Monday 26th June 2017

Shao Fan’s Incredible Chairs.

Shao Fan whose paintings I featured a couple of weeks ago is back on Neon Cactus. His work is beautiful and inventive. His designs take traditional Chinese furniture  and essentially re-design and re-interprets it in modern context. His work deconstructs the boundaries between fine art and design, combining classical Ming wood carving techniques with contemporary design and materials to achieve a harmony symbolic of Chinese cultural evolution.

‘Shao Fan was one of a very few artists who did not pay much attention to this post-1989 mood,‘ Dr Zhang Hongxing says (senior curator at the V&A and organiser of the China Design Now show). ‘He was occupied by a sense of the emergence of great contradictions – old and new, local and global – in a society that was beginning to shift to a free market and a global economy. In his furniture art, the blending of craft and art expresses his anxiety about multiple influences at that time.’



His works can be found at the V & A [London], Metropolitan [New York], Pearl Lam Galleries [Shanghai],  and the Tomioka Museum [Japan] amongst others.

Opulent Charm

I know I’m a little late to write about this but I can’t stop thinking about it. The Bureau Betak set for Dior Couture earlier this year was out of this world! The white scaffolding and pink carpeted floor, with a mirrored ceiling and walls created a beautiful endless maze. Amid the Rocaille-style architecture of the Musée Rodin, Simons and team erected a futuristic scaffolding maze inside a simple white box, that proved even the humblest materials can assume an opulent charm in the hands of a master.

Mechanical Bloom

For those of you who were following Couture in Paris last week, there is no way you missed the mechanical bloom at Chanel. I mean it was origami, collage, paper, flower heaven! Karl Lagerfeld is really a pro at bringing together fashion, art and design. It was simply stunning – a man-maded botanical garden. The gardens of our future. The collection, unsurprisingly, was incorporated with fantastical flora. Watch the video below to see the incredible display.

Chalayan Throwback

I’ve been doing a research for a talk that I’m giving on designers that change our perception and experience through their designs. And I obviously have to mention Hussein Chalayan. Just wanted to share this video with you all for those of you who have never seen it…

Hussein Chalayan – watermill from FabHub on Vimeo.

Hussein Chalayan – 5 dresses using microchip and animatronic technology from FabHub on Vimeo.

For the whole show click here. 

Animal House

I know that this is not particularly new but I never got around to writing about it and sharing how much I loved this – aside from this the Marni ‘Animal House’ project was entirely handcrafted by women from Colombia, who gained independence and emancipation through their work. The Animal House by Marni was one of my favorite design exhibitions this year. It was shown at Fuorisalone 2014 in Milan durin Milan Design week, and showed brightly colored metal and PVC ducks, donkeys, flamingos, giraffes, rabbits and ostriches scattered and beautifully distributed throughout the space. The group of Colombian women handwove intricate patterns in PVS thread onto the pieces of furniture designed by the Marni team.

Marrakech with Philomena

An old friend of mine who has written on Neon Cactus quite a few times, is opening a Riad in Marrakech, she worked alongside the talented interior designer Romain Michel Meniere and here she shares her story with us. A small glimpse into their Riad and her tips on Marrakech..

How long have you been going to Morocco?

I have been going to Morocco for seven years now and no sign of the famous seven year itch as yet!

Tell us a little bit about what state the house was in when you found it?

The house was much as it is now in terms of layout but we entirely renovated it and added the master bedroom suite to that was previously a terrace. Despite the fact that it was just a renovation project it somehow still managed to take years until we got everything perfect.

What was your inspiration whilst decorating it?

I worked together with a brilliant interior designer, Romain Michel Meniere, but in a funny way we had no initial inspiration or moodboard. The house always had a very calm feel even before we renovated so we brought that out even more by keeping the look quite minimal and white. It has really become a very calming and relaxing space.

The color palette (or lack thereof) –quite unusual for jewel colored Morocco – was offset by the 1950s furniture we found in the flea markets there. It all started with a metal and glass table actually and the rest of the decoration sort of followed from that.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on integrating our two acres of farm – which is forty-five minutes out of Marrakech – into the Riad Mena concept. It is a fully functioning permaculture farm, so all the amazing organic fruit, herbs, vegetables, cold pressed olive oil, jams and honey from our bees will be brought to the Riad for guests to enjoy there.

Guests can also spend the day at the farm sitting amongst the olive trees, enjoying a raw food picnic lunch, rooftop yoga classes with amazing mountain views or guided meditation in the gardens.

I am really excited to turn theses places into a creative and holistic hub that people can dip in and out of and leave feeling grounded and re-inspired.

What are you top tips in Marrakech?

A secret tip that isn’t in any of the guidebooks is dinner at the private home of a wonderfully sparky Japanese lady called Umiko. She cooks an incredible seven course Japanese meal at hers, by which hers is an old Riad converted to look like a Florentine church, decorated in opulent style. You feel like you are at one of Henry VIIIs banquettes and the food is amazing. It´s a great place to go with a group of friends.

Where do you live at the moment?

Home is where my hat is at the moment, but I am spending a lot of time between Marrakech, Stockholm, Munich, London and Paris.

Favorite restaurant?

In London I truly love Trullo. The food is amazing; seasonal and inventive but not overdone. All the staff working there are real foodies so you always get wonderful recommendations with a perfect wine to match. Ask for a booth in the vaulted ceilinged basement, super fun for a Prosecco and food overdose with friends.

Where is your perfect holiday destination?

New York for an energy / inspiration fix and Parrot Cay in the Turks & Caicos for a full on relax.

What inspires you?

I find that when I do a lot of yoga I become very inspired as I am more in flow with everything. Ideas and people have a habit of coming to me when I am in this state of openness towards life.

What are your current obsessions?

Bees! I am so excited to have my own beehives in the country and start making lots of different types of delicious honey.

Favorite Film?

The Little Mermaid. (remnant from my childhood…)

You can wear 3 designers for the rest of your life. Who are they?

Christoph Lemaire for Hermès. Understated, amazingly crafted, timeless.

Issey Miyake. His pieces never fail to stand out whilst still letting the wearer stand out more. Plus they are amazingly easy to pack for all my travelling!

by Thiel jewelry. It hasn’t even launched yet but I am desperately awaiting my first necklace, which is of a Buddha head & Karma wheel. The jewelry is all about balance and each piece has an amazing energy. Beautiful talismans for life!

The Riad is currently being feature in the latest copy of Wallpaper magazine!


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