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This was a less frenetic year in terms of the number of posts that were published.  One of the highlights of which we were proud was the fact that for the entire month of December only local (and by that we mean Bermudian) content was published, a goal which we will attempt to replicate next year.  On to the year end review, we had several posts tie - which rarely happens - and the popular posts featured a good mix topics from fashion to interior design to retail and trends.  Have a look after the jump to see who took the top honours and  click on the name of each post to revisit the original entry.

Thanks for a great year and see you in 2016!

Looking for a last minute present?  How about this adorable stuffed animal from Tricia Abbott Walters?  This little, handmade toy and her friends are available at Dockyard.

Image  |  island*atelier
We love these graphic children's shoes from Threadz.
Cloud House Studios is a line of contemporary fabrics, soft furnishings and accessories that are based on tropical, botanical designs.  Designer Fay Bush has previously dabbled in photography, painting and interior design, and this latest project is the perfect marriage of her artistic sensibilities.  It came about when she noticed a void in the market whilst working as an interior designer.  At that time, she noticed how difficult it was to source the patterns and designs she wanted, so she created her own using abstracted plant shapes such as leaves, palm berries, pods and palm fronds as inspiration.  The result combines graphic and geometric patterns that are printed on crisp linen cotton canvas and are infused with the highly-saturated colours that are a reflection of the environment she loves the most.
Image  |  BermuniTees
Bermudians have always had a great philanthropic spirit, but in this season especially it's nice to see a new way of giving back.  From their pop-up shop in the Washington Mall, BermuniTees are offering a line of unisex cotton t-shirts that have been printed with local images, words and phrases using eco-friendly inks.  Part proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts will be donated to a local charity of your choice.
Photographer and sometime videographer Melanie Fiander's first solo show in Bermuda opened at the Bermuda Society of Arts last Friday.  Entitled Salt Stories: 10 Years Later, the show comprises three photographic essays that have one common, unifying element: salt.  The mineral is present in the literal as well as the figurative sense in her images, from the salt of the sea, to the sweat shed on the dance floor at a wedding to the tears of sorrow at the loss of a loved one.  In her work, Fiander seeks to portray the honest, unguarded moments exhibited by her subjects and refers to those occasions as “salt moments”.  The three series, "Fiander Foto: Weddings", "Like Father, Like Son" and "Aunt Mary", consist of a sample of her candid, almost documentary-style wedding photographs, a collection of raw and uncensored photos depicting the toil of Fiander's husband and father-in-law in their work as deep-sea fishermen in the waters off Bermuda and a moving photo essay that was shot at her great aunt’s house in New York in October of this year. 

The images, which were taken over a four year period between 2011 and 2015, depict events both in Bermuda and Fiander's homeland of the United States and the collection takes the viewer on a wide-ranging emotional journey.  They reflect intimate and harrowing topics such as loss and loneliness, but also provide glimpses of joy, pride and unadulterated happiness.  In hindsight, it appears that we viewed the show in reverse order, but we are glad we made this mistake as what was our final viewing - the "Aunt Mary" series - had the strongest emotional pull.  By moving from happiness to grief, in this way, the show resonated more strongly with us. 

Salt Stories continues until January 6, 2016.
Image  |  island*atelier
Sadly, we're late to this party. Designer Oneka Benn Schwartz recently left the island, but during her time here created a beautiful Bermuda-based homeware line that specialised in custom-made furnishings. Benn Schwartz, who studied Textile and Surface Design at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, collaborated with The Island Shop to bring her window treatments, linens, lampshades, table linens and home fragrances to the market.  Benn Schwartz held her final trunk show earlier this month and a few of her pieces, such as this lucite and agate napkin ring, are still available.

In October, Bermuda played host for the first time to the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series, a yacht racing circuit which will culminate in a final that is to be held on the island in 2017.   Sailors complete on foiling, wing-sailed 45ft catamarans known as AC45s. To commemorate the race, a competition was held encouraging artists and designers to create the trophy. The competition was won by Bermudian multi-disciplinary creative studio Uber Super Duper whose creative director Sami Lill conceived a design that is based on the concept of balance, this being an integral part of the sport of sailing as well as a metaphor for the give and take between human engineering and the forces of nature.  Lill wanted to create a truly local award, so the trophy was made in Bermuda using the knowledge and skill of local residents including woodworker Vibio Festa, fishermen Blake and Jim West, artist Desmond Fountain and engineer Bill Andrews amongst others.

The trophy is made from silicone bronze, a material used mainly for sculptures and marine construction and features a replica of an AC45 balancing on its hydrofoil on top of a hollow sphere.  It is kinetic (see video after the jump) but has been weighted to balance on its own.  The counterweight inside the trophy was created by experimenting with smelting lead from various local sources including a keel from an International One Design Fleet (the oldest actively raced fleet in Bermuda), a Bermuda fisherman's downrigger ball and the reclaimed sash weight of an old Bermuda cottage.

The finished piece weighs just over 10 pounds and lists at exactly 32 degrees which is the latitude of Bermuda on the globe.  

Traditional representations of Bermuda can be found everywhere: from postcards to calendars, posters and t-shirts.  While we're not disparaging these portrayals, it is refreshing to see representations of the island which are slightly more unconventional.  About a year ago we discovered Nettleink, a brand whose artists are influenced by the nature, culture, history and people of the island, but who seek to answer the question of what is local in a different way.  Using vintage or historical images of the island which are not necessarily picture postcard perfect or by stripping down its flora and fauna, they have created an eye-catching line of soft finishings and stationery all the while not straying from their inspiration.  Their designs also often feature phrases pulled from the local vernacular which, when combined with their imagery, create a graphic, witty and undeniably local brand.

Nettleink recently launched three new textile lines: Deveined, Grapeseed and Coral Canvas all of which have deconstructed, abstract imagery.  Deveined is inspired by the Monstera leaf which is found in abundance all over the island, Grapeseed is an Ikat print that has been spun from a single cedar twig, while with Coral Canvas, the inspiration for the Rorschach-like print was taken from the coral reefs that surround Bermuda, the curving, organic shapes of which were then overlaid with a henna illustration.

Nettleink products are available exclusively from Urban Cottage.

Artist and graphic designer Avarie Graham is fond of flowers and the beautiful blooms show up often in her work.  With this, her Botanical Pattern series, she deconstructs and reinterprets flowers in a new and dramatic way.  The stunning images are captured using scannography and seem to explode out of the darkness.

You can have a look at more of Graham's art here.

Image  |  Atelerie via Instagram
Earlier this year, local boutique Atelerie commissioned South African ceramist, playwright, sculptor and author Theo Kleynhans to create a series of ceramic pieces using Bermuda as his muse.  The result is this collection of black earthenware clay plates on which local imagery such as the outline of the island, a fitted dinghy, a palmetto tree and the Bermudiana flower have been etched.  The plates are rendered in a limited palette of black and white but are lustred in 24 karat gold.  For Kleynhans, the alchemy involved in his creative process is reminiscent of something ancient and magical. 
Several months ago the National Museum of Bermuda commissioned the creation of a fantastical new playground for children.  The playground was always intended to be the first part of a new interactive fun zone, the second phase of which - The Museum Playhouse - was recently completed.

One of the many historic stone buildings adjacent to the playground has been converted into an interactive playroom.  The focal point of the room consists of a three-dimensional sleeping sailor's head featuring a tactile rope beard on which children can learn to tie nautical knots.  Each of the fifteen displays is based on some aspect of local history and culture with the intention that children should have fun while learning.

The Playhouse was designed by Russell DeMoura and James Cooper and includes works commissioned from Emma Sloan and Sami Lill. 

Image  |  island*atelier
A bundle of beautiful bracelets from Bermy Urchins Studio.

We are not ones to shy away from a challenge, whether it be taking and posting ten photographs on Instagram in a single day (it's a lot harder than it looks) or deciding to feature only local content here for the entire month of December. You might think this shouldn't be too difficult to do, and you'd be right if we lived somewhere with a population of a million or even a couple of hundred thousand to choose from, but with a populace that numbers around 60,000 it is a little bit of a challenge, but one that hopefully can be met. Despite the size of the population, there are quite a few amazingly talented people here.  We started the month with a look at photographer Meredith Andrews' annual countdown.  Next up, the patterned pottery pieces (say that quickly) of Jon Faulkner.

Faulkner creates contemporary items using the age-old method of salt glazing in a kiln that he designed himself, and it is the salt glaze that gives his work its distinctive and unusual texture.  The functional crockery as well as the more decorative pieces are created on site at a studio-cum-gallery located at the historic Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda.  The line is designed so that items such as the bowls, plates and tableware can be acquired with a view to creating a collection or alternatively one-off, statement pieces like the Bartmann or Bellarmine jug (pictured after the jump), which is a beautifully rendered replica of a vessel found on the shipwreck of the Sea Venture, can be used to add impact to any interior. 

If we're honest with you, we've been counting down the days until December 1, not because we can feel less guilty about binging-watching the schmaltzy holiday movies that have been on repeat since October, but because we've been looking forward to photographer Meredith Andrews' annual photographic countdown on Instagram.  Andrews is great at using ordinary items to create striking images that put a twist on this special time of year.  

You can follow along with her countdown here.

Image  |  Rachel Rochford Jewellery 
Gold-filled wire earrings from Rachel Rochford Jewellery's Classic Collection. 

Minim is a beautifully simple deck of regulation playing cards from Joe Doucet x Partners for Areaware that strips the traditional recognisable symbols found on a pack of cards to the bare minimum.  The idea behind the design was to see how much could be removed while maintaining a "playable" pack.  In the place of ornate and figurative depictions, pared down, geometric forms were used.  As it is a requirement that the backs of  regulation playing cards be marked, Doucet did so with just a diagonal line.  The cards are manufactured from sustainably harvested card stock and vegetable-based inks are used in their printing.

The Black Sheep Stool is a prototype from Swedish designer Hanna Bamford.  Conceived during her studies at the Lund School of Architecture and with the description of a person who stands out from a crowd as the starting point, Bamford uses the product derived from black Gotland sheep to make this tactile and striking piece of furniture.  One hundred balls of wool were washed, felted and formed into the seat of the stool.

The Block collection bench from Los Angeles-based design studio Sitskie Furniture is made up of slats of wood which, when a weight is applied to them, move and compress to conform to the body, thereby providing support and comfort.  Each bench is made by hand in Los Angeles, from FSC-certified solid domestic hardwood.

We have a love of metallic hardware and structured minimalism, so Future Glory Co.'s Rockwell Collection of handcrafted, Horween leather bags checks a lot of our boxes.

While the architectural bags are now made in San Francisco, the name of the collection refers to the company's beginnings at North Rockwell Street in Chicago.  The business is big on social change and certain products are made in conjunction with an apprenticeship program that is geared towards helping women get back on their feet while a portion of all proceeds are donated to local organisations dedicated to rebuilding the lives of women.
Whether you intend it or not, as with your clothing choices your choice of jewellery says a lot about you, and this non-verbal form of communication was the catalyst for this new collection from Bermuda-based jeweller Eleanor Patton of Bermuda Rocks Jewellery.

Patton was curious about the reasons why people wear jewellery and how it is used to communicate.  The collection is based on a clever feature that allows the wearer to interchange the various components of the design with 'base' pieces to create earrings, a necklace, a ring or a bracelet.  Each piece is anchored by small stone set screws that can be disassembled and reassembled as a different piece of jewellery or with a different gemstone.  The curving lines of the design have an art deco feel, but the inspiration for the pieces is in fact based on the abstract geometry of the lens of the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse in Bermuda as Patton felt the illuminating quality of the lighthouse was synonymous with the projection of one's image.

As always, Patton's pieces are handmade from ethically-sourced materials.

We love it when someone takes something lowly and utilitarian and creates a thing of beauty like this the credit card-sized go-comb.  Small enough to fit into most wallets, the comb is lightweight and waterproof which makes it a functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.  The go-comb is unisex and can be personalised.

Image  |   Joshua Woods
Image  |  Aspinall of London
During London Fashion Week last September, classic English luxury accessories brand Aspinal of London released their collaboration with Yasmin Sewell's French label Être Cécile with a launch at Selfridges department store.  The collection includes five key bag styles including the Mayfair bag and the mini trunk clutch and juxtaposes the classic chic of Aspinal with the bold and witty aesthetic of Être Cécile by blending the best of the two brands.  The Être Cécile team selected their favourite styles from the Aspinal's collection and re-worked them as an extension of Être Cécile's AW|2015 collection.  The bags feature contrasting panels of colour in calf and rubberised leathers and soft napa leather printed in plaid, all applied in a disproportionate scale with bold 1990s inspired graphics.  The result is a fresh and fun departure from the style for which Aspinal of London is better known.

Joe Doucet x Partners have designed this concept Coke bottle in honour of the 100 year anniversary of the iconic vessel.  Keeping the traditional red and white colour scheme, Doucet created a hollow block of glass with a stylised version of the curvy form that is only visible when filled with Coke. 

We love this super sleek bicycle basket which is made from five sheets of Ash wood veneer that have been hydraulic pressed for strength and stability.  Called the Bent Basket, integrated elastic straps and a low profile allow complete versatility while transporting your things.  Started as a university design project by award-winning designer Faris Elmasu in 2010 the basket was refined and improved and has put into production five years later.

Image  |  island*atelier

This throwback from 2008 is the Tropicalia chair designed by Patricia Urquiola for Moroso.  First presented by Urquiola at Moroso's Little Wild Garden of Love in Milan, the chair is based on a tubular steel or PVC frame of her Antibodi chair but we think this is a vast improvement on the original.  Modifications have been made to the chair's body with the addition of wrapped cords made from either thermoplastic polymer threads, polyester cords or leather which manage to maintain the three-dimensional geometry of the original while adding structural and graphic elements.

Not simply content with making your surroundings beautiful, designer Gregory Nelmes has now turned his attention to your person.  A natural extension of his existing Bermuda-themed line of soft furnishings and accessories, the Bermuda Bag is made of sturdy cotton canvas with contrasting navy inserts.  A classic duffle shape, the bag is the perfect size for travel or toting your things to the beach or gym.  It has rolled leather handles for a comfortable grip, a roomy main compartment and two internal pockets ideal for stashing important items.  As a finishing touch, the bag can be personalised with the addition of a monogram.

The Bermuda Bag is available from Gregory Nelmes Home.

Image  |  island*atelier
Eddie Borgo, who we know better for his jewellery, has designed this tough but sweet bag with a metal slatted flap and geometric, expandable construction.  Made in Italy of Italian calf leather, the Colt bag has a rigid flap which is secured by a triangular push bar lock and triangular handle.  It is available in four different colour/metal combinations. 
As 2015 rapidly comes to a close, we realise we haven't been as prolific with our local posts as we have in previous years. This follows an impressive twelve months in 2014 so to remind you of what we have done, here are a few of our favourite posts to date.
Image  |  West Elm
Just different enough, this copper cutlery from West Elm has an electroplated stainless steel core which makes it durable as well as attractive.
Image via Mary Katrantzou
The art scene on the island has been incredibly active recently what with the Charman Prize being awarded at the beginning of the month, the upcoming City Arts Festival which will be held in Hamilton and the Artwalk in St George's.  Last week also saw the opening of Zack Marshall's first solo show in Bermuda entitled 'Early Years'. Marshall (who also had a piece in the running for the Charman Prize) is displaying his work at a pop-up gallery which is open at its Reid Street location for the month of October only.  A recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, the exhibition is a showcase of the skills he learned and the techniques he employed during his studies, as is evidenced by the wide variety of pieces rendered in different media.  Many of the works are highly symbolic and complex compositions featuring overlapping elements.  Our favourites included the colourful nudes rendered in oils and monochromatic inks on paper.    

The October Gallery is open until October 28.
Living on an island surrounded by water such as we are, a buoy is a really familiar feature and that's what probably drew us to this pendant lamp designed by Cathrine Baekken in collaboration with Standard Socket.  Called Booi, the lamp was inspired by mooring buoys found in the coastal towns of Norway. A mixed media piece, a glass globe is affixed to a hand-finished Maple wood handle which in turn is suspended from a rope-like cord.

Image  |  island*atelier
Last Friday night, in the midst of all of the excitement over the launch of the America's Cup World Series races in Bermuda, there was a quieter launch of different kind as jewellery designer Alexandra Mosher released the 2015 version of her Splash Collection ornament.  Previous ornaments have had a Bermudian theme and included a sand dollar and the rare murex shell.  This year's design is based on the traditional Bermudian fitted dinghy, a small sailboat used locally for racing the history of which dates all the way back to the 17th century.  Featuring six tiny sailors, the boat is cast in Sterling silver and its characteristic triangular sails are set in pink Bermuda sand.  The ornament can also be worn as a statement pendant and comes hung on either a piece of hand-torn silk chiffon ribbon or an Omega chain.

We aren't really trainer people (for a start we should probably call them sneakers) but something about the stitching and tassels on these immediately caught our attention.  The shoes aren't new, having been released as a collaboration between Adidas Consortium and designer Yohji Yamamoto a decade ago, but they're new to us.  With the Y’s Super Position, Yamamoto reworked the classic Adidas Superstar using premium materials and created a subtle but striking shoe.  The Y’s Super Position has suede lace stays, premium grain leather and a hand-stitched three stripe detail.

By way of the Virgin Islands comes KASS swimwear, small line from New York-based designer and photographer Keiann Corlise which focuses on the contemporary, global woman.  The current collection features a limited number of styles in a similarly limited palette of black, deep green and aubergine.  We like the simple, flattering cuts and interesting touches such as the corsetry on the bikini and the metal tabs on the straps.

The new collection will be released early next year.

Image  |  island*atelier

Image  |  Faux/real
The Running Late/No Breakfast Bangle made of rubber and 14k gold-plated brass from FAUX/real combines contrasting shapes and materials artfully to create this unusual statement piece.

We're loving these wire baskets which are a collaboration between french department store Colette and Hugo Matha.  These colours are part of their Spring/Summer 2016 collection and are available for pre-order now.

The 2015 Charman Prize was awarded last Friday at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.  Always a popular event, it brought more than 100 established and emerging Bermudian artists together in one arena.  After the show was held in 2013, the organisers announced that the event would take place biennially ostensibly to improve the quality of the submissions.  There are a number of problems that changing the event in this way did not necessarily resolve, including the fact that as the artists must use Bermuda as their muse and inspiration, the same tropes appear year after year.  Some artists, such as Alan C Smith with his entry Big Naked Gombeys, appear to recognise this fact and embrace it with humour and irony but overall the result is that Bermudian flora and fauna and landscapes and architecture continue to be well represented.  It is inevitable therefore that the artists who manage to portray iconic aspects of Bermudian culture in new or different ways such as Stratton Grant West Hatfield's concrete rendering of a palm leaf made the most impact.  

When the same tropes reoccur, the other differentiating factor is proficiency and in the end the most technically proficient artists tend to take the top prizes.  The main award this year went to Chris Dawson's Three Queens, a well-thought-out and executed piece that referenced life in Bermuda but still managed to be universal in its appeal.  Similarly, Jacqueline Alma received the Masterworks Collection Prize and one of the judge's choice prizes for her panoramic portrayal of the island's electricity company, a subject that was undeniably local although not traditionally so.

The Charman Prize runs until January 8, 2016.

This solid leather clutch from PONS has an unusual triangular shape anchored by a pagoda tree wood fixture. The bag is inverted with the opening on its underside and the contents are accessed via a simple metal zipper.  The interior of the bag consists of an undivided space with mounted leather lining and a flat zip pocket.  The bag comes with a detachable, adjustable shoulder strap.

Image  |  Unknown
Let's close our review of fashion month with this sweet, very literal look at Spring 2016 from Moncler Gamme Rouge.  The lightweight dresses had nipped in waists or empire silhouettes, exposed zippers, floral lace or mesh fabric that were covered in sprigs of delicate flowers.  Flowers even turned up on the trainers that were paired with the clothes and saved the looks from being too overtly feminine. 

Image  |  Unknown 
A romantic, feminine collection from Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen that was inspired by the arrival of Protestant Huguenot refugees in London in the late 17th century.  The clothes featured frills, layers, ruffles and pleats that all still managed to evoke the feeling of armour.  Despite the romanticism, edginess could still be found in unfinished hems and heavy metallic body jewellery that adorned the models.

Image  |   Unknown
Cultural appropriation?  Maybe so, but perhaps it can be excused if it's done well.

Here, designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli looked to the continent of Africa generally as inspiration.  The clothes were maximalist with intricately embroidered bibs, beading, feathers, gathers, fringing, woven mesh, grommets and leather all combining to great effect.  The looks were restrained by being grounded in fairly simple shapes and a subdued palette of mainly black, nude and ochre.  We didn't think everything - such as the muddy-looking tie dyed pieces in the middle - worked but on the whole the collection was both striking and directional.

Image  |   Alessandro Lucioni /Imaxtree
Iris van Herpen sent stilt walkers down the runway in shoes that were developed in collaboration with Finsk.  The collection was inspired by plants and van Herpen showed sheer lace trousers studded with square crystals, banded waists and mesh for Spring.  Our favourite piece was a simple coat dress with gossamer protrusions.