Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Interior design’

Santa Lucia and the Joy of Rialto Living

To be honest, it didn’t take me much to make up my mind to move from London to Mallorca. After a sustained period of dissatisfaction with the big city in the smoke, the comparative paradise of Palma de Mallorca took little persuasion. And yet I think I can pinpoint the exact moment when my mind was made up as being the moment when my partner and I discovered Rialto Living.

Situated in the Carrer Sant Feliu, a dark cobbled street in the heart of Palma’s old town and lined with the very best of Palma’s old palaces, Rialto Living is a lifestyle concept store which sells the very best in interior design, art, and fashion. Happily for us it also contains one of the cafe hot spots in Mallorca, a blue and white symphony of open space and high couture eating, all set within a stunning renovated palace. In short, Rialto Living is a sumptuous, stunning shop. The kind of place where you could happily while away the hours as though it were your own home (I should be so lucky), and it was upon finding this place that we knew Palma had the kind of mentality which meant that we could make the city our new home.

A paradise of interior design

DSC02121 DSC02154 DSC02159 DSC02153 DSC02123 DSC02126 DSC02641 DSC02138 DSC02125 DSC02152 DSC02135 DSC02150 DSC02116 DSC02131 DSC02129 DSC02119 DSC02122 DSC02134 DSC02164 DSC02141 DSC02162

Harking from Scandinavia, and founded by one of the three founders of Gant, Klas Kall, along with grafic designer Barbara Bergman, it is no wonder that Rialto Living is such a temple of interior chic. Here you will find a magazine shot in every corner, furniture to die for, and quality which bounces and glides and glitters in one’s hands. Its many sections are a delight for the eyes. Its clothes section is so chic and welcoming that it makes you want to discard your old clothes there and then for something delightfully fluffy and new. Its home section is like a paradise of design; my favourite section has to be the Alhambra recreation within whose moorish arches roll after roll of colourful material unfold; I also adore the dining area, where sun floods through the south facing windows to illuminate the multicoloured glassware.

Rialto Living’s fresh blue café

DSC02664 DSC02168 DSC02667

Yet despite its inherent sophistication, Rialto Living is utterly welcoming, as demonstrated last weekend when customers were welcomed to the store on Saturday lunchtime to join in carols and glogg (mulled wine) in a celebration of Santa Lucia’s day. They even had an angelic choir fitted with all of the regalia of Santa Lucia festivities, the likes of which inspired both my Norm sketch yesterday, and brought tears to my eyes.

Rialto’s celebration of Santa Lucia

10678755_10152488794170846_9009388286336939585_n DSC02654 DSC02646 1503912_10152488794435846_8435992689803210401_n DSC02653

So this long overdue post on Rialto Living is both a dedication to the sumptuously sophisticated palacial surrounds of my favourite shop, and a record of last weekend’s very Christmassy affair. Rialto Living: you truly are an inspiration. As long as you are in Palma, I too will remain.

The Marbella Terrace Project – Part 2: the Transformation

On yesterday’s Daily Norm I showed you the first stage of my little piece of Marbella DIY – the transformation to my family’s roof terrace in Spain. With my Matisse-inspired mural finished in limited shades of blue and terracotta, I was free to complete the scheme with accessories and plants. 

Our main concern was that the plants should be succulent and require little care – it gets HOT up on that terrace and so weak florals would never suffice. I therefore decided to go for a collection of hardy cacti, the more spikes the better. Recalling the garden design of another favourite artist Frida Kahlo, I was going for more of a Mexican theme of dark and light blues, while retaining the Andalucian look of whitewashed walls. Meanwhile the filthy terracotta lamps adorning the many pillars and walls of the terrace got a lick of their own blue paint, resulting in an altogether more Moroccan vibe. 

Before the transformation…

DSC00406 DSC00404 IMG_9314

Painting pots and lamps

IMG_9310 IMG_9330 IMG_9332 IMG_9320

Huge terracotta pots in varying sizes lugged from one of Marbella’s biggest garden centres were painted in the same shades of blues with a few dark red pots to break up the scheme. It was thirsty work, but they never said that a man made desert of Spanish Cacti was going to come easy. 

Finally, stretched across the big empty air space we attached two large shade sales to give the space much needed shade and cosyness. 

The result is a terrace oozing Mediterranean chic with all the spice and vitality of Mexico. Like a boutique hotel, we complemented the scheme with plump cushioned loungers and a shiny glass and black weave table. The result is a spectacle so departed from the previous ramshackle of a deserted terrace. 

After the transformation

DSC06101DSC06105DSC05770 DSC06215 DSC04733 IMG_9326 DSC06108

All of this work was finally toasted with a romantic candlelit opening gala party. The terrace looks good by day, but with lamps glowing from within and candles flickering across the terrace floor, it never looked better. A job well done, a transformation achieved. 

and at night

DSC04763DSC04800DSC04753 DSC04773 DSC04770 DSC04804

A gallery of details

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Paris | Photography Focus – Campana d’Orsay

The last post of my recent Parisian adventure, and the fourth set of photographs emanating from the trip pulls something of a sharp focus on a particular place in Paris, and not one that is all that well known either. In the insuperably brilliant Musee d’Orsay, behind one of the two huge round glass windows which double as the prominent clock faces which characterise the building’s impressive riverside façade, is a super chic new café opened following the major renovations of the museum in 2011. The café, which was designed by the Campana brothers, and now carries their name, is very different from the typical bistros and brasseries which are so characteristic of Paris. Ultra modern in its design, throwing diners into something of an undersea aquarium-come-fairy tale palace with its waving lines, bubble like round-patterned chairs, and striking aquamarine backdrop, this café is nothing if not eccentric, but therefore perfectly placed in its location next to the galleries containing France’s foremost collection of impressionist art – after all, these were the artists who challenged all of the art which had gone before them. As a café, the food isn’t all that great, and the selection is even worse, but the design is such a winner that I couldn’t help but give this genius of café design its own little space on The Daily Norm.

DSC09383 DSC09371 DSC09387

The photos which follow focus mainly on the various unique features of the Café Campana, but also include some cheeky shots of fellow diners. I’m not even sure that I’m really allowed to take photos of people without their permission, and still less publish them online. But if that’s the case, it’s a real shame, because there is nothing quite like a voyeuristic glance at fellow dinners to really capture the essence of a place. In fact like the Impressionists before me, these photos represent my way of doing what those artists did best: representing real life, and recognising reality as a thing of beauty in itself. Surely no activity could be more appropriate at the d’Orsay’s café, where only rooms away, Degas’ famous painting of desolate drinkers staring into their glasses of Absinthe in a Paris bar (l’Absinthe) hangs amongst the masterpieces on show.

Admittedly the diners in my photos are enhanced by their surroundings, and in particular the glittering gold lights which are by far my favourite aspect of the design. Hanging in their multitudes, these lights give the feeling of being in a kind of Olympian paradise, where over-sized golden blue bells hang abundantly above. Their splendid shiny gold surface, and their installation, hung from great steel joists also painted gold, makes for a lavish spectacle in a way that only gold can; a spectacle which is all the more enhanced by the sheer abundance of it – when you have gold, why not have plenty of it? And hung as they are, all at different lengths, in irregular groupings, these lights seem so unplanned as to be a natural phenomenon; the kind of visionary wonder that makes you appreciate the glory of the world all around.

In short, the Musee d’Orsay is well worth visiting for the Café Campana alone. Not necessarily to anticipate a gastronomic revolution – it is only a café after all, and a museum café at that – but to gaze in wonder at what must be one of the most impressive contemporary restaurant designs in Paris. I leave you with my photos – which include a few inevitable shots of the impressive d’Orsay itself – a former left bank station which has more than found its own as a bastion of 19th and 20th century art. Until next time Paris…

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

The Daily Norm’s Christmas Tree of the Week | No.2: Citrus Sunshine

Designed to complement the sunny orange shades of my office which is appropriately named “The Orange Office”, this week’s Daily Norm Christmas Tree of the Week is a burst of citrus sunshine bringing with it all of the essence of a sunny mediterranean shore in the midsts of an otherwise wintery Christmas season.

With its vivid yellow and orange baubles, this christmas tree scheme sits well within a season whose cuisine is alive with spiced citrus scents, but loses none of the vibrancy and freshness of a summer’s day. That nod to the summer is referenced in the hints of cerulean blue, reminding of a clear summer’s sky and the vast blue waters of the mediterranean sea, but the orange and yellow sparkling glittery reindeers nod back to Christmas again, in an evocation which is the height of festive kitsch. The playfulness introduced by my reindeer is accompanied by the jovial multi-coloured forms of metalic robots, only to be offset by the rich regality of purple flashes, which reflect the wealth and abundance of the Christmas season. And all this is tied together upon the branches of a contemporary black tree, sparkling under two sets of yellow flashing fairy lights, and balanced out by ample strings of glittery yellow tinsel.


My “citrus sunshine” tree is a perfect example of how both playfulness and modernity can be achieved within the traditional Christmas season, lending a contemporary air and so blending perfectly with the sleek surroundings of an office environment. Of course such a traditional set up will not be suitable for every setting, in the same way that a traditional fir tree may look out of place in a modern flat. But the best thing about Christmas is its ability to adapt its joy-giving decor to all environments, ensuring that wherever you go or live, Christmas need never be absent.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Collecting conkers for a classy seasonal display

Collecting conkers, fallen from the golden boughs of large horse-chestnut trees, bursting as they are around this time with green spiky cases with their shiny auburn seeds, has always held something of a legendary status for me. When I was younger, it seemed that anyone who was anyone went conker collecting, and the more, the plumper, the shiner you could collect, the better. Of course tradition dictates that conkers are collected, threaded on a string, and then used in a good old game of conker and string, knocking the conkers together until one breaks, the winner being he or she who’s conker remains intact the longest.

Off on our conker search (that’s us in the shadows!)

Our conker haul!

The conker game never really appealed to me, but the thrill of finding these shiny round autumn gems certainly satisfied my magpie nature. There was always a great joy to be had in hunting them down, looking amongst piles of crispy brown fallen leaves, all around the wide tree trunks, and coming across a large, plump shiny chestnut-red conker, freshly fallen from the inside of its silky white enclosure, the pure and soft antithesis of the outer thorny shell.

Even now, I love the smell of freshly fallen leaves, slowly starting to decompose in the fresh damp air and the crisp sunny mornings, the scent recalling to my mind those long autumn walks and the joy of collection and discovery, of acorns and conkers, of spiky seeds and ruby red leaves. Living so close to Clapham Common, I have a host of large trees on my doorstep. Unlike the autumns of my Sussex childhood, when my father would use his umbrella to try and pull more conkers down from the trees, such was their scarcity, now, in a single walk, I can bring in a haul of freshly fallen conkers, before the high gloss marbled brown shells have gone dull, or been pecked at my birds or squirrels.

A shiny conker bursting from its shell

It was one such haul which I collected for myself the other day, as has become a new more adult tradition of my later years here in London. Depending on what I find, I tend to display my collection in fruit bowls so that their lustrous glory can be reflected upon during these darkening autumn days. And this year, so impressed was I with my find, that I even filled a vase full of them too. You should try it – while they don’t last forever, they’re guaranteed to last longer than your average vase of flowers, and better still, they’re free! Try getting a few barely opened complete pods – these will take a few days to open and when they do, the fresh shine of the conker within will look especially good in your display.

Displayed in our fruit bowl

Mixing other autumn seeds into the mix

My vase display

I leave you with some shots of the acorns and conkers I painted as part of my Richmond Park painting last year. Happy conker hunting!

Conkers as featured in my painting of Richmond Park last year

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Simple floral display which makes a contemporary statement

The good thing about a small city trip in a vibrant city is that with the relatively moderate expense of a short trip, so much can be loaded into a short expanse of time that the trip provides all of the ingredients for a sustained period of inspiration and multifaceted memories which live on indefinitely. My recent trip to Amsterdam is one such trip which was worth its weight in gold. Already I’ve been painting Dutch-inspired parody pieces, sketching Norms all over The Netherlands, regularly revisiting my substantial collection of photographs and I am about to embark on a suitably Amsterdam-inspired new Norm canvas. However, one of the greatest inspirations for me was the elegance and sumptuosity of our Amsterdam hotel –  the Hotel Estheréa. The interior design of the hotel was faultless both in the downstairs public spaces and in the bedrooms. Since my return, I have scanned the web seeking out the various grand design wallpapers used, the beautiful butterflies which adorned their walls, and am seriously considering whether I too should import an oversized pink chandelier into my home. All of this comes at a price I can currently only dream of, however one important aspect of their design, which I have found cheaper to replicate, is their stunning floral displays. The hotel paid attention to every tiny detail, and during our stay, a fresh import of new flowers were installed throughout the hotel (presumably they do this on a fairly regular basis). One of the most effective displays of flowers, installed variously on several large and small tables alike, was the grouping of numerous small and single-stem vases, each containing one or two stems only. The look which resulted was far more contemporary than a normal vase of flowers.

So, returning home to London, my head buzzing with ideas, I set about searching out a variety of single-stem vases. To collect a small group of 6 or 7 would, I soon discovered, cost well over £100 and involve as many separate orders and correlating shipping charges as I would find vases. So I decided to revert my search to glass bottles. I then found one website which sells a huge range of different shaped bottles, all costing only around €2-€3 each. And so I managed to purchase myself some 14 different shaped and sized bottles, all from the same site, for a total cost of €30 including shipping. They arrived a couple of days later. I bought two cheap(ish) bunches of roses from the local supermarket (which are in plentiful supply at the moment in the lead up to mother’s day). This is the result:

The look is contemporary and fresh. The differently shaped bottles add variety, but the use of a monochrome clear coloured glass ensures a contemporary feel is maintained. The display also feels modern because the flowers are controlled, all standing up straight rather than flopping around en masse in a vase. This control is even better achieved using bottles, since most have a fairly narrow opening.

It’s a great look for my dining table, and one that really wows as a contemporary floral display with a very boutique-chic look. But best of all, the price was definitely not boutique.

Talking of contemporary, check out my other recent acquisition – white crocuses set in an attractive metal box adorned with french writing. This brings gallic finesse to an otherwise industrial tin, while the yet unopened crocuses provide another modern sleek display piece which I kind of wish wouldn’t flower at all.

In conclusion, Spring is on its way, and in my opinion, there is no better way to breath a bit of life into your home that with fresh flowers, however displayed. Give flowers to your mother this sunday – and if you’re not a mother, remember to keep some back for yourself!