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THE DESIGN CHASER

Timeless Interiors - Inspiration from Zara Home

8.10.2020

For their AW20 campaign, Zara Home have once again teamed up with British interior designer and consultant Rosie Seabrook. Working in London and New York, Rosie creates serene spaces that are imbued with subtle luxury and understated elegance. If you follow her on Instagram, you will know that one of her main influences is Belgian design, and this provides the perfect aesthetic for the latest Zara Home collection. Located in the Flemish countryside, the home belongs to vintage store owner Ann-Sohpie De Stoop and her family, and is designed by Belgian architect Benoît Viaene. Photographed by François Halard, the new collection centres around the art of simplicity. Expressed through new colours and textures, it speaks of a timeless approach, bringing a warmer feeling to the new season. I'll let the beautiful images speak for themselves...

Photography by François Halard via Zara Home

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FORESTA - The First Collection & an Interview with Designer Rebecca Goddard

8.07.2020

Established in early 2019 by Patricia Peinador and José Ángel Saavedra, FORESTA was born out of a need to change the way natural materials, like tropical hardwoods, are cultivated and harvested. José Ángel is from Honduras, the small Caribbean country where all FORESTA teaks and mahoganies are organically grown and ethically harvested, while Patricia lives in Spain and works in daily unison with José Ángel, directing the brand marketing and coordinating everyday developmental details. Mid-way through 2019, Patricia began working with Berlin based designer, Rebecca Goddard to create the first FORESTA collection. What originally started as a one-off explorative project between FORESTA and Rebecca, stemming from a connection made over Instagram, quickly evolved into a whole new aspect of the FORESTA brand — one that not only celebrates natural materials, but also design.

FORESTA Collection One

Their first collection, born from a shared desire to highlight the inherent beauty of organic hardwoods, consists of six objects, each with its own personality, pure and authentic to the material’s natural aesthetics. Slow-living and Caribbean vibes, blended with the design simplicity found in Northern Europe is now the heartbeat of FORESTA’s aesthetic ethos, and every decision throughout the design and manufacturing process is made with the intention of keeping the collection keenly sensitive to sustainability and ethical production. Each piece is hand-manufactured at a small artisanal workshop close to FORESTA’s plantations in Honduras, made with a slow approach that respects the pace of the craftsmen and women FORESTA works with.

FORESTA Arco Candle Holder and Aldea Tray

Instagram friends from way back, I have loved following Rebecca's journey with FORESTA. Her quiet, considered aesthetic is admired by many and translates beautifully to the new collection. I am thrilled share an exclusive interview where she provides further insight into the pieces she designed, the brand's backstory, and her creative process...

How did your initial connection with FORESTA on Instagram develop into a working relationship and design collaboration?
When FORESTA and I first got connected via Instagram, they had just begun selling their organic timbers in the European market. Patricia had read my blog, and saw that I’ve written several articles for brands who are working with a sustainable approach, so she asked me if I would be interested in writing an article about FORESTA’s sustainable wood and mission for forest revitalisation and fair-trade.

She sent wood samples from their plantations, and when I saw these I couldn’t help but think about how beautifully the wood could present if materialised into an actual product. I also really fell in love with FORESTA’s story, and wanted to be a part of it in some way. I brought up the idea of designing a few one-off pieces, so that we could create a nice visual story together and show their beautiful woods in a creative and functional way with context. They loved the idea — so I began the design ideation process, and FORESTA began looking for a local manufacturer near their plantations to craft the pieces.

After the first few design phases, we both started to feel really excited about the idea of creating an actual small collection, and forming a brand around it. So like that, our small collaboration became the beginning of FORESTA’s design brand.


FORESTA Arco Candle Holder

The collection features a diverse range of products comprising of small objects through to furniture pieces. Was this always your intention? How did you decide on what categories to start with?

Before I began working on any designs, Patricia and I brainstormed the types of product categories the wood could lend itself well too. This factor, as well as FORESTA’s manufacturing capabilities really drove the designs in the collection. Small accessories, stools, and accent tables were the first product types we discussed, and this led to Arco, Forma, and Copán.

As the project evolved further into an official brand, we got a bit more serious about the intention of each product, to be sure that the offering was well rounded and flexible. The Tez Table grew from the idea of offering a design that could be made in custom sizes. The architectural simplicity of the design lends itself really well to this, and since everything FORESTA produces comes from a single workshop in small orders, they have the unique capacity to offer this particular design in custom sizes if requested, for an additional cost.

FORESTA Aldea Tray

How important was it to highlight the natural wood, and how have you achieved this through your designs?
FORESTA’s material story is the thing that set this whole project into motion. So since the beginning, the wood has always been the fundamental focus of each design. As a designer who’s used to working in mixed materials, it was a unique experience to create a full collection solely from wood, and also a bit challenging. I think we have the wood to thank for the simplicity of the products in the collection though. Every time a design became too expressive or complex, we took a few steps back so that the form wouldn’t compete with the visual interest naturally embedded into each piece through the wood.

What other guiding principles were there in creating this collection?
My approach to design has always been based on the aesthetic values of minimalism, and adaptive functionality. Patricia shares these values too and wanted the collection to be sensitive to this because simplicity and functionality in design also propel longevity and timelessness. Timelessness as a form of sustainability became a big guiding principle for the collection, and we hope that these designs will work well for many years and can be passed down through generations.

Every piece is produced at a small artisan workshop in Honduras, made with a slow approach that respects the pace of the craftsmen and women FORESTA works with. This love for slow craftsmanship is also embedded in each product, and we really embrace all the subtle nuance and distinctiveness left by the hands of the maker. These tiny details make every design unique, and underscore the fact that the piece was carefully crafted by a skilled human-being — an individual who played a massive role in the product’s existence. Their significance is reflected and celebrated in each design as well.

FORESTA Copán Side Table 

Is there a main type of wood FORESTA is using for the six pieces, and if so, will they be offering other types in the future?
As of right now, the pieces will be only offered in teak, but FORESTA is testing the smaller products in mahogany too. It’s important to the brand that the collection remains as close as possible to its natural origin. With the exception of glue used for the joinery, these products are purely wood. The intention is to deliver the designs completely natural, without a finish or other chemicals. Customers who do prefer to have a finished product can easily apply one at home, using a natural oil and following FORESTA’s finishing guide. This will of course intensify the colour and appearance of the grain, and can prolong the life of the product depending on how it's used.

Tell us a little about the design process, from initial ideas through to the finished product.
Most of my designs start on paper — sketches that are likely indistinguishable to anyone but me. I’m usually focused on a small detail or connection element that I think could translate nicely into some type of design. Then I’m pretty quick to jump into CADD, and sort out scale and proportions based on the use. Some designs are born from a sculptural direction, like Arco for example — this form and shaping was totally defined before I had detailed any proportions. And some designs are born from the role I want them to perform, like Copán — I knew I wanted to design a small piece with heavy proportioned legs reminiscent of a timber beam, and I wanted that piece to work well as both a stool and small table. First I worked on the size and scale of the product, and then I imagined a form that worked within the parameters driven by the function.

For my work with FORESTA, we’ve gone through the entire design, refine, and development process virtually, and I've provided them with drawings and suggestions for engineering. It's been a tremendous amount of back and fourth however. I live in Berlin, Patricia is in Madrid, and José Ángel is in Honduras. Patricia and I have refined everything together, and then she has directed the full development in Honduras from afar with the help of José Ángel. They make progress, then we review everything step-by-step and take it further.


FORESTA Forma Plinth Table

What has been your favourite part of this project and why?
There are so many small details that make this project really special to me. To start, the unlikely hood of it all and how our work together began from Instagram is unusual I think. I love that I get to be apart of FORESTA’s story, and I hope that their conscious approach will be appreciated by people and perhaps even mirrored by other brands. To me, this work holds a deeper value because it’s been a chance to fuse together things I’m truly passionate about, like design and social and environmental responsibility.

I know that this project is very close to your hearts, especially having faced many hurdles due to the global pandemic. How have you overcome these challenges, and what are you looking forward to the most?
Like so many people right now, the best we can do is to take it day-by-day while staying optimistic. We have run into a lot of set-backs because of the current global health crisis. While everyone around the world has been affected by Covid-19 in some way or another, people living in Honduras have been affected in ways many of us can’t even imagine. The country has been on very tight lock-down since early spring, and we’ve had to accept many stalls and push past tons of obstructions. It’s a very atypical situation, but I think FORESTA is navigating it in the best way possible — mindfully and with care for the people they work with. FORESTA is a slow and ethical brand, so I think that the target consumers will be understanding since good things take time. When we preview the collection in Copenhagen next month, a few products we show will be the first prototypes. In a perfect (pandemic free) world, we would have production pieces ready. So many things were out of FORESTA’s control, but we couldn’t be prouder of the work we have accomplished in less than a year, especially under these circumstances.

FORESTA Tallo Wall Wardrobe

What is your favourite piece in the collection?
I think that the typical designer response would be, ‘my designs are like my children and therefore I don’t have favourites,’ right? But in all seriousness, I do truly like all of the pieces in this collection because I think each has its own character. If I had to pick though, the Forma Plinth table might be my favourite. This design represents a product’s ability to evolve into the piece it was always meant to be when two creative minds come together. Forma was one of the first designs I sent FORESTA. I had the idea for the stepped interior-edge detail and worked the detail into a design that originally followed the proportions of a rectangular stool. Patricia was quick to send me feedback suggesting that the design should become a plinth instead, and so the way we collaborated on that design made it into what it is today.

FORESTA Tez Lounge Table

You recently travelled to Spain to shoot the campaign imagery. What can you tell us about the beautiful location?
Patricia picked the shooting location and it was so well-suited for the collection because the earthy tones complimented the wood beautifully. The villa is called La Hermandad de Villalba, and it is run by the most heartwarming couple. It was built in the 18th century, but recently renovated by Madrid-based architects, Lucas y Hernández-Gil. Our trip together was really special though, because it was the first time Patricia and I finally met in person. Up until early July, the entirety of the work we’ve done together has been through online communication. So to be together in person after many postponed meetings was great, and to see the products we’ve been working so hard on come to life in the context of the villa felt totally amazing too.

The new collection will be previewed at 3daysofdesign in Copenhagen in September. What can visitors expect to see?
We will have a pop-up exhibition at Nyt i Bo — a stunning showroom in the heart of Copenhagen. FORESTA will showcase the six piece collection in a space representative of a small airy living room, styled with a laid-back aesthetic blend we’ve been calling “European-Caribbean”. We’re looking forward to meeting people, to talk about the work, and I know that FORESTA is extra excited to share their ideas for slow, caring, and sustainable ways of working.

The FORESTA exhibition is running from September 3 — 5 at Nyt i Bo — Frederiksgade 1. 

To read more about FORESTA's core values around sustainability and ethical production take a look here

The Collection One pieces are now available to purchase online, and for ongoing inspiration and updates follow FORESTA on Instagram (@forestatimber). 

Huge thanks to Rebecca for sharing her journey so far, and all the best for 3daysofdesign. If you need further convincing to visit, check out this beautiful film shot in the Spain. I am looking forward to following from afar! 

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Caring for Linen — An Interview with Marle Founder Juliet Souter

7.30.2020

Grounded on the philosophy of everyday luxury, premium New Zealand womenswear brand Marle has become a firm staple in my wardrobe over the last few years. Each collection consists of feminine, thoughtful essentials with an emphasis on subtle details, simple silhouettes and a refined, earthy palette. Proudly using natural fabrics and fibres and compostable packaging, Marle only works with manufacturers and suppliers equally committed to leaving a lighter footprint on our planet. Along with silk, wool, Perino and cotton, linen is one of the exclusively natural yarns that Marle uses, and the current Winter Collection offers a beautiful Linen Capsule with pieces designed to be worn effortlessly all year round.


It's no secret how much I love using linen at home. Breathable and kind to the skin with a soft yet textural quality, it extends beyond our bed linen to cushion covers, tablecloths and napkins. With its unique sustainable benefits such as requiring less water to produce than cotton, and being biodegradable, it's no wonder more and more of us are favouring linen when it comes to our wardrobe. Known for its strength and durability, if cared for properly linen will last for many years. 

So, how should you care for your linen pieces? I spoke to Marle founder Juliet Souter to find out the best practices... 

Linen is one of the exclusively natural yarns Marle uses alongside silk, wool, Perino and cotton. Why do you use linen?
Natural yarn, such as linen can elevate simple silhouettes and soft colour palettes with its unique character, weave and appearance. The Marle aesthetic is largely inspired by the inherent texture, created through the natural fibres we use.

We work exclusively with natural fibres and fabric. Primarily for the look and feel, but also the breathability and antimicrobial benefits to the wearer, and the fact they are low-impact to the environment. Linen has its own unique sustainable benefits such as requiring less water to produce compared to cotton and it is also biodegradable like all natural fibres.



As a long-time user of linen bedding, I love that I can throw it all in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. Do linen garments need to be treated with more care i.e prepped in a certain way, placed in a laundry bag, washed separately or hand-washed?
While most linen can be cold machine washed, blended or naturally dyed linen can require hand washing or dry cleaning. Best practice is to read the care label carefully as it’s not a one fits all method for linen. Most of our 100% linen pieces are machine washable. With our linen/silk blends we recommend a cold hand wash and flat dry in the shade or dry-clean.

Linen can vary significantly in weight and texture. For more delicate items that are machine washable, using a laundry bag is advised. It is important to not wring out the fabric. For heavier pieces, give them a good shake out or gently pull to reshape and lay flat to dry in the shade.



If they need to be hand-washed, what is the best method?
Firstly, untie drawstrings and fasten buttons. Use cold water and add a few drops of mild detergent (we recommend ecostore), ensuring the water isn’t too soapy. Gently swish the garment in the water, being careful not to soak, wring or twist. Once washed, tip out the soapy water and repeat with cold, clean water to ensure all of the detergent is removed.


When it comes to drying your linen pieces, what is the safest option to ensure longevity?
Before drying, gently pull to reshape - if specified on the care label. It is best to dry linen either hanging or laying flat in open air, out of direct sunlight. A dryer can be used once the garment is dry to soften the fibres.

Linen is known for its naturally crinkly appearance. Can you iron linen?
We love the inherent textural quality of linen. If you want to iron out crinkles, either steam the garment or if the care label specifies, use an iron, most linen can withstand quite a high heat with ironing. Again, it depends on the blend so always read the care label.


The Marle Winter capsule two collection features several linen pieces including the Carly Dress, Dusty Skirt and Jade Top. Do the individual styles need to be cared for differently?
With linen, it’s never one rule for all. The Carly, Dusty and Jade Top are in fact all cut from the same flax linen but they have different washing instructions. The Dusty Skirt and Carly Dress can both be cold machine washed and line dried in the shade. Due to the design of the Jade Top featuring shirring and ties, we suggest a separate, cool hand wash using a drop of mild detergent. After washing, gently pull to reshape and lay the flat in the shade to dry.



Can we expect any shrinkage or changes in shape with linen, even when following these guidelines?
All of our linen is pre-shrunk so if washed correctly, you shouldn’t see any shrinkage. Linen will naturally change in shape if it’s wrung out, twisted or pulled too hard so it's imperative to be gentle when getting the garment ready to dry.


Thank you to Juliet for sharing these wonderful tips. Shop the Marle new season pieces here

Images courtesy of Marle

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