Let’s all make room for a plan about the house
Never has “a man’s home is his castle” seemed a more appropriate phrase. Sure, a modern home might be more the size of a stable but, right now, whether it’s a balcony-blessed flat in Zürich or a converted loft in Tribeca, we’re all battening down the hatches to ward off a very unwelcome invader.
Now, let’s pause, take a breath and look around at what we have. Maybe size does matter when it comes to a comfortable home but it’s not king – oodles of floor-space without the essentials done well is meaningless. Homes in places of all shapes and sizes can come out as winners in the months ahead by heeding our advice.
First, no matter what kind of isolation you’re enduring, a happy home is still one that lets the outside in through wide windows, balconies and well-placed skylights. Natural light is free and there’s never been a better time to appreciate it. Be generous with the light – share it with your shrubbery and pot plants.
The point is: we could all do with a bit of extra life in the home right now and this is where design comes in. Furniture with character and spirit in its construction, for example, is most welcome. MONOCLE’s manifesto on good design sets off from here. Perhaps you’re reading this on a comfortable, well-crafted couch (at least we hope you are) but what’s going on with the rest of your space? Our manifesto lays bare all that is durable, meaningful and essential in the realm of the home. It’s designed to make you feel more at ease, more secure and more inspired.
Whether you’re pondering picking up a paintbrush or your first piece of collectable design, this manifesto will have you covered in the days ahead. Now is the time to believe in yourself and your home – and we’re here to help you do so.
A good toolkit global
Implement your ideas
There is a warmth that comes from hand-crafted design – and being involved in the making only magnifies the effect. To equip ourselves properly for the tasks ahead, we headed to Tokyu Hands, the top shop in Japan for carpentry devices and sturdy screwdrivers. Our toolbox was bolstered by Zürich’s Fabrikat Working Goods and London’s Labour and Wait, which has 20 years of tool-making under its belt. With this home-building arsenal there’s now no reason to avoid those DIY tasks.
W203 Ilumina lamp
For those now toiling away in their new home office or simply snuggling up with a good book to pass the hours, a well-functioning lamp is a must. Swedish lighting brand Wästberg has recently unveiled one such light, the w203 Ilumina, designed by Ilse Crawford. Its simple, pleasingly rounded shape harks back to vintage library or bankers’ lamps, yet it is also decidedly modern, blending a beautiful design with energy efficiency. The dimmable Ilumina comes in a high-gloss copper finish that will develop a patina over time, as well as brushed aluminium and this choice eggshell-white version.
In the 1960s, Eero Hakola would drive across Finland delivering furniture produced by firms based in his hometown of Jurva, a tiny settlement with a strong carpentry tradition on the country’s western coast. After years of observing the work of fellow craftsmen, he founded Hakola with the belief that good furniture should combine quality materials with long-lasting design. “My father took it one step forward by giving great value to design,” says the founder’s son, Jari Hakola, who now co-owns and runs the firm with his daughter, Annaleena.
Today, Hakola still operates from the original factory in Jurva, staffed by 30 carpenters and designers. The owners are clear that Hakola is all about decorating the home with a few well-designed products. “It’s important to use genuine materials that age beautifully,” says Annaleena. “I love spaces that are rich with wooden objects – my house is filled with wood.”
Born in a country that’s used to welcoming guests indoors, Hakola runs on the Finnish tradition of melding design with function, where objects feature clean lines rather than superfluous details and are built on the region’s wood-crafting heritage. “Homes should be filled with pieces that last for so long that you can’t tell when they were built and designed,” says Annaleena. “They should become defined by a long life and have a look you never get tire of.”
Contemporary craftworking hub
Not so long ago, no one was talking about a design scene in Uruguay’s capital. But according to Pablo Jaime, co-founder of the city’s Sámago furniture studio, Uruguayans and those from further afield are now looking to Montevideo for its unique approach to craft. “We’re all in competition but we’re good friends,” says Ernesto Fasano, another Sámago co-founder, of the small but comradely scene here.
Each of these Montevideo studios is exploring different methods and several of them, such as Estudio Claro and Muar, have licenced their furniture lines, most notably to the Brazilian companies Saccaro and Tok&Stok.
But the most interesting work lies in the fusion of industrial design and artisanal production. “Crafts are a key part of our creative process,” says Rosina Secondi, Estudio Claro’s co-founder. She works with pottery workshop Taller Naceres to produce ceramic vessels and incorporates fabric made by the Manos del Uruguay collective into chairs. Another designer, Carolina Palombo Píriz, says that the craft of Uruguayan design “makes it unique”, because you’re guaranteed tiny imperfections from the hard work that goes into every piece. Palombo Píriz works with artisans in Pan de Azúcar, near the capital, who weave bulrush and rattan for the designer’s products. Over at Estudio Claro, regional leather and alamo wood is used in care sets and jar lids.
London-based plant expert Alexander Hoyle is a darling of the city’s architects and designers due to his botanical, plant-based approach to bringing the countryside into the city. His gardens are a “little wild, have flair, zest and are a little camp”. And we’re definitely in the market for that.
How can people beautify their homes with plants?
Window boxes are great. I’d suggest evergreen trailing plants, such as ivy, as they’re low maintenance and can tolerate drought. Grow bulbs up through the ivy and then mix in some herbaceous perennials, such as rosemary. Nasturtiums are also pretty – and edible. If you’ve got a balcony, you can plant chives or mint in a decent-sized pot and tomatoes and courgettes in grow-bags. Then introduce roses, lilies or lavender for scent.
How can we make the most of small spaces indoors?
Pelargoniums and indoor ferns are ideal if you have a sunny spot near a window. As well as being delicious to eat, herbs such as basil and parsley grow well indoors and will grow back more densely if cropped often. Now is a good time to source some seeds and let them germinate on a window sill.
What are the therapeutic benefits of bringing plants into the home?
Caring for a plant and watching it grow is the perfect meditative exercise. It shows you how effort and patience can be rewarded over time. Watering plants also gives home life a daily rhythm. Connecting with nature, even if it’s via one pot plant, is grounding. alexanderhoyle.co.uk