Book Review – Urban Pioneer: Interiors Inspired by Industrial Design by Sara Emslie


Architecture Design by Manifold Architecture studio, Brooklyn, NY

How can I resist the new book by interior stylist that just arrived on my desk, Urban Pioneer: Interiors Inspired by Industrial Design. The pioneers, mostly designers and artisans have colonised and renovated exindustrial and non residential buildings where they combine work with living, to create a new urban lifestyle. They have thrown out the rules of traditional interiors and the newly emerged style reflects the remnants of the industrial past, generous windows letting in lots of light, metal finishes, exposed pipes and brick work.

2 p 148 The canalside home

The canalside home and gallery of creative director, art dealer and location owner Mark Chalmers in Amsterdam

The urban pioneer is a style that’s in demand, we are all familiar with the open plan look of these large industrial spaces, flexible, less permanent and more mobile. The pioneers have licence to break the mould, be bold and take the opportunity to experiment, take risks while rethinking scale. The book examines twelve case histories, all individual, illustrating a variety of ways to design post industrial interiors.The London home of Peter Wim

3 p20 The London home of Peter Wim The London home of Peter Wim

While all the spaces have a strong sense of reflecting the anatomy of the building, pioneers adapt their space to their individual needs. And don’t think it’s all about the utillitarian, as this ultimately depends on where the pioneer chooses to draw the line. Some like to allow for domestic softening and flights of fancy. Amsterdam interior by designer James van der Velden has a spectacular lush wall painted in the manner of a classical artist.

4 p29 Designer James van der VeldenDesigner James van der Velden of Bricks Studio

While the kitchen of graphic designer Anouk Pruim, is pared back, no frills, basic chic, reflected in salvedged utility used for furnishing the space. In the New York home of Houssein Jarouche my favourite, a vintage modern interior, has ecclectic kitchen cupboards that are boldly collaged with colourful graphic tape.

5 p121 Designer James van der Velden

Designer James van der Velden of Bricks Studio, Amsterdam

If you want to get that Urban Pioneer look, this book, packed with visual pointers will help you put together your own take on interiors inspired by industrial design.

6 p67 The New York

The New York home of Houssein Jarouche of

7 p89 The home of Anouk PruimThe home of Anouk Pruim, graphic designer

Urban Pioneer by Sara Emslie

(Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99)

Photography by Benjamin Edwards © Ryland Peters & Small





Book Review- IN THE MOOD FOR COLOUR Perfect palettes for creative interiors by Hans Blomquist

We’ve been stuck in a neutral colour rut for so long, how can I resist the lure of this book title In the Mood for Colour by Hans Blomquist, all time favourite interior stylist, art director recounting his story of colour, a major interest for me. To find all this rolled into one generous tome means well established books at the top of my long list have been bumped off in favour of this newbie.

TJ194-6-2016 COV 175L CTP.indd

The book opens with A World Full of Colour, a lush mosaic of mainly polychrome images from around the world, in its format its very familiar to Instagram users. It is then divided into chapters, Dark, Pale, Natural, Soft and Bold. Each chapter is layered with a visual feast of colour images illustrating ways to bring colour into interiors. Running through both text and images the simple message about using colour in interiors is they are all ‘designed by nature’. Grow your confidence with colour by looking at the many ways nature successfully combines them. This is a personal account of his relationship with colour and his response to the different colours is engaging and effervescent particularly when he discusses how his mood responds to different colours.


The eclectic schemes showing ways of using colour are summed up with delightful names like Pistachio, Duck Egg and Faded Denim, hinting at a layered experience that engages all the senses. The double page spread, Rose, Powder, Petal, like a mood board, uses a variety of images, paint, fabrics and flowers, with the main image demonstrating how to layer them up confidently.


With its wealth of eye candy images, still lifes and dreamy compositions, it’s an invaluable tool for anyone wanting to find ways to launch into the colour zone and on their way to creating confident colourful interiors. In the Mood for Colour is now my go to for inspiration. I’ve worked on many rewarding projects where colour has been pivotal. As lead colour expert on an innovative government research project colour was used to show how environment affects childrens learning, further projects have been using colour to develop rooms for teanage cancer care as well as psychotherapists consulting rooms.

IN THE MOOD FOR COLOUR Perfect palettes for creative interiors

Hans Blomquist

Published by Ryland Peters & Small £19.99


My Tiny Indoor Garden by Lia Leendertz

If you have no garden and are thinking you are never going to have enough space to have your own or be able to grow your own salads look no further than My Tiny Indoor Garden. House plants are having a moment just now, we use them for styling so many projects, they are something we can all have and everyone wants to be in on the act. This delightful book by Lia Leendertz with beautiful images by Mark Diacono is packed with space saving indoor gardening ideas and even people living in the most restricted spaces can join in. It includes lots of ways to display flowers and plants as well as a wealth of tried and tested growing tips.


Before I go any further R&B have to declare an interest in this title and tell you team member Amanda Russell was one of the case studies featured. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty more case studies and very doable projects we want to enthusiastically immerse ourselves in.

Image1 - Photo credit to Mark Diacono

There’s lots of detail on plant maintenance and how to keep them in prime condition from the people growing the plants. There is a pretty succulent garden in a porch with a useful demonstration on how to take cuttings to increase your plant collection. Cookery writer Deborah Robertson shows us the secret of reinvigorating mint plants to keep them producing flushes of beautifully scented leaves. And who couldn’t linger over a fabulous multicoloured hyacinth jar collection, attractive with or without blubs in them.

Image2 - Photo credit to Mark Diacono

Full of beautiful images and information this book would have our shelf space for a long time even if Amanda wasn’t in it. It’s a great gift to take out again and again as well as being a reliable and in depth reference book.

My Tiny Indoor Garden

By Lia Leendertz

Published by Pavilion Books

Images Mark Diacono

Cath Kidston Mother’s Day Corsage

We made our rosette using Cath Kidston fabric and ribbon and decorated the center with an embroidered button saying Mum. We made an alternative version by covering the button with a piece of vintage embroidery found in a charity shop. We sewed on a safety pin but you can use stick on magnets and put the rosette on the fridge.


You will need 

Cath Kidston fabric

Tape measure

Cath Kidston ribbon

Safety pin

Large coat button

Pinking shears

Dress makers scissors



Embroidery floss

Water erasable pen


  1. Draw round the button on the back of your floral fabric, add an outer circle about 1cm wider than the inner circle.
  2. Turn the fabric over and in water erasable pen write the word mum and draw a heart. Using a back stitch, and blue thread embroider over the word mum.
  3. Embroider the heart in red.
  4. Sew a line of gathering stitches near the edge of the embroidered circle.
  5. Insert the button and gather up the stitches and finish with a knot.
  6. Turn the button over to admire your work.
  7. Cut a piece of floral fabric with 1 long straight edge and 1 pinked edge. 3.5cm wide x 33cm long. Sew a line of running stitches along the long straight edge
  8. Gather the stitches up to form a circle. Tie off the ends.
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 but this time with a piece of plain blue fabric 2.5cm wide x 21cm long.
  10. Sew the blue rosette onto the floral one at their centers.
  11. Sew the covered button on top of the double rosette.
  12. Cut a piece of ribbon 19cm long. Fold it in half and then sew it onto the back of the rosette.
  13. Sew a safety pin onto the center of the back of the rosette.
  14. To neaten the back cut a small piece of ribbon, turn the ends under and cover all the bits of sewing on the back of the rosette.
  15. Give it to your mother for Mother’s day.

Making Concrete Pots, bowls, and Platters by Hester van Overbeek

Here’s an inspiring book that recently landed on our desk, Making Concrete Pots, Bowls, and Platters by Hester van Overbeek. On a quick flick through with its attractively styled images, it’s easy to see there’s a wealth of projects to get stuck into. Top of our list is a two-tone decorative bowl, but with summer fast approaching a fire bowl would be great and then there’s a cheese board that can double up as a sharing platter.

There are step-by-step instructions for all the very doable projects, the most taxing aspect is carrying home the bag of concrete mix. A quick look around your house or a trip to the pound store is sure to come up with solutions for molds or you can get casting with sand. The project top of our list is the garden planter, currently succulents are on everyone’s agenda and the texture of the grey concrete against the chalky blue of the fleshy leaves would be perfect.

With 35 projects to choose from this informative book is for anyone wanting to make highly desirable, simple, contemporary makes for the home and garden.


Making Concrete Pots, Bowls, & Platters by Hester van Overbeek,

Published by CICO Books (£12.99)

Photography by James Gardiner © CICO Books


The Great Pottery Throw Down by Elizabeth Wilhide and Susie Hodge

This is the official companion to the BBC2 primetime series, bringing you a complete introduction to the world of ceramics. The book stands perfectly well on its own as a great introduction to ceramics. It will not become irrelevant and time expired once the program is off air.

If you want to start making pots, this book covers everything you need to know. From the simplest of techniques, making a thumb pot to building one from coils. Adding a pulled handle and then going on to create slab pots and using a mould and throwing on a wheel. There is a chapter on Colour, pattern and texture and the techniques of slip decoration, painting, sgraffito, trailing, feathering and marbling are all explained. The different methods of firing are explored too.

We are shown a sample of the 6000 life sized Chinese ceramic figures that were buried alongside the first emperor of China, and then lost until 1974. The invention of porcelain in the Han Dynasty is also discussed.

Showcased along the way is a range of beautiful pottery from prehistoric clay figurines, to Meissen porcelain.

We are told how trade and colonization spread ceramic techniques throughout the world A fine example of this was during the thirteenth century when the Moors bought their technique of lustered tin glazing to Southern Spain.

British Heritage is also explored with Josiah Wedgewood setting up his groundbreaking factory Etruria during the eighteenth century. Wedgewood was then followed by Minton and Spode and The Potteries were established in the midlands. This led to the mass production, which in turn led to affordability of chinaware for the general public. The work of Clarice Cliff, Lucie Rie, William De Morgan, Picasso are all showcased as is the work by contemporary practitioners such as Edmund de Waal, Anthony Gormley and Grayson Perry. A very useful and informative book .


Published by Pavilion at £20

Decal Plates


If you’ve got stacks of old crockery that’s starting to look la little dates, tart it up in a flash with easy-to-use DIY transfers


You will need –

  • A selection of old china
  • An inkjet printer
  • Waterslide decal paper, 79p per sheer
  • Copyright free images
  • Small scissors or scalpel



  1. First, choose your favourite images, and print them onto waterslide decal paper.
  2. Use a scalpel or a small pair of scissors to cut out the images, then use Blu-Tack to temporarily attach them to the china in a composition you’re most happy with.
  3. One image at a time, peel backing away to reveal the tacky side, stick in place and leave to dry completely.




Washi Tape Wall

Don’t we all love this tape for the zingy bright colours it brings into our lives? Get more brightness into your life by creating your very own stunning graphic wall art with washi tape.


You will need:

Squared maths book paper

0.5 roll Washi tape

Masking tape

Steel rule

Pencil and rubber



Work out your design on squared maths book paper, one square per X. Scale up the design, then with a pencil and ruler transfer small guide dots onto the wall, working from the center of the design out. Tear washi tape for Xs then stick onto the wall. When you have finished the design use the rubber to remove any pencil marks.


When you want a new image or a pop of a different colour just peel off and reapply.


Chevron Rug


You will need –

  • Painter’s canvas
  • Wide masking tape
  • Stencil brush
  • Black fabric paint, Dylon
  • Set square
  • Ruler
  • Shallow dish
  • Water-erasible pen, Korbond
  1. Start by drawing guide lines down the length of the canvas with water-erasible pen. Be careful that they are straight and are at even intervals.
  2. Stick masking tape at an angle between one parallel line and the next. Add the next piece so a triangular shape is formed. At this point, check that all of the tape is firmly stuck down. Repeat until you have lines of zigzags.
  3. Lightly dip your brush into the fabric paint, then using an up-and-down motion, apply the paint. Do a small amount at a time and build up the colour so you achieve the right density.
  4. Leave to dry overnight before you remove the tape. Iron on the back of the canvas to seal the colour. And finally, either hem around the edge of the canvas for neatness or fold under and secure with hemming tape.


Marbled Notebooks

These inexpensive books have had a makeover using a very simple but effective technique -marbling


You will need

Flat tray, large enough to fit the paper ,in which to do the marbling.

Marbling inks

Copper coloured Spray paint

Masking tape

Lolly or cocktail stick

Lots of newspaper

Kitchen roll


Instructions to marble paper

  1. Cover the work area with lots of newspaper. Fill the tray with 3cm of water.
  2. Prime the surface of the water by putting a drop of marbling ink onto the surface of the water. Wipe it away with some kitchen paper.
  3. Using the dropper bottle apply 1 or 2 drops of marbling ink onto the surface of the water. Either bow it or give it a quick stir with a stick or back of a paint brush.
  4. Place a piece of paper on top of the water and inks and then lift it off. The design will be on your paper.
  5. Leave the sheet to dry. You can try a second print but it will probably come out lighter than the first.
  6. Add more drops of ink and repeat steps 3 and 4
  7. Remove excess ink from the surface of the water with a scrap of paper.


Instructions to cover a book

  1. Open the book at about its middle and then lightly cover the spine with masking tape.
  2. In an open area spray the spine with copper spray paint. Leave to dry. Make sure, where it will be visable that the inside of the spine is also sprayed.
  3. When it is dry remove the masking tape.
  4. Cut the paper so it covers 1 side of the outside of the book, but leaving the spine showing, with an overlap of 4cm
  5. Fold to make it fit and cut away the corner. Repeat for the back of the book.
  6. Using PVA glue stick the marbled paper onto the front outside of the book and the over lap on the back of the covers. Repeat for the back of the book.

Tip Wear disposable latex gloves for the whole project, as it makes it much less mucky.