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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Country Life - Garden Design

Featured in Country Life (25 Jan) 
Stanbridge Mill, Gussage All Saints, Dorset see below.
A beautiful garden - created by
Arabella Lennox-Boyd
 - enhanced the conversion of this water mill.  

James Fairfax was a model client. The river, the garden and the house with its outbuildings - converted to guest rooms - all harmonised very happily. 
We enjoyed the project!

The house was featured in American Architectural Digest.

My favourite design - in all that we did - which was a lot in this highly successful and satisfying commission is the Swimming Pool Pavilion which you can see on page 51 of Country Life and in more detail below as featured in my book John Stefanidis Designs.

Monday, 30 January 2012

FABRICS: Christopher Farr

A new fabric, which I think particularly good,
is a textured linen from Christopher Farr ‘Downey’
Available in Chocolate, Wine and Indigo.

Friday, 27 January 2012

BOOKS: The Radetzky March

Joseph Roth wrote the brilliant novel [published in 1932]   The Radetzky March – about the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – I did not know, until the other day, he was a friend of Stefan Zweig a highly regarded writer whose novels were best sellers, whereas Roth struggled as a journalist, he was always broke, and a great complainer - his talent largely unrecognised.  Stefan Zweig who has basked in his success and lived a charmed life in a house that overlooked Salzburg.  He found life intolerable as a self exiled Austrian Jew.  He and his wife committed suicide in Brazil in 1942.  Recognition came to Joseph Roth but very late..... 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Travel: PARIS Part II

There are places – however many photographs you may have seen – whose first impact take you by surprise.  It was gratifying to have a companion whose intake of breath on stepping into the Saint Chapelle proved my point.  Nowhere is stained glass more magnificent.

The Musée d’Orsay has new rooms for their Impressionist Collection on the top floor.  The rooms are painted in charcoal/aubergine colour and lack any architectural form. It is a relief to have  the coup d’oeil of the old  station’s clock.

Masterpieces of the period are displayed with lesser paintings, all hung monotonously in line and with little air, hence the exhausted spectators on the octopus seat! There is also a mercilessly noiseless new café - aggressively ugly decoration which will date fast.  

These galleries are disappointing.

Pont de l’Archevêchésentimentality locked on the railings of this bridge behind the Notre Dame, couples pledge their love by clamping a lock on the rails and throwing the key into the Seine – what happens when they split? 

In Avenue Montaigne, Le Relais Plaza, an elegant brasserie with an Art Deco interior, serves the best cocktails and good food If you are as lucky as my friend Harry Fane, you might see an elegantly dressed woman with a leopard on a lead.

Talking of food, rumour has it that at some brasseries [including some of the most renowned] the food is not cooked on the premises but bussed in [as in some hospitals from goodness knows where!].  It makes one suspicious, and with reason ...or is it that London has set new standards?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

DESIGN: Cushions

Cushions are essential to comfort but need to be fun! 

Left - Paisley embroidered cushions made by Hand and Lock in London

Below left - I often commission needlepoint cushions, stitched by prisoners,  from the charity 

My policy – no ‘ears’ on the corners: 


The Delaunay: London restaurant

Jeremy King and Chris Corbin's new restaurant/brasserie The Delaunay in The Aldwych is great - looks good...comfortable and glamorous...and food excellent.  We have these enterprising restaurateurs to thank for The Wolseley in Piccadilly which has been a wonderful addition to London life and I await the new place in Sloane Square with impatience!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

John Stefanidis Fabrics: RAIN [Japanese Collection]

A versatile semi-plain coordinate fabric with interrupted fine lines often found on oriental ceramics which create an effect similar to ikat

Available in seven colours:

Available from:

London, UK - Tissus d'Helene
Showroom: Chelsea Harbour, London, SW10 0XF
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7352 9977

Miami, USA - Monica James
Showroom: 40 NE 40th Street, Miami, FL 33137
Phone: + 1 305-576-6222

Los Angeles, USA – Harbinger
Showroom: 752 North La Cienega Blvd,West Hollywood, CA 90069
Phone: +1 310 858 6884

Melbourne, Australia – Tigger Hall
Showroom: 720 High Street Armadale Vic 3143
Phone: +61 (0) 3 9509 6456
Website: tigger

John Stefanidis Fabrics Website

Monday, 23 January 2012

18th Century Frivolity: trompe l'oeil ceramics

 Talleyrand said that the douceur de vivre [sweetness of life] before the French Revolution would never be repeated.  Sofia Coppola’s movie  ' Marie Antoinette' captured the insouciance and frivolity of the 18th century – it clearly showed the luxury, craftsmanship and refinement of Versailles, not the intellectual side of French life, she showed the fun.  Trompe l’oeil ceramics were part of this playfulness, a tradition that continues to this day in the Veneto in Italy:


    Left and above: 18th Century ceramics

Cabbage from a Florida potter and modern ceramic table pieces from Este in Italy
Ceramic eggs, olives and an aubergine
Ceramic fennel and a lemon on a plate
A ceramic pumpkin in my London garden

Friday, 20 January 2012


Twin beds are sometimes a necessity.  Here are some examples of how I have dealt with them. 
They often look best with a canopy:
A house on an island in Greece 
A Chinese themed room in a house for guests in the American MidWest

                  Above left:   a house on the island of Mustique
                  Above right: a house on a beach in Florida

Thursday, 19 January 2012

PRESS: The World of Interiors - January 2012

The World of Interiors - January 2012 issue - click on the image below.... to read my full article which features a yali I designed on the shores of the Bosphorus in Istanbul. 


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

POETRY: The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke

His tired gaze - from passing endless bars -
has turned into a vacant stare which nothing holds.
To him there seem to be a thousand bars,
and out beyond these bars exists no world.

His supple gait, the smoothness of strong strides
that gently turn in ever smaller circles
perform a dance of strength, centred deep within
a will, stunned, but untamed, indomitable.

But sometimes the curtains of his eyelids part,
the pupils of his eyes dilate as images
of past encounters enter while through his limbs
a tension strains in silence
only to cease to be, to die within his heart.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

John Stefanidis Fabrics: BAMBOO

Stylised floral stripe with oriental influences adapted from original English 18th Century needlepoint patterns.

Shown above in Cream/Gold.
Also available in delightful
Soft Blue/Pink.

Available from:

London, UK - Tissus d'Helene
Showroom: Chelsea Harbour, London, SW10 0XF
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7352 9977

Miami, USA - Monica James
Showroom: 40 NE 40th Street, Miami, FL 33137
Phone: + 1 305-576-6222

Los Angeles, USA – Harbinger
Showroom: 752 North La Cienega Blvd,West Hollywood, CA 90069
Phone: +1 310 858 6884

Melbourne, Australia – Tigger Hall
Showroom: 720 High Street Armadale Vic 3143
Phone: +61 (0) 3 9509 6456
Website: tigger

John Stefanidis Fabrics Website

Friday, 13 January 2012

EGYPT: Alaa Al Aswany

During the last year, I wondered what role Alaa Al Aswany was playing in the Revolution in Egypt [see my blog post of February 28, 2010].  The author of the excellent book [also a movie available on DVD] The Yacoubian Building, published a decade ago, revealed life in Egypt for what it was, corrupt, violent and intolerant - it was a mystery that its publication had been permitted.

There is a comprehensive article in The New Yorker of  January 16, 2012.  Alaa Al Aswany was in Tahrir Square almost every day during the revolution and saw protesters shot beside him.  The Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik - a good communicator - was overwhelmed by our hero during a TV debate and resigned the next day.  Aswany hosts a 'salon' which, since the Revolution, is attended by more than one hundred people every week, the subject is literature but politics come to the fore and this liberal, compassionate man has his say. I wonder how much influence he will have against the forces of Islamic fundamentalism.  

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Architecture: Thomas Heatherwick Studios

Some of most the interesting architectural design and beautiful product is coming from Thomas Heatherwick Studios in London:
UK Pavilion, Shanghai Expo 2010

Friday, 6 January 2012


This Christmas in Paris I stayed on the Île St. Louis - it is disorientating but strangely pleasurable to live on an island in the centre of the city - you walk across a bridge to the Île de la Cité or across to the Right or Left bank depending on your destination,  St. Germain, the Louvre Museum and Place Vendôme are all within  walking distance.  Isle St. Louis is a delectable island village.  Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Isle crosses its length and has inimitable, old-fashioned shops such as Boulangerie-Patisserie

Here I had the Proustian experience of finding a brioche with a sugared top which swept me back to Stanley Bay in Alexandria, the beach of my childhood, where a man in a ‘galabiya’, carrying a large wooden tray on his head, would sell these same, delicious buns. 

At one end of the island, encased in a truly vast wooden box is the XVII Century Hôtel Lambert [famous for its Galerie d’Hercule], it is undergoing a thorough restoration by its new Qatari owners and until recently, it epitomised French elegance.  Alexis de Redé and Marie-Hélène de Rothschild gave memorable parties of casual grandeur with musicians on the magnificent stone staircase to prevent one becoming bored before entering the portals of enchantment...

The Stein Family exhibition at the Grand Palais came from San Francisco and travels next to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New Yorkwhat an exhibition!  

Brilliantly executed by the Curator, it delivers an evocative history of Gertrude Stein, her brother Leo, Michael and his wife Sarah. 

This astonishing family bought Picasso and Matisse before anyone else.  There is memorabilia – all set clearly in its period, the beginning of the 20th Century – wonderfully lit and hung.  You see painting after painting and gasp with pleasure.