Feng Shui

I saw a post from Crystal and the lovely ladies at Rue Magazine on arranging their new office space which is something I do every year so I thought I’d write a blog about it.

I have mentioned before that when I design I look to create spaces that people instantly feel at ease in. The best compliment I can get from a client when they walk into a home I’ve designed for them is that they feel like they’ve always lived here. Aside from the fabric, colors and all the elements that go into dressing a room its really important to think about how the space will be used and how people will flow through it.

The concept of flow and energy of a space is nothing new as the art of Feng Shui can attest too. We all know what its like to walk into a home and feel that something is ‘off’. This I believe comes down to the energy of the space and whether you have created a space that is well balanced. I work with Richard Ashworth who is a Feng Shui practitioner and the man I trust to help me organise my own office to make it a place I can work, create and be inspired. Quite often you will see Feng Shui tips relating to colour in your home but I think it is more important to look at the very basics like having a clutter free space with natural light. Think of your house as a whole and if one room is really cozy or relaxing what makes it htat way? What elements could you bring into a space that you never seem to want to spend much time in. Some times changing simple things like the position of the furniture addressing dim lighting or having a clear out is enough to make your least favourite room more welcoming.

Since I’ve been talking about my own office space here are some quick tips to give your space the right energy

  1. Make it a distinct space all of it’s own (don;t work out of your bedroom!)
  2. Make sure it has plenty of natural light
  3. Fresh air is great but if it’s not possible look to invest in an air purifier
  4. Don’t face walls or doorways at your desk
  5. Keep it clutter free
  6. Bring in the natural elements through decorative pieces (wood carvings, mirrors, metal)

I always say that the bedroom is the most important part of the house so here are some quick ideas linked to Feng Shui to try in that space as well:

  1. Take out anything that doesn’t relate to sleep or relaxation (that means TVs!)
  2. Open your windows during the day so you have lovely fresh air when you come into the room at night
  3. Have different lighting for different purposes which can also be dimmed
  4. Have neutral colours in the space and on your bed
  5. Make the bed easily accessible from both sides
  6. Have bedside tables to avoid clutter

These are just a few tips but I would encourage you to have a second look at your own home and work spaces to get the energy right so you can be as productive and happy in them as possible.

P.S. Do take a look at Richard’s blog as well for more great tips!

Image Credit: the lovely photo that instantly inspires tranquility is from Toby M


Keeping it in the Family

I’ve written about following your passion and this week Jaime Derringer shared her own journey to creating her sites Design Milk and Dog Milk. Since I think celebrating success is a great way to insipre others to follow their own passion I thought I’d expand on this idea even more as people in my own family are doing just that but in very different industries.

I adore photography but for my brother Michael it’s his business. A professional photographer for 20 years and an avid collector of others works he opened his own gallery, The Michael Hoppen Gallery, in Chelsea in 1993. So passionate about the art form Michael has helped acquaint people with different periods and styles to gain an understanding of the important elements that go into making, not just the taking, a photograph. In 2000, he founded the Michael Hoppen Contemporary Gallery which has become important not only for international collectors but for giving emerging artists a place to show their works. My brother’s passion for photography becomes so clear when you walk into his gallery that I’ve spent hours there learning, looking and even buying the amazing pieces there.

I also want to talk a bit about Sienna and Savannah and their twenty8twelve collection. Though Sienna pursued her passion for acting and Savannah her passion for fashion in separate cities their paths eventually brought them back together to create twenty8twelve. Debuting their Autumn/Winter 2009 collection in Spring 2008 they’ve won rave reviews, worked on collections for a further 6 seasons and employ a staff of 7 to bring twenty8twelve to life. I’m so happy that the two of them are pursuing this passion together and making such a success of it!

I’ve mentioned how my daughter (she was the picture you clicked through to get to this blog post) is key to helping me stay healthy through her lovely Ganesh Munchies which are my daily treat but she has also founded an amazing company called Ganesh Retreats which provides amazing wellness retreats at really affordable prices. Having established a successful career in Event Planning, Natasha had a life changing trip to India in 2009 which made her reassess things and choose to pursue her passion for healthy and wellbeing. Always a believer in holistic lifestyle she retrained as a Reiki master in India and came back to the UK to learn more about the importance of nutrition from my good friend Vicky Edgson. Combining her event planning background with her new skills in healing and nutrition Natasha founded a company that would allow her to share this with others. She has since assembled an amazing team around her and the retreats she offers are truly life changing experiences. I’m so proud of her desire to pursue her passion and the work she is doing which is helpful to so many others.

P.S> This is a shot of the lovely food she put in my fridge this week. Delicious and so good for me!


Setting the example…The Jamie Oliver Foundation

I’ve talked about how making small changes can make a big difference and how important mentoring is not only to students but to me as well. In this post I want to talk about the good work being done by Jamie Oliver through his amazing foundation.

For the last 11 years Jamie has made it his mission to use food as a way of improving the lives of people around the world. Here in the UK he’s campaigned for better school dinners, encouraged people to toss takeaways in favour of making meals and provided at risk youth with a means of changing their lives around by working in the food industry. Now he’s even taking his campaign to America and start a food revolution!

The work Jamie does inspires me in so many ways, not least of which is because I’ve been aware of the importance of nutrition from the age of 17. Mostly, though it’s his dedication to improving the lives of young people that has had the most impact on me. Jamie is truly passionate about reconnecting young people to the food they eat not only to protect their health and combat obesity but to develop basic skills like cooking and veg gardening. These programme as aimed at school children but his fifteen foundation picks up where his school programmes leave off by offering people between the ages of 18-24 the chance to start a fulfilling career in food. If you haven’t been to a fifteen restaurant yet you should because each meal helps further fund the amazing programme.

Jamie is setting an inspiring example on how to change lives through something as simple as good food. I look forward to continuing to support Jamie and his amazing Foundation alongside my own charitable and mentoring schemes.


Small Choices Big Changes

I was approached by Meleni Bharwani, Creative Director of Earth Couture, to design a collection for her luxury Organic clothing range. This wasn’t as much of a departure as you might think as I’m passionate about design in all things and a firm believer in the benefits of organic living. But what really excited me about the project was Earth Couture’s dedication to making a difference in Africa. The idea for Earth Couture was born out of Melanie’s experiences living in Nigeria and her commitment to making positive change remains.

With each purchase from my collection a portion of the sales goes to purchasing mosquito coils to combat the spread of Malaria and AIDS. Malaria has been in the headlines recently and is a disease which affects half of the world’s population. In 2008 alone there were an estimated 243 million cases of malaria and nearly 863 000 deaths due to the disease. Being able to work with Earth Couture meant I could do my small bit to combating this terrible illness.

Aside from being in fashionable company when lounging in my new collection of luxurious ethical and organic clothing you’ll be making a real difference to combating Malaria. I hope you’ll look at my collection on the Earth Couture website, or if you’re in London, pop in to Harrods to see the range up close.