The Japanese house at The Barbican

Call me a Japanophile and you wouldn’t be wrong. Fascinated by Japanese culture and style from a very young age (my dad visited frequently bringing back treasures and stories) I made sure I visited as soon as I completed my studies.  I have been many times since, never disappointed and forever fascinated.

2

My design work has always been by influenced by architecture, so this was one exhibition I was not going to miss.  I found The Japanese House exhibition at the Barbican to be a beautifully executed exhibition for anyone interested in Japanese culture, design, living and architecture.

illustrations

An insight into the changes in Japanese domestic architecture following World War 2, a period which is known for producing arguably the most influential and ground-breaking examples of modern and contemporary design.   Following the war and the widespread devastation of Tokyo and other Japanese cities there was an urgent need for new housing, creating much architectural experimentation and debate whilst producing innovative solutions to changing lifestyles.

1

Take time to stroll through the 10 rooms in the full-size recreation of the Moriyama House.  Compact and orderly, with a tiny bathroom and a kitchen tucked under the stairs each little detail has been placed to create a harmonious balance, the outside merging with the inside and in my view the best minimalist design to be found in a compact space.

6

3

the exhibition also features a Japanese teahouse, gardens and an outdoor cinema- much to see, explore and aspire to.

5

The Japanese house at The Barbican runs until June 25th 2017, don’t miss it

California Dreaming

As far as ‘Busman’s holidays’ go, my recent sojourn to LA served up a pretty balanced combination of work and pleasure.

For those who know me and in true ‘Nadia style’ I made sure that I maximised every minute of my 10 days, as well as every opportunity I had to enjoy the blue skies.

IMG_4862

Having spent the first part in Downtown LA showing our Nadia Minkoff London collection at the California Market Centre I spent the latter part visiting vineyards, driving along the coast, exploring desolate beaches, collecting moonstones ( for real) and finally back to LA for some much needed retail therapy.

My chosen ‘companion’ on this journey? The Richmond midi tote in yellow and I am happy to say it didn’t disappoint.

IMG_4872

Going to let the photos do the talking as they are SO good. A big thank you to Director of Photography Dennis Madden for these beautiful captures.

IMG_4928

IMG_4900

IMG_4882

IMG_4925

My travel lowdown:

I flew out from London Gatwick  to LAX  with Norwegian Air on the brand new Dreamliner, can’t recommend enough! Return trip with luggage and x 2 meals from as little as £500

Stayed at the  Millenium Biltmore Hotel, in downtown LA. This hotel has seen more glamorous days the lobby is grand but alas the rooms are in need updating, still the location is great. Rooms start at  £150 per night.

Don’t leave downtown LA without trying Pitchoun Bakery, the raspberry croissants are as tasty as they are beautiful! You will be spoilt for choice

For some of the best handmade noodles you will ever try and an impressive selection of beers to boot visit Peking Tavern

Mexican with a twist at B.S.Taqueria, so bloody good, take me back today!

The Landsby boutique Hotel in Solvang, Scaandi interiors to die for, wanted to move in. Double rooms start at US$350 per night

IMG_4886

Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach, if you are after spectacular ocean views, moonstone collecting and sea lion viewing, this is the perfect location… complete with your very own in room  fire place , Doubles start at US$ 200 per night

Rock n Fish restaurant, Manhattan Beach LA, for some regional food and super fresh fish dishes, beautifully served in this gorgeous seaside corner of LA

The Griffith Observatory, immerse yourself in La La Land, watch the stars, the Hollywood Hills, the view of LA, have a dance if you want!

IMG_4995

IMG_5001

IMG_4985

‘Tis the season for travel

brewer-main

For many the festive period is a time for travel: going home to the family, reuniting with relatives or taking time off to get away.

I used to love travelling but no more, I find airport security necessary but long and tedious, in a bid to economise my flights seem to take off and land at challenging hours be it first thing in the morning or late at night. The seats are smaller, the baggage allowance is shrinking, food is for purchasing and well, there is nothing much glamourous about my travel agenda.

That is until I designed our The Brewer travel bag and now I genuinely think that travelling, even low cost travel is quite a glamorous affair, in fact, I look forward to the opportunity of putting my Brewer bag to the test and seeing just how much I am able to squeeze out of it ( and into it) in one trip. Deceptively light for its size means I have the perfect opportunity to fill it to the brim! the soft leather and fantastic finish just screams style, the internal (and detachable) zipped pouch has comfy pockets for all my belongings, I am able to stuff my jumper down one side, my scarf, book and paper down the other and it even comes with its own nifty (and again detachable) leather wristlet clutch.

Going to let my Brewer bag do the talking, shot on location: London, Paris, Geneva, up the Alps, down by the lake, in the heart of the city… an investment piece definitely worth considering

Out & about with The Brixton Backpack

8Just so you don’t think we brag about our bags without good cause we do genuinely ‘test drive’ them to see if they perform up to scratch. They do need to look the part but we also take great pride in ensuring they are as functional they are good looking.  Someone gets the lucky ‘chore’ of testing  any new bag we release over a period of a week and reporting back to us.

We try and ‘test’ them in the environment where we think they will be used: travel bags go travelling, evening bags get taken out to town, tote bags go to work and as for backpacks…

7

Well, backpacks are the newest babies in our range, The Brixton is the first backpack we released, designed to be small, lightweight and extremely feminine, a midi bag but worn on the back ! With plenty of pockets, draw string fastening and adjustable straps the idea was it would work from day to night, from fast paced walks to bicycle rides to car, from work to leisure.

We’re happy to share photos of the bag in action, Test-driven in the big outdoors surrounding Lake Geneva on the outskirts of Lausanne, Switzerland. It took long walks, bike rides and tram rides. From University to the sleek town centre, from lectures to concerts, weekdays, weekends, rain and shine.

 

And the verdict?

We’ve been told it is great! comfortable, useful, lightweight, secure and most importantly very much admired.

The Brixton backpack is now available in black and grey from select boutiques nationwide, from our webshop and  from Wolf & Badger. If you plan on visiting our stand at The Ideal Home Show in London Olympia, 23-27 November 2016, you could even try one out yourself, we’re quite sure you won’t want to let it go!

Paris with my ‘The Brewer’ Holdall

Hit by the tough economic downturn as well as recent unrest there seems to be quite a big divide in opinion when it comes to Paris:     It’s beautiful- it’s dirty, it’s exciting- it’s dangerous, it’s cool- it’s run down, it’s delicious- it’s full of fast food

I Paris hop regularly and am never 100% sure how I feel about going these days, when the sun is shining I think ‘OK, it will be fine’ but when it rains I wonder ‘what on earth am I doing going there in the first place?’

For my most recent mid-April trip I left Kings Cross International ‘armed’ with my lovely ‘The Brewer’ travel holdall, now that on its own (I confess) is enough to put me in a good mood.

paris 1

A couple of hours later I arrive ,Paris is kind and greets me with sunny skies. I set off on my mad schedule, I certainly know how to pack in a full day’s work made easier by the fact that I’ve been so many times that making a B line from the station to my favourite haunts is second nature.

Say what you will, there is always something new and exciting to discover here and that is what really makes Paris so unique.

So a quick run-down of what excited me this time:

An amazing cheese shop caught my eye, the large milk urns leading to the door and the outdoor cooled fridge packed with cheeses .Even though I didn’t buy or try any it was just spectacular.

It’s asparagus and strawberry season and all the green grocers have them out on display, they just look so good and they display them so beautifully

paris-15

Lunch break for me and my bag ….

Paris 4

 

In a little corner café I take the ‘dish of the day’  which turns out to be the most delicious home-made ravioli and green salad.  I just love it that in France it is completely cool to wipe clean the sauce on your plate with your bread, how good is that!

 

The flats in Central Paris, especially the buildings that taper into a corner are beautiful.

Paris 7

The independent clothing boutiques are the best I have seen anywhere, absolutely and without a doubt.  But even the larger Dept stores embrace fashion in the grandest of manner. So Spring has hit Printemps and you just can’t miss the buzz, large floral rabbits included.

Paris 8

As I step out of Printemps the heavens open, hailstones the size of golf balls followed by a heavy downpour. I head on back into Printemps and the quiet oasis which is the Cojean café in the lower ground floor. White and silver minimalism, healthy alternative snacks and salads, vegan cakes and lots of lovely teas. My tray looks great on the table top and my The Brewer holdall looks even better hanging from its under table bag hanger- how thoughtful of them to do this.   Any bag designer and bag lover reading this blog will totally get this,surely this is what life is all about.

Paris 10

Paris 9

Back at the Gare du Nord I regroup my thoughts, the intention was to go to Paris armed solely with my Brewer travel holdall which is very spacious and to fill it up with a few bits and pieces bought on the way and that’s it.

Did I stick to my plan? Why of course not, too many things to buy in Paris!!

Paris 11

So where do you want your tea served? The Hallway? The Parlour or possibly the toilet?

eh-tea

After a challenging couple of months, I finally got to fully relax this past weekend. Sunday brought with it London spring sunshine, glorious! I headed straight out to my winter battered garden, time to clear up, discover what survived the cold winter and get the garden ready for planting new arrivals.

But the real, REAL treat was Afternoon Tea at Edith’s House. I guess in some ways this newest arrival to North London’s Crouch End is simply bonkers but in fact it is absolutely perfect.

Step in through the front door, back in time, into your Auntie or grandma’s  house, kitsch galore, melamine furniture in abundance, lace, wallpaper and bygone knick-knacks.

SO WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR TEA SERVED?

The dining room or the parlour?

eh-lounge

Sat on the bed in the bedroom or perhaps in the hallway?

eh-hallway

No tables left? How about the toilet then?

eh-toilet

eh-toilet-2

Décor aside (and that was pretty good) the scones are top notch, hot, fresh ,tasty, different and the tea and coffee are Superb ( I opted for the Cinnamon scone, yum!)

eh-scone

Last but not least, the house pooch Roux, trying to convince you to share some of your food…

eh-roux

eh-roux-2

 

One thing I know for sure is that I’m most definitely coming back!

The Mayor’s view

Years of hard work do pay off, these days I am often invited to events held in what I can only describe as rather ‘fabulous’ places. My idea of a fabulous is a place that visually takes my breath away.
I know I wax lyrical about London and my love of this metropolis so whilst I believe I know it pretty well (which I do, of coruse :))  there are always new places, new buildings, new cafes and new views to explore.
So this week I was invited to a meeting at City Hall, 9th floor to be precise, the floor with the view!!

London had gone from winter to summer in the space of a day, it was a sizzling 25c, (which us Londoners really consider as summer) and the streets were positively pulsating, especially Thames side- who wouldn’t want to take a stroll along the river on a hot sunny eve?
Following some security questions and having had my bags checked I headed up to the 9th floor of City Hall. I’m quite sure that London’s Mayor Boris Johnson never tires of the view from this, his ‘office’, it is quite some view and certainly thrilled me.

The main problem was trying to concentrate on the meeting whilst wanting to hang-out on the balcony and London gaze.

Tower Bridge during golden hour:

city-hall-3

 

 

 

The ever changing skyline of the City of London, this is one spectacular view:

city-hall-7

 

 

The Tower of London still holds it’s own, surrounded by it’s modern ‘neighbours’:

city-hall-8

The tallest ‘kid’ on the block, London’s The Shard towers over the South side of the Thames:

 

 

 

 

 

city-hall-2

 

And finally, yours truly, loving the view ( and the sunshine):

city hall 1