"It's the one with the graffiti on the gate". This was the last clue I received on my way to Studiomie, a one room hotel in a converted shipping container in Ghent. I was so lucky that the team at Walkie Talkie (Belgium's coolest PR agency) (Remember the Tourism Antwerp trip they invited me on?) recommended this little hotel to me.
As I entered Studiomie's door pin code a Euro-chic lady pulled up on her bicycle. This lady was INCREDIBLY cool. European, chic and cool. Dayum girl! Meet Mieke, the owner of Studiomie. Is there anything more awkward than being sprung by the owner as you let yourself into a strangers house. But Mieke pulled everything off effortlessly and warmly welcomed me. Those Euro-cool women. I can't even.
Mieke introduced herself and lead me up the winding outdoor stairs to the shipping container which would be my home for the night. Built with the idea partly of meeting new people, and also to hold up the structure of the front of Mieke's house, Studiomie is filled to the brim with joyful design surprises. A fluoro tie here, a pastel knob hanger there, a scattering of HAY trays in the kitchen...you get the picture.
"Did it have windows?" asked my friend. Studiomie is filled with so much light even in winter, it's incredible. Mieke says she thinks of the wall-to-wall window as her moving painting. From the ground floor you can look up through this large window where "you can't see any buildings from the window, just the sky", she says, explaining how she likes to spend afternoons sitting there watching the clouds pass. In fact, Mieke says that sometimes her and her husband have a mini holiday there. Although the one room hotel is just meters away from their actual house, they pack food and whatever they might need for the weekend and staycation there.
Inspired by Japanese 'pet architecture', Studiomie was built compact in true Tokyo style, with the most incredible attention to detail. Instead of rushing out early to explore Ghent, I spent a slow morning watching the light change and taking photos inside Studiomie.
For such a tiny space there were so many light switches. Mieke explained how she doesn't like staying at hotels where the only lighting options are the overhead room light, the bedside lights and perhaps a floor lamp. She finds importance in creating special lighting and wanted her guests to be able to experience this same joy. The bedroom wall lights, scattered like polkadots above the bed, blew my mind.
The butterfly mirror in the bathroom reflects a fluoro pink glow onto the white wall. Love!
Mieke doesn't offer food to her guests during the week but I would have loved to have seen what she prepared for a special weekend breakfast. On my way out to dinner the night I stayed I glanced over at her house which is across the yard from the container. In true Euro-cool form she had her windows completely open and was casually flicking through a recipe book and rolling meatballs. "She's making meatballs!" I squealed. I wasn't used to the way she was so comfortable with the curtains open. I loved this about Amsterdam, too. The way people would leave their windows open as they watched TV, sat by candlelight or cooked dinner.
Mieke invited me into her house, which, of course, was absolutely gorgeous. Books for days. Incredible winter light which fell onto her kitchen bench and turned the foilage-intact-mandarins into a still life worthy of painting.
Mieke was playing soft piano jazz through her MacbookPro as she worked from home on her dining table. A candle was burning, and tea was brewing. I wanted to move in.
Mieke was kind enough to show me around her office, loan me a design travel book, and even drove me to the train station to get my train to Antwerp. If you're in Belgium you really must stay at Studiomie. Like me, you'll leave full of inspiration and with the biggest smile.
"Darling, I don't think the backdrop is big enough".
I recently worked with the amazing team at Villeroy & Boch to share how Hello Sandwich would celebrate with Villeroy & Boch's beautiful products. After having been a Villeroy & Boch fan ever since my days at Vogue Living magazine, it was a dream come true collaboration. Actually, it was rather strange to be in the showroom pulling together a look for Hello Sandwich, rather than for Vogue Living. Let me see...that's a yes to the pink floral, a yes to the pink crystal, and, yassss I definitely need those gold plated cutlery to complete the look.
Villeroy & Boch selected four bloggers to demonstrate how we celebrate the festive season. Pop your sunnies on and take a peek of the Hello Sandwich story over here. I love that they titled my one 'Flamboyant picnic". Who me? ;)
We often have indoor picnics here at Hello Sandwich Tokyo HQ. Even though it's just a mini-me, Tokyo-size studio, it's lovely to bring friends together to celebrate here in the afternoon light. To set the indoor picnic mood we brought in some astro turf, a selection of crochet blankets, and a South African plastic table cloth is always at arms reach whenever I'm entertaining. Oh, and a portable record player goes a long way to set the mood for your super cute guests.
Florals on florals on florals.
Do you know just how good these Villeroy & Boch glasses sound when clinked together? The sound of sophistication!
Shop the look here.
Shiso flower bellinis.
Have a peek over here if you'd like to see some more of the picnic.
"Darling, can you wear that coloured check shirt I love?"
"Of course, darling, and I brought some sock and bow tie options, too"
My beastie (the name stuck after a typo as I'm sure you know if you've been reading this blog for a while) is the best! He wore one of his own bow ties from his brand Thokozile.
Beastie went around taking shots of my NARS lipstick stains on the beautiful glasses. Cuteness!
Bloggers and fans of Villeroy & Boch now have a chance to win some beautiful product. To enter, simply post a picture of your festive table on Instagram with the hashtag #celebrateVB. Good luck, Sandwiches!
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It's so fun to make colourful onigiri. These ones were made using the radishes and radish leaves I picked up in a pack for ¥298 from Odakyu Ox. I added some shiso konbu to one of them. Sometimes I make onigiri with parsley, peas, salt and pepper and wrap them with a shiso leaf. My Japanese friends always say 'Wow - it tastes so western'. But it makes sense, no? Risotto style. Next up I need to try the taco rice onigiri.
I had the incredible opportunity to work with my dream company, Kate Spade, this year.
The Hello Sandwich team created 800 handmade crepe paper flowers and made a hanging paper floral photo booth backdrop for the Fall 2016 press launch in Tokyo. I've worked with Kate Spade before (here , here , and here), but nothing of this scale. I had to pinch myself a thousand times during the process. Walking into Tokyo head office for a conference call with the NYC head office, receiving dresses / bags / accessories via courier for me to wear to the event, being behind-the-scenes during installation, a signed-by-Deborah-Llyod thank you letter and necklace...I can't even!
The brief began with a PDF outline and a series of pantone swatches. We made mock up test paper flowers and crepe flowers to see which material worked best. Once we had decided that crepe paper was the winner we hand dyed each roll so it would precisely match the pantone swatches from the NY team.
Crepe blooms in Hello Sandwich HQ before joined onto strands.
The photo booth flowers looked so divine nestled into each other.
It was thrilling to see the first batch of flowers at Hello Sandwich HQ.
The collection grew and grew until Hello Sandwich HQ resembled a florist. Each handmade petal, leaf and bud were carefully attached to a stem and finished with florist tape.
The day before the event! Installing the roses into four large vases. Two of these vases were placed on stage, and two inside the entrance, right after the red carpet.
The floral backdrop WIP.
Cuties having their photo taken at the launch party.
Cutest models. Ever.
My friend Shoko-san with the floral backdrop.
And, OMG, Deborah Llyod in front of the floral background.
Guys - I die!!!
The morning after the night before. By this stage we had been working on 3 hours sleep for a week. One time my assistant even turned up to the studio with her overnight bag! When it was all over I was too tired to throw away, let alone finish the (very glamorous) cup noodles.
This amazing job is one of my proudest moments. Thank you so much to the incredible Kate Spade team who are an ABSOLUTE DREAM to work with.
I can not tell you just exactly how long I've wanted (and needed) a Tokyo studio space! And now I finally have one! It's my dream come true! It's soooooooo inspiring working in this amazingly bright studio just 10 minutes from my Shimokita apartment.
I am still setting up the space with the help of my assistants. But each day it's becoming closer and closer to my dream studio.
On the way to the real estate to sign the contract and pick up the key...
Moet from カクヤス
Tiffany & co. key ring from Mama Sando.
So much ¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥ in my comme des garcons wallet from my best friend Olivia.
Packing box in the shape of a truck by ヤマト
(And signature hanko was also in tow)
I can't tell you how nervous / excited I was. I found the studio online though SUUMO and stumbled through the negotiations and viewings in Japanese so it was all quite surreal that it all actually happened. It's not super easy to get an apartment here as a foreigner. Luckily my amazing ex helped with the paperwork and made this dream a reality.
The old 'just-moved-in-with-boxes-and-two-champagne-glasses' pic. Had to do it.
My favourite Danish homewares brand 'rice' sent me this amazing cocktail cart as a housewarming present! Do you die? I absolutely die! To drink rose from 'rice' champagne glasses, from this super adorable 'rice' cocktail cart was the best housewarming treat ever!!!
You have to check out their catalogue over here! Sooooo much cute stuff!
We headed over to the local home center and then Ikea Japan for some studio essentials. The Ikea trip was kind of a spur of the moment thing, which resulted in something that resembled a scene out of 'The Amazing Race' as we raced against the clock to pick up 'xxx in colourway xxx from isle xxx'. When we looked at our clocks after we signed the final paperwork for delivery it was 8:59. Well done, bitches! ギリギリ！I have a weird thing where I sometimes go into a laughing fit in extremely stressful moments so the whole thing was quite amusing.
If you follow my snapchat you might know that I love myself a good prison show and I quite fancied the way that this Hello Sandwich team staff lunch looked a bit like a Hello Sandwich prison lunch set up.
Oh, and this was the first dinner I had in my little studio. This was pre-fridge but I had bought a saucepan from the local store and felt like I was camping. I've slept here twice now. Because this studio is an actual apartment and is in a residential area, it's nice to be able to sleep here when I have an early meeting or have to work late. I have a bath in my fancy new ofuro that plays a melody when the bath has reached my selected temperature (I die!!!) and then set up my little futon. It's camping-meets-ryokan-meets-bubblegum-land.
Another essential moment in time. First 'knock offs' at my desk next to my two assistants. With my sexy lady cocktail stirrer and a glass of rose.
After long days of working on a big project with Kate Spade (which I'll show you in my next post!) we set up the astro turf and had indoor picnic dinners. Most of the homewares shown in this shot are from rice.
Washing up is soooooo cute when rice is involved! (OMG I am starting to sound like this post is sponsored by rice, but it's totally not! I just love them so much!) But seriously though, those colours!
One of the first things I brought over to the studio (before I had internet here, Ohhhhh and my internet name is HSHQ. I totally die!) was my Pizzicato Five portable record player. Such happy vibes. This lovely lemon one is Verde by Tei Shi.
Last weekend I had these two awesome people over for a indoor studio brunch. We sipped on mimosas, played records, painted our nails (well, Matt didn't), read magazines and books, talked about what it's like going back to our hometowns for holidays, ate so much cheese and treats from America that Matt brought back in his suitcase and had such a nice chill Sunday.
One lovely instagram follower said that she is looking forward to seeing the newness that comes from having this new space. And I'm so excited for that too.
Stay tuned lovely Sandwiches!
My breakfast was featured in Oz Plus Magazine. The story is about how I've been inspired by Lithuanian food, Hawker food styling and 'eating the rainbow'.
Thank you Oz Magazine!