22. The new Parentesi lamp from Flos

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Design / Interiors

THE work of the late designer Achille Castiglioni is so simple, and now such a part of our design lexicon that it’s pretty tricky sometimes to see how genius it is. And sometimes it’s good to be reminded. flos1

Achille’s Parentesi lamp (designed in 1971 with Pio Manzu) was about all that Castiglioni stood for in design – sideways thinking, simplicity, grace and lightness, and solutions. Parentesi in particular was about the versatility and portability of the naked bulb which is suspended between ceiling and floor (or table surface) on a slim wire (and moves up and down thanks to its ‘bracket’ shape holder) and doesn’t require either bulky ‘legs’ to anchor it or an electrician to fix it into your home. flos2

However times move on and where the bulb used to be the focus of any lighting design, bespoke LEDs have become a part of the design and not the focus of it. Constantin Grcic’s new version of the Parentesi, the OK, features a flat LED surface as bulb, which is just as flexible as Castiglioni’s original version and just as attractive. Bulb and lamp head as one is where lighting is at right now. From Flos and www.atrium.ltd.uk

21. Going Vegan… Chickpea, Leaf and Pomegranate Seed Lunch

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Health / Nutrition

UPDATE on health issues…

I’ve been struggling with symptoms of PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) for decades now, and have been through pretty much every medical suggestion possible (with varying degrees of success). I was recently prescribed with Metformin, a drug used to control type II diabetes and insulin resistance, which can be part of the syndrome. I had hoped this drug would help to reduce my weight, as the extra pounds are almost impossible to lose with PCOS, but when reduced help to control other symptoms including acne and excess body and facial hair, as well in my case, extreme tiredness… Every afternoon / early evening is a major struggle to get through, which is tricky, because that’s when the children come home from school and they demand the most of me. I could fall asleep at any point on any surface! chickpealunch2

However, for now I’ve taken a hiatus from the Metformin. It causes stomach cramps, pain and IBS (in me at least), and for now it’s too much for me to handle. I hope to come back to it and give it one last try shortly, but in the meantime I’ve been inspired by two women who manage their illnesses through diet… Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella, who suffers from the rare Postural Tachycardia Syndrome and Sarah Yates, of A House in the Hills, who suffers from Crohn’s Disease. Both give me hope that illness can be cured or at least managed with nutrition. And so… I’ve gone vegan. And also gluten and sugar free. Maybe not for ever. But for now and to see if I can get any benefit from clean eating.

And so, today, here’s my lunch. The chickpeas and red peppers are sprinkled with cinnamon and cayenne powder (inspired by one of Deliciously Ella’s recipes), and roasted in a smidge of coconut oil. You can make loads of this at the beginning of the week and keep in Kilner jars in the fridge for your remaining lunches (Kilners are portable too so you can take this to work). chickpealunch

When the chickpeas are cooked but not hard, add to your plate with a host of leaves, squeeze over lemon juice as a dressing and throw on some pomegranate seeds for a really nice, fresh juiciness. And there you are. Easy peesy, blood sugar stabilising, really tasty vegan lunch.

*Plate: Original 1970s, inherited Denby!

20. Perfect Black & Whites Fabrics from JAB Anstoetz?

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Yin Yang - JAB AnstoetzI’VE AN ongoing struggle with finding the right cushions for my living room – ones I would want to keep for a few years and not just a season. My mood changes constantly and I’ve never found the ‘right’ one.Yin Yang from JAB Anstoetz

So I’ve resorted to having cushions made from fabrics I’ve been hoarding for a while. Pix to follow, but in the meantime I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on some of these new fabrics from JAB Anstoetz – called Yin and Yang.Yin Yang Collection - JAB Anstoetz

They’re very ‘now monochrome’ but I can see the smaller prints having a longer life-span than just this year too… What do you think?Yin Yang by JAB Anstoetz

Fabrics from £20.50 per metre, www.jab-uk.co.uk

19. Design Classic – the Nick Munro for Wedgwood vase

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WHEN we moved into this cottage, we had to downsize. Even though it’s bigger foot-print wise than our old house, there’s next to no storage here. And also, I had a bit of a ‘what am I keeping all this extra stuff for’ moment last year, when it felt right to throw lots of things out and just keep what I need.nickmunro

I’m still going through the boxes of things that moved with us which are packed up because of the ongoing renovation. And more often than not after a year in boxes, most things are not at all missed and it’s relatively easy to throw or give them away. So gone are most of my vases (a whole cupboard full). I’ve kept one small ceramic one, a lovely crystal stem vase, and then this, my now vintage Nick Munro vase designed for Wedgwood in 1999.

After all this time I think it’s earned the title Design Classic. It has lived through and worked in a modern flat, a Georgian flat, a seaside terrace, a 1960s Span house, and now a higgled-piggledy cottage. It looks both classic and distinctly modern. It is perfectly designed for most mid-size bouquets of flowers. It suits all colour and size of flower head. It’s a timeless all rounder. Munro himself says his inspiration for the range of ceramics (no longer in production) was “what Josiah [Wedgwood] would do if he were with us today and I decided that he would design much more contemporary things than the company are today known for producing. The result was a collection of black and cream objects of exquisite quality with perfect detailing and a point of view which is pure modernist.”

Unfortunately the collection and the vase are no longer available, but do come up on eBay now and again (FYI: there’s one in Australia at the time of writing!)… See the collection at: www.nickmunro.com/collaborations/wedgwood

17. New Best Buy: Room 39 Side Plates

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MY new best buy are these beautiful side plates called Knit & Loop from Room39.room39plate

Currently on sale (just £7 each!) they’re fine bone china decorated in Stoke-on-Trent (a recurring theme in my life at the moment), and are simple but beautiful. I usually like super plain plates, but I also like to remember the patterns from everyday products I used as a kid (all the 70s prints!) and how they stick in your mind and how they subliminally influence your taste and thoughts going forward, and I like the idea that my two will forever remember these… IMG_4598