News & Trends

Three amazing chocolate shops around the world

This year, instead of loading up on cheap, poor quality chocolate, how about choosing less but better? If you need convincing, how about this: more expensive chocolate is typically better for you as it is made from organic, top quality ingredients. To help you choose some artisan products, we’ve gone inside three leading chocolatiers from around the globe. Take your pick!

1.The Margaret River Chocolate Company, Perth

A former bank is the new home of the Margaret River Chocolate Company in Perth, Western Australia. Not only does the store showcase and sell the company’s expansive range of colourfully packaged chocolates handcrafted from Belgian couverture, but the team also provide bottomless tastings. In fact, the company recently crunched the sums and realised it gives away more than $300,000 worth of chocolate to the one million people who visit its three stores each year!

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Images above from here.

2. 100% Chocolate Shop, Tokyo

With Japanese design firm Wonderwall at its helm, the finished design of 100% Chocolate Cafe wasn’t going to be anything but impressive. Running above the communal table is a dark-wood carved ceiling, shaped just like a block of chocolate! Meantime, visitors can watch chocolate being created in the grand, open kitchen, then take their pick from the 56 different varieties in the cabinet, each with their own colour code. A stand out feature of this chocolatier is the view from the street, with the huge floor to ceiling windows just tempting passers-by to step in.

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Images above from here.
 3. Les Marquis de Ladurée
Renowned for its macarons, Laudree delighted fans when it opened its first chocolate boutique in Paris. Expanding on its traditional offering of macarons,“Les Marquis de Ladurée” is a new Laudree sub-brand devoted entirely to chocolate. Positioned near the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, the interior is intricate and old-worldly, with the walls decorated in Acanthus stucco leaves, and the ceiling embellished with a stucco garland and decorated with Murano chandeliers. White Carrara marble fronts the counter and is adorned with ‘marquis’ medallions.

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Images above from here.

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What’s new in the world of design: April 2017

Easter, Anzac Day, Mother’s Day… there are so many special celebrations and long weekends coming up in the months ahead. The extra days off work are a brilliant opportunity to explore new product ranges, attend design events, or tick some tasks off your home renovation list. To help inspire you – whether inside the home or out and about – we’ve rounded up our top five new happenings this month.

1.Ash Keating’s Gravity System Response exhibition

Melbourne-based artist Ash Keating creates vibrant 20 metre-high wall murals using none other than recycled fire extinguishers filled with paint! Keating has translated his huge murals into large linen canvases for his exhibition, ‘Gravity System Response’ showing at North Melbourne’s The Meat Market from 7th to 13th April. The exhibition will bring together 20 paintings, the largest of which is 3.5×2 metres: just a shadow of Keating’s normal physical, performance-style work.

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Photos above: Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

2.Floral wallpapers by Murals Wallpaper

Whether it’s your mum, grandma, mother-in-law or step-mother, celebrate all the women in your life this Mother’s Day with one of Murals Wallpaper’s beautiful floral wallpaper murals. There are hundreds of floral prints to choose from, all using modern digital printing techniques that capture the intricate detail of the floral prints in HD on quality textured paper. The prints can be hung just like normal wallpaper, but allow for a huge impact. All products are made-to-order and custom sized according to the customer’s wall dimensions.


3. Sand Collection by Dinosaur Design

Dinosaur Designs have launched their latest collection, which explores the natural beauty and perfect imperfections of rocks and mineral properties. ‘Sand‘ features castings and patterns that have sand mixed into the brand’s signature resin finish, futuristic metal armour pieces and stone-based homewares. The result is an arresting tension between structure and fluidity; nature and manmade. In a fitting partnership, Dinosaur Designs’ creative directors, Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy, engaged National Geographic photographer Tim Georgeson to shoot this campaign on Sydney’s Maroubra beach, and the models were Georgeson’s and Olsen and Ormandy’s daughters.


4. Comme des Garçons Homme Plus x Fornasetti

Comme des Garçons Homme Plus has partnered with iconic Italian design brand Fornasetti to produce strong, graphical garments and decor. Premiered during the Spring-Summer 2017 Comme des Garçons Homme Plus show ‘Naked King’, this collaboration sees tailored jackets and matching pants printed with the iconic images of Italian painter, sculptor, interior decorator and engraver Piero Fornasetti.

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5. Milan Design Week

If you’re lucky enough to be travelling through Europe at the moment, be sure to add a stop off in Milan. The city is oozing creativity as clever minds descend for the Milan Design Week – otherwise known as the Salone del Mobile – between April 4th and 9th. Now in its 56th edition, the worldwide-renowned furniture exhibition features 2,500 exhibitors and attracts more than 300,000 visitors coming from over 160 Countries. Alongside the main exhibition, several events, meetings and presentations provide a holistic look at the present and future of furnishings and design.

This year, five exhibitions will run concurrently in the creative and design hub for the home furnishing sector: the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the International Furnishing Accessories Exhibition, Euroluce, Workplace3.0 and SaloneSatellite.

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Inside Sarah Jessica Parker’s first ‘SJP Collection’ retail store

In a fitting move, the fashionista of Sex and the City has opened a ‘real life’ fashion store. Sarah Jessica Parker is building on the success of her self named accessories and apparel brand –  SJP Collection – with the launch of her first standalone store.

Made famous through her character Carrie Bradshaw in the hit TV series, Parker says the new store treats colour ‘as a neutral’.

“Colour as a neutral allows a sort of whimsical decadence. It sets us apart in the market. It allows real creativity. We’re not always thinking about practicality.”

The walls are painted a muted pink and the shelves and furniture are made from a transparent lucite, letting the brightly coloured shoes steal the attention. Likewise, the customers of SJP Collection tend to be seeking something unconventional and whimsical, with many even choosing to wear the designs for their wedding day.

The store in Washington D.C.’s National Harbor resort houses SJP Collection dresses, candles, bags, fragrances, and of course, shoes under the one roof. Take a look…

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 Images from SJP Collection and Footwear News and header image from here.
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What’s new in the world of design: March 2017

This month, we look at products and spaces that challenge the traditional and mainstream notions of design. From gnarly looking pottery to an exhibition based on redemption and spaces that challenge norms, the design industry – and the people behind it – never stand still.

1.Tom Dixon launches new accessories range

Never one to play it safe or do the expected, Tom Dixon has launched his latest collection: this time catering to the bathroom and kitchen. And no, it’s not just a lighting range, it includes hand washes and balms, storage solutions and even a washing up liquid. Dixon says the range was inspired by the hotel bathrooms, spas, apartments and restaurants his design studio team have been working on.

“After working on some of the harder, tougher components of lighting and storage, it all felt a bit incomplete without looking at the softer elements… so it seemed only natural to start thinking of the lotions and potions of this most cleansing of spaces,” said Dixon.

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Images: Tom Dixon

2. Alice McCALL’s Emporium Melbourne store

A visual delight, the new Alice McCALL store at Melbourne’s Emporium shopping complex is now open. Each of the brand’s boutiques have their own unique look. This store features a monochromatic colour theme offset with brass. Designed by Studio Wonder, their aim was to create a “striking, graphic, minimal space offset with polished brass archways ribboning around the store to highlight the colourful, feminine collections”.

Soft grey and white checkerboard tiles, a solid marble counter and velvet pouffes all have a classic appeal, while more modern touches are introduced through Douglas and Bec stools and a pendant by Jamie Gray for Matter Made.

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Images: Studio Wonder. Photography by Tom Blachford.

3. Works by Takuro Kuwata 

Japanese artist Takuro Kuwata redefines the idea of pottery. His surfaces are thickly coated in glaze, which explodes when baked, he adds stones to his clay that puncture the surface when fired, he chooses unusual colour combinations, and he works with needles to create texture on his designs. As a result, his creations look like space objects or living things from another planet. The artist says he likes his work to evoke a sense of ‘irreverence and visual ecstasy’ – and that they do!

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Images: Takuro Kuwata

4. ‘There is Hope to the Last Flower‘ exhibition by Julian Meagher

Now on at the Olsen Gallery, see the work of former medical doctor and now artist, Julian Meagher. The director of Chalk Horse Gallery in Sydney creates unique oil paintings that explore personal and inherited history, including links to our national identity. His latest collection focuses on poignant themes of redemption and extinction. Matte black bottles create a magnetic centre while metallic reflections provide glamour.

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Photos: Mim Stirling from here.


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5 incredible lobbies from around the world

While there’s no denying that holidays and travel are one of life’s greatest joys, the design-minded amongst us also get the same excitement out of the places we get to stay at and explore around the world. On that note, we’ve curated our five ‘stand-out’ lobbies from across the globe – from a former palace to a tropical outdoor lobby, take a look…

1. Four Seasons George V, Paris

Positioned just near the Champs-Elysées, Paris’ five star Four Seasons George V hotel is like stepping back in time to a bygone era, complete with 18th century French antiques, original tapestries and bronze sculptures. What’s almost more impressive however is that the hotel spends approximately £1 million per year on flowers, which is one of the reasons the lobby is such an alluring space. Whether you’re a guest in one of the 244 lavishly appointed hotel guest rooms and suites, or simply one of the many visitors who go to see the floral masterpieces in the lobby, you won’t leave disappointed.

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Images from here.

2. Barceló La Bobadilla

Nestled into a 350-hectare estate, Granada’s five start Barceló La Bobadilla hotel exudes a sense of royal charm, being built within the walls of a former palace. The lobby uniquely opens onto the hotel’s lush tropical gardens and is propped up by arches and marble colonnades. Housing just 70 rooms, this hotel provides a taste the authentic Andalusian countryside and history.


Image from here.

 3. The Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Opening its doors in 1887, and this year undergoing a three stage renovation project due for completion in mid 2018, Singapore’s Raffles Hotel Singapore has become an icon of Far East luxury and history. Featuring colonial design and sitting in the heart of the business and civic district, the romance starts as soon as one pulls up in the lobby. Sikh doormen welcome you inside the lobby, with its white marble colonnades, an atrium that soars three floors up and polished teak verandas that lead to 103 suites, 14 restaurants and bars, event spaces and a shopping arcade. It’s no surprise that this hotel is listed as a National Monument by the Singapore Government.

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Images from here.

4. W Retreat Koh Samui, Thailand

The least traditional lobby of the lot is Koh Sumui’s W Retreat. It’s a semi-outdoor lobby which circles a lotus pond and overlooks the Gulf of Thailand. Pop art covers the walls inside, while lotus shaped sunken seats surround water features as you step outside. It’s a modern and chic destination to stay with 74 private pool retreats and six restaurants and bars to explore.

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Images from here.

5. Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai

Touted as ‘the world’s most luxurious hotel’, Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Jumeirah’s lobby can best be described as kaleidoscopic. A symbol of modern Dubai, and home to 202 lavish suites and even a helipad, the hotel was built to resemble the sail of a ‘dhow’ (an Arabian vessel). Once inside, guests are witness to a 180m atrium, 24-carat gold leaf pillars in a unique honeycomb design, numerous fountains, Statuario marble and hand-crafted rugs. It’s a combination of traditional Arabian design elements with 21st century applications.

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Images from here and here.

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Pantone Colour of the Year 2017

The start of a new year means a new direction in colour, and the global organisation that sets the colour tone each year has released its 2017 shade.

The 2017 PANTONE Colour of the Year is Greenery: a refreshing and revitalising shade that is symbolic of new beginnings. After last year’s muted, pastel shades, it’s a nice change to see a vivid, bold and lively colour make an entrance.

In Pantone’s own words,

“it’s a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.”

“The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally. A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront – it is an omnipresent hue around the world.”

Greenery can be paired with neutrals, brights, gem tones, pastels, metallics and even the PANTONE Colour of the Year 2016, Rose Quartz and Serenity.

So take a look at this gorgeous, fresh shade below, and see our four favourite pieces that will bring this colour into your home in style…

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Above: Anda lounge chair by Ligne Roset. Price upon request.


Above: Pickard Colour Sheen dinner plate by Williams-Sonoma. $67–$82. 


Above: 3D knitted cradle chair by Layer for Moroso


Above: Gem Uranian glassware by Martin Jakobsen. € 77.50.

All other images from our Pantone Colour of the Year 2017 Pinterest board.

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Our four 2017 design predictions

A new year means plenty of opportunity to shake things up a little in your home. If you’re looking to tweak, refresh or renovate your space, here are some tips to help you introduce the incoming design trends. ‘Character’, ‘warmth’ and ‘organic’ are three words that really sum up the looks we’ll see in interiors this year. Let us explain…

1. Warm timber

While blonde timber has been all the go in recent times, warmer tones are now taking over. Similarly, there are moves towards darker and richer tones of marble, instead of the whites and soft greys we’ve been used to. So expect to see darker, more organic looking bathrooms and kitchens in the year ahead.

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2. Terracotta

It may seem surprising, but the colour of the 80s is on the return. Terracotta tiles will be replacing cool, white variations. Rather than a glossy finish, matte will be the feature. Try this look in bathrooms, kitchens and hallways for a unique and warm statement.

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3. Upholstery

Say ‘goodbye’ to the Scandinavian, minimal, timber aesthetic for bed frames and chairs and ‘hello’ to opulent, upholstered furnishings. Whether it’s classic linen trimmed with studs or buttons, luxe velvet or detailed jacquard, upholstery is making a come back in a big way.

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4. Relaxed floor plans

Finally, for 2017, think free-flowing floor plans over structure and formality. With more of our lives being digitalised and segmented, interior design is moving to a more organic approach than we’ve seen in recent years.

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All of the images above are from our Pinterest page. Take a look!

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Inside Etsy’s pioneering new HQ

Dumbo is fast becoming the trendiest, up-and-coming suburb in New York. It recently welcomed Etsy’s new HQ – a 200,000-square-foot hub that took 2 years to complete and is double the size of the company’s previous complex.

Etsy launched in 2005 as an online marketplace for crafters, makers and ‘DIY-ers’. At its core are the values of community, craft and sustainability, and the development of its new headquarters kept these front and centre.

Global architecture firm Gensler was brought on board to design the new office so that it met the Living Building Challenge (LBC) – a green building certification program, that specifies buildings should:

  • Connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community.
  • Be self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site.
  • Create a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them.

Etsy is committed to being 100% powered by renewable energy by 2020, which means that solar panels cover 20% of its roof, there is a rainwater irrigation system and occupancy sensors control how much lighting is needed. Plus, no object in the building can contain toxic materials or chemicals; materials must be responsibly sourced and have minimal carbon footprints and the building and everything inside should be sustainable, from the furniture to the internet cables.

Erected in the iconic Watchtower complex, the space has hundreds of furniture pieces and installations that were either created by local artisans or salvaged and reclaimed.

As Etsy described on its blog:

“Whether we’re typing on desks made by Craig Montoro and Bryan Mesenbourg of First Third, sitting at tables made by Jason Hernandez of HENDO or working underneath the light fixtures crafted by Ashira Israel of In.Sek Design, every day we’re fortunate enough to physically engage with our community through their work.”

There are workstations for the 600 employees, but the communal spaces are the ones that really stand out. The Lab is like a workshop with its screen-printing studio, letterpress machine, craft supplies, digital design studio and a 3-D printer. For employees looking for some R&R, the wellness studio offers yoga and beanbags for naps, while the roof deck and terraces provide space to soak up fresh air.

Step inside…
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Images from here.

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What’s new in the world of design: December 2016

From a cathedral-set fashion store to a science-based art exhibition, this month’s ‘What’s New in the World of Design’ is full of paradoxes, along with fabulous new fabrics and wallpapers and excitingly, a date announced for DENFAIR 2017. Read on… 

1. Alpha60 opens new store in Chapter House

One of Melbourne’s newest fashion stores feels more like a stage-set than a boutique. Alpha60 has opened its 10th store in Chapter House on Flinders Lane – a large hall adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral.

You enter the store from Flinders Lane and follow the trail of mannequins up two flights of stairs. Then, you’re greeted with soaring ceilings, stained-glass windows and a grand piano.

The fashion brand has made the most of the unique space, bringing in its entire collection to showcase. The owners are also in talks with bands to bring live, acoustic music in-store, along with artists to create sound and light experiences to accompany the journey up the stairs. What can be sure is that this is no run of the mill shopping experience.

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Four Christmas decorating trends of 2016

December is here, which means the organised ones among us are busily wrapping gifts, decorating the house and planning the Christmas meals. For the rest of us, it’s that time when it sinks in that Christmas really is just around the corner.

To help you with whatever stage you’re at, we’ve pulled together this year’s key Christmas decorating trends to bring you ideas from the gift wrapping, to the table, to the tree. There really is a theme to suit everyone – from traditional and moody greens, to fresh and youthful mint, to sophisticated and modern monochrome, and finally, the angelic all-white aesthetic. Enjoy finding the look that’s right for you this Christmas.

1. Moody Greens

Bring this trend into your home using generous amounts of foliage, luxe, olive-coloured fabrics such as linen and velvet, matte stoneware plates and – if you’re brave – a moss-coloured, painted feature wall.



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