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Originally built in 1969 by British architect Ronald Phillips, The Murray has been an icon in Hong Kong’s for more than fifty years, winning many awards for its unique energy-efficient design. For countless Hong Kong locals, its white concrete structure and distinct arches have become a landmark in the city’s the bustling central business district.

It makes sense then, that the city put in the time to restore The Murray to its former glory. The hotel is part of the government’s Conserving Central Project, which launched back in January this year. A project that was launched with the aim of preserving Hong kong’s many architectural treasures. Today, design firm Foster + Partners has given the Murray a new lease on life, as a luxurious urban sanctuary set right in the heart of the city’s central business district. Part of the stylish new luxury hotel group, Niccolo Hotels, The Murray has since been named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Great Places in 2018; reflecting the group’s dedication to impeccable service. Spanning 25 floors and with 336 spacious rooms, a wrap-around rooftop bar, panoramic views of Hong Kong’s ever-changing skyline, as well as the lush green oasis of Hong Kong Park – the Murray is perfect for a stylish stay in one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities.

The minds at Foster + Partners really did an amazing job at preserving the history of the building, whilst simultaneously making it a breathtaking modern sanctuary. Bathed in natural light, every corner of The Murray exudes a subtle kind of elegance. A nuanced mix of wood, leather, and Italian Calcutta marble, is balanced by an array of sumptuous textures. Check out their beautiful rooftop restaurant, Popinjays, for some authentic cuisine and unforgettable views of the city. The word Popinjays was once a term assigned to the colourful cockatoos on Garden Road and in Hong Kong’s botanical gardens. Set in a purpose build glass pavilion on the rooftop and with KAWS artwork adoring the walls — the Popinjay is as stylish as you can get and is Hong Kong’s buzziest new lifestyle destination.

According to Luke Fox, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners, “On our very first visit to the site, we were inspired by the panoramic views from The Peak to the harbour from the rooftop of the Murray Building,We sought to capitalise on the unique location of The Murray by relocating the services to other unobtrusive locations within the building, and creating an extraordinary setting for Popinjays that embraces the intense urbanity and unique topography of Hong Kong.”

And if you really want to splash out, why not check into the Murray’s newly launched luxury suites? Occupying the 23rdfloor of the hotel, each suits is modelled after an indulgent private residence — and is the ultimate suite for literally living the high-life in Hong Kong.

For more information on The Murray, please visit The Murray

When it comes to luxury hotels and resorts, the devil is in the detail. From antiques shipped to Vietnam via Camden market to legends and stories that give depth to the experience, designer Bill Bensley has taken classic hotel design and tripped it on acid. You may think you’ve seen it all after visiting one of his properties, but escaping to one of his newest creations such as JW Marriott Emerald Bay (Phu Quoc) will make you rethink what it is to experience five-star-luxury all together.

But what kind of designer can build a brand new hotel and make it look like identical to a 1920’s University? With no limitations when it comes to fun and clients with blank chequebooks, Bill Bensley has thrived in the luxury market and made quite the impact. This kooky and fearless interior designer has his name to some of the most exclusive and well-appointed resorts around the world. From Bangkok’s most instagrammable hotel, The Siam to his exclusive six-star Bensley Collection villas at Shinta Mani (Siem Reap) his heart is most definitely in warmer climates. Originally from the USA, his creative hub is a mere stones throw from The Siam in downtown Bangkok. Fortuitously for us, our Travel Writer, Jenna was more than happy to hunt down three of his most exciting designs in South East Asia and even grab ten minutes with his unique mind. That was before he set off to work on one of his countless projects however…

JC: I have absolutely loved exploring your designs in South East Asia. I even described staying at JW Marriott Emerald Bay as ‘Disneyland for adults’ as every square inch of that place is entertaining and intriguing. Just how do you convince corporate hotel chains to take on such elaborate design concepts?

BB: Ah the D word! I love it. It has a such a great connotation for well done hospitality but so many look down their noses at the name Disneyland. I grew up next to the park. Born the same year it opened in 1959. My entire village worked there. There are thousands of theme parks around the world all Disneyland wannabe’s. But in the hotel world, the D word is still the D word. It should not be.

I have been designing out of the box hotels for some time now so I know what buttons to push for to keep the corporate suits happy. If the hotel functions efficiently and is easy to maintain, that is half the battle. All hotel chains know we can tick that box, so it really up to me to convince the investor go the extra mile. As our hotels are financially successful this just gets easier.

JC: As all of your designs are so unique with their own legends and stories, what inspiration do you call on to continuously invent?

BB: I think that it is important to let the story grow naturally from the place that we are building. In almost all corners of the world, there are unique stories sleeping just under the surface that one just needs to dust off. As a romanticist, I find a great deal of possible material in the history of a place. I am an avid reader, and when I visit a new place or a new site for a hotel I load of the truck with as many books as I can possibly manage to become familiar with my newest infatuation. I will ALWAYS visit all of the surrounding places of worship…. Mosques, temples, chapels, churches, monasteries….. as these are the places that, historically, are the vaults of man’s design energies.

JC: Alongside taking inspiration from the natural landscape and history of a venue, what would you say is your ‘calling card’ in all of your designs?

BB: Good question as I dont really know myself. I strive to make each and every project totally different from the next as my clients NEVER want to have a photocopy of the last project nor would I ever dream of giving them one. Once you start repeating yourself in the design world you are dead. If I had to answer directly I would say it was an element of surprise, and a quirky layering of unique interesting objects … to enhance my telling of stories.

JC: Just how do you find the energy and time to collect all the unique objects of art and quirky furniture for each property?

BB: Well, you know what it does not take too much energy to get out of bed and do the thing that you love to do. I love shopping. Not in malls, or in boutiques, (I could not care less about the latest fashion for myself but in fairs filled with antiques, junk stores, markets, art galleries, and you know why? because you can learn so much first hand about how the world used to operate. I love the Victorian era as they had an invention for every possible use. Most of it absolutely useless today, but beautiful, none the less. I romanticize about the time when people had the time and energy to make beautiful objects with their hands. I actively seek out craftsmen today that make unique products, by hand, to our specifications to adorn our hotels. And I am currently filming a TV series of 13 episodes that explores, each week, a lost craft and craftsmen and their specific contribution to my hotel project.

JC: I am so excited to see this series as the staff at your designs were buzzing about being featured! Shinta Mani Bensley Collection (Siem Reap) in particular. What excites you the most about one of your newest projects – Shinta Mani WILD?

BB: The fact that we are taking a neglected part of Cambodia that sorely needs help in that it is over logged and over poached for the wild animal meat trade and we are bringing this to the forefront. And by doing so we are building alongside of Wildlife Alliance and National Geographic a private army backed by the Cambodian Government to seriously enforce the laws against illegal poaching and logging. My wish is that one day that people not only visit Angkor Wat but come to the Cardamon Forrests to see the raging sisters (waterfalls) and the vast estuaries, the mountain tops, and help us protect what is left of SE Asia’s greatest wild asset long after I leave the gorgeous world.

JC: I honestly fell in love with Cambodia during my trip, as the temples were wonderful, but the people were even better. It surprised me just how humble and happy they were with so little, and it made me quite emotional! How do you upkeep your kooky, positive and carefree attitude in such a demanding role?

BB: It is about defining the role. If it is no fun, don’t do it. Positive? If my clients take on a “demanding” tone then I would shy away, as there is no room in the creative process for negativity. Having said that, all my projects are owned by great like-minded carefree owners that enjoy the incredibly fun process of building a hotel or two. Kooky? Well that comes naturally!

JC: After Cambodia, I flew to Bangkok for a few crazy days and a stay at one of your gorgeous creations – The Siam. After living in Bangkok for so many years, what is your favourite element of South East Asian culture?

BB: My Thai husband of 30 years. He is a cultural icon!
2nd? I love vernacular residential and religious architecture of se asia as it a great source of inspiration. These cultures in asia have had hundreds of years to perfect the use of local materials to make dwellings that adapt so well with local weather patterns and other idiosyncrasies, but we as a modern society rush to throw what we know out to live the dream of the west… The vernacular will make a strong return sometime in the future as something innovative when we all have forgotten what really makes sense.

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Bill Bensley’s new series ‘ESCAPISM’ is coming soon so keep your eyes peeled. His full collection of hotel designs and projects can be found at bensley.com.

The Siam Bangkok – Suites start from 18,900.00 THB / Night with daily breakfast included.

Shinta Mani Bensley Collection – Private Pool Villas start from £617 GBP / Night including Butler service and daily breakfast.

JW Marriot Phu Quoc Emerald Bay – Resort View (Rue De Lamarck) Suite’s start from £397.38 / Night including daily breakfast.

Shinta Mani WILD – coming soon.

Read about Jenna’s full South East Asia trip in The Islands Issue coming in December.

At last years #TeamCoco retreat, we all wrote down our career and travel wishes for 2018. Some of us wished for Safari, some of us wished for private Beaches, but our girl Jenna wished to tick the Caribbean off her extensive bucket list. Luckily for her, the opportunity came up for a luxury long weekend in St Lucia and she was more than qualified for the job…

“Whenever I thought of the Caribbean I always thought of the three R’s – Rum, Reggae & Rihanna. What I didn’t think I’d find was Sushi, Sailing & Scrubs. Thankfully, the Scrubs weren’t the 90’s R&B kind and the ocean related elements were out of this world. St Lucia may be paradise, but Marigot Bay is so much more than that. Marigot Bay Resort & Marina is almost the cornerstone of this Island province. Not only by namesake, but it’s connection to the Yachters and the local community makes it a sanctuary with no discrimination.

A very Island welcome

Stepping off the flight, the 26 degree heat and glorious sunshine made a welcome change from rainy London. As you’d imagine, the humidity resulted in beads of sweat interrupting my fresh blow-dry, however our host gladly had us covered. Passing us an ice cold towel and a bottle of local water as soon as we stepped through customs, we adjusted to the climate whilst being heckled by cheeky taxi drivers. Handed over to our own private driver, we were set for the scenic route through some very windy roads to reach Marigot Bay.

Arriving at the resort, it was the definition of an island welcome, minus the steel drums. Our bags were picked up and taken to our suites; we were passed a Caribbean Ice Tea and assigned our own personal guide to take us to our rooms. Walking through the resort, you genuinely feel like you’re in the rainforest. The suites are built high and encased in natural wood giving it a treehouse like feel. However don’t let the rustic exterior fool you, the rooms are pure unadulterated luxury.

Ground floor ‘resort view’ suites (starting at £696 per night on a room only basis) come with their own private outdoor hot tub and second and third floor suites have an amazing view of Marigot Bay itself. I was lucky enough to have a resort view suite with a private pool, and it became my place of solace during the trip. There’s something incredibly indulgent about getting in your own private hot tub with a bottle of beer and a good book whilst the sun goes down. It beat sitting in my bath at home that’s for sure.

Throwing myself on the kingsize bed after a hot rainfall shower, I took in how beautiful this suite really was. With traditional Caribbean accents to pure white bed linen with cushions that gave me serious island vibes, I could have easily gone to bed early each night. Strolling around the spacious Kitchen and lounging on the sofa became a usual part of my early morning routine. These suites give you the freedom to be as close or as distant from your partner as you’d like, but as they’re so romantic, hopefully the former!

As it was my birthday the day I arrived, my room was kitted out with balloons and even a personalised chocolate cake baked by the resort chef. This was alongside the bottle of Chairman’s Reserve Rum and fully stocked fridge that every guest receives on arrival. Inbetween dining at the resorts extensive range of restaurants, it was great to dive into some chocolate cake and an ice cold can of Coke at my leisure. These thoughtful details paired with the fact that check-in and check-out was completely flexible meant I could settle in immediately.

From Creole fusion to classic Japanese

As a total foodie, I naturally like to plan my trips around my meals. Luckily for me, Marigot Bay Resort offers a range of creative dining options under the direction of Executive Chef Billy Boyle. The Grill at 14°61°, showcases modern Caribbean cuisine with quality local ingredients and seasonal dishes, I dined here on many evenings (both privately hosted and in the main restaurant) and it was divine. Bringing together the flavours of Saint Lucia, seasonal menus feature inventive and contemporary influences from international cuisine to complement the traditional Caribbean offering. Signifying the hotel’s longitude and latitude, 14°61° sits at the heart of the resort, allowing breath-taking views across the bay.

The swim up bar and Brut Bar became my two favourite places to dine al fresco and drink Prosecco on the resort. From the freshest Sashimi i’d tasted in a long while to a huge range of Sushi Rolls, it’s a Japanese haven in the heart of the Caribbean. We spent many afternoons lazing in the sun by the pool and diving into the Brut Bar when the Monsoons began.

For the ultimate romantic experience, the Treehouse private dining offering is an intimate and beautiful way to retreat for an exceptional dinner. We took advantage of a private ‘Body Scrub Making’ class organised by the hotel team as an alternative use of the space. Sitting in a genuine Treehouse surrounded by natural ingredients and our own private tutor, we mixed up gorgeous coffee and cocoa scrubs that rivalled store-bought.

However, if you’re looking for something more informal – The Rum Cave is a hidden delight. Offering not only an extensive selection of rums to sample and learn about, it also lends itself to casual dining in an intimate setting. My top tip is to order the Buffalo Chicken Wings and Tempura Vegetables, they go down great whilst looking out onto the Marina. The Hurricane Hole Bar & Restaurant has also had a sparkly new refurbishment and is open for both hotel guests and flip-flop-clad visitors to the resort, whether they come by land or sea!

With 5* luxury, classic Caribbean hospitality and even your own dedicated PA, Marigot Bay Resort & Marina is a must stay whilst in Saint Lucia. Rumour has it Simon Cowell hid from a Hurricane here, so if it’s good enough for him, it’s definitely good enough for us!”

Marigot Bay Resort & Marina offers a bay view 1 bedroom suite for 2 from £696 on a room only basis. Flights from London to St Lucia are available direct with British Airways.

Read Jenna’s full Marigot Bay experience in House of Coco’s ‘Islands’ Issue, which will be hitting shelves in December.

Here at House of Coco, there is a never shortage of new places to discover. We round up the best concept hotels in the world; from the Arctic Circle to the caves of Capadoccia. These amazing concept hotels are a must in any traveller’s bucket list – and are all definitely Team Coco approved.

IceHotel, Jukkasjärvi Sweden

Just 200 kilometres north of the Artic Circle, sits the Icehotel – a marvel of both architectural design and natural splendour. The first hotel of its kind, The Icehotel undergoes a metamorphosis every year, with its rooms and being built over the winter and melting away with the coming of spring. The Torne River supplies enough ice (about 4000 tons of ice every ten-seconds), for the Icehotel to rebuild itself every winter. Artists, architects, industrial engineers, and graphic designers from all over the world come to the small village of Jukkasjärvi to take part in the process.

If you are planning to visit the Icehotel in spring don’t fret – The hotel also offers a year round experience with Icehotel365 – all thanks to its solar panels. Icehotel365 is a sprawling 2100 square metre space that houses nine deluxe suites, eleven art suites, a private sauna, and an ice bar — maintained at a constant negative five degrees celsius. In collaboration with Hans Eek, Swedish architect and sustainability designer, Icehotel365 runs from the solar power gained from the midnight sun; thus combining state of the art architecture with a minimal carbon foot print. A unique and sustainable concept that Team Coco can definitely get behind.

Baraza Resort & Spa, The Zanzibar Collection

There are not a lot of destinations in the world that beget the same magic and mystery as Zanzibar. In this idyllic island paradise, the Zanzibar Collection’s selection of luxury five star properties undeniably make for the ultimate island getaway.

On the South Eastern coast of the exotic island, the Baraza Resort & Spa is carefully designed to reflect he island’s stunning natural beauty with the history and culture of the Omani Arabs who inhabited this tropical paradise. The resort boasts thirty luxury villas, each one evoking the magical era of sultans; and filled with exquisite luxury amenities. They also offers a gorgeous Yoga in Paradise concept that combines the benefits of Yoga with an array of island activities including; scuba diving, Swahili cooking lessons, swimming with dolphins, and spa treatments at the world-renowned Frangipani Spa. The Baraza Resort & Spa is definitely on top of our list for a rejuvenating retreat in one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

Hotel Heureka, Venice Italy

The recently opened Hotel Heureka is a gorgeous new design hotel concept in Venice, combining grandeur and history. The property dates back to the 16th century, and the renovation has taken into account all the possible modern luxuries any discerning traveller would desire. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live the life of Venetian nobility, then the Hotel Heureka has the perfect atmosphere for you.

Located in the vibrant north western Sestiere of Cannaregio, (it’s the Notting Hill of Venice) the Hotel Heureka lets you experience the decadence of a traditional Venetian palazzo, with its gorgeous Italian mosaics and vaulted ceilings. The hotel overlooks the Madonna dell’Orto canal, and an elegant stone balustrade decorates its classic façade. Built around the layout of a “portego” which is a typical Venetian passage, the Hotel Heureka masterfully maintains the unique dictates of traditional Venetian architecture; and within its classical walls, a twist of contemporary design plays out. With ten beautiful rooms, each one distinct in character with Rubelli silks at the windows, Lacroix tapestries as bedheads, and the most sensational bathrooms, you can be sure that a stay here will be unique. Rather like the art in the house, by Julian Kohl. So, if you ever find yourself in Venice, call in for a fresh Spritz in the private garden; it’s the best place to immerse yourself in the grandiose spirit of this magical city.

Museum Hotel, Capadoccia Turkey

The Museum Hotel sits in a very special region in Cappadocia, and is undeniably one of the most extraordinary hotels in the world. Built within the picturesque stone cliffs of the Tekeli District, the Museum Hotel is a combination of thousand year old historical ruins, natural caves, and stone houses — all impeccably restored for the modern age.

No two rooms in the Museum Hotel are the same. Each of the hotel’s thirty rooms are built from natural yellow stone, and filled with priceless antiquities from the Ottoman, Seljuk, Roman, and Hittite periods. Surrounded by all this history, it is no wonder that the Museum’s Hotel “living museum” concept lives up to its name, with the hotel being the only Relais & Chateaux accredited property in the whole of Turkey. Not to mention, each room boasts panoramic views of the inimitable Capdoccian landscape; where you can see Mt.Ecriyes, the Red Valley, and Love Valley from the distance. Definitely Team Coco approved.

Levin Iglut-Golden Crown, Finland

Theres are very few natural wonders as mesmerising as the Northern lights; and at the Levin Glut-Golden Crown, not only do you get the best view of this rare and beautiful sight, you also get the best glass igloo experience that the Finnish Lapland has to offer.

The family operated Levin Iglut Golden crown is located at a dizzying 340 metres above sea level, at the very top of the Levi Fell and with picturesque views of the Fell Landscape. Their twenty-four glass igloos are roofed over with heated glass and are fully equipped with luxury amenities. If you are travelling in a bigger group, then the Northern Lights House, which features two large double bedrooms, a private sauna and jacuzzi, and a panoramic window for Northern lights viewing — is perfect for you. It seems that every aspect of the Levin Iglut takes advantage of its gorgeous natural surroundings. The hotel’s restaurant, Aurora Sky, allows guests to enjoy locally sourced Scandinavian flavours with an unobstructed view of the spectacular icy landscapes below.

Niyama Private Islands, Maldives

Team Coco loves an island getaway, but the Niyama Private Islands disrupts the luxury island concept over its head with its unparalleled set of culinary experiences. Ever wondered what it was like to have a gourmet meal at the bottom of the sea? Niyama Private Island shows you how.

Set across two private islands connected by a single wooden bridge that traverses the Indian Ocean, this special Maldivian resort in the South-Western atoll of Dhaalu takes barefoot luxury to the next level. The twin islands are appropriately named Play and Chill – each one with their own distinctive feel and exclusive dining experiences. It is an understatement to say that the culinary concepts on offer at Niyama Private Islands are some of the most unique in the world. Tribal is the only African restaurant in the Maldives, while Edge is the hotel’s floating fine dining restaurant set 1 km out at sea. Nest is an Asian fusion restaurant set high above in the tree tops that offers a gravity defying dining experience like no other. On the other end of the spectrum is Subsix – an underwater restaurant that allows Niyama Private Island’s guests to eat at the bottom of the Indian ocean. Niyama Private Islands not only allows guests to experience the paradisiacal surroundings of the Maldives, but also invites them toe expand their culinary boundaries, and should definitely be on any food-lovers bucket list.

“Corsham”, I say with a dreaminess about my tone when asked where I’m going ‘THIS weekend’ (You’ve got to love being judged for being socially busy!). “Corsham, in Wiltshire, near Bath” I say. I say, not really having a clue where that is, let alone knowing what The Methuen Arms could be a base for. Why am I going?

What would your reason be to stay at The Methuen? I’ll tell you, it’ll either be a wedding nearby, a girl’s trip to the countryside or a quick and dirty weekend away.

We booked a girls trip. Two badass, fierce babes who were going to blow the roof off Corsham. We were going to get there, get ready and paint the town Instagram red, tear through the local bars flirting outrageously with any smooth operator that looked our way and finally collapse in bed with a kebab!

NONE of which happened. Instead, we had a very well needed, super relaxing stay in this beautiful, and historical building. With The Methuen you get a nice cosy village pub feel, mixed with unbelievable dining and super stylish and incredibly cosy rooms. It’s all fireplace and fairy lights, inside and out.

Key players at The Methuen include Ash and Abi the owners. For a fairly young couple they’ve achieved a lot here, building the profile of the venue, making each and every detail instagrammable and creating a great feel with their welcome. They’ll do pretty much everything to make sure you don’t forget The Methuen Arms in a hurry.

Along with their personal efforts, you get 5 star customer service from the bar and restaurant staff and award-winning Head Chef Leigh Evans pleases every sense with his culinary creations.

Use this trip to catch up on the gossip about those dating apps you’re using, find out about your friends potential dates and tell her about the guy you’re kind of into at the moment, eat some memorable food and sit back and look around the bar and take in village life.

Essentially what you get here is very special accommodation that uses the little touches to give you pure, home felt comfort with the level of luxury that a girls trip deserves. It is a base for catching up, having a few drinks and in the end… avoiding flirting with the locals at all costs after all.

You can explore nearby Bath, Bristol and The Cotswolds, continue on to Wales if you’re heading North or Cornwall if you’re heading South… Either way… enjoy your little pit stop at The Methuen Arms.

Rooms start at £140 and take about £60 for your dinner and a few drinks.

Enjoy… We definitely did.

www.themethuenarms.com

 

London has always been a treasure trove of culture; with every kind of epicurean and alcoholic delight on offer almost everywhere you turn. While the city is never lacking in crowded pubs, there are those who crave for a bit more finesse during their after office drinks. Team Coco discovers Kadie’s Cocktail Bar and Club. A luxe art-deco masterpiece that invites guest to leave the hustle and bustle of their busy lives behind for an evening, or even for just one perfect cocktail.

Kadie’s Cocktail Bar & Club is just a stone’s throw away from the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus, with a discrete entrance on the illustrious Swallow Street. The interiors immediately transport you into an alluring oasis filled with exotic greenery and glamorous touches of rose gold, while the staff offers impeccable service that is second to none.

Team Coco had the chance to sample some of the stunningly curated cocktails on the menu. Kadie’s Bellini is a refreshing mix of Cocchi Rosa and pink grapefruit sherbet sprinkled with a touch of Veuve Clicquot Rose champagne; and is the perfect drink to kick off the evening. The All Night Negroni is a gin-lovers delight. It is the perfect mixture of Tanqueray, bocci Americano, Martini Bitter, and lychee. Finally, the Extremely Good Lychee Martini, a delicate concoction of Belvedere with subtle hints of jasmine tea, definitely lives up to its name and becomes an instant favourite. In addition to their extensive cocktail menu, Kadie’s also has an exclusive range of champagnes, a wide array of fine wines, as well as bottle service — making sure to quench the thirst of even the most discerning cocktail connoisseur.

Naomi is the founder of Seed Home Designs, a company she launched two years ago after she spent most of the summer painting the entire interior of her family home with the help of a few very kind friends. As well as giving her home a much needed refresh it also helped her realise her love for homemaking, and the value of creating a place of rest both physically and spiritually.

Here, she tells us more about her journey with the brand…

When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
A few summers ago our family moved to a new home. I was so excited by the prospect of a blank canvas and artistic license to make it just the way I wanted. I thoroughly enjoyed all the hard work of planning, decorating, and furnishing (and really valued having some friends ready and willing with a paint brush and roller!). As well as giving our home its much-needed refresh I realised the importance of the home in creating a space of rest both physically and spiritually for me and my family.

I’ve always loved surface pattern, and it was around that time that I got back into sketchbooking again, relaxing by drawing in my new garden and documenting my love of flora and nature. I decided to take things further and apply my new designs to fabric, and eventually found a company in Kent who industrially print using eco-friendly pigment based printing inks onto high quality fabrics. When my first custom print samples came through I was so thrilled by the quality that I spent most of a year on a course learning upholstery so that I could apply my fabrics to one-off pieces of furniture. Inspired by that progress I continued to develop my pattern collections, and started offering other home accessories including lampshades and cushions.

What’s your background?
I grew up in a very creative environment. My parents were folk singers and my mum often took over the kitchen to oil paint. My grandparents use to come over every Thursday to teach me painting and drawing. My grandad ran his own very successful business as a draughtsman during World War Two so he was an amazing tutor to have.

Eventually I decided to explore my own passion for creativity through a degree in Multi-Media Textiles at Loughborough School of Art and Design. University was a great experience and I learnt a great deal, then after graduating I worked at a fashion design studio in Nottingham as a textile designer.

The following few years were a mixture of freelance and agent work, primarily in textiles and fashion. I was fortunate enough to have my work represented and sold at major trade shows in London, Paris and New York during this period. I also kept my options open through freelancing for fine art, greetings and giftware agents.

I have always had a love for nature and pattern, so this has organically been the starting point for my designing to date. With my youngest daughter starting school a couple of years ago I was ready to get my own brand out there to make a name for myself!

How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
As a small business I have had the opportunity to connect and work with lots of other talented individuals. My hope for Seed Home Designs has always been rooted in wanting to open opportunities for other creative practitioners to support themselves by doing what they love. I now collaborate with a small team of local people who help to make Seed Home Designs happen. These include my seamstress Karen who makes all of my sewn products, Ruth Taylor who worked with me to take lovely photography this feature (to check out other projects she’s worked on her website is: ruthtaylorphotography.co.uk/) and my printers in Kent who produce amazing quality work for me. I also have plans to work with another experienced local upholsterer to enable Seed Home Designs to deliver larger upholstery orders.

What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
I would say getting the right balance between my work and home life. Setting up a new creative business takes lots of hard work, and so also requires lots of support and understanding from loved ones. My family sometimes have to cope with upholstery projects all over the house, late nights for my husband working on my website with me, and burnt fish fingers from unsuccessfully trying to multitask dinner with work tasks!

My family are a massive key to my success. They help me keep perspective, but also keep loving me even with a sometimes messy (but creative!) home. Having said all that I am learning to get a better balance with it all, and it helps to remember that I’m running my business primarily because I love what I do!

Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I help to lead a very creative Pioneer Church with some other inspiring leaders, and that role has definitely helped to push me out of my comfort zone. I have learnt to be more secure in who I am, face some fears and dig deep in my faith, and that growth in confidence has in turn impacted lots of other areas of my life for good.

2018 is almost here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
I hope to work in collaboration with a few established and well-known businesses in order to release larger runs of my fabrics designs or develop homeware ranges with.

That said, I still very much enjoy working with individual clients, so I do also plan to continue to create bespoke and unique pieces for interiors, be it a fabric design, a one-off upholstered piece, or a range of furnishings.

Now the new year has kicked in I also have plans to expand my fabric designs into larger collections, and hope to release a limited edition collection of wall prints.

To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
My highlight was when I began learning upholstery. When I was feeling a little pressured with the business side of things, simply being with a load of people who are doing what they do purely for the love of it took the pressure off having to get everything right first time. I’ve learnt lots through my mistakes although my very skilled and talented upholstery teacher said I’m a natural, which was a massive compliment coming from her!

Selling my first chair through Ferrers Gallery in Staunton Harold a few days after it arrived was also amazing. The lady who bought it was over the moon about owning it, and that’s exactly what I want people to feel about buying any work from me, that the pieces are something unique that can be treasured.

Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
I’ve enjoyed time away in all three of these cities, but I have to confess I am a country girl at heart!

Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Clinique Even Better Makeup, Estee Lauder Smoothing Creme Concealer and No7 Stay Perfect Mascara-no panda eyes later in the day wearing that one!

Style means….?
Being true to yourself, feeling comfortable in your own skin and feeling good about the way you look. Simple is sometimes more.

Statement shoe or statement bag?
It has to be statement shoe! I have a weak spot for shoes…I need to have a clear out.

If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
Funny enough, I feel most at home in my well worn, ripped jeans.

Best place for a coffee?
A local organic farm – Oakley Grange – is the best place to relax towards the end of a busy week. They have a lovely spot on the edge of a village near by, surrounded by fields and all the natural world that goes with that. And the coffee’s excellent as well!

Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
“If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.” My mum made me learn it off by heart when I was little and it has definitely been the baseline for most things I’ve pursued or set my mind to in life. I owe her a lot!

Guilty pleasure?
Homemade bread…Yum! My husband bakes amazing bread, and it doesn’t last long in our home!

If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
My husband and me dream of going to Bora Bora – a small South Pacific island northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia. It’s surrounded by sand-fringed motus (islets) and a turquoise lagoon protected by a coral reef. One day we’ll treat ourselves!

Find out more…
You can visit my website www.seedhomedesigns.com to find more about my work or contact me. All of my fabrics, chairs and home accessories are available to buy through my site. You can also find me on social media, but I particularly love to blog on Instagram. To keep up to date with all that I’m doing you can find me @seedhomedesigns.

Is there anything more festive in London than a walk down the Thames from Borough Market, past The Globe’s Frost Fair and through the German Christmas market on the Southbank? Yep, there is and we’ve found it – cocktails overlooking the Southbank’s Wintertime trees, this year curated by Tatty Devine…

What: Statement bar in the middle of Skylon’s restaurant, cocktail menu arranged by the four elements, floor to ceiling windows looking onto christmas trees. Yas.

Where: Skylon, Royal Festival Hall

When: Wintertime trees are around until 2nd January. Skylon is open all year round.

Instagrammable Pick: ‘Saxy Brunch’ ; two courses with bottomless bubbles for £35pp with, you guessed it, live sax.

All the info: skylon-restaurant.co.uk

Itching for a good, old-fashioned, Christmas knees up? Need somewhere to escape to after the compulsory Office Party? May we present Last Days of Shoreditch La La Land

What: Streetfood, dance floor, Ernest Hemingway inspired cocktails, karaoke and DJ takeovers.

Where: Old Street.

When: Every Thursday and Friday

Instagrammable Pick: Smokey Tails’ bottomless brunch. All the yes.

All the info: lastdaysofshoreditch.co.uk

We’re always keen to see which trends the nation’s interior design experts come up with in their bids to make our homes more stylish.

And it seems that the humble bedroom has been the focal point of many home decor devotees’ efforts this year with everything from simple wooden beds to elaborate bedside rugs getting plenty of attention.

But what are the most popular bedroom designs that have taken the UK by storm in 2017?

Scandinavian style

As the year began with plenty of lifestyle books advocating clean living and cosy home decor, it gave us all the chance to embrace the hygge and fill up our bedrooms with faux-fur throws, twinkling tea lights, and tasteful folk-art.

But this Scandinavian look wasn’t all about cloying sentimentalism as it demanded we kept our colour palettes restrained, and advocated minimalism as the guiding light for our design efforts.

So that whether this meant trying to be enthusiastic about grey as the colour of the year, or even taking a warmer option with a wooden bed from Bedstar, it showed that there was plenty of mileage in the Scandinavian style.

Boho chic

The bohemian look has been another massive hit in our bedrooms in 2017. From the extravagant use of ‘tribal’ textures in our soft furnishings, to the new-found passion for succulent plants, it seems that there was a definite shift towards some hippy-friendly design schemes.

This could be seen as a long overdue backlash to the brutalist trend of recent times. But whatever the reason, you knew that you were never going to be too far away from on-trend items like macrame plant hangers and essential bohemian features like kilim rugs and terracotta pots.

Mid-century charms

And finally, if bohemian style was too weird, and Scandinavian chic was too cutesy, then there was the perfect antidote in the mid-century modern revival.

Whether this was a result of interior designers watching too many episodes of Mad Men is anybody’s guess, but regardless of the reason, it gave us a great opportunity to explore unusual colour tones and hunt down some seriously stylish bedroom furniture.

Although this look is something that might be a little extreme for fans of wooden beds and clean white walls, there is no denying the fact that the mid century modern renaissance has given us plenty of great ideas for updating our bedrooms in 2017.