Sunday, January 24, 2010

Colorful Vintage Markets=BLISS


Today Shelby and I decided to tackle some of London's most busiest marketplaces--Camden Markets and Portobello Road Market. Both were successful and continued on for blocks and blocks...

I have always wanted to spend a whole day vintage shopping but I have never really made time to go back at home in Seattle. The Camden Markets are only a couple blocks down from my flat and are some of the best in London (supposedly). The markets here seem to be a mix of fair food (but better and more fresh), Pike Place Market style stalls, with the repetitive Cabo type stands but better jewelry. The Camden Market stretches over several blocks and a majority of the shops are in the old "horse corrals". Many shops had handmade jewelry and 'etsy' accessories and others ranged to extreme gothic fashion...Whatever your style was; you most definitely could find something you loved and for a great price...I am sure you can barter down a lot of the prices but I am not the most persuasive person so I opted not too haha. They also had rows of fresh ethnic food that smelled amazing with huge fresh portions. I think I found my new weekend hang out spot :)

Later on Shelby and I hopped on a bus to venture back into Notting Hill to explore the Portobello Road market that our Interior Design professor raved about, especially a great place for sourcing antiques--definitely didn't hate that suggestion :)

After heading in the wrong direction for a good 20 minutes, I asked a couple where the market was and they informed us we had missed it and needed to take the same bus back in the opposite direction--oopsies...I promise I am getting better at directions though!

We finally got to our destination and found a charming Thai restaurant and grabbed some pad thai before heading out for some vintage finds...

Sundays in London are apparently the craziest market days but I loved the atmosphere and watching all the different types of people wandering the streets. I headed over to a great vintage jewelry stand and got several pairs of pearl and gold earrings, a necklace and a bracelet for 10 pounds. We continued down the road and popped in and out of dozens of interesting vintage clothing shops but also new boutiques. All the stores in London are smaller and designed to a T. I also went in several antique home decor stores and just about died--Shelby can vouch that I definitely was almost to the point of yelling whenever I discovered a new find. The silver baroque mirrors were reason enough for me to move here permanently!

All in all, Sunday was quite a success! Minus the fact we did get so anxious to head home and eat dinner that we didn't check the direction and ended up going the wrong way again--haha just another learning experience! I will definitely be hitting the markets up regularly from now on--let me know if you'd like a souvenir, perhaps a crystal chandelier?! :)

All my love from Londontown, wishing you all a fabulous new week!

PS: Only 4 days till Paris for me!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Week Three

I can not believe I am already into my third week of living in London!I absolutely love it so far and feel very settled in--my flat feels like home, I think I have mastered the tube (for the most part and I just booked my first flight in Europe... PARIS!!!

I am going to meeting four other girls from school that are in my sorority over there for 4 days--I can hardly wait. This has been a dream of mine for forever. Should be interesting since I will be flying by myself and trying to figure out how to meet them in the hostel once were over there--haha good be complicated since I have absolutely no sense of direction and can not speak a word of french haha but I guess it's all part of the adventure...I definitely think I will fall head over heels for Paris, I have no doubt :)

This week has been quite eventful--Monday was actually a pretty epic night due to the fact that I finally got to be TWO FEET AWAY FROM JOHN MAYER HIMSELF--IN LONDON!!! Haha well technically...

Me and three other girls took the tube to the venue that he was playing outside of hoping to hear him perform. No such luck and not one spare ticket was left--it was a completely sold out show. We decided to be patient and wait for after the concert to see if we could at least see an glimpse of him. We even become good friends with the security guard behind the venue, he was very sweet and told us there was nothing he could do to help us. We even played Shelby's birthday card since she turned 21 at midnight.

However, 3 hours later and a trip to McDonalds to tide us over, the concert got out and we were joined with other fans outside hoping to see him in real life. A few moments later a typical, tinted van drove by and we all joked that he probably was inside...until we saw this distinct silhouette could be made out in the back seat and appeared to be laughing--definitely John! As much as I wish I could have been at the actual concert, I was perfectly content getting a picture in front of his name in lights and being two feet away from even...He is supposedly coming back to the UK in May, so I will be on the lookout :)

Tuesday night I went to see Wicked with a bunch of girls in my program. I wasn't really sure what the exact storyline was but I thoroughly enjoyed it and some of the songs were very familiar. A bunch of us had class till 6:45pm and then took the tube to the theater district which looks absolutely amazing at night all lit up!

Wednesday I finally started my internship here at SMC Designs. They are a fairly large firm that also specify in graphic design and art consultancy. My first day was very laid back and I just worked on cleaning out the material library. Everyone seems younger and very friendly so I'm excited to see what I will be doing in the next 10 weeks. Their firm is mainly designing cruise lines which is a different kind of work than residential and commercial so I think it will be a very interesting experience and I think I could learn a lot about hospitality design which is what I am also very interested in.

Thats it for now, I'm off to class! XOXO

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Little Afternoon Treat

I was just skimming through the local newspaper while I was waiting to cook dinner (aka boiling pasta noodles, surprising I know) but I ran across this local designer, Daniella Helayel and decided to look her up.

Her website was such a treat, I absolutely loved how she set it up. It's like you're going through a whimsical children's book. Her sketches around London and throughout her website are absolutely how I would love to draw someday--she made it look so easy with just simple markers and sharpies!

Her clothes are beautiful too, she documents a lot of her daily inspiration and its mostly places within London. If you get a chance look at Issa London. You will have so much fun just exploring her website, its just so cheerful :)

All Images:

Well I'm off to studio and then I'm going to see Wicked tonight which should be fabulous...Talk to you soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Two of My Favorite Things: Vintage Chandeliers & Bold Doors

I should technically being homework right now which would be consisting of working on a model but that just don't sound like as fun as making a collage of the grandest chandeliers and entrances I have yet to lay eyes on...

One thing about the Brits is that they sure do appreciate the finer things in life...wonderful, glamourous chandeliers and a chic door to their home. 2 of my all time favorite things in design. Every shop has great lighting fixtures, from a modern chandelier to the traditional, crystal styled one--they never seem to leave this essential item out of a space. Whereas back home, lighting seems to be overlooked. It doesn't even have to cost you a small fortune, IKEA has some of the greatest lighting like this one below...

This one I found when I was doing research for my studio project and therefor I am finding some excuse to incorporate it--I'm thinking in the restaurant area of my space...

I have always been quite a fan of a distinct door. These are just a couple that I have been drawn to because of their color and design. I love walking down a street and all of the building exterior may look the same, but each flat's entrance has its own personality which makes it oh so much more inviting.

Oh did I mention they love floral wallpaper here too? I found my niche...

(Click image for better resolution)

Sunday Afternoons in Notting Hill

I woke up yesterday morning and it was the first sunny day since I have arrived so I thought what better way to spend it then go out venture out to the infamous Nottinghill. It's surprisingly only twenty minutes by tube from where I am living in Camdentown. It was so nice not having to bundle up to face the rain or wind and instead be able to really enjoy being outside in this beautiful area.

As soon as we got off the tube, my friend Shelby and I instantly felt like we were in a brand new neighborhood. It was so quiet and calm, a feeling I have not felt since I have been here since I usually been racing around central London. It was the perfect place to be on this sunny, care free Sunday...

We did not really plan out our trip and just assumed we automatically get off the tube and be in the Notting Hill we all know and love seen from the classic 1990's movie. I was secretly hoping that we might see Hugh Grant but no such luck...

However I had better luck just spotting some beautiful row houses and falling them down through a tree lined residential street. The street brought us to some darling coffee shops and cafes. All there restaurants and eateries here are so small, only several tables in each shop. I have also noticed no one is in a hurry to eat but take their time when eating and enjoying eachother's company. Waiters never quickly hand over a check but instead you must ask because I think most take their time when they go out and are in no rush.

Shelby and I continued up and down the residential side streets snapping pictures, which I assume many residents are used to because I feel like Notting Hill is a popular neighborhood to visit when in London. We stopped in several book stores, one had a solid collection of design coffee table books which I did not hate...I ended up buying some vintage postcards (Cavallini & CO).

If you're lucky you may be getting some snail mail from me :) Well as soon as I figure out where I can buy stamps--could be a little while haha.

I defintiely will have to come back in the spring and everything is in bloom and perhaps I will scope out a few more vintage shops :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


St. James Park

Today I woke up to several inches of snow and no school so I decided to go explore central London and try to find the Institute of Contemporary Arts for research for my studio class. I was quite proud of myself for navigating there by myself and not getting lost--even though the bus is just a straight shot there :)
I walked all around St. Jame's Park which was so beautiful in the snow and you can see Buckingham Palace, The London Eye and Big Ben all behind the trees that frame the frozen pond. St. Jame's reminded me a lot of London's version of "Green Lake" in is was very busy even during the early afternoon with joggers, kids and people just like me taking in the sights. It was nice to be out of the hustle and bustle of the city and just go relax in the quiet park.
My professor had recommended going to the Contemporary Art Insitute for research on our multi functional retail space. I don't know much about contemporary arts but I thought I'd give it a shot and it's free entry :) The institute is in an old traditional building right across the park and consisted of 2 small galleries, a book store, theater and cafe. I have to say I didn't really understand the pieces in the gallery, one was a display of found objects just scattered on a table and the other was a huge collection of sketches and paintings dealing with the idea's of symbols...I think it may have been a little above my head haha. Well it was the thought that counts...

I saw an Anthropologie on the bus on the way down so I decided to venture back up and find my absolute favorite store :) I was in absolute heaven...3 stories. What I love
especially about Anthropologie is that every store is designed differently with an unique concept. The one in London had a very natural, backyard kind of garden feel with a huge 3 story high plant wall (that was watered with the excess rainfall) and lit with loads of natural light coming from the ceiling which was one giant glass atrium. Oh so eco chic. I ended up taking my time walking back so I could continue to window shop slash save a couple pounds :)

ID Field Trip--And I didn't faint on a medical related visit...

Yesterday our retail design class headed out to the University of London to see the cell and molecular research center. I was a little confused on how this had anything to do with our project slash as many of you know I do not do well with any kind of body/science/medical topics!
We arrived and got a tour of this incredibly modern building which was located in an area of older, deteriorating buildings. The concept behind the Institute was transparancy which allows scientist to feel open to communicate with other areas (labs, offices, etc). In the beginning of our tour we got to actually enter a floating cell structure that was suspended in the middle of the building above the lab below and offices were openly surrounding this huge "orange cell". Inside they had a bunch of screens and interactive games for touring groups, I tried to play a couple of them before getting lightheaded. Haha yes I really am that bad even with simple biology video games.

Inside the "floating cell"

Other than that, it was a very interesting place to visit because it really wasn't like anything else I had every seen.When I signed up for retail design I automatically thought it'd be department stores and boutiques. I never considered a science lab to be retail...The design of the interior is nothing you would expect when first entering the site. It was quite a creative environment and it was neat to be able to look around on the glass sky bridge and see the labs below you, a floating meeting room above and cubicles all around the perimeters. It definitely would not be a boring work envirnonment by any means...

Interior (round white structure is a meeting room with a window)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Task 1: Designing Eco Retail

For some reason I didn't think there would be any homework when I studied abroad...ha! I should have known better, interior design studios don't slow down for any one even if you're across the world. Well I was assigned my project the first day of class for my retail design studio and I am actually really excited! Being in such an amazing city has given me loads of inspiration already. I have already been creeping in a lot of stores and trying to take pictures, I hope thats acceptable here...
Well the brief for the project is to design a multifunctional space that can host different environmental groups (ie: Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth) where they can display their work and solutions on problems like climate change, fair trade and decreasing damage to our environment.
The building site for this project is just down the street and is the Natural Kitchen which is also a neat concept because it is a fresh grocery store but also serves as a restaurant. However for this project, the space will serve as a gallery, theater/conference room, restaurant, retail clothing store, cafe and rooftop terrace. The goal of the space is to attract people from off the streets in and to educate them about world issues and problems that these different organizations are dealing with and what we can do to help.
I have to say I was expecting this studio to be designing a fun, high end retail boutique but I think I am going to get a lot more out of this project. I am excited to see how the end will turn out, for the mean while I'll keep you posted with my ideas ...

Here is my concept board of images that I researched and was inspired by...I am going off the idea of old tree trunks and how the growing rings spread and evolve (similar to how the organizations will grow and reach the community) year after year from sunlight and water (elements that will be in important in my space). I also found there is quite a bit of really neat sustainable clothing lines out there, the images I found are from

Sorry this is a bit long, I am just so excited to tell you about my project--I am still trying to figure out this blogging thing :)
PS: Click on images for better resolution...