles all designed by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and being unconsciously influenced by the Bloomsbury artists, Cressida Bell has managed to forge her own identity and style and has drawn her inspiration from many sources such as African and Indian cultures.




The studio is everything you may have imagined and much more. It felt a bit like being in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul with its exquisite eclecticism and richly embellished, contrasting patterns and vibrant colours. The overall look and aesthetics of Cressida Bell’s style is also somehow reminiscent of René Matisse,
Jean Cocteau or Cecil Beaton designs who too liked to paint the surfaces of their surroundings and created unique and original pieces of art.

Just as imagine Charleston House to be (A-Gent has to admit he has yet to see the iconic Sussex country retreat of Bell’s well-known Bloomsbury Group forebears.
A road trip last summer was aborted but it is now at the top of the 2014 resolution list), every inch of the studio is decorated or covered by something; painted doors, furniture or clocks, bespoke rugs, sketches, drawings, invitations, announcements illustrations, cookery posters, plates, fabric shreds, test sheets, paint pots, brushes and printing screens. That weekend, there was a plethora of tantalising treasures all for sale such as hand-painted lamp stands and shades, stationery, greeting and Christmas cards, and Bell’s ten-metre long printing table – Bell screen-prints herself – was strewn with silk, wool or cotton scarves, ties, cushions. And last but not least, her ready printed sheets of icing and eye-popping, edible cake decorations – Bell’s latest artistic pursuit – were on display (and feature in her book Cressida Bell’s Cake Designs: Fifty Fabulous Cakes.)




























































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BOOK END No8



 
December is upon us and the festive season is already in full swing.

Here is A-Gent of Style‘s noteworthy publications for Christmas stocking fillers.

Don’t forget you can hover your cursor over each image to see the rest of the book cover or click on the image to see it in full in a new window.

 
All books are available or can be ordered from
The Bookshop at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour +44 (0) 20 7351 6854 / @blaisemille

And if you’ve missed the previous instalments of Book End, you can catch up and see the other fantastic books A-Gent of Style selected for you over the months:

Book End No1, Book End No2, Book End N03, Book End N04, Book End No5,
Book End No6, Book End No7


Happy reading et bon weekend!





WINDOW WONDERLAND AT JOHN LEWIS



 



Not content with winning the much sought-after 2013 best Christmas television advert with its animated short film The Bear and The Hare and stealing the nation’s (and A-Gent of Style‘s) heart with its heart-tugging story and Lily Allen’s nostalgic cover version of Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, John Lewis and
Peter Jones have surpassed themselves this year with offering its customers and any passers-by brilliantly accomplished Christmas window displays that will capture anyone’s imagination.




This year, expect to see reindeer sculpted from Dyson vacuum cleaners,
spatula owls, wolves made out of lamps, penguins made from kettles,
birds fashioned from cutlery, cleaning utensils bunny rabbits, turkeys made with towels and many other creatures of a woodland and arctic ménagerie.



A-Gent of Style was left wide-eyed and enthralled by the astonishing creations when he walked past the Peter Jones store on Sloane Square, Chelsea, a few nights ago. This magical and playful world of small and bigger animals made out of household products, all available from the department store (of course), is the brainchild of creative consultancy Chameleon Visual and über-genius Billie Achilleos,
‘versatile artist and maker of things’ (according to her website), a Technical Arts and Special Effects graduate from Wimbledon College for Art who has worked in opera, theatre, film, window display, advertising and fashion (you might remember her sensational collaboration with Louis Vuitton). Achilleos and an army of model makers have created 188 animals out of more than 7,000 products which were then produced by Setsquare Staging. The entire process took a year.



Robb Bloomer, retail design manager at John Lewis, said: “This year we want to do something a bit more contemporary, a bit more modern, a bit more fun. We want people queuing around the block, so we had to do something a bit different.”


Marvel with A-Gent of Style at this feat of engineering and
creative tour de force and let yourself be transported to this enchanting world. Christmas comes only once a year after all! And make sure you have a very close look through the window panes. The detailing is staggering.






















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And for all of the A-Gentees not living in the UK, here’s the now iconic
(with the Marmite effect) The Bear and the Hare 2013 John Lewis Christmas advert (it gets A-Gent of Style everytime):







SAVOIR BEDS & THE DESIGN GRAND PRIX 2013





Another week and another great opportunity was given to A-Gent of Style to experience another inspiring enterprise supporting the excellence of design and craftmanship in the UK .




Last Tuesday, A-Gent of Style attended a private reception for the unveiling of the winning headboard of the Design Grand Prix competition organised by Savoir Beds, one of the UK’s top manufacturers of luxury beds and mattresses, that took place at their King’s Road Showroom.


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