Women Today

SP PRHello again lovely Trends Blog readers! It’s so good to be back!

A few weeks ago, Victoria invited me to guest blog for International Women’s Day. Always one of my favourite postings when I was at Scarlet Opus, I of course readily accepted. We had a bit of a brainstorm and, inspired by women including IBM Chairwoman & CEO, Virginia Romelty, and Yahoo President & CEO, Marissa Mayer, decided the focus would be women at the top of their game in traditionally male dominated industries.

I began with a quick bit of research and was genuinely shocked to discover that even at the top level, in 2012 the 10 highest-paid female CEOs in the US, collectively pulled in nearly $190 million in comparison to a staggering $609 million earned by the 10 highest-paid male CEOs.

Not long after, I joined a conversation on Twitter started by Elaine Cameron, Futurist & Director of Strategic Research at Future Perspective. Elaine had shared a link to the below video, “What the Media Actually Does to Women”, by Jean Kilbourne in which Jean invites us to look at familiar images of women in a new way, moving and empowering us to take action:

220px-JeanKilbournedr jean kilbourne. superstar lecturer

Jean is internationally recognised for her pioneering work on the image of women in advertising, helping to develop and popularise the study of gender representation in advertising. She is the author of the award winning book, Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, whilst her award-winning films, Killing Us Softly, and Still Killing Us Softly, have influenced millions of college and high school students across two generations, around the globe.

Follow Jean on Twitter @jeankilbourne

Thinking about Jean’s lecture and this posting led me to wonder at the complexity of the period we’re currently living in where at one end of the spectrum women are literally smashing through the glass ceilings long ago put in place by men, and at the other, some of the world’s most naturally beautiful women (and that’s not to say unintelligent) are still allowing themselves to be objectified to a degree that’s arguably worse than ever, and on top of that, the majority of us (yes probably you too!) are still entranced by these images, striving to be skinnier, more toned, with bigger lips, a smaller nose, and thicker hair… the list goes on.

Jean highlights Kate Winslet’s disparaging response to her heavily photoshopped image, a perfect example of the attitude more women must adopt towards how they are portrayed in the media. Take back the control ladies, in sitting back quietly and accepting it as standard practise I wonder if we ourselves are keeping the door open for the inequalities and outrageous perceptions by our male peers still in play today:


tracy chou. software engineer. pinterest

Tracy is a rising-star software engineer at Pinterest. Before Pinterest she interned at both Facebook and Google, turning down an offer from Facebook to become the second engineer hired at Quora. She holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and an M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford.

I follow Tracy on Twitter and not long ago read one of her tweets referring to an obnoxious comment she’d received at a corporate event:

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 16.47.15

Yet again, I was astounded at this attitude at such a level and so when I got in touch with Tracy I asked if this happens frequently: “I haven’t had this happen to me as much recently. I think that’s primarily a function of a couple factors: 1. I don’t go to those sorts of events as much anymore. 2. The events that I do go to, I tend to know more of the people, and they know that I’m an Engineer and that I’m serious about my work.

There’s just still a lot of bias left in the field, unfortunately. The percentage of women in the field is very low. [Latest 2014 figures record only 12% of all software engineers are female.] While it’s hard to tease out which things are correlation or causation, or the directionality of causation, the fact that the percentage is so low definitely doesn’t help people to work past the stereotypes. Many people, male and female, will never get a chance to work with female engineers, so it’s hard to start seeing us as individuals instead of a stereotype.”

SP What made you want to pursue a career in software engineering?

TC It’s a great career path, well compensated, very flexible; the work is intellectually interesting, creative, collaborative, impactful, and relevant to society.

But it was not clear to me that I wanted to be a software engineer until I actually took my first job as one, and even a year into that I was still doubtful of my choice. In college, I chose to not major in computer science because I was intimidated by my (mostly male) classmates and didn’t feel like I belonged. I eventually did a Master’s in CS, pressured by a good friend who knew better than I did what was good for me, but even after that I wasn’t particularly committed to CS/software.

[I eventually did give software engineering an earnest try] but it wasn’t easy, and I did feel lonely and out-of-place for a long time. There were certainly a lot of heart-to-hearts with friends in and out of the industry, and many tears involved. I questioned many times whether I had the mental fortitude to be a female software engineer, and I questioned whether I could encourage younger women to go into the field when I myself could barely keep it together.

It got better when I found one close friend at work, another female software engineer, and I realized I wasn’t alone. Some people reached out to me, and I reached out to some other people, and I found more kindred souls. It helped too that I got a lot more involved with the community, connecting with people on Twitter, meeting people 1:1, volunteering with mentorship programs, generally being present at events and meet-ups.

When I switched jobs, it was a natural reset and I made a conscious effort to invest in my social network outside of work. That was actually entirely sufficient for my mental health and happiness to have friends outside of work, but as the company grew and more people joined I also became good friends with a number of coworkers. If you just imagine that you’ll jive with some percentage of the population that has similar interests and/or is compatible values- and personality-wise with you, and you increase the total number of people that you encounter or interact with, the number of people that you’ll click with also increases.

SP What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your quick rise to success?

TC It’s very flattering that you would characterize me as having had a “quick rise to success” :)

I think the greatest challenge has been self-doubt. Impostor syndrome is well documented as a common affliction for girls and women in the STEM fields [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] – I have never been immune to it. This lack of confidence naturally makes it much more difficult to engage in the sort of self-promotion that is important for manoeuvring professionally; and it also manifests as a greater need for external validation, when not all environments will afford very much of that.

SP Do you ever feel your age or gender stands against you?

TC Yes. Definitely much more so gender than age, because the Valley seems to worship youth and young founders and early success.

As for gender, I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to establish trust with my co-workers now and they know me and my work, but I often feel that I have more to prove and that people still tend to apply a discount on their expectations of my abilities because I am female.

SP What advice would you give to young women today starting out in their career as a software engineer?

TC You’ll find friends, and it won’t be so lonely :) Don’t give up on something that you love and that is a great professional opportunity too.

Follow Tracy on Twitter @triketora

Despite being smart, savvy women, fully aware of the extensive airbrushing applied to the images we see in print, online, and onscreen, fully aware of the opportunities we now have to fulfill our potential as human beings – reminded of the fact by so many wonderful role models – I can’t help but come back to the point that we still strive to look exactly like the airbrushed 15 year old model!

How and why is that?!

I wonder if on the climb up the ladder, as women we fight a myriad internal and external battles, and in the process lose some of our integrity, adopting tougher, male-like qualities in order to succeed. In putting together today’s posting I contacted a number of successful women around the globe in various industries. Of the very few that actually replied and agreed to contribute, I was disappointed that only Tracy and Jean kept to their word (that’s not to say I was disappointed to only be including Tracy and Jean’s contributions of course!).

With this loss of integrity perhaps a steely, unapproachable image is also projected, as women we feel we can no longer relate and so we continue to turn back to the familiar, and what we perceive to be, more “friendly” images of women we have grown to accept in the media…

Last year I read Caitlin Moran’s, How To Be A Woman, and am proud to call myself a feminist; I can’t help but feel the battle is far from won. We must take our lead from women like Kate Winslet – speaking out against the accepted standard, and Tracy – overcoming our self-doubts and fighting to equalise expectations.

I’d like to extend my greatest thanks to Tracy Chou for so openly sharing her experiences and opinions, and to Jean Kilbourne for her fantastic work and contribution to today’s posting.

I know the lovelies at Scarlet Opus are always happy to hear from you, so do share your comments and views on today’s posting, or why not let everyone know what you’re doing in honour of International Women’s Day.

Thank you for having me back as a guest blogger Scarlet Opus… until next time!


Interior 360 Dubai

large-logoOn Tuesday I headed over to Dubai’s Art district, Al Quoz, to pay a visit to the much talked about interiors boutique, interior360.  They were busy preparing for their August opening at Galeries Lafayette in Dubai Mall so I was able to hunt through the eclectic mix of furniture, art, and design at my leisure.

Set in an old warehouse, the space provides a simple yet perfect backdrop to the rich mix of creative styles on offer.  Tini Meyer is a founding partner and speaks with incredible passion about her creation, telling me that she started “because I wanted to find a way to promote Art from the Philippines.  My business partner, Jurgen Herre, is very passionate about design and furniture, so we combined these interests and created interior360.”

Travelling the world to source the finest furniture to fill her customers’ eyes with aesthetic pleasures, every piece is handcrafted and has a story to tell, taking your imagination on a fabulous adventure.  Tini has a penchant for picking up hidden gems such as antique books and curiosity objects and, with a love for all things unique and fascinating, she uses the space as a platform for emerging Artists, featuring photography, paintings, sculptures, multi-media installations and more from Creatives including Allan Murillo, Clayton Tugonon, Luisa Robinson, Vito Selma, Carlo Cordaro, and Kuwaiti label Al Hamad Design.

Personally, I loved that super contemporary furniture sits next to vintage Chinese design which sits next to Iranian inspired mixed media pieces: a true cultural mix that filled me with excitement.  Favourite pieces included work by Nepalese Artist, Chirag Bangdel, particularly his Contemporary Collection of cushions (one of which I really must own soon); the gorgeous Acropolis Sofa by Nanu Al-Hamad whose form offers a feeling of comforting intimacy; and the vintage Chinese pieces which Tini found in an antiques shop in Manila.  Clayton Tugonon’s long bench is just exquisitely made and I went back to look at it several times, Tini agreed saying he is one of interior360′s favourite Designers, “his pieces use natural materials that are hand inlaid in geometric patterns.  He does so many wonderful things.”

Wall 360The footstools by Iranian Artist Nazzy Beglari, are limited edition pieces from the art furniture collection, ARTNITURE.  The legs of the Indian stools are hand painted whilst the seats are covered with a Chinese floral fabric purchased in New York’s China Town and printed images of Iranian singer, Mahvash, on organic cotton!  Beglari says she is “fond of utilising images of iconic personalities from the past, or paintings and poetry on furniture.  In ancient civilisations people created art for daily use not decoration, like Persian carpets which cover the floors not the walls”.

I’m a huge fan of clusters of beautiful copper and brass Moroccan pendant lights and so I was thrilled by the huge “chandelier” piece hanging above the entrance to the warehouse ( I later found out this piece was purchased by Jurgen whilst on holiday in Marrakesh and “taken” by Tini!).

Finally, other favourite pieces included the hand carved wall panels by Kohar Kevorkian from Addis Ababa and the wonderfully retro rattan Tobago armchair by Phillipino Designer, Allan Murillo.

A massive thank you to Tini for taking the time to tell me about her treasures!  If you’re in Dubai do make time to pass by the warehouse located in Al Quoz and look out for the new collection in Galeries Lafayette from August.  You can follow interior360 on Twitter @interior360dxb


Today I love… Neon & Pastels

Summer has finally kicked in and today I’m loving beautiful pastels with funky neon accents.  Neons have been huge in fashion and transition fabulously for interiors: use as an accent colour to give white a new edge or, as shown here, in combination with soft pastels for a gorgeously fresh summer look.

Trend Tip: Diffused pastels, ombre’s, washes and tints of colour continue to be important right through into 2015.

neon & pastel 1. via shape+space 2. via Beauty Riot 3. Chair and cushion from Etsy shop Neon Vintage Design 4. via the style spy 5. Modern Neon Hardwood Salad Bowls by Nicole Porter 6. Styling and photography by Marij Hessel 7. Number cushion from John Lewis 8. Styling by Charlotte Love 9. Styling and photography by Marij Hessel 10. Happy Layers Print by Georgiana Paraschiv 11. via Cellar Door Magazine


Today I Love… Teal

Shades of teal are hot hot hot right now, a colour trend that is set to continue all the way through to 2015.  Clean, cool, and inviting, work with tonal layers and ombre’s and combine with white, black, and steel for a super sophisticated, and bang on trend, aesthetic.

teal1. Image by Michael Eastman 2. Image by Gavin O’Neill 3. Wedding photograped by Pobke Photography 4. Rustic ceramic mosaic and frosted green crystal glass mosaic tile 5. Bobby Flay Ombre Old-Fashioned glass set from Kohl’s 7. Ombre pillow in Teal/Citron from One Kings Lane 8. Lake Como home photographed by Fabrizio Cicconi 10. Chambord wedding gown by Carol Hannah 11. Geo print as seen on eighthourday.com


Inspiration for Creating Great Dining Rooms

Now is the perfect time to refresh the dining areas of your home to get ready for the Christmas celebrations so, take inspiration from our top dining room trends.

In no particular order:

1. Futuristic Glow

As we continue to journey into the unknown, Designers explore a Sci-Tech look.  The palette?  A halo of ultra-violet, searchlight blue, an alien green, and cold mint with hi-definition neon accents.  Super glossy surfaces with a shellac shine are key: hi-gloss lacquer, perspex, acrylic, transparent PVC layers, and silvered surfaces deliver a futuristic sheen.  White provides the clinical backdrop that grounds this look and keeps it from becoming colour overload, representing futurism and clarity.

ARTificialThe Air table by Carlo Colombo for Poliform

Choose an ultra-modern table with clean lines in a hi-gloss white, set it off with a statement piece of lighting to create a coloured glow.  Work on a stage of pale grey and white, with concrete effect flooring to create a super contemporary aesthetic.

Our trend ARTificial details more ideas on how to successfully work this look.

2. The Orient

Our fascination with the Orient continues as we are seduced by a deeply exotic mood, drawn-in by the splendours of the Far East fused with the mysterious decorations of the Middle East.  This decadent, indulgent styling offers an intense glamour, summoning up a dark languid atmosphere with a slightly risqué undertone.

Strike an exquisite balance between lavish metallics, dangerously dark peacock shades, and seemingly opposing faded pastels: jade, apricot blossom, and mauve mist for an elegantly complex styling that is neither excessive or too pretty.

tas hk

Tazmania Ballroom in Hong Kong


  Noura Central in London

Be inspired by the Tazmania Ballroom in Hong Kong and London’s Noura Central to create your own glamorous dining theatre with richly coloured velvet seating (teal to purple shades are a major colour trend well into 2015) and a long, solid dark wood, or dark glass-topped, table.

3. Retro Revival

This Spring/Summer have some fun and inject a vintage Rock ‘n’ Roll sexiness as the diner look evolves.  Create a Fifties Motel vacation, inspired by the palm tree-lined, Art Deco adorned boulevards of Miami with a laidback LA vibe.

Go for graduated colours and ombres, matte, opaque surface finishes, and a kitsch styling.  Graphic patterns are in: hearts, birds, cars, fruit, and girls, as well as Rock ‘n’ Roll motif and bold geometrics.

Achieve this look in one of two ways: an invigorating palette of intense blues, flamingo pinks and oranges, with the season’s all important mint green.  Go for bench seating or retro booths.


retro by hello-132 on Polyvore

Or, work a more rebellious, Rockabilly look of black and white with red accents such as red leather dining chairs.

4. New Normal

For a moment of stillness in our overfilled modern lives, precise styling and an extreme unadorned, pared-down purity, delivers clarity and calmness.  A retro Scandinavian influence is felt in a palette of subdued colours of sand and cork, blonde wood tones, and an abundance of brown, all working alongside a calming blue and green.

For dining furniture choose pure forms that are simple, smooth, and solid.  Marquetry/parquet constructions work well within this trend, be inspired by Lee Broom’s Parquetry collection.

am_77060_5247912_719703Image sourced from Apartment Therapy


Buckingham Interiors + Design

5. South American Ranch

As we get into the Autumn/Winter we see a South American flavour continue to combine with the exotic tribal trends of previous seasons; there is a greater emphasis on the use of natural materials and raw finishes and we see the colours change as a darker, heavier, spiced palette is introduced.

Rustic-DINING-ROOM-Table-Set-600x449-500x374Start with a natural wood or solid Indian sheesham wood dining table and cover chairs in earthy colours or Peruvian inspired patterned textiles.  Source hand-carved or chiselled accessories and hand-hammered metal lamps and lighting.

To discover full details of ALL the key trends for Interiors simply email Phil now to find out how you can benefit from our product development & retail expertise using future consumer and design trends.

Or, to chat now getting more immediate answers give us a call in the studio on +44 1482 870 360 or ring/text Phil direct on +44 7896 088 996.  Finally, you can also Tweet us!  Whichever way, we’d love to hear from you.