Alvar Aalto’s famous Savoy vase, an icon of product design, will always be one of my favourites. Together with his wife Aino, Aalto designed the vase for a glass competition sponsored by the Finnish manufacturer iittala during the Paris World Fair in 1937, and won the first price. At the same time, the architects couple was designing the Savoy Hotel in Helsinki which they furnished with their designs, including their winning entry (hence the name of the Savoy vase). There are speculations on whether the inspiration for the design of the elegant organic shapes came from the observation of the growth rings of a tree, the fluidity of water, the shape of a Finnish lake, or even the drapery of a fluid dress. It has been produced in almost all the colours of the rainbow, transparent and opaque, and picking a colour is one tricky task. I’d suggest pick the dominant colour of your room if you can’t make up your mind. And if you’re still debating, then follow your gut feeling and let that purchase give the dominant colour of your space! You can see a colour scheme example on Palette 01.


What I particularly like about Orla Kiely’s designs is her ability to come up with a stunning simple graphics and play with it, reinventing it and adapting it and its colour schemes to various media. The clarity of her design style has given her brand an iconic status. From home ware, textiles to stationery, wallpapers and even cars and London double deckers, Orla Kiely has been able to create a very appealing and recognizable brand, and I’m totally sold! My favourite items in her collection are the mugs, bowls and jars from her kitchen ware line. I could buy them all, problem is, there’s no more room in that tiny kitchen of mine!

You can see Orla Kiely’s jars on Palette 02.

Irish born, Orla Kiely earned a degree in textile design from the Royal College of Art and Design in Dublin, and a Master’s Degree in the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. She spent time in between degrees working as a wallpaper and fabric designer in New York. Her final year hat show at the RCA was purchase by Harrods. She moved to hand bag design soon after, with a revolutionary concept of using laminated fabric, which at the time was used for table cloth. She did some design work for major UK brands such as M&S, Habitat, and Heal’s. She was described by The Guardian as “the Queen of Prints” and was featured on a stamp issued by the Republic of Ireland in July 2010! Oh, and she visits my favourite midcentury furniture fair, the Midcentury Modern Fair! Next time I’ll keep my eyes open see if I can spot her and spy on what she buys 😉

If you wished to learn more about the Orla Kiely’s fabulous world, click here to read her very down to earth interview for “Fashion” in the Telegraph.

Her new book “Pattern” is out, and if you’re out and about in Covent Garden or Kings Roads pop into her stores!