Made Modern Blog

Decorating Mistakes and a Few Insider Avoidance Tips: Part I

Decorating Mistakes and a Few Insider Avoidance Tips: Part I 0

In our previous blog we outlined design trends for 2017 as articulated by curators of Toronto’s recent Design Show. We now turn our Made Modern lens on avoiding design mistakes as filtered through the Washington Post’s Brenda Richardson. Design authors/consultants Michel Smith (also Obama’s White House designer) and Mary Cook contributed their input to her summary.

Here is our take on their ten design mistakes; and, of course, we have added a few suggestions on how Made Modern can help you dodge these no-nos.

Mistake 1: Ignoring scale and proportion

Scale is the “size of things” while proportion refers to the relationship of the size of design elements both to one another and to the space in which you place them.  Too much emphasis on small things in a voluminous space is a frequent mistake that can create a sense of clutter while not taming a room’s dimensions.  Conversely, oversized furnishings can make a small space downright claustrophobic. Risk increases when furnishings are bought in isolation.   Of course, at Made Modern our expansive collection of top design furnishings ranges from small gems to real space makers.

Pictured: Tall Folded Vase in Ash by Menu; Robot Too Sideboard in Pink by &New

Mistake 2: Neglecting the function of the room

Good design is not just about “art,” that is, how things look. It is also how well furnishings and accessories make a space function. It might be as simple as assessing whether a great looking armchair provides the right comfort for watching television. “Drill down,” says Cook, “into how you want the space to function.”  She adds that it also makes sense to consider designing for multi-functional spaces that can also permit multi-tasking. The Han by Faro Barcelona, for example serves both as a wall light and a coat rack while the popular By Lassen modular system provides flexibility for multiple uses but with superb elegance and simplicity.

Pictured: Han LED Wall Light and Coat Rack in Black by Faro Barcelona; Frame 28 Box in White by By Lassen

Mistake 3: Overdoing a theme room

Let’s admit it, we all read design magazines filled with rooms with the look. But, says Smith it is better to “design to what is personal to you not to a style.” At Made Modern our commitment is solidly to Modernism, but that includes a remarkable breadth of design elements that supports minimalism, a love of colour and a touch of humour. 


Pictured: Piet Kokeshi Doll by; Watch Me Clock in Blue by Normann Copenhagen

Mistake 4: Using inadequate lighting

Lighting is often overlooked and then developed through isolated purchases.  Sit back and think through all the elements that go into good lighting plans; these include colour, quantity and location. But, yes, this functional approach should also include what looks good as objects in your space. The best is to use layers of lighting – overhead, floor, table - that give flexibility in order to reflect time of day, season, weather and function. And we have great designs that cover off all three types including excellent fixtures providing delightful ambient lighting.  


Pictured: Mine Table Light in White by Faro Barcelona; Tribeca Franklin Chandelier in Brass by Menu; Triangulated Wall Light in Light Grey Concrete by GANTlights

Mistake 5: Buying Poor quality Furniture

Smith says it simply: “It is like dressing for success.”  It is better to have a limited collection of excellent clothing than closets full of cheap knock-offs. Thus, she recommends you buy things of quality that will last, “but don’t spend everything on one thing,” and then go cheap on the rest. Quality is a given at Made Modern no matter what your price point. If careful budgeting is important to you, consider this to be the year to purchase a really fine major piece of furniture around which to build your perfect house or room over time.   For instance, our Alfred Sofa by Bellila is a top quality addition that can even double as a work station.


Pictured: Alfred Sofa in Beige; Elmer Light in Yellow; Hat Coffee Table in Turquoise; OUD L Floor Light in black; all by Bellila

In our next posting we will present Ms. Richardson’s remaining five design mistakes to avoid, so watch this space! 

  • Made Modern Blog Team
Toronto Interior Design Show - 2017 Design Trends

Toronto Interior Design Show - 2017 Design Trends 1

Toronto is currently in an unusually deep freeze even for this Canadian city; but things are hotting up for IDS17, the 19th version of Canada’s premier interior design show and one of North America’s leading design conferences.  In the run up to this January 19-22 event, its curators have issued their forecast of ten top trends for 2017 that will drive design for the year to come. Made Modern is delighted to share these insights with you (along, of course, with a few choice examples from our collection).

First, Materials continue to matter.  So expect an eclectic mix of materials to dominate design.  “Floors, ceilings, and surface areas will be adorned with interesting materials, tiles, and patterns to create an eye-catching statement."  At Made Modern we love varied materials from refined to gritty, from concrete to marble, to copper, to wood and so on.  For grit and texture, check out our concrete lamps, light shades and tables but also our easy add faux materials using wallpapers from NLXL.   (Pictured: Bridge Stool in Concrete by Lyon Beton)

Second, Rugs As Art will trend as a way to make a quick impact.A mix of size, colour, style and texture creates endless possibilities to complement an existing room or make a complete transformation.” From floors to walls, rugs become art with rooms being built around them as opposed to on top of them. (Pictured: Tiles Rug in Yellow by Two.Six)

Third, design will meet the future through Tech & Design.  The new Smarthomewill take a futuristic trip to introduce avant-garde lighting and appliances for the savvy homeowner…” (Pictured: Nomad Side Table in Black by Spell)

Fourth, homes will blossom as Urban Retreats.  But followers of Made Modern’s interest (obsession??) in Scandie’s hygge aesthetic with a Modernist twist already know this. But IDS17 includes a move towards outdoor urban oasis with mixed materials.  This is a product area we at Made Modern will be exploring this spring.  (Pictured: WARM Espresso Cup Set in Walnut Veneer by Tonfisk; Duck and Duckling by ArchitectMade)


Fifth, Feminine Redone. Beyond pretty, “this trend sees a juxtaposition of bold architectural details and lines, mixed with soft colours and feminine shapes.” (Pictured: Medusa Table in Red with Pink Flower Tray by ibride)

Sixth, the Maker Movement with craftsmanship quality using local material to create uniquely individual objects will reflect personalization while supporting local and independent design.  At Made Modern, we do not carry bespoke furniture and accessories but many of our products come from small to medium-sized designers/producers who manufacture in their home communities with local materials.  This allows our clients to achieve a high level of personalization and quality at affordable prices.  (Pictured: Bar Stool with Green Felt Seat by OPOSSUM Design – Vejtsberg)

Seventh trend will be Classics Revisited with old getting an update with a modern twist.  This may be new materials, colours, and textures to create a “playful and referential approach to design.” (Pictured: Sumo Pouf in Blue by Normann Copenhagen)

Eighth will see more Innovative Lighting.  This will include not only show stopper shapes and forms but new technology starting with the now unstoppable trend to LED. (Pictured: LED Illuminated Goose Bedside Table in White by ibride) 

Ninth argues for a new wave of Emerging Designers experimenting creatively with materials and forms “to display fresh perspectives in design.”  At Made Modern this is a given; we are always seeking out new designers with exciting and innovative products to add to our growing collection. (Pictured: Small Deer Shelf in Black by BEdesign)

Finally, great Kitchens and Baths “will never go out of style;” but, says IDS17, expect this year to see, “with the introduction of wood paneling and technology, a fusion of classic design with modern sensibilities.” (Pictured: Block Side Table in White by Normann Copenhagen)

  • Made Modern Blog Team
The Bearable Lightness of Hygge

The Bearable Lightness of Hygge 0

With clocks turned back and winter setting in with long hours of low light, darkness and absence of colour, and with Christmas around the corner, now is a good time to reflect on the Danish concept of hygge.  “What is that,” you may ask? “I can’t even sound it out!” Pronounced “hooga” (, “heurgha” (Telegram’s Helen Russell) or “hue-gah” (, it may be one reason why this Nordic country with long dark winters, consistently tops all countries for having the happiest people.

Derived from the Norwegian word for “wellbeing” and imported into Denmark in the 1700s, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere by using ambient design to encourage intimate social interaction. According to Alex Beauchamp, an ex-pat Dane living in the US and host of her own hygge house blog, it is about the “art of creating intimacy” whether alone in one’s own house, with family or with friends. In just one word, she states, it captures the ideas of multiple English terms: cosiness, charm, happiness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.

More than a design statement, says Russell, it embodies “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.” Nothing exemplifies Hygge more than the simple but rewarding pastime of sitting around a table “discussing the big and small things in life.”  The long nights at Christmas is its high season.

But design – as well as good food - does play a central role. It is the physical infrastructure that facilitates a reduction in stress and anxiety while gathering people together with furniture designed for comfort while creating intimacy and connectedness.  Candles play a huge role and explain why, says Russell, the Danes burn more candles per head than anywhere in Europe (European Candle Association). But it also includes low-slung light fixtures over a dining table, furniture and accessories of natural materials such as wood and leather as well as lamps designed to cast enveloping pools of restful light. It includes, we also believe, intimate objects that serve no other purpose than to delight, amuse or provide tactile detail.

Being Danish, Hygge involves not overstuffed, cluttered environments but ones characterized by simplicity in which carefully selected and employed elements create a stage for cozy, focused interaction.  It is an idea dear to Made Modern’s heart and clearly found in many of our products.  Of course, we have the elegant and very popular Kubus Candle Holders from by Lassen designed by the late Danish architect in the 1950s (as well as their candles!).  Check out also Hubsch’s, Nur’s and Normann Copenhagen’s candle holders and the Pipeline Candle Holder by Nur Design. 

For light fixtures to focus light over your dining table, kitchen island or sofa, take a look at the delightful printed fabric lampshades from Kitty McCall or those from Innermost.  Examples of pendent lights able to create defined light boundaries include Gantlight’s Concrete Lights and Innermost’s colourful glass Snowdrop.  These designers also provide us with table lamps that create pools of light on a winter night; but also have a look at Elmer by Bellila.     

Made Modern prides itself in its strong collection of stylish but often whimsical accessories to cheer up the darkest winter night.  Add cheerful oak animals from ArchitectMade or colourful acrylic critters from DNDC

Additions for your hygge-friendly home are many and varied at Made Modern, such as the ever popular ceramic and wood tea/coffee cups from Finland’s Tonfisk or the just-in pillows and rugs from Normann Copenhagen and from Bomedo.   

Now is the time to prepare your house for the Christmas hygge high season; or to find just the right thoughtful Christmas gift (at all price levels) that will give the gift of hygge to friends and family.

  • Made Modern Blog Team
Umbra: The Canadian International Design Leader

Umbra: The Canadian International Design Leader 0

Canada is not a country that comes immediately to mind when considering contemporary furniture design. Surprisingly, however, it is the world’s fifth largest furniture producer with almost 8500 manufacturing operations, attributable in part to Canada’s abundant soft and hardwood forests.  While much of this production falls outside cutting edge modern design, over the last 100 years creative innovation has not been absent.  By the mid-1920s, a flourishing industry was well advanced in using moulded plywood techniques and during the 1930s, Toronto’s Eaton department store had its own design and manufacturing operation turning out original Art Deco furniture.  In 1946 Canada’s National Research Council produced the world's first moulded plastic furniture prototype, three years ahead of Charles Eames.

Through the heady 1950s a “war” for the hearts and minds of consumers ensued. “Design elites and government and educational institutions,” writes Margret Hodges, “sought to educate the public in issues of good taste as a means to further the modernization of the nation—a desire perpetually countered by that of manufacturers and the general public.”  Still, Canadians like Robin Bush, Robertt Kaiser and Russell Spanner along with Dutch-trained Jan Kuypers were designing for furniture firms like Imperial and Snyder while Swedish transplant Sigrun Bülow-Hübe helped build a Scandinavian-style trend in the 1960s.

A rash of new airports in the 60s along with EXPO 67 helped contribute to bold new furniture designs including Stefan Siwinski’s still fresh moulded chairs. Despite a plethora of work from a cadre of excellent contemporary designers, the long running fight to steer consumers away from “revival styles” tended to prevail.  Nonetheless, as Gottlieb and Golden’s 2001 book, Design in Canada, argues that during the 1970-2000 period the country retained a strong creative undercurrent in modern furniture design. For example, Paul Boulva’s steel and plastic Lotus Chair for Quebec’s Artopex looks as relevant today as it did in 1976.

Perhaps the biggest success story of this period was Umbra, a Toronto-based design-based manufacturer. The company, which focuses on original, contemporary houseware and small furniture, was created by Paul Rowan and Les Mandelbaum in 1979 when the former became frustrated with his inability to find a nice window shade.  As a result, he designed his own…and Umbra was born.  Its sustained commitment to turning out a wide range and evolving line of functional, resolutely modern designs but not infrequently marked by cheekily playful twists has turned Umbra into an internationally respected design leader.

Cairo-born but Toronto-raised Karim Rashid played an important role in the successful rise.  The industrial design graduate from Ottawa’s Carleton University completed graduate work in Italy with Ettore Sottsass and Rodolfo Bonetto before returning to Canada.  His Umbra designs like the 1996 Garbo waste can (that has pride of place under our desks!) and the Oh Chair, were part of what he calls his "sensual minimalism" or "blobjects" that would become international icons of what he also terms Umbra’s “democratic product” line; in other words, quality design objects priced for the average consumer. 

While many Umbra products are in over 120 countries, Made Modern has combed through Umbra’s polyglot collection to bring to the UK some of the firm’s best but less available designs.  These include both home accessories and furniture.  Our one lighting fixture, the delightful Brick Lamp is one of two products from the firm’s new Shift line that utilizes its creative in-house talent to rethink the familiar.  The other product is the ultra-minimalist Parallelogram Hook (blue or natural wood).  Minimalism lakes on a quite beautiful Zen-like balance in the Woodrow Bin with its natural beech interior balanced by its delicate mist blue, white or grey exterior finish. For those who prefer colour with playful whimsy, the Buddy Hooks is a set of three figures in blue, red and yellow crawling Spiderman-like up the wall (also available in just black). 

Attention devote Cubists…take a look at the Cube Wall Shelves that mix delicate steel frames with natural wood receptacles or the metal and glass Trigg Wall Vessel.  Two side tables reflect either a simple industrial aesthetic - Loop with a copper, nickel or white base) or an all-wood materiality in the form of Hex, in mist blue, white or grey). Finally, the Made Modern collection includes two Umbra clocks, the Ribbon in either copper or bent wood and the concrete Piatto.

And what makes these additions to Made Modern’s collection timely are the very affordable prices…just as you start to think about the perfect unique Christmas gift for a friend or family!
  • Made Modern Blog Team
Made Modern Helped the Newest Jigsaw Store With Their Expansion - And We Love the Results!

Made Modern Helped the Newest Jigsaw Store With Their Expansion - And We Love the Results! 0

  • Made Modern Blog Team
Cold Comfort: Mediating Winter with Colour

Cold Comfort: Mediating Winter with Colour 0

In the UK we are well into winter, meaning a mix of sometimes bone chilling temperatures intensified by icy rain and wind. Short days bracketed by long dusk-like light reflect our relatively high northern latitude.  And mostly we don’t like it.  But changing how we approach winter requires first a change in attitude from enduring to embracing.
  • Made Modern Blog Team