Image: Colorware
Well, it didn't take long for vendors to start dreaming up ways to let you personalise your new iPhone. 

Anyone wanting a more vibrant option than Apple's stock black and white versions can check out Colorware's iPhone 5.  Using an online tool Colorware allows you to choose a custom color for the 64GB, SIM unlocked phone's body, top rear glass, bottom rear glass, home button and SIM tray meaning you can come up with a phone that is completely unique to you. 

Colorware's iPhone 5 is available in a wide range of colours including solid, metallic and pearlescent.

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Images: Amazon
Growing up in a multicultural country where Muslim and Hindu religious holidays are celebrated in the same manner as Christian holidays are celebrated elsewhere, means that you gain a familiarity with other religions although you might not necessarily practice them.

I think this book called The Little Book of Hindu Deities by Pixar illustrator Sanjay Patel, is a great way of introducing children who might not necessarily be exposed to such multiculturalism to some of that religion's main players and beliefs.    It is wonderfully illustrated and features brightly coloured drawings inspired by the art of Japanese animation of the different Hindu gods and goddesses on thick poster-like paper together with a short profile on each deity.

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Illustration: agnès b.

October 18 saw the launch of the My Bag!, a limited edition agnès b. Voyage bag collection at the Howard Street store of agnès b.  The Voyage bag was originally created in 2001, and agnès b. has given carte blanche to ten artists from around the globe including Hibino (Japan), BÄST (USA), Karena Lam, Graphic Airlines and Milkxhake (Hong Kong), Song Yang (China), Kuanth (Singapore), Qing-Yang Xiao (Taiwan), David Shillinglaw (UK), Jonone (France) to customise the bag in their own way.

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Images: island*atelier
I stumbled across The House hotel, Barbados several years ago but have never been able to stay there because of its no children policy.  Its incredibly friendly and courteous staff allowed me to have a look around earlier this year.  The hotel is built partially on the site of the old Tamarind Cove hotel but has been redone and renovated - in fact some of the rooms were undergoing additional refurbishment when I was there.  From the approach, which is flanked by a pond featuring flowering lotuses, to the pool, deck area and beach, the byword for the hotel is quiet elegance.   Daphne's Restaurant is right next door and offers a great waterfront dining experience.

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Image: Missoni

The Converse and Missoni mark the sixth season of a collaboration between the two brands with the  Archive Project - a range of 20 shoes in two styles.  The Converse Pro Leather high top and the Auckland Racer act as a blank canvases for the Italian brand’s iconic zigzag patterns and feature prints from Missoni's runway collections from 1994 to the present.  Accompanying the Project is a hand-numbered hardcover book (produced in limited quantities), each bound in the same terracotta canvas that lines every pair of shoes in the collection. 

The Converse Missoni Archive Project is available exclusively at Colette in Paris.  As a follow up, Converse have also launched for Holiday 2012 the Missoni for Converse Auckland Racer that debuted on the Missoni Fall/Winter 2012 runway in Milan.  The sneaker is available at Missoni boutiques and select Converse First String retailers worldwide.

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Image: Kate Spade
Preppy designer Kate Spade will launch a new clothes line called Kate Spade Saturday online in Spring 2013.  The collection, which is meant to "capture the spirit of Saturday every day of the week", will feature clothing, accessories, beauty products and home decor pieces in bright colours at a fraction of the price of Spade's eponymous line, with most items coming in at around $130 or less.

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Image: Free People
Free People have created a collection of pretty, limited edition skateboards made by Titan Boards and featuring hand-drawn art by some of their talented in-house designers.

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Image: island*atelier
The packaging of the Byredo perfumes is as gorgeous as the scents themselves.

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Image: Jason Eric Harwick
I'm not too sure about the true history, but Herbert Schier's 74 year old company's hand-crafted Velskoen boots (or "Vellies" for short) claim the title of Original Desert Boot and I wouldn't be surprised if the more well-known boot was inspired by them.  Based on the traditional footwear of the local Khoikhoi tribe, these springbok boots are made in a workshop on the Namibian coast.  Kudu, the large antelope used to make Vellies are over-populated in the region and Schier works with local farmers to meet the government quotas that are necessary for population control.  The boots are cut entirely by hand using a paper pattern and as a result, no two shoes are identical.  The two pieces of Kudu hide are then hand-sewn The resulting boots are comfortable, durable and whimsical. 

Schier has recently launched an exclusive collection of Vellies at Opening Ceremony where boots for adults and children are available for purchase.

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Images: Tom Binns
This, the new Tom Binns for Lisa Hoffman collaboration, takes a page out of the history books with a line of perfumed jewellery.   The three-piece collection of necklaces, cuffs and earrings (not pictured) features five metal finishes and five scents saturated in organic wooden beads.  The combinations include Tuscan Fig with Shiny Rose Gold, Madagascar Orchid with Matte Brushed Gold, Japanese Agarwood with polished Deep Bronze, Tunisian Neroli with High Gloss Gold and French Clary Sage with Silver-Toned Rhodium.  The collaboration will be available for purchase in January 2013.

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Image: Mutina

Patricia Urquiola (along with Kelly Wearstler) is one of my major design crushes.  As the Creative Director for Mutina, Urquiola is responsible for the look and feel for the entire brand.  Using an innovative digital printing technique on porcelain stoneware which enables the production of a high diffusion product, she has produced this new collection, Azulej, which is a line of tiles in beautifully muted colours.

The patterns on the tiles were chosen to deliberately combine different aesthetic languages: memories, geometrical schemes, floral design, all developed both in a longitudinal and diagonal direction reminiscent of classic cement tile design.  Azulej takes patterns that at first glance feel familiar and gives them a smart new look and feel.  The process used to create the tiles makes them impervious to staining and damage and keeps their price-point reasonably low.  The tiles have a slightly textural finish which is pleasing to the eye and touch.

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Image: Katie Ermilio
This stellar collection from New York City designer Katie Ermilio features cocktail dresses and gowns in sophisticated nautical stripes and flattering, feminine silhouettes, in stark black and white.  While a few pieces are patterned, the effect is striking and not jarring.

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Images: A love Supreme Production
I feature a lot of prototypes here and as I look at an unfortunate, accidental water ring on the top of my wood desk, I fervently hope the Floating Mug becomes a reality.  The mug, designed by Tigere Chiriga and initially manufactured for his own use several years ago, is now listed on Kickstarter and will hopefully soon become a mass-produced reality.

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Image: Theory
T Down by Theory is a limited edition collection of down jackets for men, women and children by Theory and made by Uniqlo.  While not as sexy as Uniqlo's previous collaborations with Jil Sander, the capsule collection by the sibling companies includes down jackets and vests in the perfect melding of Theory's sleek, minimalist design and Uniqlo's high tech fabrics and wallet-friendly prices.  The T Down collection is now on sale in Theory and Uniqlo stores and online.

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Images: Studio Oato
The deceptively simple, minimalist Stuck chair from Netherlands-based studio Oato was created by taking all of the elements of a chair apart and rearranging them as if the pieces were simply stuck back together.  The result: a chair which exists without the need for additional supports.  The seat and the legs are created out of Oak and the backrest is made out of powder-coated steel which helps to maintain the chair’s shape. 

The Stuck chair has received notice for its innovative use of material and details. 

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Image: Selfridges

Martin Margiela has certainly been busy!  Following on from the launch last week of his collaboration with H&M, Selfridges has released a limited edition Maison Martin Margiela newsprint cracker gift set containing a 7 ml bottle of  Margiela's untitled perfume.

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Image: island*atelier
Last year's superhero party for girls has been pinned and re-pinned and as a lot of parents get birthday party inspiration online, we thought we would feature another party this year.  If you don't have kids, you may want to look away now.

The theme was taken from the location which is next door to a nature reserve complete with wooded area and mysterious trails.  The area is so unspoilt you can easily imagine fairies playing amongst the trees.

The colour-scheme of the party was based on the invitation and, as it was to be a woodland rather than any other kind of fairy party, pains were taken to keep the colours - mint blues, lilac, chartreuse and silver grey - as soft and as muted as possible without venturing into drab territory.   Every fairy needs a wand and rather than re-visit wings (they had had a butterfly party a few years back), it was decided  instead that the fairies should receive a crown of flowers which were handmade using these headbands as the starting point.  You may recognise the tree on which the crowns were hung from here.

Games were based on a book about different kinds of fairies owned by the birthday girl.  There were crafts in honour of the Garden Fairies who "paint flowers to make them pretty and decorate toadstools", for the Treetop Fairies who "gather nuts and ripe fruit from the trees" there was a treasure hunt where each child had to find three items (a glittered stick, a painted leaf and a stone with a gold heart on it) in order to receive a prize.  One of the more fun games was in honour of the Rain Fairies.  In lieu of a piñata, white balloons representing raindrops were filled with candy and confetti and thrown from a balcony to the children gathered below.  There was also a Pin the Fairy on the Flower game and, instead of a bounce house, pony rides which the children also enjoyed.

As a thank you, guests were given goody bags with a long-legged bunny (in keeping with the invitation), a wooden toadstool spinning top, confetti poppers and, of course, fairy candy.  They also took home the floral crowns, wands and their crafts.

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Images: Sebastian Errázuriz
Here's a tongue-in-cheek take on the state of the global economy by Sebastian Errázuriz.  The Drowning in Debt salt and pepper shakers are meant to represent two workers who have found themselves buried under an inescapable debt or unemployment, a visual representation of the struggle that is the sign of our times.  As soon as the seasonings are used, the two workers slowly emerge only to find that they will soon be covered again.

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Image: Nono
So happy there isn't any pink in sight in the autumn/winter collection of Nono which focuses on girls' individuality and character traits.  

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Image: H&M
It's really popular right now for these high-low collaborations to receive a lot of publicity, but I have been amazed by the vast number of column inches and photographs which have been devoted to this 104-piece collaboration by H&M x Martin Margiela. 

I will admit, when I first saw the lookbook that I was quite excited by the idea of the collection, however as more and more images were released, I realised that the reason why the fashion industry is salivating over the clothes is because they are a highly conceptual and forward-thinking reworking of some of the label's classic pieces (each piece will be labeled with a unique tag to indicate the Maison Martin Margiela season from which it originated).  With clever, asymmetric draping and oversized shapes, these clothes are not necessarily something that would be wearable by the ordinary consumer, although from the editorials I have seen, I will admit that the clothes are stunning in photographs. 

That does not mean that I haven't been coveting a few items in particular the lucite pumps, asymmetrical dress and slashed  jacket, and I have just been advised by my agent on the ground and I have been successful in obtaining two out of three of the items. 

The H&M x Martin Margiela collection goes on sale in 230 H&M stores and online from today.

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Image: District Millworks
The Hourglass Couch is a new concept by District Millworks, a design-build shop out of Los Angeles, California.  The designer chose a what he termed a "Colonial Red" colour for the frame and used old military ponchos for the upholstery, leaving the poncho buttons positioned in the front as an extra detail.  The colours of the frame and the cushions can be customised by clients.

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Image: island*atelier
The structure that houses this unique, waterfront restaurant and hotel was built in the 1940s by Jerome Reid on land which was bought from the Mount Standfast Plantation.  Reid was a mechanic by trade and was also a great fan of Western movies.  At that time it was the only garage on the West Coast of Barbados licensed to sell petrol and Reid called his business the "Lone Star of the West Coast".  At first Reid operated a single pump and carried out small repairs to motor vehicles but later he formed the Leeward Bus Company which ran up and down the coast: there is a metal bus licence from 1939 framed on a wall in the restaurant.  The pit that was used to repair the underside of the buses can be seen in the kitchen and is marked by Roman numerals in the wooden floor.

During the Second World War, Reid carved an air raid shelter under the garage in case he was attacked by German bombers and this coral stone cave is now one of the restaurant's storerooms.  After Reid's death, his partner Ralph Winston Hurley took over the business.  Hurley operated at the Lone Star and lived in the house next door until it was sold in 1996 to the present owner.  

The house in which the hotel is situated was originally owned by a Miss Ellis and called Ellisville.  The house was subsequently owned by Mrs Robertson of Robertson's Jams who was famous for water-skiing well into her 80s.  The present owner acquired the site in late 1997 and have continued the garage theme by naming the four suites in the hotel after automobiles: Ford, Lincoln, Buick and Studebaker.  Together the two buildings are now known as the Lone Star Restaurant and Hotel.

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Image: Heritage Gallery
I have a soft spot for furniture from the 1950s and 1960s as it's the furniture I was surrounded by growing up.  These pieces, which were exhibited as part of the 2012 Design Basel/Miami Fair in Switzerland by Moscow's Heritage Gallery, generate a lot of nostalgia for me.  The exhibit showed key furniture pieces representing the best of 20th-century Soviet interior design, the main theme of which  was the aesthetic of Khrushchev's Thaw Period, when repression and censorship were reversed and the Soviet designers continued the trends established by the avant garde era of the 1920s.

The pieces on show included this pair of 1957 armchairs designed by Kozulin, Manucharova and Savchenko for the Permanent Exhibition in Moscow, a two-door cupboard by Yuri Sluchevsky topped by a sculpture of skaters by Nikolay Silis, a small table with drawer and horologe clock made in Mosproekt, a small mahogany and bronze table with drawer from a set of furniture made specially for a model apartment in Cheremushki district in Moscow and a 1960s Stillage shelf of oak and radio dating from the 1960s from a set of furniture made for the model apartment in Cheremushki district. 

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Images: Mujuworld
The popularity of the dunny doesn't seem to be waning yet, and these are a prime example of why.  These hand-painted, signed and numbered Mini Guardians from Mujuworld were released in August and included eight Mini Forest Guardians and seven Mini Ocean Guardians.  The figures have now sold out but part of the proceeds from each sale was donated to the Woodland Trust and to Surfers Against Sewage respectively.

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Image: Pocket Rocket Fashion
I love the classic-meets-contemporary aesthetic of Eley Kishimoto and this collaboration with British footwear institution Clarks as shown in this image from Pocket Rocket Fashion is the perfect pairing of traditional with a twist.

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Image: island*atelier
One of my favourite properties on the island of Anguilla is Koal Keel which was originally constructed in the 1700s as a sugar and cotton plantation.  Since that time, the building has been leased to the British Government for use as a residence for the island's doctor (who also doubled as chief of police and magistrate) and when it housed the representative of the Crown became known as the "Warden's Place".

After Anguilla's "revolution" in 1967 and the elimination of the position of magistrate, Koal Keel was left empty.  It was bought in the 1970s by Alan Gumbs and restoration of the building commenced in 1984.  Architect Adrian Kobbe of Kobbe Design was commissioned to oversee the restoration which was carried out as sympathetically as possible.  Attempts were made to match the original materials used in the building especially in the stonework around the base of the structure.  In 1989, a restaurant was built in what used to be the house's garden duplicating the style of the original house.  A few years later, construction of the wine cellar La Dôme (which is the recipient of a Wine Spectator award) was completed and again, attention was taken to match the stonework, interiors and exteriors of the original structure.  Upstairs is Le Petit Patisserie, which serves tea and pastries among antiques and artefacts, while the lower floor houses The Old Rum Shop where vintage rums and Cuban cigars can be purchased.

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Image: Neiman Marcus

Here's your holiday shopping done and dusted.

One of the most highly anticipated collaborations of the season features not one but twenty-four CFDA designers selling a specially designed range of 50 holiday products through Neiman Marcus and Target.  The project gives the designers including Oscar de la Renta, Tory Burch, Derek Lam and Jason Wu, the opportunity to create items they may not usually have, and the vast range from clothes and accessories for men, women and children, to home goods, gadgets and even wrapping paper means pretty much everyone on your list is covered.

Priced from $7.99 to $499.99, the Neiman Marcus for Target collection will be available December 1 at all Target and Neiman Marcus stores and online.

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Image: La Fabrika
I won't tell you how long I've been meaning to write about this collaboration between Donna Wilson and Ercol which launched last year.  The one-off wrapped Ercol pieces were shown at contemporary design shop La Fabrika in Brussels as part of Design September.  Each piece is signed by Wilson and wound with various shades of yarn graduating through colour pallets.  The tactile wool contrasts with the pale natural wood and complement each other perfectly.  Pieces included a Windsor chair, a staking chair, a love seat and the studio couch pictured above.

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Image: Method
Method have released a limited edition 2-in-1 dish + hand soap using bottles made with a blend of ocean plastic collected by method employees and post-consumer recycled plastic.  In addition to finding a brilliant use for waste, the soap is of a naturally derived, biodegradable formula.  The ocean plastic line is available exclusively at Whole Foods Market and at methodhome.com.

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Images: Gumi

I like anything that encourages free play and children's imaginations.  Gumi are configurable, stackable and inter-lockable soft polyurethane foam modules which are perfect for jumping, playing, sitting, balancing and relaxing. Created by designers Cecilia Rappallini and Erika Salerno, the flexible pieces were developed with the aim of promoting recreation and relaxation.

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I just like this one.

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Images: Simeon Patience
Those of you who read this blog regularly know of my love of mixed materials, therefore it should come as no surprise that I think the WM Series from New Zealand-based designer Tim Webber is pretty stunning.  The series explores the near seamless combination of wood and metal in a single object and the result is striking and bold.  Webber hoped to explore the relationship between two of the most common materials used in furniture design, and to play on the juxtaposition that occurs when these very different materials are combined in the hope that they would contrast and complement each other in a single piece.

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