Decor duo answers the times with a store dedicated to the ‘peculiar’

There’s English designer Matthew Hilton, who despite being globally renowned after 30 years in the trade, retains his HQ in an old workshop in South London. And rising British star Lucy Kurrein, who handcrafts her own prototypes in her studio in a creative enclave past the East End. (She works with independent manufacturer Molinari to produce pieces such as the sculptural leather Otto sofa and armchair, based on the shape of a baseball mitt.)

Paris-based Belgian designer Eric de Dormael handcrafts his brass wire lighting first as pieces of jewellery, tiny enough to fit in the palm of his hand. Once satisfied, he works with French manufacturer DCW éditions to scale them up to room size.

A porcelain ‘Luna’ suspension lamp by Ann Demeulemeester for Serax; painting by Louise Olsen. Prue Ruscoe

The latest addition to the Spence & Lyda stable is Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester. One of the fashion world’s famous “Antwerp Six”, fresh out of the Academy of Fine Art, Demeulemeester – along with fellow graduates including Dries Van Noten and Walter Van Beirendonck – rented a van to take their first collections to show in London, in 1986. She stepped away from her cult fashion brand in 2014, ostensibly retiring to tend her rose garden in the grounds of a Palladian-style chateau in the Belgian countryside.

I loved to always put new plates on the table saying, look what I made!

— Ann Demeulmeester

Restless, she began experimenting with clay and then porcelain, installing a kiln in the basement of the mid-19th century property to create tableware for herself, photographer husband Patrick Robyn and those lucky enough to be invited over.

“I loved to always put new plates on the table saying, look what I made, but I never created any of them with the view to making them available commercially,” she told me a year ago, just as local brand Serax was about to launch an extensive collection of her work – crockery, but also fine glassware and robust steel cutlery – to critical acclaim.

Demeulemeester also designed lighting, initially at the behest of Robyn, she explained recently by phone.

“While I was working on the crockery Patrick asked, ‘Could you make me a large disc in porcelain, very sharp because I want to illuminate this or that part of the house?’ I said, ‘OK, I can try.’ But then, he wanted it in bone china, it had to be really thin, to be translucent. So I began experimenting and finally came up with the disc.

“Then Patrick suggested the base of the bulb should be black whereas most commercial bulbs of this sort have silver bases. So he painted one black, and we took that to Serax, which had it made. We worked with a local smithy to make the fixture which pivots by a single screw. It is very simple, but I think very beautiful.”

She has several versions of the fitting (appropriately called “Eclipse”) as wall sconces throughout the house. In fact, the

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Edna White Garden “Acoustic Duo” Saturday Night Show, 7:00

This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

The Edna White Community Garden hosts tonight local musical artists “Katie Schumacher and Paul Callaghan” at 7:00.

This is another entry in the garden’s safe spacing programming, featuring Lizzie Benner’s Mixology musical series.

Edna White Garden, one of the city’s largest community gardens, is the area’s award-winning prairie-style garden with multiple vegetable beds, active beehives, a walk-up food pantry, butterfly harvesting and a yoga space.

The garden served as a “sneak peak” last week into the beautiful, historic Beverly/Morgan Park, a community of green thumbs with lush, vibrant residential gardens and adopted green spaces adjacent to train stations, schools and areas in need of attention.

Edna White Garden Executive Director Kathy Figel hopes everyone’s efforts lure more visitors back to the garden.

“We were thrilled to welcome so many new people to the garden last week through the Beverly Area Planning Association’s garden walk efforts and planning,” said Figel. “Our musical guests tonight are a perfect pairing as we exit summer and ease into autumn.”

Attendees are reminded to bring their PPE masks, chairs and blankets if needed.

Two fire pits will add to the comfort and atmosphere of the garden setting.

The garden’s spacious grounds allow for safe distancing (but facial coverings remain in order.)
The “mixology” theme continues to feature garden bed offerings. Lawn chairs and small coolers are encouraged.

The Edna White Garden is located at 1850 West Monterey Avenue (111th and Esmond).

The Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards committee honored Morgan Park’s Edna White Memorial Garden in 2017 at the Chicago Cultural Center along with gardens from 26 additional wards around the city. Figel accepted the CEGA award for the Edna White Memorial Garden. She has served as executive director for the 19th Ward volunteer garden since the early 1990s.

The views expressed in this post are the author’s own. Want to post on Patch?

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This company by husband-wife duo is redefining luxury interior design for clients; eyes Rs 100 Cr turnover thi

The economic reforms of 1991 opened the Indian economy to the global business for the first time. The year was also tumultuous as it saw the collapse of the Soviet Union, an event that caused great economic stress to the Russian business ecosystem.

Around the same time, in 1993, Hardesh Chawla was in Russia running a financial services business in Moscow. As the economic unrest grew due to the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98, people started selling their assets in Russia. Hardesh saw that some real estate structures, though in dilapidated conditions, were being sold for lesser price. He started buying those buildings and renting them out. 

Hardesh’s wife Monica Chawla had a bent towards interior design and would add her inputs before renting out the house. When they started receiving positive feedback from their tenants about the design, they decided to translate this into a business opportunity.

Hardesh and Monica started Essentia Environments, a luxury interior design firm, in the year 1999. The company is an end-to-end solutions provider for building luxury properties offering services such as architecture, interior designing, manufacturing furniture, setting up the decor, etc. The husband-wife duo returned to India in 2003 and set up their office in Gurugram.

The company claims to have completed over 1000 projects in India, Russia, and the UAE in the past two decades, and counts DLF, Dasnac, Magnum, Porsche, and others as its clients. The company is looking to cross a turnover of Rs 100 crore this year.

Essentia Environments

Essentia Environments Team



The journey

Hardesh says there was no tipping point in their journey. One thing kept leading to another and before they knew, the design firm was ready. He says that his wife’s strength was in design whereas he found his strength in identifying the business opportunity and then capitalising on it.

As the years before founding the company were so turbulent in Russia, everything became easier for them to handle after returning to India. 

“Nothing surprises us anymore,” he says.

Talking about the difference between the Russian and the Indian business ecosystem, Hardesh points that India has evolved enormously over the years and the ease of doing business is greater. “Russia, unfortunately, hasn’t seen that kind of evolution,” he adds.

Additionally, a survey done by PwC Russia revealed that more than 50 percent of Russia’s corporate community believes that doing business in the country is more complicated today than it was during the 1990s.

Essentia Environments

Property designed by Essentia Environments



The business

When it comes to designing houses, the Essentia team does a thorough research, taking inputs from all family members. When they have everyone’s expectations, choices, and tastes in place, the team starts working together to create designs, architecture, fabrics, and furniture. 

A lot of items like precious stones, leather, and some fabrics are imported, but the furniture is manufactured in India in their Manesar unit. The company also creates picture quality 3D renders before the actual work starts so that any discrepancy in the design can be

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