Design, Interiors & Lifestyle Blog
Design, Interiors & Lifestyle Blog

Gray-Malin-Bora-Bora-print-featured-on-Little-Big-Bell-blog

I was so excited to have recently received a beautiful piece of art from my friend Gray Malin.

It was not just any piece of art, but one of Gray’s much coveted photographic prints. Even more special, it was a print of one of his most recent projects at Bora Bora, a collaboration with Le Meridien hotel. I was so honoured to be one of the first to see the reveal in London.

You can spot my beautifully framed print on my living room shelf. I styled the shelf with pops of blue, to complement the blue of  Bora Bora’s ocean.

I first met Gray in Barcelona, when I was invited to hear about his Follow me‘ work commissioned by Le Meridien. ‘Follow me’ showcased the hotel group’s various destinations with stunning, creative photography and videos.

Gray’s work is super colourful. Being a lover of colour myself, I knew we would get on well.

For this post, I thought it would be fun to interview Gray and delve into his creative process. You will also get to see some of his other photography at different locations. Gray-Malin-photo-by-Geraldine-Tan-Little-Big-Bell This is a photo of Gray that I shot in Barcelona last Summer. Let the interview begin:

1. How did the partnership with Le Méridien start?

A testament to today’s digitally-connected world, our partnership was sparked because of social media!

Their team had seen the work I was doing on Instagram – photography that brings to life different locales through an unexpected lens, combining whimsy and wanderlust.

Since Le Méridien is a brand all about unlocking destinations for creative and curious-minded travelers, a conversation began from there about what our brands could do together.

At the start I was given this beautiful brand book that allowed me to understand the history; how Le Méridien was born from Air France in the 1970s; how they grew and how their passions were around culture, food, and art; and how they were really looking for a partner who could help encapsulate and unlock this.

From there, we developed this series called “Follow Me” as part of their Video Art Programme, which brought my work into all of their signature Le Méridien Hubs around the world and brought my photography to their artfully-designed hotel keycards, and brought us to Barcelona, Bhutan and Bora Bora for some fantastic projects. Gray-Malin-Bora-Bora-Le-Meridien-unlocking-destinations-Little-Big-Bell 2. Please describe your latest art series?

Bora Bora, our latest series – named THE ART OF LIVING – is inspired from a deep passion for interior design. I wanted to create a world for curious-minded travelers and design enthusiasts. I wanted to immerse them in a moment that captured the art of living and showcased the beauty of Bora Bora in one shot. Gray-Malin-Bora-Bora-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell “Bora Bora is one of the most iconic and aspirational beach destinations in the world – I loved its symmetry and its beautiful landscape.” The-Living-Room “The series is highly conceptual and focuses on the 12-15 design forward vignettes featuring an archetypal selection of mid-century modern furniture set atop the tranquil, turquoise water of the French Polynesia.” The-Office “This juxtaposition perfectly plays to, and was inspired by, Le Méridien’s mid-century modern approach to design – which is echoed in the Le Méridien Suite at Starlab, Starwood’s Brand Innovation Studio.” Afternoon_Croquet 3. Which is your favouite Le Méridien and why?

My favourite Le Méridien hotel is the The Parker, Palm Spring. It’s the closest to my home in Los Angeles. Welcome-Back-to-The-Parker-2 4. The photo shoot at the Parker Palm Springs looks amazing. Was it difficult to photograph animal?

Working with animals is difficult. For one they don’t speak English, so you can’t really tell them exactly what to do. I find them to be sensitive beings who have trainers and assistants. Basically they’re like Beyoncé! They have their own entourage which you have to manage before you can work with the talent.
All joking aside, it’s magical to work so closely with animals – especially in this series at The Parker Palm Springs.

In projects where I have worked with animals, safety is priority, we block off the grounds where the animals are being photographed. We always use rescue animals or third generation rescue animals which wouldn’t survive in the wild – mainly as, and in my experience, they’re calmer.

It’s a great experience, but at the end of the day, standing three feet away from a 400-pound lion is extremely scary – I could feel it’s breath – sometimes I feel my camera, like when I’m hanging out a helicopter, acts like a shield. Fun-In-The-Sun 5. What inspired you to pick animals for that shoot?

Sometimes it’s their availability, mostly I have these visions. For this series, I envisaged an Ostridge playing tennis, but these never quite made it to light.
I’ve shot two installations using animals at The Parker, Palm Springs. For the first, we wanted to include a giraffe, a monkey, a penguin, some flamingoes and a zebra. For the second, and this was a bit trickier, I wanted to shoot a lion, a tiger, a couple of raccoons and a camel! Skinny_Dip 6. Do you have any funny stories that you could share when you photographed the animals?

Of course. When we were preparing to photograph Zack the zebra, we intended to photograph him on a grassy croquet lawn, but he would not stop eating the grass. He wouldn’t lift his head for the camera no matter what we did.
We finally had to move him to the Pétanque field, which was sandy so it worked out well. It was funny as we all had to patiently wait for Zack to raise his head and smile.

We also have video footage of a giraffe walking over and giving me a kiss when I was standing on a ladder and a tiger popping giant helium balloons – which he seemed to enjoy thoroughly. aerial-beach-view-bygray-malin- 7. Your aerial view beach photographs always look so colourful. Do you add props for those shoots or are they just the way they are?

Everything you see, bar the new Bora Bora – THE ART OF LIVING series, is as I found it. I hunt the best landscapes to try and show the beauty of destinations around the world.

I have an extensive collection of images, so what you see is probably one percent of what I have. I obviously only choose ones that are strongest visually, of course.

I did capture one beach which wasn’t as nature intended. I happened to be flying over a beach in Barcelona – it was incredibly colorful. It stood out from the landscape. I started shooting it only to realise it was movie set. It’s the only staged beach to feature in my book, Beaches by Gray Malin. It’s called Neon Beach Umbrella Barcelona. Gray-Malin-beach-photo 8. How do your aerial bird’s eye picture work?

I take the aerial photographs from door-less helicopters. There’s no magic – there’s just me and a pilot. I lean from the side and give the pilot the angles I want, while I manually adjust the focus, the lighting and camera. I compositionally see the photograph and frame it with the camera.
It’s very much like hunting – we search for the scene, not necessarily the people or props, but more the landscape and its position – looking for interesting lines or shapes.

It’s a very fluid process that can be driven by things I can’t control – the weather for example.
It’s not so planned; it’s passion, danger and adventure – it’s far more than the end product people hang in their homes.

I really see the world from above as blank canvas and I’m using objects and people in photography to create a piece of art. Hyde Park is a great example. From above, all the pathways are amazing. Gray-Malin-poolside-photography-series 9. How long does it take to complete an art series?

The helicopter work, which can be seen in the aerial photographs I produce, don’t actually take too long to shoot. Series like these are all about timing, lining up dates and the weather. Other projects can take up to take five years – depending on their complexity.

10. How many people are on the shoots with you?

I have around 12 staff who work at my LA office. Usually I only take two or three people with me on a shoot. If it’s local, I’ll have a bigger team.
If we decide to go further afield I have to ask for assistance from people at the location, but for the most part, we never have a big team – just a couple. It’s a lot of planning and having a big team complicates this.

I enjoy working with people on the ground and with locals. They can bring a different flavor to your work – a new prospective – a layer of culture. Gray-Malin-poolside-series 11. You’ve travelled to some amazing places. Can you name your favourite place and why?

Cape Town in South Africa is my favourite place. I’ve been three times in the past three years. I’m very drawn to the outside landscape versus its city, which is busy and very urban. It has an eclectic culture and atmosphere. It has an exquisite culinary scene and host some of the most amazing upcoming fashion and fine art talent. Gray-Malin-with-Le-Meridien-Bora-Bora-photo-by-Little-Big-Bell That concludes my interview with Gray Malin. It’s so wonderful to get behind a person’s creative process isn’t it?

In fact, whilst joining him for a breakfast meeting recently, I got to find out a few extra facts about his Bora Bora photos.

He told us that a lot of his work was based on geometry and symmetry. He was very drawn to the symmetry of the mountain and it became the muse for his series. From there, he had the idea of building a mirrored dock that would reflect the sky. He then wanted to put something on the dock.

The mid century furniture seen on the mirrored dock had been inspired by the furniture he saw during his visit to Le Meridien’s office in mid town Manhattan called the Star Lab. He felt the furniture reflected the future of the brand. However, he also went on to say that the furniture reminded him of his great grandparents’ vacation home and so had a significance from his own personal history too. The-Living-Room I myself am in awe of how these photographic images were created. The mirrored platform was specially manufactured by engineers and shipped all the way to Bora Bora in one piece. I’m also in awe at how they managed to transfer all that furniture onto the floating mirror. Definitely not an easy project and so a huge congratulations to Gray and Le Meridien for pulling off this collaboration so well.

The images from the Bora Bora shoot will be previewed centerstage in Le Méridien hotels globally this Summer, engaging guests with a compelling 24/7 video art installation and behind-the-scenes video footage from the shoot.

A dedicated exhibition featuring a retrospective look at the partnership will take place in Le Meridien Piccadilly, London. The exhibition will launch on 5th October to coincide with Frieze London Art Fair.

I’m so pleased that Gray’s photographic print is now in my living room. I’m seriously contemplating on visiting Bora Bora soon. Gray has certainly unlocked this destination for me.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

( Photos of Gray’s print in my living room are by me, other photos are courtesy of Gray Malin.)

So-Klara-painting-1-by-Klara Capouskova-featured-on-Little-Big-Bell When Klara Capouskova of So Klara sent me an image of her work, despite the small size of the photo, my eyes were instantly drawn to the colours and patterns.

I knew I had to see more.

So-Klara-1-on-Little-Big-Bell Her use of vibrant and happy colours were totally in tune with my aesthetic.

How convenient it was that she lived nearby, and so I was able to view her work in person.

So-Klara-painting-styled-and-photographed-by-Little-Big-Bell Klara has a background in fine art and counselling. Torn between doing an MA in Psychology and art, she finally chose to follow her creative dreams, and completed an MA in Textile Design.

However, Klara tells me that throughout her postgraduate studies, she was able to channel her passion for art and psychology in her textiles, to create pieces that exuded a vibrant energy.

SoKlara-Little-Big-Bell  As you can see, Klara entrusted me with her work. I was able to bring her portfolio home, to style and shoot at leisure.

The sense of grey and rain outdoors soon disappeared, as I photographed the colourful pieces, that radiated vibes both happy and positive.

I have styled the above two pieces of her paintings with my Marimekko ceramics, because I really feel that Klara’s work is the perfect fit for that brand.

I would so love to have a So Klara designed Marimekko mug.

So-Klara-wall-hanging-2-Little-Big-Bell Here you see my work space again. Adorning the wall is a sample fabric from Klara’s original painting.

The piece above is called Espagna. Klara tells me that this captures the memories of her trips to Spain.

She describes it as ” you might be taken back to the sunny beaches, the wonderful markets, the smiley people… it might even awake your sense of smell and touch, you can feel the sun rays on your skin, hear the seagulls on the beach and smell the oranges.”

So-Klara-Little-Big-Bell How therapeutic it must be to paint in these colours.

So-klara-wall-hanging-Little-Big-Bell Here is another fabric print of her painting, styled against my storage boxes from Hay, in similar tones of greens, blues, peaches and yellows.

So-Klara-silk-prints-1-on-Little-Big-Bell The title of this blog post mentioned talent and colour, both obvious, I’m sure you’ll agree.

What is the good cause?

Well, Klara has printed her beautiful artwork onto larger pieces of silk, measuring around 180cm  x 120cm.The silk pieces above are miniature versions of her larger pieces.

One of her large silk hangings will be exhibited in the Traditions Run Deeper than Law exhibition, from March 10-15th at the Red Gallery in London.

This large silk piece will be auctioned online to support Forward UK, an organisation committed to gender equality and safeguarding the rights of African girls and women against FGM and child marriage.

So-Klara-silk-paintings-1-on-Little-Big-Bell Here, I’ve styled her miniature silk wall hangings above my cushion filled, reading nook. Very colourful right? Just how I like it.

So-Klara-colourful-fabric-1-Little-Big-Bell Her fabric prints are so beautiful. You can use them to upholster furniture or even commission Klara to make them into cushion covers.

Colour-inspiration-Little-Big-Bell Great too as backgrounds for styled shots.

So-Klara-on-Little-Big-Bell-blog

So-Klara-silk-art-styled-andphotographed-by-Little-Big-Bell So vibrant, so happy! If you are interested in seeing the large piece in person, do check out her exhibition soon. Also for a good cause, don’t forget there’s a charity auction.

Wishing you all a wonderful start to your week.

( All styling and photography are by Geraldine Tan of Little Big Bell)

Tamasyn Gambell is a talented print textile designer. She first came to my attention when I noticed her beautifully upholstered Mid-century chairs, a collaboration with Forest London.

I used to own a vintage Ercol day bed and was frustrated by the lack of fabric choice that would complement this classic piece. When I saw her fabric, I was ‘gutted’ to have ebayed off my sofa. I have written about how to update the Ercol previously here. How interesting it is for me to discover that Tamasyn has also collaborated with Ercol.

It was a privilege to be granted access to Cockpit Arts to interview her in her studio. Tamasyn is an amazing achiever. She was lovely and friendly to interview. I admire her for her bold determination and resilience. You will see what I mean when you read this interview:

1. Congratulations on previously winning the Cockpit NADFAS award. Are you able to tell me about this award ?

The award entitles you to an annual scholarship at Cockpit Arts. It is an incubator scheme to help launch your new business. For one year, you get free studio space, financial and business support as well as promotion and public relations.

Thereafter, the rental continues to provide the above package.

2. Do tell me how your work and career path has taken shape.

After doing my BA ( Bachelor of Arts degree), my work focusing on interiors was quite raw and experimental. I felt the need to develop it further, so I went straight on to an MA (Master of arts) course at the Royal College. There, I worked with fashion students in knitwear and did prints for their collections.

Although my work was still quite experimental, it was more refined.  I felt it needed to be applied within a couture world as it would be too expensive for the high street. That prompted my instant decision to get on the Eurostar to go live in Paris. I managed to rent an apartment with a friend. I was 24 years old then and quite ambitious. I felt the only way to achieve what I wanted was to get out there.

I went into a cafe and ripped out the sections under ‘Couture’ from the phone book. I rang all the numbers that were on that sheet. I managed to get a placement at Sonia Rykiel where I did some prints for them. This was really exciting, I promoted myself and got my foot in the door.

Times were very unpredictable, as no one had money to employ someone full time and there weren’t necessarily the positions I was looking for.

I did some freelance work for Louis Vuitton. I made a series of hand drawn line flower prints for their Spring Summer clothes collection. It was great to be let behind the scenes, to work with the designers and trend team. It was exciting but quite ‘cut throat’ and I found the aggression quite hard. It was very competitive. It was very much  like the film ‘The Devil wears Prada.’ Luckily I was fluent in French, so found it easy to make friends.

3. Did you find the experience in Paris financially rewarding?

Although the experience in Paris was fantastic, it was difficult financially. It was tough trying to make a living from the different freelance projects. I got to a point I felt I really needed a permanent job.

So when I was offered the Women’s wear print design position in H&M Sweden, I took it! However, I felt it was quite misleading. They said just come work for women’s wear but I didn’t realise they had fragmented the team. I was put in the ‘maternity’ section which wasn’t really what my work was about. The fabrics were different in quality to what I had previously worked with and I felt pushed into doing things that I wouldn’t really do. It was tough and in all lasted 6 months. I had to leave because it wasn’t working for either of us.

It was good in a way, as I have learned that the commercially driven world for the high street wasn’t for me. It was too fast going for one to consider anything.

4. Now that you are more established with your brand, would you collaborate with a high street giant?

It would have to be done in the right way.  I have learned whilst working in the high street sector that there was a lot of ‘smoke and mirrors’. I would like to oversee and have more control, like going out to see the factories rather than just handing over my prints. The quantities produced are so vast,  practices would have to be ethical.

5. Your brand encompasses Eco luxury, what does this mean?

When I started my business there was a lot of so called ‘green’ products but they were not aesthetically appealing. Hemp that was lumpy, raw and rough. There were lots of Hippy looking products with unsophisticated sludgy colours. I believe things are quite different now.

The whole premise of my business was to produce ethically sound products that were both beautiful yet timeless. Nowadays, I am more focused on using UK made products such as the Irish linen for my cushion range.

6. Tell me about your collaboration with Forest London.

Eva Coppens (owner of Forest London) used to work as my PR intern. We have been good friends since then. She launched Forest in April of this year and she asked me to collaborate with her in the promotion of her Mid-century Scandinavian furniture collection. I saw this as a really exciting opportunity, as I have always loved that aesthetic. I felt upholstered chairs with my fabric could be really interesting.

7. You have done cushions, interior lamp shades and reupholstering. What’s next?

Bed linen and wallpaper is something that I’m interested in. Also, lots of people have been enquiring about fabric by the metre. It’s really nice to be able to give the fabric to someone to make something new.

8. What influences you?

I love architecture, such as in London with its fusion of old and new ( an old brick building set against the Shard). I love going to museums and galleries. The V&A arts library has an amazing archive of old magazines which I go to look at for inspiration. Other influences include tribal textiles and the rich colours of antique carpets my father used to collect.

8 Was your family upbringing conventional?

My mum moved to England from Paris when she was in her early 20s after meeting my father. My father grew up in England but his father died when he was very young and so he got put in a children’s home.  When he left, he saved up all the money he made as a newspaper boy and went travelling round the world for years, working his way around Europe. He had some amazing stories and they have inspired me to go travelling without fear, such as moving to France or Sweden.

I never really had the sort of traditional parents who were risk averse. My mom always said it was better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t. To learn from your mistakes.

My French family were anarchists. My grandfather on my French side was a Communist, he was imprisoned in a concentration camp but this never stopped him having an amazing spirit. He was always so optimistic about things.

9. Do you get creative block?

Yes, particularly when you have to run your own business alongside creating. Your mind takes on different roles and if you are concentrating particularly on the financial side for a week, then it can take time to jump back onto the design side.

I hope everyone enjoyed this interview. What I find inspirational about Tamasyn is her lack of fear in trying new things and to push boundaries. Equally, she shows humility by admitting when there was a stage in her career that wasn’t going as planned. Wishing everyone a good week and sorry for the delay in posting.

 

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