50s/60s Styling, Decorum & Monroe!


Sa•voir Faire: the ability to do the right or graceful thing in any given situation

We’ve been banging on to clients and seminar audiences for several seasons about design becoming less excessive and frivolous, and instead more meaningful and often more minimal.

Last year we saw a ‘ladylike’ look emerge on the catwalks, marking a return to refinement and a sense of decorum.  The popularity of Mad Men helped start a 50s/60s style renaissance and now, as we remember Marilyn Monroe on the 50th anniversary of her death with two major film releases about her life (‘My Life With Marilyn’ featuring Michelle Williams and directed by Simon Curtis, and ‘Blonde’ directed by Andrew Dominik and set to star Naomi Watts in the lead role) and a number of exhibitions around the world, the influence of the 50s/60s is sure to be further reinforced.

For Interiors, the ‘ladylike’ trend translates into everyday objects that are refined yet cheerfully modest, elegantly minimal, and stylishly streamlined.  A trend that is quietly cultured, creative, and visually polite, coming at a time when social values and graces are re-examined and re-established to raise and maintain standards.  This is about “20th Century values in the 21st Century” paving the way for common courtesy, conviviality, and sobriety to reign supreme.

Today, Anthony highlights the current events celebrating the life of Marilyn Monroe and shows us once again how fashion trends translate for Interiors …

August 5 1962.  A 36 year old American actress, singer, and model by the name of Marilyn Monroe was found dead.  Monroe had achieved international stardom appearing in many classics including ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’, ‘Some Like It Hot’, and ‘How To Marry A Millionaire’.

August 5 2012.  50 years have passed since the untimely death of this astonishing lady and as the world remembers, many photography and memorabilia exhibits, book issues, and TV shows honour her legacy.  The Hollywood Museum in California is currently hosting ‘Marilyn: The Exhibit’, featuring film costumes, personal clothing, and those furs.  It also includes some of the last and unseen photographs of Monroe by photographer George Barris.  Running until September 2, catch it while you can!

‘Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon’ has just packed up it’s debut at the National Film Museum in São Paulo, Brazil and is now heading to the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in Tokyo, Japan (dates to be confirmed).  The popular exhibition is a modern tribute to Monroe including paintings and video works by Andy Warhol and Cecil Beaton.

Here in the UK, the Proud Gallery has recently opened ‘Marilyn: Intimate Moments’, an exclusive exhibit of Bruno Bernard’s images of Marilyn, documenting the transition of fresh-faced Norma Jean into the icon that was Marilyn Monroe.  Including pin-ups, candid shots from Hollywood parties, and behind the scenes images from her best known movies, it runs ’til September 9 in Chelsea, London.

The Museo Ferragamo in Florence is holding a major exhibition of Monroe’s personal effects, film costumes, and a focus on her footwear (the exhibition will run well into the new year).

With all the focus on the star’s fabulously glamorous life, it’s easy to see how the fashion industry has been influenced and it’s not about super glamorous evening wear, glittering ball gowns, white dresses, and furs.  The 2011 catwalks saw more of a refined, ladylike aesthetic with a definite nod to 50s/60s styling.

Take Diane Von Furstenburg: a modern, clean, refined palette of teals, oranges, and tan teamed with simple 60s inspired silhouettes and styling details.

Johnathan Saunders follows suit with 50s inspired prints and a slightly office secretarial look. The orange continues and is balanced with hues of dusty blue and camel.  The styling and detail reinforce the idea of being on one’s best behaviour!

Elliot J Frieze also presented a 60s, office inspired collection: big hair, oversized glasses, double-breasted Macs, and high-waisted skirts.

As the interiors market takes it’s cue, we see a more carefully chosen aesthetic …

Printed cushions echo those of Lucienne Day, with bold, oversized patterns seen on wallcoverings in hushed tones as the subdued is favoured over the daring.  I love these cement wall and floor tiles from Lindsay Lang; available in blue, yellow, and grey with a Mid-Century pattern, they can be configured in a number of different compositions to suit your chosen area.

Left to right: Bertoia bar stool from The Conran Shop; Bloom wallpaper from MelinaMade; Chouchin lights from Foscarini; Evolute Sospensione light from Danese; MC2 coffee table from The Conran Shop; Lolita table lamp from Moooi; Klyne sofa in saffron from Crate & Barrel; Quincy pillow from Crate & Barrel; Dandelion Cushion from John Lewis; Fairtrade basket and bowl from Piet Hein Eek

A desire for honest, simple materials also drives this trend; think cork lights from Seletti and the wooden nest of tables from Ercol, a classic 50s design.  I find the cabinet from Mint particularly intriguing: the outside walls of each drawer are decorated with a different pattern, only visible when the drawer is pulled out.  To me this shows a little bit of daring in amongst the decorum – whipping out your fancy patterned drawers at a modest dinner party!!

Retro fabrics from MelinaMade reinforce the idea of 50s styling re-done for the modern consumer, applying them to wallcoverings and accessories.

Left to right: Boxes Unit from Pastoe at EDC London; Ray Lounge chair from the Lollipop Shoppe; Retro Rug from John Lewis; Ercol nest of tables available from Nest.co.uk; Coupoles lights from Seletti; Vitra Akari 3ad floor lamp available at Nest.co.uk; Linen Cooper chair from Haus Interior; Lucy cushion from Urban Barn; Boomerang fabric in Mushroom and White from MelinaMade; Mrs Robinson chest of drawers from Mint Shop

Welcome to a new, good old-fashioned future!

O’de Rose, Dubai

Last month before travelling to the UK to visit the new Scarlet Opus HQ and prepare for our presentation to SAPPI in the US later this month, I drove down to Al Wasl Road in Dubai’s Jumeirah district, to villa 999 to meet the L O V E L Y Nadine Khoury, co-owner of lifestyle boutique, O’de Rose.

I’m often heard complaining to close friends about the lack of any truly exciting home interiors stores in Dubai so when I heard about the concept at O’de Rose I didn’t waste much time before paying a visit.

“The gamut of East-meets-West products deployed around O’de Rose suggests what might happen if Aladdin swapped his cave for an urban loft.”

Seth Sherwood, NY Times

This charming lifestyle boutique opened in 2008, offering a truly eclectic mix of clothing, accessories, furniture, contemporary art, and home decor, all with an Arabic twist.  You can find pieces by renowned Designer Nada Debs (a genius and one of our favourites), Karen Cherkerdjian, Kafka Goes Pink (whose lighting we highlighted at Dubai’s INDEX show back in 2010), Sarah’s bag (a brand I’ve only very recently heard of but am already coveting), Architect turned Jewellery Designer Nada Zeineh, and many more.  As Nadine showed me around she explained she’s constantly on the look out for new and exciting pieces, carefully selecting each and every item, always conscious of the reflection of Arabic heritage in a contemporary way.

One of the greatest aspects of O’de Rose for me, is the experience it offers, engaging all the senses – this is something we’ve been encouraging in our clients for some time now and bang on about the importance of experiences and stories at every seminar!  As you step through the gate off the main road, you at once notice the waves of Mediterranean colour set against white-washed walls, a theme that continues throughout the boutique.  Upon entering you are warmly greeted with a glass of delicate rose water served in beautiful Moroccan tea glasses – a drink I first tasted only a few years ago in Lebanon and now adore – as the subtle scent of burning rose incense dances around you as you move through the archways into the different rooms to a super relaxed soundtrack.



Fabulous rubber neon coasters featuring Middle Eastern inspired patterns – I of course had to make a purchase!

Warhol-esque neon prints

These crochet Moroccan tea glasses would be perfect for pre-summer garden parties.

Glass coffee tables with encapsulated crochet.

Any one of these seating pieces would make a real statement, I particularly like the large red, black, and white pouffe (front left).

I love a cluster!  Lights, vases and bowls, pictures in frames … so I instantly loved these printed perspex and wooden stools.



Pattern blocking and clashing are key trends this season and continue to develop well into Spring/Summer next year.  Be inspired by exotic, tribal, and geometric South American, African, and Indian patterns and be bold with your combinations.  Nadine stocks a wonderful array of cushions featuring beautiful Ikat prints.


Pieces by Nada Debs, wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

Mashrabiya inspired laser-cut trays

I couldn’t end today’s posting without sharing these fabulous neon clutch bags which work the neon trend perfectly for Dubai with their oversized metal clasps featuring Arabic calligraphy designs.


I was especially taken with the limited edition, ‘Memory Lane’ collection of clutches and purses featuring photographs from the archives of the Arab Image Foundation (AIF).

Established in Beirut in 1997, the AIF is a non-profit organisation “dedicated to the collection, preservation, and study of photography and other related visual material from the Middle East, North Africa, and Arab Diaspora”.  The foundation holds a collection of more than 300,000 photographs dating back to the 19th century and hopes to encourage public curiosity and thought about creative and artistic processes using the photographic works as a basis for reflection and inspiration.  ‘Memory Lane’ uses a selection of photographs depicting life in Cairo and Beirut in the 1940’s with the aim of introducing these treasured cultural memories to a wider audience.  Nadine says, “We are proud to showcase this exclusive collection and support these images as a contribution to our Arabic heritage.”

Add this boutique to your list of Jumeirah favourites, it is WELL worth the trip offering something you won’t find in any of the malls.

999 Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqeim 2, Dubai

T: +971 4 348 7990


Lakeland’s Trend Journey

Today is the first in a new category of postings that sees us take the trend journey with our clients before their new products actually hit the market.  We’re thrilled to welcome to the Trends Blog today one of our most valued clients, Matthew Canwell, Director of Buying for Lakeland.  We’ve been working with Matthew and his wonderful team for over 5 years, presenting the trends to help both inspire and inform the buying process.

It’s that time of year again, yes, you know the one, the beginning of the retail buying cycle, and we’re concentrating on Spring/Summer 2013.  By the time we actually arrive at that point in real time, we’ll have had the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – both acclaimed great successes in their own right.  We’ll be basking in the warm afterglow, memories of a sea of red, white, and blue.  It feels like these COLOURS are everywhere at the moment, an overdue re-appropriation of the Union Jack that has been happening for the last 4 years.  But, once we get into 2013, will this colour theme that has dominated our lives have passed?  What’s next?  What’s coming?  Why?  What will our customers want in their kitchens and their homes?  It’s enough to wake you up in cold sweat!

Clockwise from top left: Skyline apron £14.99; Street Party napkins £3.49; Knitannia jug £8.99; Knitannia roaster £9.99; Britannia Floral oven gloves £11.99; Knitannia mug £4.99; Street Party collection; Skyline apron £14.99.  Background image: Vintage Jubilee textile design

But, rest easy, that’s why we’ve worked with the team at Scarlet Opus for more than 5 years.  It all started with a pitching letter, you know the sort you often get, offering a service you don’t need that you file under ‘b’ (bin).  But in this instance I’d worked with trend predictors in a previous life in fashion, and knew of the value they can add; I hadn’t known of one in the homewares arena so the letter, far from being an unwanted intrusion, was serendipity.

We started slowly, with Victoria giving us some colour direction for our bathroom range, this has developed to the stage where the team now present key trends to us twice a year, helping us develop key colour schemes in between, in addition to design work and surface patterns – phew!

W I N T E R  2 0 0 9  C O L L E C T I O N 



Over the time we’ve worked together we’ve developed a successful relationship that has helped us navigate the choppy waters that is the world of colour trends.  It would be easy to be dismissive of trend prediction, indeed I’ve heard competitors talk it down.  Great, if they aren’t interested, we are.

I’ve never known the team at Scarlet Opus to get a trend wrong, and they think hard how trends relate to us, and indeed, if they are translatable or not onto our product range.  They are always happy (perhaps with a little encouragement) to pin their colours(!) to the mast as to what will be the important colour of the season for us, by product, category, whatever we need.

 C H R I S T M A S  2 0 1 1  C O L L E C T I O N



But this is no ‘Airy Fairy’ science.  It’s not guess work, at least not that I can see.  And that’s what my team and I really like.  Trends based on fact, rationalised, obvious when explained.  But oh my, the back work that must be involved in prediction – knowing what films are coming out and when; key political meetings – where and when etc. etc.  It’s a joy to sit with Victoria, Shelley, and Phil as Victoria explains why these trends will happen.  It’s compelling, entrancing, inspiring.  And it works.

M Y  L O N D O N  R A N G E

Left to right: Cake tin duo £19.99; Storage tin £9.99; 4 Coasters £4.99; Mugs £4.99 each; Cheeseboard £9.99

So here’s the punchline – thank you Victoria et al, you always add value to our business.  And for you doubters out there, don’t.  Invest in prediction, it’ll be worth it.  And for any cynics, I wasn’t asked to write this piece, and certainly not paid; I did it because I felt I owed the team at Scarlet Opus for a job well done, and one that is much appreciated.

HUGE thanks to Matthew for today’s posting and his kind words about the work we do together.  Lakeland offer free delivery on all orders over £30 so be sure to have a browse through their latest online catalogues, I’ll most certainly be purchasing the Red Leicester Square cheeseboard – LOVING!    

Yesterday was the first day of the much-talked about, new Design-Art event, Design Days Dubai; I headed over to Emaar Boulevard in Downtown Dubai and WAS NOT disappointed.  So many fabulous pieces on display, in a wonderful location and – something new for Dubai: a super enthusiastic and inquisitive audience.  It was wonderful to see so many people truly enjoying and interacting with design: students, designers, media professionals, design lovers.  I’ll be back at the show this week to bring you a full report jam-packed with fantastic images next Monday.  See you all then!

Bathroom Blogfest 2011


Now in its sixth year, the 2011 Bathroom Blogfest brings together 33 bloggers from the U.S, Canada, Dubai, and the UK to address the theme “Climbing Out”.  We were delighted to have been invited to participate again this year (see the full list of participants at the end of today’s posting).

Following the news of a global economic crisis the initial response of Designers, Retailers, and Manufacturers was to offer consumers products and styles that were familiar and comforting, something we, as consumers, readily bought into as we set about creating our “safe” and cosseted home environments.  However, as with all situations, after a time playing it safe becomes a boring game and we simply can’t tolerate such a negative, down trodden vibe forever.  Instead we must pick ourselves up and “climb out” of the dark and fearful financial funk we’ve fallen into.

One of the best ways to encourage a more upbeat and positive attitude is by surrounding ourselves with good design … products that make us happy, well-made beautiful pieces, pieces that enhance our lives…

Today we’re blogging live from the Dubai desert following the INDEX show where the mood was business as usual in typical Dubai style: glamour and luxury!  We headed over to the Kitchens & Bathrooms halls to see what was on offer:

A super sleek black, white, and red colour scheme seemed to be popular this year, these glass designs by Greek company drop, were definitely our favourites.

We also saw a number of company’s exhibiting interesting effects on glass shower panels, Kermi‘s Kerolan Fontana water effect on Acrylic glass stood out for us and was certainly attracting the attention of passers-by who seemed fascinated!  We also liked the super cool Ideos radiator design which is available in a wide range of on-trend colours including some fabulously bright popped out shades.

There’s no doubt that an emotional pick me up can be achieved via surrounding yourself with some shimmer, shine, and metallic lustres and once again Dubai didn’t let us down!  We loved the sophisticated glamour of the deep purple faucets below but were truly captivated by Kermi’s glass shower panels incorporating Swarovski crystals!  Extravagant yes, but in a monochrome setting they’d add an elegant and subtle luxury.

Earlier this year at the SURFACES show in Las Vegas we awarded an amazing company with a Scarlet Opus Star Award for their innovations in tiles and mosaics.  Sonite are a Bangkok based company offering high quality resin products in Tiles, Mosaics, & Solid Surfaces.  Their collections are truly stunning and the sophisticated style solution to moving away from our dark mood.

Sonite present a new definition of Luxury in their work, a sophisticated glamour, beguiling, and mature.  Their Brushed MetallicsStardust, and Silk ranges shimmer and glisten, attracting our attention, tempting us to take a closer look, epitomising our Autumn/Winter 2011/12 trend, Dreamscape Glamour, a style that explores the mysterious glamour of the galaxies.

As we see metallics move from being hi-shine to brushed and burnished, and a shift from clean Golds to warmer tones of copper and bronze, we also see changeant colours and effects established as a key trend and crucial to achieving the new look of luxury.  Sonite’s Colour Shift range perfectly answers this aspect of the trends, offering a dynamism and energy to interior schemes.

In January Victoria will be speaking at SURFACES about the Autumn/Winter 2012/13 trend, Emporium, that moves on our Dreamscape Glamour trend.  You can read more details of our involvement at the show on our Events page, we look forward to seeing you all there!

Customer Experience Crossroads http://www.customercrossroads.com/customercrossroads/
Kitchen & Residential Design http://www.kitchenandresidentialdesign.com
From the Floors Up http://fromthefloorsup.com/
Diva Marketing http://bloombergmarketing.blogs.com/bloomberg_marketing/
Blog Till You Drop http://www.laurenceborel.com/
Avente Tile Talk http://tiletalk.blogspot.com
The Importance of Earnest Service http://blog.jmbyington.com/
Customers Rock! http://customersrock.net
Practical Katie http://practicalkatie.blogspot.com/
O’Reilly DePalma: The Blog http://www.oreilly/depalma.com
American Standard’s Professor Toilet http://www.professortoilet.com
The BrandBiz Blog http://brandbizblog.com/
Floor Covering News Blog http://www.fcnews.net/category/blog/
Urban Design Renovation http://www.urbandesignrenovation.com
Dr. Joseph Michelli’s Blog http://www.josephmichelli.com/blog
Modenus Blog http://www.modenus.com/blog
Tile Magazine Editors’ Blog http://www.tilemagonline.com/Articles/Blog_Nalbandian
Polinchock’s Ponderings http://blog.polinchock.com/
my 2 cents http://reichcomm.typepad.com
Carpet and Rug Institute Blog http://www.carpet-and-rug-institute-blog.com/
RIMtailing http://www.rimtailing.blogspot.com
Neuse Tile Blog http://neusetile.wordpress.com/
Experienceology http://experienceology.blogspot.com/
Content Talks Business Blog http://simplemarketingnow.com/content-talks-business-blog/
brand as business bites http://deniseleeyohn.com/best-bites
Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co. http://www.artcraftgmt.com

How to Design a Customer Centric Retail Outlet

I recently came across a fabulous showroom, unexpectedly tucked away in the dusty back streets of Dubai’s Al Quoz Industrial Area, Indigo Living.  A Hong Kong favourite for over 30 years, Indigo Living opened in Dubai in 2007.  Offering retail outlets around the city as well as interior design services – projects have included The Address Marina and The Westin Hotel – they are also pioneers of furniture rental!  (Still the only company in the region offering furniture rental, Indigo Living are very proud to be able to offer this unique service to the huge corporate expat market here in Dubai.)

Presenting up to seven furniture ranges in each seasonal collection, as well as a home accessories range twice a year, Joe Hepworth, Indigo Living’s General Manager in the Middle East, says their clients “love the fact that they will always find something new on every visit and that we are in tune with the wider design and fashion world”.  Indeed he is not wrong … the Spring/Summer 2010 collection is bang on trend with a colour pallete of deep blues and turquoise, rich purples and berry shades, detailed patterns and interesting textures.

My favourite ranges from the collection are Va Va Voom, Grid, and Sentosa …

The Va Va Voom range is a luxurious mix of deep aubergine, purple, plum and violet.  It has a strong boudoir feel with gorgeous soft floor cushions, intricate Moroccan lattice patterns, deep purple glass accessories and moody lanterns.


Grid is a collection of bold geometric forms that create a real sense of grandeur, whilst the high-gloss dark espresso wood finish adds elegance.  Details such as the bright nickel hardware offset by soft chocolate suede door-pulls create a sophisticated and luxurious feel.

And finally …

The Sentosa range.  Inspired by memories of colonial living in the tropics, the furniture collection combines Indonesian Teak woods with natural woven fiber accents, and hand carved detailing.  An inviting colour palette of soft nudes and warm reds creates a wonderfully relaxed feel to this range.

L O V I N G the huge wall art scissors!

As an added bonus – Indigo Living use recycled and natural material wherever possible, and the majority of their furniture is made from reclaimed wood!
The Indigo Living Showroom is located in Al Quoz Industrial 1, Road 8, Street 19 … and in case you get lost amongst the warehouses call the amazingly helpful John on 04 341 6305 for further directions!
We’re always on the look out for fabulous hidden gems so if you’ve come across any wonderful interiors showrooms let us know by leaving a comment at the top of this posting.  Happy hunting! 🙂
Want help, advice or have a question about the design of your retail showroom? Email phil@scarletopus.com