Leading British stylist Hilary Robertson has taken her creative skills stateside, set up home in Brooklyn, New York, and launched her beautiful new book, The Stuff of Life. Revealing inspirational and creative ways to style and display ‘the stuff’ we all have in our lives, from the multitude of possessions, ornaments and pictures, through to life’s necessities such as hats and bicycles, which we all gradually accumulate over the years. Hilary will take you on a journey to show you that the simplest of collectibles can look artfully arranged, with minimum effort. Whether you are a serious collector with a passion, or a minimalist lover wishing to tame and curate your clutter, The Stuff of Life will make you look at your possessions with a whole new creative vision! The Stuff of Life by Hilary Robertson, photography by Anna Williams, published by Ryland Peters & Small and available online here. To win a copy of The Stuff of Life simply visit Facebook and leave a comment why you need to sort your ‘stuff’! A winner will be picked on Friday 25th April at 6pm. Good luck!


Who are you: Hilary Robertson

What is your work: Interiors stylist/art director/antique buyer/visual merchandiser/writer - many roles but all connected!

Where can we find you: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Tumblr

Describe your work in 5 words. Finding beauty everywhere.

Describe your book. It’s a book about collections and display. As a stylist and a merchandiser, this is what I do; I find things and move them around - arranging and re-arranging until I like what I’ve done. Although I don’t usually analyse this process, I can see that there are organizing principles that people like me, stylists and visual merchandisers take for granted, and which could be illustrated and explained in a book. I have a lot of beautiful (to me) things. I don’t have ‘clutter’. But what is the difference? I think it’s about how it’s organized.

In NYC you can hire someone to style your bookshelves, and you can order books by the yard from Strand. Many of the houses that interior designers show me, with a view to being featured in magazines, look more like hotels than homes. And that’s because there is often nothing personal about them: a designer created them, and the owners haven’t managed to add those personal layers that real homes need: decorative things, vases, sculptures, children’s drawings, hats, bicycles…’the stuff of life’, as I like to call it.

In every home there are essential functional pieces of furniture; chairs to sit on, dining tables, desks, beds to sleep in, coffee tables to set a glass or cup on, cupboards and sideboards to store stuff in and, while we could put much of our stuff away (and if you are John Pawson, your home is all about clever storage to hide that ‘stuff’), there are things which are just meant to be displayed. That’s why we acquire or keep them. There are the things that make up  a sort of ‘museum of me’ -  things that we want to display because they tell a story; where we’ve travelled, what we like to read, decorative stuff, ephemeral stuff. Who doesn’t like to examine people’s bookshelves and see what they are reading?
Describe a typical day at work. My days are either ‘prep’ or ‘shoot’…so quite different. I’m a working mother so it goes like this:

a) Walk 20 minutes to school with son while he scoots. Borrow scooter and scoot back to house in 8 minutes. Sit at desk and write loads of emails while listening to the BBC news on NPR. Surf internet. Write. Surf internet. Scoot back to school and retrieve the son. Discuss snack options. Argue about practicing instrument. Make dinner. Collapse. Or…

b) Take the Subway to the city to find props in Chelsea and Flat Iron. Write emails and texts on iPhone as I walk around the city. Come home laden with bags of props. Or…

c) If I’m on a shoot my assistant might come to the house at 6.30am to help me gather up all the props clogging up my hall. We often have to be on set at 8am. I sometimes go to the flower market at 28th St before the shoot, and Rachel, my assistant, arrives on set first.

What is the first thing you do when you get to work? It depends if I’m on a shoot, prepping a shoot or writing. If it’s writing I play Stabat Mater by Pergolesi, some Rufus Wainwright, or recently the soundtrack from The Great Beauty, to get me in the zone. If I’m prepping a shoot I might peruse Pinterest for ideas and put a mood board together.If I’m on a shoot we have to unpack and lay all the props out on tables.

Where is your office/studio and what is the view out of your window? I work at a dining table in the middle room of the ‘parlour floor’ of the Brownstone we live in. Brownstones are narrow houses but long, so there is usually a space in the middle of the floor plan which gets no light. Ours, however, is open to windows at two ends (I leave the sliding doors to my bedroom open) so I look at trees in the garden and on the street side, which is calming in a city as noise-polluted as NYC.

What are the tools of your trade? I have a lot of different packing tape, masking tape, duct tape, string, scissors, pruning shears, and I stockpile recycled bubble wrap and tissue paper. Not very thrilling, but necessary for all the packing and unpacking.I do have an extensive prop department which is very useful: ceramics, organic things like pebbles and birds nests, shells, sculptural things, vessels, candlesticks, vintage cutlery, lab ware, paint palettes, driftwood, stone slabs, bits of patinated metal. Stuff!

What can’t you work without? Organic things such as flowers and branches.

Why do you love what you do? It’s like playing. It’s different everyday. You get the result, as in the photographs, instantly. I’m always learning. I also really appreciate the beauty of light. Light is everything in a photograph. I can change things very quickly so it’s always unfolding, which I find exciting.

Who or what inspires you? Painters, sculptors, and nature.

What is the best advice you have received? I’m too pig-headed to seek or listen to advice!…probably a big mistake!

One moment in your career you will always remember? Can I have two? A shoot at Stourhead which was very hard work and a logistical nightmare - but it was enormous fun to make pictures in such a sublime historic setting. Also, I really enjoyed writing for the Telegraph Magazine when I lived in England.

What is the best part of your job? Serendipity. The moment when all the elements I have brought together fuse…the props, the location, the photographer, the day light. Or, when you see some unexpected but beautiful thing happen on set and you just go with that.

And the worst? Two things: 1. I’m not very keen on bossy, controlling art directors. I need some freedom to do my best work. In Europe, stylists often art direct themselves, so I am more accustomed to that way of working…sorry art directors! I prefer to produce most aspects of a shoot myself.

2.The schlepping!

What’s your proudest career achievement? I’m always moving forward. Never satisfied.

What are you working on at the moment? A book for Rizzoli on Brooklyn Interiors, another book for RPS for 2015 about monochrome interiors, and putting together my own online store of vintage objects (www.mrsrobertsonstore.com).

What single thing would improve the quality of your life? It’s boring but true: more money.

What have you learnt the hard way? Everything.

If you could do another job what would you like to do and why? I’d like to have been a musician. I love the way music transports me when I sing or play music with other people.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you are doing? Get a proper job. I don’t think I would advise anyone to be a stylist. It’s better to be a photographer or a graphic designer.

If you could be someone for a day who would it be? Maira Kalman - I’d like to live in her head for a day. She’s brilliant.

What is your personal motto? “It is better to travel hopefully than arrive.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)

What would you like to be doing in five years time? I’d like to be a creative director. It would be interesting to be able to focus on one brand. There is a ceramics company I have my eye on. Since I discovered it in the USA, I have collected Bennington pottery (from Bennington, Vermont) and I’m amazed that it isn’t known in Europe. The designs from the 60s have enduring appeal but the contemporary stuff is disappointing. That’s my fantasy job…just putting it out there! I do still harbour a hankering to make a magazine. I’d also like to introduce more British design to America. I’m imagining a studio location furnished with furniture, accessories, paint, lighting, wallpaper etc by British makers.

If you had an extra hour each day what would you do with it? Learn to play the cello. I got one for my birthday and have just started to play it.

How would you like to be remembered? That’s tough…I’d just like to be remembered.

Thank you Hilary for talking to The Lifestyle Editor.


Who are you: Ned Corbett-Winder

What is your work: Founder of a surprise gift subscription service called NOT-ANOTHER-BILL

Where can we find you: website / twitter / instagram

Describe your work in 5 words? Source, design, create, pack, surprise.

Can you tell us why you set up your business? I set up NOT-ANOTHER-BILL after a combination of factors. Firstly, because I realised that people didn’t receive anything great in the post, but mainly because I have always had a fascination with design and products. At the time I was working as an Art Director at M&C Saatchi advertising agency, and I would regularly be sent beautiful things from artists and designers wanting us to use them in campaigns. This would fuel my collection of wonders arriving on my desk each day…and then it all began!

Describe a typical day at work. There never really is a typical day as such, but the months have the same cycle. It all focuses towards the first week when we ship all our parcels. The rest of the month is split between sourcing new presents, photographing what we’ve just sent, designing new ones, studio visits, meetings, packaging, and general tomfoolery!

What is the first thing you do when you get to work? Feed our new courier pigeons we have just bought to help deliver our parcels. A recent purchase in the wake of Royal Mail’s price increases!

Where is your office/studio and what is the view out of your window? Our office is in the Old Gaswork’s units in South West London, and occasionally, when we can see out of the windows through all the boxes, we have a view of the old gas towers and pipes.

What are the tools of your trade? I have this very nifty ruler that can measure the depth of objects very easily. Beyond that, a Mac, my bike, a good set of crayons and a giant sketch pad.

What can’t you work without? A franking machine.

Why do you love what you do? I love what I do because I get to satisfy my creative thoughts, however silly or farcical they may be. To actually make an idea happen is very satisfying.

Who or what inspires you? I hate answering that question because it really is from everywhere and everything. My favourite colour though is teal-grey-green, and that flows into a lot of my work.

What is the best advice you have received? “You have to learn to fly the plane whilst you build it.”

What is one moment in your career you will always remember? Leaving my full time job in advertising to attempt to run my own business.

What is the best part of your job? Getting to work with a brand you love and creating a new product with them.

And the worst? Subscribers screaming at you when their parcels get lost in the post, or attempting to balance the books.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I’ve been lucky enough to have a few, but having our subscriptions sold in Selfridges concept store has to be up there. Or building a giant pop-up postbox that is now in the shop at the Bluebird.

What are you working on at the moment? Well our business is all about sending surprise presents in the post so I can’t really say too much. But there is something exciting with Sony music on the horizon, as well as a few of the big Danish design houses.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life? Extra hours.

What have you learnt the hard way? Value added tax.

If you could do another job what would you like to do and why? I’ve always wanted to be an architect and I’m hoping one day I will get to design something of scale. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you are doing? I’d say there are definitely easier careers paths to choose from, but being your own boss is very rewarding if you can make it work. Not to get too bogged down in the detail and always ride the horse in the direction it is travelling.

If you could be someone for a day who would it be? Completely unrelated to my world but I’ve always thought I’d be a great racing or rally driver.

What would you like to be doing in five years time? In five years time I would like to have grown NOT-ANOTHER-BILL to have global satellite offices around the world, and to have a higher price tier. Also to grow NOT-ANOTHER-BILL as a brand where we can encompass things like a physical shop - such as ‘NOT-ANOTHER-SHOP’ and NOT-ANOTHER-RESTAURANT and so on and so forth.

If you had an extra hour each day what would you do with it? Start designing the ‘thing’ I’m going to build.

How would you like to be remembered? With a set of commemorative stamps

Thank you Ned for talking to The Lifestyle Editor. www.notanotherbill.com


Isabelle Palmer, author of The Balcony Gardener, has headed indoors this time and brought her small-space gardening experience with her for new book The House Gardener. With over 60 cool ideas for creating indoor ‘gardens’, including using plants to stylishly decorate your space, clever containers and ideas for table settings - this isn’t just a ‘how to care for your houseplants’ book! Divided into five main chapters, covering everything from terrariums to recycling, hanging plant holders to windowsills and balconies, there is also a handy guide to the basics of growing houseplants from start to finish, for both the beginner and the experienced gardener. I recently caught up with Isabelle Palmer to chat about her love for plants and small-scale gardening.

Do you have a garden and if so what is it like? I have two balconies – one runs off my living room so is more ornamental and is an extension of the decoration in my living room, and the other one is downstairs and is more of a room to relax and sit outside, and also grow my own edibles. I adore both of them for different reasons, and the feel that they evoke and being up high means you really get a space of freedom and privacy.

When did you first fall in love with urban gardening? I first picked up the bug due to my own urban balconies. I wanted to create my own little bit of green in the city, even with limited space. I started off small, but my love of gardening grew and grew from there.

Why did you want to do a book about indoor plants? It was while I was looking out on my balconies in winter and I suddenly thought, what if you didn’t have any space outdoors at all? I then turned my attention indoors and how you could create your own little bit of green inside the home, and hence the idea came about.

Can you tell us one of your favourite indoor plants and why?
I really went on a journey writing this book as I learned so much, and also discovered so many plants that I didn’t know about. I wanted to really push the boundaries and turn the notion that a cheese plant was the only plant that people had heard of. I have so many favourites but ferns, albeit they are not the most of exotic houseplants, I think for me it’s the most surprising houseplant that I have grown to love. I really disliked them before.

Three top tips for keeping indoor plants alive? Water (please don’t forget!), light (best position), and feeding.

Three best plants for gardening indoors? Ferns, succulents, Tom Thumb.

The House Gardener by Isabelle Palmer, photography by Helen Cathcart, is published by CICO Books, £25, and is available from rylandpeters.com. To win a copy of The House Gardener simply head over to Facebook and leave a comment why you would like to win it. Good luck!


Time to get some serious stripes in your life and embrace the linear. Slim, almost hand drawn lines, or big, bold graphic bands. Whatever your preference, the stripe is a timeless print that will transcend seasons and decorating styles. Take a look at this round-up of favourites: 1. Rockett St George, 2. Habitat, 3. The Hambledon, 4. PaperBoy, 5. CB2, 6. Aura, 7. West Elm, 8. Rockett St George, 9. John Lewis


Who are you: Ngoc Minh Ngo

What is your work: Photographer

What is your website: www.ngocminhngo.com

Describe your work in 5 words? How about just 2 words…always evolving.

Can you tell us a little about what you do? I photograph interiors, gardens, food, people, and all kinds of beautiful things, mostly for books and magazines.

What took you on the road to being a photographer? I was helping a friend on a feature film, and we looked at a lot of early black and white photography. I got hooked on photography and decided to try doing it myself.

Where is your office/studio and what is the view out of your window? I don’t have a studio since I am often on location.

What is the first thing you do when you get to work?  If I am on location, I do a quick walk around to get acquainted with the space. If I am in a studio, I set up my equipment and make sure everything is in order before sitting down for a quick breakfast.

Describe a typical day at work? There is no typical day at work. When I shoot a garden, we usually get there very early in the morning, trying to catch the light as the sun comes up. If there is dew on the grass, we have to be very careful not to step on it! I work my way around the garden as the light moves. If I’m shooting an interior, we start setting up in the room with the best light and move around the house as the light moves. Sometimes I work alone, sometimes with an assistant. On some shoots, there is a whole team of art director, stylists, editor or client. If it’s a studio shoot, we have a quick meeting to look over the props and decide on the order of the shots. The stylists set up the props, and I set up the camera, and lights if necessary. Then I try to get a composition that works for everyone, the art director, the client or the editor.

What are the tools of your trade and what camera do you like to use? I used a Mamiya RZ67 when I shot film, so I still shoot with a Mamiya body and a Phase One digital back. I love the versatility of the Mamiya and the beauty of the lenses. I shoot with a Canon 5D if I need to travel light, and I also use a 4x5 film camera once a year to document my daughter’s first day of school.

What can’t you work without? A camera.

Why do you love what you do? I love the opportunity to meet amazing people, to see beautiful things and places, to work with talented people, and to learn something new all the time.

One shoot you won’t forget and why? There have been so many memorable shoots, but the most recent one was when I got to spend two days at Sissinghurst, staying in Vita Sackville-West’s old cottage and sleeping in her bed. I got up with the birds and had the garden all to myself every morning before the visitors descended on the place en masse. During the day I retreated into the cottage, reading in the library. In the afternoon, after everyone left, the birds came back and I got to share the garden with them. It was magical.

Who or what inspires you? Too many things to list here, including the usual films, books, art, but most of all, people who do what they love and are kind to others.

What is the best advice you have received? When I was just an enthusiastic amateur photographer, Paul Graham, a photographer friend, set me straight on the goal of photography. It is not, as the cliché goes, to capture beauty, but to release it into the world. “To let the genie out of the bottle,” he said. I have often reflected on this, and although I sometimes don’t succeed, I always strive to make something of the beauty I see - to pull something out of it in order to show it in a different light. The goal is to expand on that beauty and hopefully to create something new. 

One moment in your career you will always remember? When I received the copy for the foreword of my book, Bringing Nature Home, from Deborah Needleman, who described it as “a sonnet to the seasons”…that she understood what I had set out to do with my book – something more than just a set of pictures of pretty flowers – made me infinitely happy.

What is the best part of your job? To vicariously experience other lives, see other places, and learn new things all the time.

And the worst? The heavy camera bags, especially when I travel. And all the time spent in front of a computer!

What’s your proudest career achievement? My book, which I was able to do with complete freedom, from conception to the finished product, thanks to a very supportive editor at Rizzoli.

What are you working on at the moment? I am shooting a cookbook by a rosarian (rose expert), who also happens to be an amazing baker. She is a friend, so we have a lot of fun on the project. I also have a couple of personal projects going…including the rose series - which I have been working on for several years. It is inspired by the work of Pierre-Joseph Redouté, who painted some of the most beautiful roses from Empress Josephine’s Malmaison, I try to photograph as many roses as I can in a season. This June I am going to photograph the roses at Mottisfont Abbey, where the famous Graham Thomas planted his collection of old roses and almost single-handedly brought them back into fashion.

Which phrase do you overuse? I can’t think of any.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life? A private garden.

What have you learnt the hard way? To balance work and family life. I’m still learning how to do it.

If you could do another job what would you like to do and why? I once wanted to be a painting restorer. I love the focus and knowledge of old paintings required for the job. I also fantasise about being a potter. Hours can fly by when I am in a ceramic studio, even though I am not very good at it.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you are doing? The most important thing is to develop your mind as well as your eye. Read. Be curious. Look at things deeply, with both your heart and your mind. Know yourself. Work on personal projects always. And finally, shoot as much as you can.

If you could be someone for a day who would it be? I am always curious about how other people live. Strange to admit, but I’ve always had a secret desire to be a monk living in a monastery. I am not particularly religious and not even a Christian, but the contemplative aspect of monastery life appeals to me. In the Middle Ages, monks were also great scholars and gardeners. On the other extreme, I would have appreciated the life of Robert Fortune. He was a 19th-century Scottish plant hunter who introduced lots of plants and flowers from China into the West, including the tea plants, kumquats and various roses and peonies. He disguised himself as a Chinese and was therefore able to travel to remote areas strictly forbidden to foreigners and clandestinely brought back plants that had never been seen in the West.

How do you spend your downtime? With friends and family. I have a good friend whom I see regularly and we have a certain ritual, which includes breakfast at a nice place, a walk on the High Line, and a visit to the art galleries or a museum. With my husband and daughter, we like to explore the different neighbourhoods of New York City and try new places to eat. I also have four sisters, and although we live far apart, I try to get together with them as often as I can. We always have a laugh together.

Can you give us a tip on how to take better photographs? Photography is mostly about light. Whenever possible, try to photograph in natural daylight, the best kind of light there is. If you are photographing people, beware of overhead lights, which cast the most unflattering shadows on people’s faces. Observe how light changes the way things look.

What would you like to be doing in five years time? Just what I am doing now, but also to grow beautiful plants in my own garden and photograph them.

If you had an extra hour each day what would you do with it? Can I have two? To practice the piano, read, and spend time in the ceramic studio with my daughter (we take a ceramic class together).

What’s your personal motto? A French proverb, “La vie s’arrange, mais autrement,” which basically says that life works out, but not always in the way you imagine. In other words, things don’t always work out the way you plan, which is very helpful to keep in mind at all times, but particularly during a shoot. You have to leave yourself open to something unplanned, something that happens in the moment that you couldn’t have foreseen.

How would you like to be remembered? Hopefully with affection by those closest to me.

Thank you Ngoc for talking to The Lifestyle Editor.

With many of us wanting to bring a touch of nature into our homes, and with space always at a premium…the hanging basket has offered the perfect planting solution for vertical greenery. But forget those seventies-vibe macramé and beaded hanging holders - time to think vegetable-tanned leather, chunky cotton rope, porcelain planters, and maple or brass hooks. Founder Farrah Sit’s company Light + Ladder, creates American-made home accessories designed by a network of independent artists in Brooklyn, New York. Farrah also works with guest designers to create locally made accessories for the home. Time to discover your green fingers and take a further look at the collection here. Photography by Nicole Franzen, styling by Kate Jordan.

Chopping boards are one of the essential items for the kitchen, and every home needs at least one beautiful, wooden one. Whether chopping herbs, cutting fruit, slicing vegetables, or simply using as a serving surface,  function collides beautifully with form in this round-up of blocks you would be happy to have on show. 1. Hampson Woods, 2. Noble Goods, 3. Tom Dixon, 4 (left) The White Company, (right) Folklore, 5. notonthehighstreet.com, 6. David Mellor, 7. Tom Provost, 8. Rough Stuff Oak

Looking for inspiration to create something for your home? Hot off the press is Made By Yourself, an inspirational book with 48 unique handmade pieces created using a variety of materials. Compiled by multi-talented German stylist Peter Fehrentz, who has a degree in metal design, Peter now works as a set and product designer, as well as a photographer. His projects are creative and original, and rated according to time, skill level and cost - and divided simply into material sections. Time to get out that craft box and tool kit and get creating! Made By Yourself by Peter Fehrentz, published by Jacqui Small, £18 and available online here. Want to win a copy of Made By Yourself…head over to The Lifestyle Editor’s Facebook page here for more details.




Who are you: Nicole Franzen

What is your work: Photographer 

What is your website: www.nicolefranzen.com 

Describe your work in 5 words. Minimalistic, rich, soulful, tactile, modern.

Can you tell us a little about what you do? I am primarily a food and lifestyle photographer, and I shoot for a wide variety of areas, including interiors, still live, food, portraits and travel. 

What took you on the road to being a photographer? I have always enjoyed taking photographs since I was very young. I grew up in the restaurant industry, but always loved interior design and gardening. It was only a matter of time until I combined my loves into one. 

Where is your office/studio and what is the view out of your window? My home office is on the fourth floor and I can see the Manhattan skyline. The new Freedom Tower is in my direct view. 

What is your typical day at work? It can vary - if I am shooting then I am working on location somewhere, or I am often editing and emailing from my home office. 

What are the tools of your trade and what camera do you like to use? I use a Canon 5D Mark III with a set of prime Canon lenses. 

What can’t you work without? Camera, tripod, light and computer. 

Why do you love what you do? I get to be creative! I am able to express myself in new ways all the time. I am forever evolving - my job is never the same. 

Who or what inspires you? I am inspired by everything - nature, art, people and places. As a creative person we observe everything and find inspiration in it. 

What is the best advice you have received? Why are you in such a hurry to grow up? Be here, right now. This is it. 

What one moment in your career you will always remember. When I shot my first editorial spread for Martha Stewart Living. I had dreamt of working with her in some way since I was a child. I was thinking…this is it, its really starting to happen. I’ve made it! 

What one moment in your career would rather forget? I’ve definitely had my fair share of forgettable shoots! In the beginning you don’t get a choice if you want to make a living - you do the jobs to make the money to survive. Now as I progress, I am really trying to focus on jobs that will help me evolve and stick to my aesthetic. 

What is the best part of your job? The people I meet, the beautiful places I get to go and the opportunities that come my way. It’s never boring!

What is the worst? The thing I both love and hate about this job is it’s unpredictable. I love that it’s never really the same, but at the same time that can be challenging. Sometimes it’s slow, sometimes it’s insanely busy. I am still trying to figure out finding the balance. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? So far it’s been seeing the cookbooks I have shot come to life. They are big undertakings and I have really poured my soul into them. 

What are you working on at the moment? I’ve been shooting some restaurants and some editorial features. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you are doing? Shoot, shoot, shoot and network!

What top tip would you give for taking great photographs? Slow down. Observe. 

Which phrase do you overuse? Weirdly the word “monkey”. It was something my ex and I used to say a lot as a term of endearment. It gets said at weird times - it stuck!

What single thing would improve the quality of your life? A roof-top garden.

What have you learnt the hard way? I’m actually self-taught and I’ve been grateful for the help of others along the way, but most of what I have achieved is through hard work and perseverance. I had to learn through making mistakes, re-adapting and always moving forward. 

If you could do another job what would you like to do and why? I think I would enjoy being a designer in many potential variants.

If you could be someone for a day who would it be? Ryan Gosling, because he’s so damn hot!

How do you spend your downtime? Quiet mostly, meeting friends for a bite to eat or a drink, cooking, traveling and I admit to watching too much reality TV! 

What would you like to be doing in five years time? I hope to still be doing photography, maybe a family, a house upstate - but always travelling. 

What’s your personal motto? Work hard, tell the universe what you want and it will come. 

How would you like to be remembered? As a good friend, a caring soul and a talented creative being.

Portrait of Nicole Franzen © Emily Johnston.

Thank you Nicole for talking to The Lifestyle Editor.

Globetrotter, interior stylist, and author Sibella Court has published her latest book Gypsy, which guides us through her recent journeys abroad - traversing landscapes of Galapagos and Ecuador, Scotland, Transylvania, Turkey and Indochine. Sibella takes in the sights she sees, the people, landscapes, food and architecture, and translates these experiences into stories reflected in interior spaces - through a room, setting, vista or placement. Feeling like a cross between a travel journal and an inspirational interior scrapbook, Sibella’s books (her other titles include Bowerbird, Etcetera, The Stylist’s Guide to NYC and Nomad) are always a visual feast with atmospheric photographs, balanced with evocative copy that transports you perfectly to faraway climes. The colour palettes, collections, and mementoes will excite you to style your space to reflect the inspiration you find in those faraway places. Sibella shows that even the smallest incidental that makes you smile, and takes you to another place, is what her styling is all about. Gypsy by Sibella Court, with photography by Chris Court, is published by Hardie Grant, £26.99, and available to purchase online here. Visit Sibella at www.thesocietyinc.com.au.

Want to win a copy of Gypsy? Head over to The Lifestyle Editor’s Facebook page here and say which country has inspired you, and why. Good luck!

Call it the sunshine, Spring blooms blossoming, or just time to embrace some upbeat, make-me-feel-good colour…but yellow hues can lift the spirit like no other. A dash of muted mustard, a splash of zesty lemon, energising and refreshing, this is a shade that shouts happiness! Time to bring that sunshine inside.1. Heals 2. Habitat 3. left: Toast, right: Anthropologie  4. Fired Earth 5. Aura 6. Folklore 7. Mini Moderns  8. Habitat

Rowen & Wren has always offered something just that little bit different in the world of online lifestyle stores. Carefully building each season on their capsule collections, they have slowly grown into a much followed shop for their unique and beautiful homewares. But the home is not where it ends…for now they are turning their curating skills to the outdoors. I recently caught up with them to ask about their exciting new Outdoor collection.

Can you tell us why you decided to take Rowen & Wren ‘outside’, and about the collection? Having dabbled in a few outdoor products in our core range, we noticed that there was a high demand for beautiful garden pieces that looked good, whilst remaining functional. Therefore, we aimed to create a variety of practical garden products that reflected the timeless appeal of our indoor collections, so our customers can enjoy our signature style inside and out. We have catered for all aspects of the garden, from the potting shed through to outdoor entertaining - every piece has been lovingly designed and sourced to ensure that we’re catering for every aspect of the home and garden.

What are your two favourite pieces and why? Firstly it would have to be our Sola brass wall planters - the trend for brass has been around for some time now, so it’s lovely to see it utilised in the garden. It looks stunning filled with plum-coloured plants to make a statement on any exterior wall. Secondly, it would be one of the products we’ve designed to bring the outside in - our Herly stone terrarium. We currently have these on our desks following the photo-shoot - they have become permanent fixtures as they look absolutely beautiful filled with succulents and Fittonias.

Did you commission any specific pieces? As we have been developing our outdoor collection for some time, we have designed and commissioned the majority of the range, as we wanted it to be unique, with original pieces. A great example is our Hazel plant markers - we commissioned the maker of our trook hook to produce these, as he creates other successful, ethical pieces within our core collection.

Do you have your own garden and are you very green fingered? Although we don’t have a garden of our own, we have both been luckily enough to grow up with green fingered parents and gardens to enjoy. We love spending time outdoors and would like to think that we’re relatively green fingered, however, our turnover of house plants might tell a different tale!

What next for Rowen & Wren? Immediately next is the launch of our new Spring/Summer 2014 range which goes live at the end of March. Following this, we’re beginning to develop another new assortment for Rowen & Wren to launch next year. Last year we launched Little Rowen & Little Wren, this year it’s been Rowen & Wren Outdoor, so next years collection will take us into another new area of the home which we’re incredibly excited about…watch this space!


Shibori is an ancient Japanese term applied to resist-dyeing cloth to make a pattern - by folding, twisting, stitching or compressing. Indigo dyes were traditionally used from as early as the 8th century, resulting in random patterns in deep, inky blue tones. Providing the inspiration, and echoing the mood for a modern update on the traditional aesthetic of tie-dyed prints, this effect can currently be seen gracing our walls, furniture, beds and accessories. Hip, hippy chic! 2nd row: Anthropologie, 3rd & 4th rows: Rebecca Attwood, 5th & 6th rows: Scion 7th row left: Ulla Johnson, right: Emily Ziz, 8th row: Emily Ziz

Founded in 1919 by a team of 15, and now a global homeware brand, Brabantia has recently announced the launch of ‘Designed for living’ and their move into becoming an ‘interior design’ brand. I recently caught up with Mechteld Petersen, Value Director for Brand, Marketing and Product Innovation to discuss Brabantia’s new direction.

Can you tell us a little about your role at Brabantia? I’ve worked at Brabantia for eight years now and I’m a strategist and connector for the Brabantia brand, our Marketing activities and our Product Innovation. I am the Value Director, and the Value Factory is the name of our department which is a team of 22 people. My role is to inspire the team to bring the outside world inside, focusing on consumer insights, new colour palettes, trends in society/materials/communication, and to translate all these findings into experiences that make design and creativity worthy of conversation for our consumers. This is only possible if we add the right ‘perceived value’ to our brand, concepts and products. Our ultimate goal is to seduce our consumers by touching their hearts.

Describe your working day with Brabantia? There is never a dull moment and every day is different. My day varies from: briefing design agencies on a new range of prints for our ironing boards; visiting a photo-shoot for our new PR photography; meeting with one of the category managers to discuss ongoing projects; having an in-house ‘Value Factory’ lunch - where we share our 10 most inspiring things we’ve seen at recent fairs; discussing design details in a new product range with the designers or preparing an internal meeting for our sales team for ‘new product introductions’.

Brabantia has recently announced the launch of ‘Designed for living’, what does this mean exactly? Enriching the quality of life and living, by finding the sweet spot between design and durability, style and smartness, beauty and practicality. With beautifully designed interior products we make daily chores a pleasure, fitting into our consumers’ stylish world!

Brabantia make the ordinary feel extraordinary, what new designs can we expect for our home? We transform daily chores into domestic pleasure by adding surprise, inspiration and emotion into our brand and products. Examples of this include the soft, pink pastel Mineral Retro bins with the surprise inside: the bright pink coloured handle; our new contemporary prints on our ironing board (Peaks and Dunes), and the soft textile carrying grip on our FlatBack+ bin, which is really flat! There’s also our new stylish white laundry bin where you can place the lid on the top rim hands-free - to take out your laundry.

What colour palette/prints can we expect to see within the collection? Our new colour palettes and prints are based on two trends: Colour Blocking: Pastel vs Bold: A lot of pastel palettes go well with a bold accent colour - and our new Mineral Retro Bins are a nice pastel pink and mint colour, with a surprising bold coloured handle to the inner bin. Passion Red is our new bold and bright colour - perfect for spicing up your kitchen. Metallic Mint is our ‘tougher’, more industrial translation of the pastel mint trend. Warm Mathematics: New mathematics shapes/patterns which have a human touch and are made with pastel and bold colours.

What is your favourite product from the range and why? I really like our Mineral Pink Retro Bin - so cute and cuddly! Our new ironing board with Dunes print is really too cool to hide away!

How do you see things developing for Brabantia? By developing beautiful interior products that make our daily chores a pleasure, and making people smile when they see and discover them.

What is the company’s ethics on sustainability? It’s definitely in our design and durability credentials - we’ve been in business for 95 years and our quality, service and guarantee is still the most important value we have. We have just received a Cradle-to-Cradle bronze certificate for our new FlatBack+ pedal bin, which is really important for us in our sustainability mission. We try to make our products from recycled materials and our products need to be recyclable. Our new FlatBack+ pedal bin is already made from 25% recycled materials and if you take it to a recycling station 97% can be recycled.

When will these latest products be available? All new products will be available at the beginning of April and we can’t wait to see what you think!