Recent Post -  Patmos Garden From the Archives Desert Island Discs

Friday, 28 December 2012

Thursday, 27 December 2012

COMMENT: Life is a

                            LIFE IS A BREEZE?
                                                      LIFE IS A BOWL OF CHERRIES?


Monday, 24 December 2012


Colours convey romance, create moods… 

Descriptions of colours can be immediately evocative - the French writer Colette: ...'eyes that are ‘Tabacs d’Espagne’.

I keep pigments and gaze into the powdered depths before specifying a colour!

Colours from Chinese ceramics: Rose de Chine, Jaune de Chine, Vert de Chine...Celadon

Heliotrope is not Parma violet, Ox blood is not Terracotta

Reds are Carmine, Crimson, Cardinal, Red Poppy, and many others including Cadmium and Pomegranate.

Yellows: Saffron Yellow, Chartreuse, Absinthe, Frangipani yellow, Lemon... 

Eucalyptus Grey, Dior Grey [a standing joke with my specialist painters who know I will ask for it sooner or later] and Dove grey is not Gorge de Pigeon

Browns are Donkey brown, Chestnut, Morello and paler...Café-au-lait.

Pinks are Venetian rose, Ottoman pink, Rose fanné, Rose madder

Whites are plentiful, some Italian whites – Giallon di Napoli and Rosetto di Napoli are examples of my favourites.

Greens are Sage green, Pistachio, Lovat, Ogido di Cromo PuroVerviene green.
Black: Roman black, Graffiti, Black oxide...

Ochre: Dark / Medium & Pale – Roman/Tuscan.

Blue: Azure, Batik blue, Indigo, Bleu Outremer, Cobalt blue, Sky blue, Ink blue, Aquamarine…

Interior by Raoul Dufy
From the International Herald Tribune, October 24, 2012: 'Captivated by the Purity of Blue' by Natalie Angier, she quotes Raoul Dufy: 

the only remain blue in all its tones’.  

‘In the Congo basin, a new species of monkey 'Lesula', has a patch of brilliant blue skin on the male’s buttocks and scrotal area.

Blue’s emotional balance is calmness and open-endedness…coolness and tranquility.. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

POETRY: Nina Cassian


Today a grandly furious storm
hurled a pile of mussels at my feet,
reminding me of the first creation.
O sea, that element in which I was born.

Cradle of life, long convoy
of sea anemones, reptiles
and scaly monsters, winding towards us
imprisoned in our sweet and fragile forms...

I came from the sea and to the sea
I would return, to be immersed in her story,
ever lost and everlasting.
Black mussels on the shore: memento mori.

[translated by Stanley Kunitz] 


The bear paces the cage for hours
the four bars in the four corners
drip with his saliva and sniffs
the bear's snout up and down on
the four bars, only the four bars
a frenzy for four sides.
If the cage were completely round
he'd stand in the centre for hours
feeling all points narrowing tight
to a prison and at last he'd lose
the tragic illusion of a road along
one side and from there again along
another side and from there again along
another side and from there, again...

[translated by Laura Schiff] 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

LIVING BY DESIGN: Tuscany, ITALY [Vogue Living]

On a recent visit to Tuscany, I was congratulated for having been an influence on how 'case coloniche' have been restored of late.

The use of woven fabrics is a simple aesthetic which is repeated from all over the world and includes hand-woven saris used as bed curtains, etc.  More important perhaps is heating with air and radiators disposed in such a way as not to intrude on the rough  architecture which also means more space in rooms that are sometimes small.

I first designed an infinity pool in the far distant 1970's overlooking only the water of Lake Geneva.  This infinity pool is surrounded by  olive groves and evergreen oak trees in a landscape that has remained unspoilt since the Renaissance.

Friday, 14 December 2012

BOOKS: Wisdom of the West by Bertrand Russell

As for herds of deer, books need to be 'culled'.  I practice what I preach and give away books I will never read again and paperbacks turned yellow.  Some I treasure and have re-bound - very good book binders are Shepherds in London: 

Here is an example, Wisdom of the West by Bertrand Russell, published in 1959, edited by Paul Foulkes, beautifully designed by Edward Wright, ten illustrations by John Piper, published by Macdonald: London in 1959 & 1960.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

BOOKS/DRAMA: Ford Madox Ford

I recently watched a DVD of the BBC’s Parade’s End, the script by Tom Stoppard [the casting questionable] – the end of an era – based on the novel ‘The Good Soldier’ by Ford Madox Ford – a fabulist, an unattractive man.  Jungian’s belief in synchronicity.... I get Julian Barnes’ ‘Through the Window’, seventeen essays (and one short story) – and there are two essays, one of The Good Soldier, Ford and Provence intelligent and revealing – one can but like this heroic and hopeless man a little more.


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

TRAVEL: Sri Lanka

Some places remain engraved on one's mind,
Kandy in Sri Lanka is one of them

The Temple of the Tooth, Kandy

Different spelling but appropriate to the place,
 little girls eating candy floss!

Monday, 10 December 2012

ARCHITECTURE I admire: Tadao Ando

Intended as the reconstruction of an existing 250 year old temple, KOMYO-JI TEMPLE, Saijo, Ehime, Japan - 1999-2000, was to be "a place where people would come to gather together". 

Ando insisted that his design, consisting of three layers of interlocking beams supported by sixteen columns in four groups, should represent something of a return to the founding principles of wooden temple structures.  Open lattice walls allow ample daylight to penetrate into the main sanctuary hall and light from the surrounding reflecting pool adds a variety and liveliness to the otherwise inanimate forms. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

COMMENT: Neighbourhood Watch

After the sleek sameness of Sloane Street as a result of expensive stores that are 'cheek to jowl', it is a relief to see that Floris has opened a nice old-fashioned shop in Ebury Street, London, SW1.

Friday, 7 December 2012

ART: The Northern Renaissance: Dürer to Holbein

Left: From The Royal Collection at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace - a greyhound by Dürer, not a drawing but painted with a very fine brush indeed - hey!  

An impressive exhibition in those controversially decorated rooms where, it must be said, pictures look very good, as do the manuscripts lit in darkened rooms - until April 14, 2013 This exhibition celebrates the Renaissance in northern Europe, the counterpart to the revolution in art and scholarship that took place in Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace
Beautiful, strong horses - such noble creatures - being walked around a courtyard in The Royal Mews. An indoor riding school, handsome old stables, all the gear that goes with panoply, quite beautifully kept, shiny and polished, the state coaches on display....around 200 people are employed.  

Thursday, 6 December 2012

POETRY: Grey Gowrie

Extract taken from The Domino Hymn

   Windows: papery shades
or slats maybe -slats sound fine-
   filter new knowledge: the heart
that beats is no longer mine
   so logically it belongs
to someone else who they say
   (so in the future they tell me)
is lying a few feet away

   A Domino. A man
dies and his heart and lung
   helicoptered to shelter inside
the cavity of this young
   man who lent me his heart
in turn that January
   night of the operation
in two thousand AD. 

Monday, 3 December 2012


A large landing in London's Belgravia. Scagliola columns were installed, a wooden floor put in, metal neo-classical balusters made [staircases are always steep in Cubitt houses].  A John Stefanidis designed lantern on a staircase wall.  A chandelier 'weights' the room and hangs over a conversation piece - a spill-over for parties - on a Garouste and Bonetti designed carpet.  The consoles designed for this space hide radiators.  Two elegant Regency chairs float on the parquet floor.  

Friday, 30 November 2012

FABRICS: for children

To complement The Story of Babar, these fabrics from my archive, designed for me by Eric Boman [now a successful photographer living in New York], will gladden the hearts of your small loved ones! 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

ART: Motya Charioteer

I first saw this stunning statue of a charioteer when on loan to the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens.  Sensuous and beautifully carved, I had planned to see it again at Mozia, a small island off the Sicilian coast*  The charioteer was at The British Museum during the Olympics this summer – any news of its arrival and display was swamped by the egocentric spoutings of ardent  Olympic winners!
*the island belonged to the Whitaker family who made their fortune selling Marsala wine. A descendant, Billy Whitaker, lived with his sister Penelope in Edwardian splendour at Pylewell Park near Lymington in Hampshire].

The British Museum, London

Made by a Greek sculptor in Sicily about 460-450 BC.
 Found on the Sicilian island of Motya (Mozia) of the western tip of Sicily in 1979.

Museo Giuseppe Whitaker, Marsala, Sicily 

Monday, 26 November 2012

BOOKS: Luxury Minimal



Published by Thames & Hudson

A book just out.  Fritz von der Schulenburg's incomparable images follow one after another from very grand to grand, simple to very simple, showing impeccable discrimination - interspersed with quotes and 'Conversations' with Karen Howes and nine different designers - a feast for the most developed eye.  I am privileged to be included.   

Friday, 23 November 2012

POETRY: Paradise Lost [excerpt] by John Milton

Farewell happy fields
Where joy for ever dwells; hail horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new possessor: one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.

from Book I

Thursday, 22 November 2012

TRAVEL: Portugal


 Going south across the Tagus river, Lisbon

Vasco de Gama Bridge

designed by Armando Rito 
and opened in 1998 

...soon after, pine and cork forest and vineyards
 and endlessly long beaches...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

PEOPLE: Loulou de la Falaise

The irreplaceable Loulou de la Falaise
- how to wear a hat!
   The Rifat Ozbek decor is suitably dashing..

Robin Birley, her first cousin,  named the nightclub of his stylish new club LouLou at 5 Hertford Street, London, W1.

Monday, 19 November 2012


A London office with JS designed oval desk in wenge with a pig skin inset top [see oak version in I.M. Pei designed pavilion in my blog entry of October 14, 2011 ].   Eames designed swivel chairs are covered in suede.  The wall panelling - also in wenge - is randomly matched and mis-matched.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Thursday, 15 November 2012

GARDENS: A video of my garden in Patmos filmed on an iPhone--better next time!


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

ART: Marsden Woo Gallery, London

I very much like the architectural mix in Clerkenwell, how new and old buildings are juxtaposed: Smithfield Market for its ironwork; paintings by Hogarth filling the walls in the James Gibbs Northern Block staircase of St. Bartholemew's Hospital.  Nearby is - the ancient 14th century St. Bartholemew's Church [right], one of the few to survive The Great Fire and which featured in the film, 'The Four Weddings and a Funeral'.

If in the area, do not miss the Marsden Woo Gallery, 17-18 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DN -- great shows by Owen Bullett Force Field , Nao Matsunaga, and an extraordinary installation by Rupert Ackroyd, Inn, Inn, Inn:

A piece by ceramic artist Dawn Youll
Above: This piece by Nao Matsunaga has just been bought by The Victoria & Albert Museum in London
     Below: An installation Force Field by Owen Bullet