St Giles

We chat to scentaholic Michael Donovan, champion of cult fragrance labels, about his own London perfume brand St Giles...

BY AMY BRADFORD

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Passions run high in the perfume world: spend half an hour talking to a serious scentaholic and you’re likely to encounter a level of knowledge and enthusiasm that might be considered geekish if it weren’t so chic. One such person is Michael Donovan (right), who, as founder of perfumery Roullier White and PR firm Profile, has championed an array of cult scent brands including Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, D.S. & Durga and Ideo Parfumeurs (all of which you have read about in DesignFizz's Looking Glass beauty section over the years). Now, Donovan has poured 20 years of love and expertise into his own perfume collection, St Giles (named after the London parish of St Giles where he was born), launched in December 2017.

Created with French master nose Bertrand Duchaufour, it consists of five scents, each designed to answer this thorny question: how does a fragrance make you feel? ‘Having listened to the difficulties that journalists face when writing about fragrance – and owning a perfumery myself – I realised that this important question is almost never addressed,’ Donovan explains. ‘It’s what we all really want to know. Perfume is not a shopping list of ingredients nor an ephemeral title hinting at desirability. We are all multi-faceted personalities and need an olfactory wardrobe that is multi-functional and fulfils the needs of our daily lives – a scent to make us feel empowered and successful, inspired, glamorous or stylish.’

Donovan’s elegance and wit come through in all five scents, which also exude originality – when you’ve smelled as many perfumes as he and Duchaufour have, you know how to bring something new to the party. ‘The Actress’, for instance, is an alluring narcotic floral based on oriental lily. Gorgeously creamy from the outset, it gradually reveals layers of sensual warmth in the form of jasmine, honeysuckle, sandalwood and musk. What makes it unique, though, is the addition of pear and vanilla-custard notes, which bring a truly addictive sweetness. If the Dance of the Seven Veils could be incarnated as a scent, this would be it.

At the other end of the scale is ‘The Writer’, a woody-leather accord with a cool, dark intensity. A tribute to great prose, it includes notes such as rosemary, rhubarb and clary sage that are reputed to stimulate the intellect (tests have shown that exposure to rosemary essential oil improves performance in memory tests by several percentage points). ‘It’s not aromatherapy, but I like the idea of being cleverer when I wear it,’ says Donovan.

The remaining scents take their place in your scent arsenal thus: ‘The Mechanic’ is, as Donovan says, the magnetic ‘sex scent’, a feverishly erotic blend of geranium, patchouli, leather and musk, with allusions to hot rubber and engine fuel. ‘The Tycoon’ is the ‘power scent’: a fizzy green chypre with dynamic citrus notes and a steely heart of black pepper, woody cypriol, tea and labdanum. Last but not least, ‘The Stylist’ is all about feeling well put-together, with a dash of eccentricity. The opening of sparkling aldehydes and bitter-orange bigarade is as clean and crisp as a tailored white shirt, but notes of mango, rum and creamy vanilla inject real flamboyance.

Donovan designed the Twenties-influenced grey glass flacons himself, as well as the black crystal stopper, which he had sandblasted for extra tactility ‘and to stop it from slipping out of your hands’ – too many expensive scents are spoiled by cheap bottle caps, he says. All in all, this is a very impressive debut – we counsel you to spritz it and see.
stgilesfinefragrance.com

'St Giles' eau de parfum, £130 each for 100ml; also available at Selfridges selfridges.com

IKEA x Ilse Crawford: The New Natural

IKEA's debut collaboration with British designer Ilse Crawford represents a trend towards natural, tactile materials in our increasingly virtual world. Shop this amazing homewares collection from August

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

'The more virtual our lives become, the more we crave the physical,' says acclaimed London-based designer and interior decorator Ilse Crawford. It's the sentiment that inspired her gorgeous new 'Sinnerlig' collection of furniture, lighting and tabletop pieces for Swedish homewares giant IKEA, which features natural, raw materials such as cork, glass, ceramic, cotton, seagrass and bamboo that feel as good as they look. Encompassing more than 30 pieces for the home, aimed at 'adding value to the experience of everyday living', the collection celebrates the beauty and tactility of raw materials and natural fibres, and the imperfections that arise in their production – part of a growing trend away from glossy surfaces and slick, ornate designs. It's also beautifully understated, subtle and minimal, allowing clear glass, smooth ceramic and touchy-feely cork to do the talking. Think simple, useful forms for quieter, more low-key interiors.

A made-up word, 'Sinnerlig' combines the Swedish terms for sensuous and heartfelt. Standout pieces include tables, benches and stools topped with thin layers of cork, outsize glass vases and hand-blown bottles, dark ceramic jugs, plates and planters, bamboo-lattice pendant lights, seagrass baskets and floor mats. Among the material mixes, it's the use of cork that is most striking, chosen for its eco-friendly qualities (see our 2014 cork trend for more on this sustainable star). Cork is renewable, durable, an acoustic softener, waterproof and easy to clean, and you'll see it here in light and dark tones on table and seat tops, lamp bases and as jar stoppers. Crawford's practice Studioilse embarked on research missions to Portugal, Poland, China and Vietnam to source suitable natural materials which would respond well to industrial production; the resulting range should prove a hit with eco warriors, architects and style fans alike.

TOP ROW FROM LEFT: Bamboo, cork and glass offer natural tactility
ABOVE FROM LEFT: Furniture spans day-beds, tables and stools 

'Sinnerlig' divides loosely into three areas; lounging, dining and working. Each group has a key piece at its heart – day-bed (very mid-century Scandi!), dining table or trestle table. The idea is that you can use them flexibly to fit in with the way you live, with neutral colours that complement any home. 'The range is quite low-key but we deliberately designed it like that,' says Crawford. 'It's not trying to compete with those fantastic icons of design. It's a different thing. They are helpful background pieces not showstoppers.'

Launched during February's Stockholm Design Week at the city's seductive Ett Hem hotel, also designed by Crawford, the range is due in shops from August. For a quiet collection, we reckon it's going to make a lot of noise...
ikea.com

IKEA's 'Sinnerlig' collection will be in global stores from August 2015. Check back with us for product names and prices nearer the launch.

Ilse Crawford portrait by Stef Bakker  studiobakker.nl

 

Boxing Clever at MADE.COM

Chloe Macintosh, co-founder and Creative Director of MADE.COM, talks to the Fizz about British design, future classics and how their new project, Unboxed, is turning our homes into online showrooms

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM 

Chloe Macintosh, Creative Director at MADE.COM

Chloe Macintosh, Creative Director at MADE.COM

MADE.COM burst onto the British design scene in 2010, determined to make modern design accessible to the masses. Four years on, 150 staff later and with a second office in Shanghai, this fast-track online furniture retailer is changing how we shop for our home – allowing us to buy online, so we can sidestep high street costs.
 
‘We wanted to revolutionise an industry that had been largely unchanged for decades,’ explains Chloe, originally from Paris, who studied as an architect before joining Foster + Partners. ‘Our passion to solve a problem – making great design affordable – and our lack of preconceptions and different backgrounds has enabled the business to respond to customer demand rather than conform to industry constraints.’
 
Pitching up at this year’s Milan Furniture Fair within four real-life apartments instead of taking up a conventional stand, this disruptive design house wants their products to be seen in customers’ own homes rather than a sterile showroom. Cue new social platform Made Unboxed.
 
'Unboxed is a social showroom that anyone can visit, at any time of day, to see who has bought from MADE.COM and how they've styled their pieces. We believe this is the future of retail. Forget the demise of the high street, it’s all about the revolution in your own street.'

ABOVE: A cool airy loft was a perfect setting for the
MADE collection at this year's Milan Furniture Fair. 
'Jonah' armchair, £399, 'Jonah' footstool, £159, 
'Merida' rug, £249, 'Houston' floor lamp, £119, 
'Sports Luxe Geo' cushion, £22, 'The Piggy Bag,
Multicolour'
, £79 (on mezzanine)
BELOW: The streamlined home of Helen Powell,
writer and blogger. 'Isis' rug, £299

HelenPowell_Made_073.jpg

At MADE.COM the customer really is king. 'We’re always listening out for what our customers want and they ultimately decide what we sell. We don’t make a product unless we know that there is demand. If they like it, we make it; if they don’t, we stop selling it. We have a fast-fashion approach, launching two collections a week and evolving with the market as quickly as we can.'

'The 'Fonteyn' dressing table (right) by Brit talent Steuart Padwick is a future design classic. We created it four years ago as I needed a small table to fit in my bay window. It’s perfectly compact and the tapered legs are inspired by a ballerina’s feet on point. It’s a real talking point and has become an iconic product for us.'

ABOVE RIGHT: 'Fonteyn' dressing table, £349

FROM LEFT: Monochrome magic: 'Graphix' desk, £149, in Helen Powell's stylish home office
Inside out: 'Bramante' dining table, £499 and 'Legend' café chairs, £149 per pair, add a continental touch to this bright and breezy extension belonging to photographers Giles Christopher and Abigail Cockroft

 

Chloe takes inspiration from London, her favourite city. 'The pool of talent is so stimulating and dynamic, which constantly challenges everyone to evolve. It is also totally diverse. In the MADE team, we hail from all over the world, speaking nearly 30 languages, and that brings real soul to what we do. There is something unique in the UK's desire not to conform but in a non-subversive way. London's art and design scene is very active, but it is also extremely democratic with events such as the London Design Festival (LDF) making design available to all. It’s important for a country's cultural growth to reach across all social strata, which the UK does particularly well.'

At September's LDF, there'll be lots of Unboxed-related fun, new collections and the announcement of the winner of MADE'S Emerging Talent Awards. 'Five finalists from recent degree shows are selected and customers vote for the winner,' says Chloe, 'We also have special guest collaborators coming up this autumn, but it’s all top secret right now!'.
made.com 

FROM LEFT: At home in Milan: 'Double Cross' dining table, £399 and bench, £229, 'Contrast' shelves, £379 and desk, £399, 'Boheme' floor lamp, £79; 'Camber' desk, £499, 'Kitsch' dining chairs, £59 per pair, 'Bowie' square floor lamp, £69, 'Merida' rug, as before, 'Houston' floor lamp, as before, 'Rodnik Shark Fin' chair, £449, 'Rodnik Band' rug, £249, 'The Piggy Bag, Rodnik Seagull' and 'Rodnik Octopus' £89, 'Bowie' square floor lamp, as before; 'Edelweiss' dining chair, £139 per pair, 'Boheme' table lamp, £29, 'Contrast' desk and shelves, as before

 

Dungeness Ahoy!

The living room mixes British mid-century furniture such as this Guy Rogers sofa and armchairs with Mini Moderns designs

The living room mixes British mid-century furniture such as this Guy Rogers sofa and armchairs with Mini Moderns designs

How to channel the Dungeness spirit in a contemporary style? Step into the converted railway carriage beach house of Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire, the pattern-happy duo behind interiors brand Mini Moderns.

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Lighthouses, clapperboard cottages, sea cabbages and shingle shores... The raw beauty of Dungeness in Kent was the inspiration behind the Mini Moderns' 2014 ‘Hinterland’ range of wallpapers, fabrics and accessories, taking its cue from the evocative mood and hues of this slice of south-east English coastline. And a run-down railway carriage on the beach proved to be just the place to showcase its creators' colourful, quirkily retro collections.

A bolthole from the pair's live/work studio in south London, the lovingly converted carriage is the result of a fortuitous weekend in Rye, where day-trippers Keith and Mark first came across the unusual two-bed property for sale nearby. Late Victorian, it was put on the beach in the 1920s when the railway ceased to run. Drawn to the tremendous sense of calm and feeling of ‘otherness' that defines Dungeness, the designers were looking for a joint 'do-up' project and retreat. The original mismatched wood-clad interior has been revamped channelling a clean Scandinavian style, with warm woods and white paint making the compact space appear bigger and lighter. 

Bright, airy and simply furnished – the intimate dining area underneath the carriage's sky light

Bright, airy and simply furnished – the intimate dining area underneath the carriage's sky light

An IKEA 'Udden' kitchen is decorated with Mini Moderns kitchenalia and vintage finds. 'Because the entire house is wood clad,' says Keith, 'we went with stainless steel surfaces, which are reminiscent of a fishmonger’s preparation area'

An IKEA 'Udden' kitchen is decorated with Mini Moderns kitchenalia and vintage finds. 'Because the entire house is wood clad,' says Keith, 'we went with stainless steel surfaces, which are reminiscent of a fishmonger’s preparation area'

Keith (left) and Mark enjoy a cuppa care of their 'Whitby' mug

Keith (left) and Mark enjoy a cuppa care of their 'Whitby' mug

Embracing the expansive views, untameable landscape and poppies that flower in late spring, Mark and Keith let nature take centre stage. Their beach house rule is a blanket ban on internet and television. 'We don’t have WiFi. We don’t have TV. It is a total break,' says Mark. Keith adds: 'Dungeness is one of those places that feels very different. There is an amazing quality of light and you're in touch with the changing seasons. You have the sense of really getting away.'

Which means there is all the more time for socialising. Part of a busy creative scene, the area has always been a hub for fishermen and artists alike, and was once home to film director Derek Jarman. 'Dungeness is a place full of legends and myth and you very quickly become part of the storytelling thing,' says Mark. 'Everyone has a tale to tell.' And as stewards of the railway carriage, Keith and Mark's journey has just begun...
minimoderns.com

Pictures by Andrew Boyd andrewmboyd.com

Bedroom detail: An old garden sifter serves as a pretty nest for Kristian Vedel’s wooden bird and Dungeness keepsakes

Bedroom detail: An old garden sifter serves as a pretty nest for Kristian Vedel’s wooden bird and Dungeness keepsakes

Kitchen detail: The simple white, grey and wood palette allows injections of colour, pattern and fun, from Jonathan Adler animals to vintage glass and vinyl

Kitchen detail: The simple white, grey and wood palette allows injections of colour, pattern and fun, from Jonathan Adler animals to vintage glass and vinyl

Mark and Keith's 'MMG' floor lamp and 'Paisley Crescent' wallpaper deck out the study. A Swedish classic, the desk is part of the 'String Shelf 'by Nils Strinning

Mark and Keith's 'MMG' floor lamp and 'Paisley Crescent' wallpaper deck out the study. A Swedish classic, the desk is part of the 'String Shelf 'by Nils Strinning

The guest bedroom features the duo's signature 'Whitby' print wallpaper and cushions, plus brass masthead wall lights

The guest bedroom features the duo's signature 'Whitby' print wallpaper and cushions, plus brass masthead wall lights

In a funky geometric and G Plan scheme, the bedroom sports Mini Modern designs including the 'Backgammon' wallpaper, 'Zag' dhurrie and 'Pavilion' cushions

In a funky geometric and G Plan scheme, the bedroom sports Mini Modern designs including the 'Backgammon' wallpaper, 'Zag' dhurrie and 'Pavilion' cushions

ABOVE FROM LEFT:
'Cherries'
tea towel, £12
'Dungeness' wallpaper in Washed Denim, £50 per 52cm x 10m roll 
'Peggy' wallpaper in Mustard, £45 per 52cm x 10m roll 
Unbleached cotton tote, £5