Modern Living - Homes Away From Home


Turned on by chic hotel rooms on your travels? My new book Modern Living: Homes away from Home explores heavenly holiday homes, ideal for whetting your wanderlust or armchair inspiration...



Let’s play house. Let’s check in to our perfect holiday home and believe we're someone else – even if it’s just for a couple of weeks. The lure of a rustic Greek villa or a glamorous island retreat conjures up all sorts of lifestyle fantasies. For me, they're dominated by straw baskets, kaftans and all things fringed. Sipping a kir at a roadside bar and ambling around flea markets – that kind of thing.

In my book Modern Living: Homes away from Home, I take a tour around some of the world’s most stylish holiday getaways and imagine what it would be like to live there – and share decorating ideas that will translate back home. From luxurious refuges to hippie retreats, I’ve rounded up five of my favourite places here. And I have just the right outfit to go with every one...

ABOVE: Boasting sea views, this alfresco terrace in Syros, Greece, is a dream outdoor room, with its deep-cushioned day-beds, rattan chairs and cotton dhurrie floorcovering, topped off with a nice shady bamboo roof (see below, Rustic Villa)


Contemporary chic
The minimal, modern mood of this architectural stunner in Canterbury, New Zealand, offers as much design inspiration as it does R&R. Guaranteeing good views (crashing waves, sparkling ocean, sunsets, check!), razor-sharp interior style and a feeling of luxury in the wilds, Annandale Seascape ticks all my boxes for a dream escape.


Rustic villa
The last word in boho chic, this simple stone Aegean villa on the remote island of Syros in Greece is one of those spaces that transcend fashion. Foregrounding sea views, the casual indoor/outdoor lifestyle radiates comfort. To get the look, mix contemporary lighting with streamlined, neutral-toned furniture and plenty of deep-filled linen cushions. A hammock wouldn’t be out of place here either...


African beauty
A lesson in how to do luxurious style, Singita Boulders Lodge in Mpumalanga, South Africa, breaks out of the safari-style mould. There’s not a zebra print in sight. Instead, a glamorous infinity pool adds gloss to the rustic stone and thatched roof surrounds. Abstract artworks and sleek woven chairs make for a modern organic vibe.


Cornish bolthole
You can breathe in the sea air at this wharfside cottage in the small Cornish town of Mousehole. The decor mixes off-white colours and vintage finds for a beachy feel without the usual blue-and-white clichés. Full of period character and crumpled charm, it delivers an understated style that is so terribly English – in a very good way.


Venetian palace
Saving the frescoes, flamboyance and terrazzo floors until last, gilded Villa F palazzo in Venice is nothing less than you would expect. Located on Giudecca Island across the lagoon from San Marco Square, here opulence and antiques reign. Venice is an incredibly addictive city and this luxe Italian retreat hits all the right spots.

Claire Bingham is the author of seven interior design books, including A Beautiful Mess and Grandiflora for teNeues which delve into the home lives of inspiring creatives passionate about eclectic taste and nature respectively. She's also a DesignFizz contributing editor.

'Modern Living – Homes away from Home' by Claire Bingham (teNeues, £29.95) 

Pictures: Yiorgos Kordakis (Aegean Villa, Syros, Greece, styling Anestis Michalis); Simon Devitt (Annandale Seascape, Canterbury, New Zealand, also on Modern Living – Homes away from Home book cover); Singita (Singita Boulders Lodge, Mpumalanga, South Africa); Paul Massey (Hope House, Cornwall, UK); Tony Amos (Villa F, Venezia, Italy); Michael Paul (A Beautiful Mess book cover); Martyn Thompson (Grandiflora book cover), all rights reserved

The Art of Dinosaur Designs

The debut book by Sydney design duo Dinosaur Designs is a feast for the senses


Lovers of vibrant colour, sinuous shapes and tactile forms will get a huge inspiration hit when they open the pages of heavenly hardback 'The Art of Dinosaur Designs'. Surprisingly, this is the first book by acclaimed Sydney design studio Dinosaur Designs, co-founded in 1985 by Louise Olsen, Stephen Ormandy and former collaborator Liane Rossler, who all met at art school. Creative directors Olsen and Ormandy now run the brand, which is as famous for its fabulous resin homewares as its covetable jewellery.

ABOVE: Embracing jewellery and homewares, Dinosaur Designs' collections include 'Seed Pod' bangles and sculptural side tables ('Liquid Moon' crafted here by Olsen)

Visually stimulating, this is a book for the Instagram generation, with stunning images taking centre stage, backed up by compelling copy (including an introduction by fashion writer Georgina Safe). Full-bleed photos, jaw-dropping juxtapositions, evocative collages of snaps, and eye-catching grids of multiple smaller pictures give you a real insight into the label's inspirations, creative practices and collections. Shots of mood boards are a highlight, showing how the pair gleans ideas from fine art, fashion, nature and travel to generate their own distinctive pieces.

ABOVE: Environmental forms, from rocky headlands to the beach and flowing water, influence designs such as this salad server. The team has also embraced metals, including copper, brass, silver and gold, to complement its resin pieces

Nature is the starting point for many of the duo's collections. It's beautifully charted in the book, from their love of the ocean, beaches and coastal rock formations (Ormandy is a keen surfer) to tropical flora and fauna, the rainforest, moss, seeds and stone. There's a sense of place in the collections too, influenced by the seductive topography of Sydney, and a uniquely Australian palette of light, textures and hues.

BELOW: Resin's painterly effects are explored in Dinosaur Designs' 'The Art of Black and White' collection, including this Pollock-esque platter

Art is a major fulcrum around which the brand turns, with Louise the daughter of Australian artists John Olsen and Valerie Strong, and sister of Sydney gallerist Tim Olsen (of Paddington's Olsen Gallery), and Stephen Ormandy an in-demand artist in his own right, known for both graphic paintings and organic-meets-geometric sculptures. Their 'Atelier' collection riffed on an artist's studio, and many of their pieces are inspired by art works, from painterly splatter-effect plates to abstraction and dreamlike Surrealism. Art feeds art too, with the 'Modern Tribal' range inspired by Olsen's colour-block collages created from swatches cut from unused prints of Ormandy's paintings.

ABOVE: Art by Stephen Ormandy adorns the couple's spacious two-storey Bronte home, an old Federation house converted by Sydney architect Sam Marshall

The label is known for its wonderful colours, showcased here to perfection. Blues are a particular obsession, the colour of sea and sky, but this tome is also full of gorgeous greens, luminous yellows, marbled blacks and whites, and earthy browns. The book explores the brand's pioneering use of materials too, from metals to resin, which it has worked to look like coral, rock, seashells, bone, twigs and even glass.

ABOVE: The 'Blue' collection of tableware and jewellery takes its cue from the ocean, captured by the fluidity of resin and then set like a snapshot. Materials also include aquatic-hued agate, seen in objects and pendants

Alongside studio shots, documenting handmade work in progress, the book covers past exhibitions and collaborations, including hook-ups with fashion names from Louis Vuitton to Australian labels Linda Jackson, Romance Was Born, Jac+Jack and Toni Maticevski (the pair even designed rings for INXS frontman Michael Hutchence). Getting more personal, it also shows the couple's airy, art-filled home, perched above Sydney's Bronte Beach, which they share with daughter Camille and dachshund Skipper, a retreat for family and friends. There's a sense of work-life balance, with chapters on Olsen and Ormandy's childhoods, their passions and how they met. This stimulating visual feast is not a typical chronological narrative and is all the better for it...

'The Art of Dinosaur Designs' by Louise Olsen and Stephen Normandy (Penguin Lantern, AU$79.99)
For more, see our Q&A with Louise Olsen

Pictures: Heleena Trahanas (book cover); Tim Georgeson ('Seed Pod' bangles); Sarah Ng (ocean); Anson Smart (artworks); Earl Carter (all other images)

Modern Living – How to Decorate with Style

2017 is nearly upon us so now is the time to consider giving your home a stylish reboot. And we've got just the thing to get you started...


'Out with the old, in with the new' is a phrase that particularly applies as we come to the end of the year and prepare to usher in the next one. It's also the time when we start to think about refreshing our homes, whether it be a lick of paint, a new bathroom or a full head-to-toe revamp.

'Modern Living – How to Decorate with Style', by UK interiors journalist and Fizz editor Claire Bingham, is a natty tome with more than 200 pages of stunning photography, brimming with inspiring yet achievable decorating tips. Current trends from Fusion to New Country are highlighted and in a nod to the digital age, interior bloggers including Abigail Ahern and Lucy Meek give us an insight into their personal style and current projects.

ABOVE: The organic tiger stripes of the 'Tiger' rug by Barber & Osgerby for The Rug Company contrast with the wall's graphic horizontals
BELOW FROM LEFT: Sacha Walckhoff's 'B' bed for Savoir Beds is covered in 'Powder' blue Alcantara and has useful cubby holes on either side which soften this brutal industrial space; 'The Road', an oversized architectural wallpaper by Riccardo Zulato for LondonArt, offsets contemporary bathroom fixtures and accessories; The floral 'Kabala' wallpaper and fabric by Harlequin covers both wall and sofa, creating a simple yet dramatic statement

ABOVE: We love this witty suspended 'Cacoon' tent by Nick and Sarah McDonald of Cacoon World and the way it adds a touch of humour to this modernist space

Above all else, this is an extremely visual collection of ideas designed to fire up your brain and unleash your inner stylist. Looks like we’ll be busy in 2017…

'Modern Living – How To Decorate With Style' by Claire Bingham (teNeues, £29.95) 

Pictures: The Rug Company, Savoir Beds, London Art, Harlequin, KSL Living, Fay Marko

Africa Rising

There's a new design culture on the up in Africa and 'Africa Rising', a beautiful new book by Gestalten, has got us hooked...


Charles Darwin speculated in his 1871 book ‘The Descent of Man’ that Africa was the birthplace of humankind. That theory has been endlessly disputed ever since but our fascination with the world’s second largest continent shows no signs of dissipating.

‘Africa Rising’ is a sharp insight into the creative forces at work today in this large and multi-stranded region. Co-edited by Cape Town forum Design Indaba, and covering fashion, art, textiles, product design, architecture and music, it’s a remarkable book that depicts a vibrant and evolving African identity unfettered by lazy stereotypes.

ABOVE: Fashion designer Marianne Fasler's vibrant patterns and colours are surefire front cover material
ABOVE RIGHT: Bold stripes and oversized flares feature in Rich Mnisi's unisex Autumn/Winter 2016 collection
BELOW: Clear, spacious layouts and bold typography are a winning combination

Check out Johannesburg-based Marianne Fasler’s 2015 Resort womenswear collection which uses textured silks, bold colour and geometrics to create elegant contemporary pieces with plenty of attitude. See how American product and furniture designer Stephen Burks, known for his collaborations with major European brands including Missoni, Roche Bobois and B&B Italia, took inspiration from traditional Senegalese baskets and the women who wove them. Or marvel at the beauty of the minimal Library of Muyinga, designed by BC Architects for deaf children in Burundi.

BELOW: The Library of Muyinga by BC Architects is made of earth blocks, eucalyptus wood, sisal and clay


If textiles are your thing, look to West African designer Aboubakar Fofana who has revived the ancient art of creating natural indigo dyes from plant leaves resulting in beautiful dip-dyed and printed fabrics. Lovers of modern art won’t be disappointed either. Harlem-born Kip Omolade’s paintings of chrome sculptured faces, referencing ancient Benin masks, bring a taste of Pop Art to the proceedings, while South African Marco Cianfanelli’s steel structures allow fleeting glimpses of falcons and Nelson Mandela.

BELOW: Into the blue: Dip-dyed textiles by Aboubakar Fofana sway in the breeze; In the navy: Cape Town-based South African fashion designer Lukhanyo Mdingi's minimal and androgynous 'Taintless' collection is a vision in blue

BELOW FROM TOP: Marco Cianfanelli's 'Falcons' sculpture in Abu Dhabi;  Incredible chrome face oil paintings by Kip Omolade

Above all else, ‘Africa Rising’ shows how traditional techniques and cultural practices are being harnessed to push this great continent forward and serves to remind us of the power of design as a force for good. For once you can judge a book by its cover…

'Africa Rising' by Gestalten (Gestalten, €39)

Pictures: Marco Cianfanelli, Travys Owen, Francois Goudier, Kristin-Lee Moolman
All images © Gestalten 2016

Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print 1976-80

'Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print' is a new tome for the Blank Generation of the late Seventies. Showcasing the anger and creative energy of graphic design from the punk era, it's a visceral reminder of this decade's most influential youth movement


The mid-Seventies in Britain were pretty bleak, with three-day weeks, power cuts, mountains of uncollected rubbish and high unemployment. If you were a teenager the only ways out of the gloom were music and fashion. The music scene before 1976 consisted mainly of prog rockers like Yes, teeny bop bands like the Bay City Rollers or American soft rockers like The Eagles. But in 1976 the punk movement kicked off, laying waste to all that went before it and for many bored and disaffected teens this was Year Zero.

RIGHT: 1977 poster promoting a concert by Siouxsie and the Banshees at Eric's club in Liverpool
BELOW: Poster for X-Ray Spex’s single ‘Oh Bondage, Up Yours!’, October 1977; Flyer for The Clash, Subway Sect and Snatch at the ICA Theatre, London, 23
October 1976; Poster for Blondie’s 12-inch single ‘Denis’, ‘Contact in Red Square’ and
‘Kung Fu Girls’, February 1978; Flyer for the Sex Pistols at The Screen on Islington Green, 17 May 1976

2016 is the 40th anniversary of punk and to mark the occasion exhibitions, events and reunions have taken place across the UK reminding a certain section of society of their rebellious and idealistic youth. Brit artist and designer Toby Mott was one of those youths. Living in Pimlico, London, a stone’s throw from the King’s Road, Chelsea (a battleground for legions of punk rockers and teddy boys), Mott’s formative years were spent following the first wave of punk bands such as The Clash, X-Ray SpexSex PistolsSiouxsie and the Banshees and Adam and the Ants

An avid collector of record covers, fanzines and the assorted printed ephemera that spread the word about who to see and where to see them, Mott’s bedroom became a shrine to the burgeoning punk movement, which is why his personal collection of punk artwork is second to none.

ABOVE FROM LEFT: Poster for Buzzcocks’ single ‘Orgasm Addict’ by Linder Sterling and Malcolm Garrett, November 1977; Reverse of flyer for Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Adverts, Motorhead, The Vibrators, Generation X and Buzzcocks at The Greyhound, Croydon, February/March/April 1978; Poster for The Adverts at The Windmill Club, Rotherham, 15 September 1977; Sniffin’ Glue #3½ by Mark Perry, 28 September 1976

Mott's new book ‘Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print 1976-80’ gathers this extensive collection of punk memorabilia together for the first time. Printed on rough unvarnished paper, punk’s energy and DIY ethos is captured in everything from posters, flyers and record sleeves to tickets and magazine covers. Hand scrawled lettering, Letraset, dodgy photocopies, and photo montage was the visual language of early street punk graphics which pre date today’s cut and paste culture. Iconic designs by legendary designers including Jamie Reid, Malcolm Garrett and Linder Sterling are here too on artwork for the Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks, but it’s the raw amateur nature of the disposable material that really captures the creative have-a-go attitude of this short-lived yet incredibly influential movement.

BELOW FROM TOP: Nothing is off limits in this poster for 'Cut', the debut album by punk's first girl group The Slits, September 1979; Jamie Reid's seminal artwork to promote the Sex Pistols' second single 'God Save The Queen', May 1977

If you ever wore a pair of bondage pants, know what a bum flap is or had a pair of studded leather wristbands this book is for you. But beware, it may just bring a little tear to your eye…

'Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print 1976-80' by Toby Mott and Rick Poynor (Phaidon Press, £19.95)

Pictures: Courtesy of the Mott Collection