Friday, November 30, 2012

A dummy's guide to bedding: Quilts

Bedding can be the most important investment you make in your home; the key to a good night's sleep is in your bedding choices and I rate a good night's sleep pretty highly. But with the huge range of choices in the market (and it's growing every day) it can be really confusing to a novice to know you're making the right choice. So once a month I will do a feature on bedding and how to choose bedding that's right for you and your situation.

This month it's Quilts.

Quilts, doonas, duvets, whatever you want to call them, these are the large fluffy warm covers on your beds which can double as a bed cover and protector. There are many different types these days with different fillings, construction, and purposes.

The first big point about quilts is maintenance; quilts will need washing, airing and care. If not they can be susceptible (like all bedding) to hygiene issues, such as mould, dust mites, bed lice or even scabies. If you don't know what those are, google at your own peril - it isn't pretty. If your quilt is washable and your machine can take the size, then wash it thoroughly in boiling water once a month. If your quilt is not washable, it needs to be stuck in direct sunlight at least once a month (if not more). The sun is your natural defence against the nasties I listed above - it will kill off all of them (however if you realise you're infested with these, I would recommend a complete bedroom overhaul and a trip to the doctor; this advice is purely preventative, and cannot supplement the advice of your gp). On a daily basis, pull back your bedding when you get up and ensure the sun casts onto your bed through your window - let this air out until you're leaving the house or need to make the bed. Immediately throwing the covers back on will only increase the risk of nasties.

Now with that formality out of the way, lets look at the different types of quilt fillings:

Cotton: This is a great summer quilt. Cotton breathes and doesn't let you get all hot and bothered, but still has that little bit of weight we like in quilts. In Australia, it's great from Mid-November to end February for those balmy nights.


Eucalyptus: Some companies are starting to introduce Eucalyptus blends into their quilt ranges. These are a great eco-friendly choice, made from plantation trees (and some companies, like One Choice, promise to plant a new eucalyptus in the wild for every product sold) and natural fibres. They're great for asthma sufferers and warm sleepers; they suck out the moisture while keeping you warm, so there's less chance that you'll end up sweaty or cold.

Polyester: Synthetic materials are far better for the colder months. They're great because they're affordable, light and fluffy but very warm. Additionally they're nearly always machine washable. The only drawback is that they do not breathe at all - so if you're a hot sleeper prone to sweating, this will only make the problem worse. Great for cold kids though.


Wool: A classic choice for winter and autumn. Woollen quilts, made from natural fibres, breathe and aerate the body, and a lot of people swear by them. However they are quite heavy and compact, so if you want that light and fluffy feeling, wool isn't your best bet. Only some of these are machine washable, it depends on the maker. But they are a classic choice and most are Australian made.

Feather and Down: This often confuses people as they don't understand the concept of down. While the feather in the quilt is the actual bird feather with the spine going up it, the down is the fluffy tiny feathers that grow on the bird's stomach and chest. The percentage of down to feather is important in a quilt: the more down, the warmer, and fluffier it is (and luxurious), the more feather, it will be cooler, crunchier and flatter. Generally also, the more down, the higher the price. Feather and Down quilts generally cannot be washed, only dry cleaned, so they're not a great choice for kids. Additionally, they are not recommended for asthma or hayfever sufferers.

So there is lots to choose from, and these are only the most basic products - some more specialist stores do silk, or bamboo quilts. So always speak to the sales staff and see what they know about the products, as they tend to be trained on the differences.

The construction of quilts is also very important; when you see a quilt, generally it will have a pattern of boxes stitched into it. This is to stop the filling from moving around and bunching up in one spot. But some companies box it larger and some smaller. Smaller tends to be better, so keep an eye out for that.

Some companies are bringing out every season quilts too; this is where they sell 2 quilts in one packet, one heavier (Autumn weight) and one lighter (summer weight). These will clip or zip together to create one heavy Winter quilt. These can be great if you don't want to go through the entire selection process several times for the different seasons.

A final note is that across Australia there are retailing laws where quilts cannot be returned, refunded or exchanged for resale. What this means is that if there is not a fault in the product it cannot be returned - so no change of mind. This is for safety reasons as you can guess, sharing quilts with a stranger is not hygienic and can pass on some nasty things (this includes if you haven't opened it, as there's no way for a store manager to tell if a product has been opened and very skillfully resealed or not). So when you make your decision, make sure you're sure about it. This is a fantastic rule that protects all of us, so remember it when shopping.

Good luck with your quilt shopping, and comment if you have any interesting quilt experiences (or bedding shopping experiences). I used to work in manchester, so it's interesting to hear the consumer's stories




PS. For more information about bedding, the Complete Home website has heaps to offer

Friday, November 23, 2012

Trend focus: Vintage style

Over the past couple of years, vintage design and style has strongly picked up in mainstream interior design (as usual, it follows the movement of fashion towards vintage styles and trends). In the right house a retro or vintage style can look fantastic; in other homes, less so. I think a lot of it has to do with the balance between vintage cool and recreating the flavours of an era, to looking like your grandmother's house (nothing against grandmothers of course).

You also want to avoid your home becoming a hot mess of  from 10 different eras. The 50s and the 20s were gorgeous, innovative and stylish eras, but they should not strongly mix in the same area. Before you contemplate decorating in this style, consider researching the different style movements of the 20th century, and find what style might suit you and your home best.

If money isn't a huge factor, I'd also steer clear of mainstream homewares specifically marketed as "vintage style". More often than not, these are low quality pieces with no true commitment to a specific style or era, and are just following the latest trend. Instead, pick longer lasting and high quality true vintage pieces - there's a growing market in the area of restored vintage furniture, especially from the 50s onwards. If you live in Queensland, check out Kat Creasey's work on My Little Rockabilly - she has expanded her business into custom vintage furniture restoration and the results are beautiful;

One aspect of vintage interiors that can get out of hand is the amount of kitsch to use. Now I love kitsch and kitschy items - they can really add a more playful level to your home - but you only need a few of these items to get the intended effect. If you're doing a classic 50s style bedroom, one leopard print item (like an ottoman) is really all you need to break up the style. I've always loved the idea that you need one "trashy" or cheap item in every room to give the design a bit of tension. It's a great concept and will eliminate the stodgy or sterile element. It will also stop your home looking too much like your grandmothers home, or a display home.

While I strongly encourage more in depth research, here's a quick run down of the eras and their styles

1900 - 1914: The Edwardian era. This era was dominated by Art Nouveau, so look into luxurious interiors; potted palms, bamboo and wicker furniture, light and airy spaces and pastels. Think Titanic or Downton Abbey.
1918 - 1929: The Roaring 20s. The Jazz age was a bastion of change and modernity with the introduction of Art Deco and Bauhaus designs. Black contrasts, hardwood flooring, strong colours, Egyptian motif wallpaper, and simple furniture. Watch Chicago, Midnight in Paris, The House of Eliot or Miss Fisher's murder mysteries for some inspiration.
1930 - 1939: The depression era. Though marked with economic downturn, design continued to flourish and grow towards modernism, with influences from art movements such as Neoclassicism, Futurism, Cubism, Modernism and Constructivism. Sleek style, modern lines, minimalism, exotic upholstery, muted shades of green and mustard. Take a look at Cinderella Man and The Artist.
1945 - 1959: The mid-century modern. The late 40s and 50s were defined by nature as post-war eras, and with this there was a strong move towards sentimentality and modern designs (and there's two very different ends of the spectrum; conservative suburban 50s design and rockabilly trends). Think flowery wallpaper, formica furniture, pink kitchens, leopard print, record players, and cadillacs. Take some influences from Revolutionary Road, Cry Baby, or American Graffiti.
1960 - 1979: Flower Power and Revolution. These decades took strong influences from the revolutions in society, music and fashion; middle class white culture began to explore Indian and Eastern designs. Psychedelic wallpaper, saffron and pea green upholstery, space age designs, Andy Warhol prints and plastic. Look to The Brady Bunch, Hair and Goldfinger.



In the end, find an era that suits you. You can employ the smallest of elements from it, like a distinctice couch or piece of art, to a full-blown reproduction home. If anything, it'll guarantee individuality and a wow factor.

And make sure to check Complete Home's interior design section and furniture sections for latest ideas and providers of gorgeous interiors.





PS. Check out some sweet Vintage styling on Pinterest. It's a vintage haven there!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Making the Jump: Tips For Settling Abroad, Part I




Few opportunities fill us with as much trepidation as accepting a position that involves moving overseas. Once the initial excitement fades, we become suddenly aware of how huge the task before us is, full of unknowns and uncertainties. Daunting though it may seem at first, however, moving abroad is easily one of the most rewarding challenges life has to offer, and with a little foresight, you can make the transition to a new home in a foreign country with assurance, poise, and equanimity. Here are a few tips to remember if you’re considering making the jump:

(1)               (1)              Get your paperwork sorted early.

Nothing disrupts your peace of mind like having your visa or work authorization hanging in the balance, and dealing with foreign immigration offices is seldom a straightforward process. Often as not, I’ve found myself sprinting from office to office seeking a last-minute stamp or seal of approval on my documents that was never mentioned but is apparently required. Medical examinations, official notarizations, background checks, and lots and lots of passport-sized photos are usually a part of the process, and your application is virtually guaranteed to take more visits than you anticipated. If there’s an element in your application that may take extra time to fulfil, plan to get started with it well ahead of the deadline.

(2)                Learn cultural taboos and politeness norms.

As a foreigner, one is typically presumed a free pass for the odd cultural faux pas, but knowing the basics of how to act in a society will go a long way towards making your transition a smooth one. While guidebooks are full of spurious cultural tips (for example the old piece of wisdom that “thumbs up is a rude gesture in Australia!”), there are certain bits of basic etiquette that are broadly applicable. Not eating or shaking hands with the left hand in Muslim and Hindu cultures, giving and receiving objects using both hands in East Asia, and not wearing shoes into the home in Japan or Korea, for example, are all simple bits of decorum that are easy to learn and easy to observe. People are almost always happy to explain, so when unsure, just ask!

(3)                Make your new place “home”.

The places we call home are as much a set of memories and habits as they are a physical location. As such, bringing objects of personal significance into your new living space will go a long way toward making it feel like a home. Decorating with photos of friends and family, a favourite piece of art, or a familiar bedspread are all easy ways of making your new digs seem less foreign. Likewise, don’t abandon your daily customs just because you’re in unfamiliar territory. Whether you’re into yoga, running, cooking, or cinema, continuing to do what you enjoyed back home always makes the transition to your new life less jarring, and is usually an excellent way to meet people.    

Thursday, November 15, 2012

BoConcept officially launches in Crows Nest!


Last night I attended the launch party for BoConcept furniture in Crows Nest, Sydney. And I have to say what a fantastic night it was - these Danes make the best hosts. Not only was the store gorgeous, but the music, food and drinks were lovely, and the atmosphere was relaxed and so very stylish. Thanks again to those at BoConcept for a brilliant party.

It was particularly exciting as this isn't just a store launch - it is the launch of BoConcept in Australia. After 60 years of brilliant furniture design in Denmark (and spreading around the globe) they have finally graced our shores. And seeing the products in reality was an utter pleasure.

The set up of the store is particularly clever, in that as you walk through you encounter different styles and shapes of dining rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, offices, and all the bits and bobs along the way. It makes you feel like you're in a very stylish, very co-ordinated home, rather than a furniture store.

It was really very hard picking favourites, but I couldn't find anything that beat the couch that originally caught my eye (Back in my first post about BoConcept) - the peacock coloured customisable couch.
Not only is it as beautiful and vibrant in reality as it is in the images, but it's very very comfortable - spent a lot of the night resting on that couch. In my photo it's a bit yellow-y but that's due to the store spotlights (it is very teal in real life).



What I find really fantastic through about BoConcept is their attitude to furniture; it ought to be customisable and suited to your home (as opposed to changing the home for the furniture). This is seen with their design corner of the store; trained interior designers assist you at computers, and help visualise how your home will look with a BoConcept addition (and what customisable options suit you best). This is a perfect idea and I love it already.
The little surprises and additions in the furniture at BoConcept really make the design unique and playful. This includes in my last post about the coffee table which opens up; a lot of their furniture has these functional features, even in the wall cabinets or the sofas. See the chairs below - chairs double as storage space. It's very clever how they create furniture which is accessible for a space-limited apartment, or a terrible hoarder (like myself).
Now my guilty pleasure is homewares and decor items; having worked in manchester as a visual merchandiser, I suffer a terrible addiction to "dust collectors".
And the homewares at BoConcept are worthy of this affliction; they are very cute, trendy and interesting  and come a full range for all sorts of people. There are elegant vases and candle holders, clever bookends, and even neon plastic bicycles.
The canvases of art they had spread throughout the store added also to the gorgeous style of the place; these were all fresh and vibrant or sombre and moody.
There is not a dull moment with these decorator items - they all seem to be designed with the same passion and flair as all of the furniture.


I feel also that the attitudes of BoConcept appeal very strongly to the Australian culture; there is a wonderful emphasis on the furniture not being arrogant, that Danish design does not need to be simply for Danes, that Luxury should be affordable, in comfortable beautiful furniture, and constantly learning from their experience. They have the full set of beliefs on their website, but I think it's a great sentiment, and the best thing is that it shows in the furniture, in the staff, and in the store. It's extremely refreshing when you walk into a beautiful and unpretentious furniture store, with friendly and relaxed staff.
Overall, it was a lovely night and brilliant party thrown by the team at BoConcept. I love their store and this is definitely not the last time I'll be there.




P.S. Ensure you keep up to date with BoConcept's latest designs on Complete Home here


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Minimal Living



For the last five years, I've been fortunate enough to enjoy a highly mobile and deeply fulfilling lifestyle – not only living in Sydney, San Francisco, and Seoul, but setting foot in more than 30 countries on five different continents. Hectic as modern life is, with its ballooning demands on time, energy, and money, I’ve found increasing degrees of satisfaction and independence in my international existence by embracing a philosophy of minimal living.

While minimalism usually conjures up images of people obsessively paring their lives down to a rigid austerity, living without electricity and deeply involved in projects concerning things like composting toilets, it needn’t be anything so drastic. The idea of a ‘minimal home’ doesn’t have to be an oxymoron, and there’s no reason to sacrifice luxuries in the quest for simplicity.

Instead, in every new home I’ve made, I’ve put the things that I use every day, the things that bring me joy, right at the centre of my household, and greatly reduced the clutter around them. Morning meditation, for example, is a big part of my life, so having a quiet, comfortable, and well-appointed meditation space is always job one. My girlfriend, on the other hand, loves to cook, and so investing in quality kitchenwares for her is always a good bet.

Rather than having all your “good” things (whether crockery, furniture, or bed linens) always put away because they’re too nice to use, it’s much more fulfilling and practical to invest in good ‘dailies’ – good-quality things that see regular use – which prevents the contradictory impoverished feeling we sometimes get from having nice things that we’re afraid to use.

As Dr. Phiona Stanley at the University of New South Wales writes of experiments in voluntary simplicity, making a mental inventory of your rooms and cupboards will help you figure out what’s really central to your home life. If you can’t think of the last time you used a particular object (my barbeque has, come to think of it, gotten quite rusty), it’s probably not essential. If, on the other hand, you’re filled with fond memories of entertaining on your patio, or hours experimenting in the kitchen, these spots might make a worthy focus for your home.

In the end, minimalism is all about having to think less about the stuff you don’t need in your life, so you can have more time, energy, and money to enjoy the things that are truly important to you. “Simplicity,” as the writer William Gaddis said, might really be “the ultimate sophistication”.  

For more ideas on dressing up or dressing down your interiors, check out Complete Home, whether it's for your kitchen or living room.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Clever designs to prettify your home

What I love about the internet is the utter range of products, ideas and inventions you can find on it. The web is giving a voice to independent designers with cool ideas, and is starting to provide them with an enthusiastic niche market. I'm excited every day about the treasures I'm finding (and the design genius' behind them!) but this week all I can think about is patterned paint rollers, magical spill-happy tablecloths and hand-made cushions.

Magical spill-happy tablecloths? Sound ridiculous? Maybe, but they definitely exist. Kristine Bjaadal, a young designer from Norway, has designed tablecloths that when spilt on, don't stain. Instead it reveals a pattern previously invisible, and dyes it with the colour of the spilt liquid.
These tablecloths are simply magical. The idea is that a stained tablecloth doesn't have to be thrown out - with the pretty designs, the stains become something beautiful and the owners can see the use of the tablecloth and its past. With the emphasis on eating and entertaining these days, having something that reminds you of those times (in a beautiful way) is really lovely.

Bjaadal is really interested in the wear and tear of household objects and turning it from something negative into something beautiful and positive. The designs are always interesting and innovative, with a little bit of old fashioned sensibility; making everyday objects last longer.

The Painted House is another company that is really approaching the look of the home in a different way. The designer, Clare Bosanquet, found the idea in Romania, and adapted it to many different applications. This product is found in the form of a paint roller, but one that is patterned like a traditional stamp. These paint rollers come in many different cute and interesting patterns, from wall applicators to fabric.


So rather than the arduous process of applying wallpaper to your home, or going for plain matte coloured walls (or attempting a difficult or expensive mural) you can easily pretty up your home with a paint roller or your choice. The application is easy, and the results are beautiful. The choice of colours and pattern is entirely up to you, and the result will be a personalised and pretty home.

I particularly like the deer pattern (to the very left). With Christmas on its way, this applicator would make some gorgeous wrapping paper or even help decorate your home ready for the big day. I'd love to see the pattern in silver on a white wall - it would be exquisite.


My final obsession of this week is Remorque Clothing and Intimates. This is an independent company run solely by Sophia Hopgood, a young woman from Adelaide, Australia. Her best seller is her handmade cushions, made from interesting and funky fabrics. Her influences are a strong dose of vintage, rockabilly, 40s and 50s culture, pop culture and alternative culture, and I love her work.


I actually own two of her cushions and they are beautifully sewn and made from quality fabric. They differ from your stock standard cushions in that they can openly and distinctly say something about your personality, loves and style; an Elvis cushion popped on your couch or a leopard fur cushion on your bed will say a lot more about you and your home than maybe a raw silk cushion. Sophia makes the cushions to order, and personally interacts with each and every customer - you can tell she's very passionate about her company and about making her customers happy.

I love a home with a bit of kooky style or something a bit different or exciting, and that's exactly what these companies are offering. And I'll continue hunting for the next weird and wonderful innovation.




P.S. The cool products and awesome ideas don't end here - check Complete Home's wallpaper and paint section, or our furniture section.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fondness for Fondue


While the seventies are not renowned for good taste, one good and tasty thing did come out of it – the Fondue.  Fondue originated in Switzerland in the ninteenth century, however, it sky rocketed to international fame and popularity in the sixties and seventies as a sophisticated dinner party favourite.  
After this era, unfortunately the fondue cooled off and melted away. The concept didn't correspond to the new health conscious, diet obsessed and convenience culture that the nineties introduced. This I understand, I have a beautiful enamel fondue set and I’ve never felt inclined to use it for an after-work, week night meal.
In recent foodie culture, the current trend of easy and nutritious has once again been superseded by a new trend, which is the desire to eat authentic food rich in culture and tradition. This is the new height of sophistication, no more packet mixes, easy bakes, seasonings or sachets. Even the calories don’t count anymore. Now we travel, we have memorable dining experiences and we want to recreate amazing and real food in our home kitchens.  

However, there is a trade off with fondue. Yes, it takes significant effort, skill, expense and time and will unfailingly make a huge mess. However, Fondue is a theatrical, interactive dish that stimulates conversation and creates conviviality at a party and romance for a couple. There’s almost no preparation either which you can’t do communally in the company of your guests - and - it’s the only socially acceptable way to eat a whole meal of cheese.  Fondue also allows for creativity in the kitchen. The traditional recipe involves melting Emmenthal or Raclette with a little cornflour, garlic and wine and that’s essentially all you need to create an awe-inspiring meal – however, ingredient possibilities are endless.  At “La Maison du Fondue” in Aix en Provence I was fortunate enough to sample four different fondues from a menu of forty, so be creative and don’t be afraid to throw in some blue cheese, goats cheese, rosemary, mustard seeds, pesto, chilli, beer, champagne... anything that goes with cheese will go with fondue.  All that’s left to do now is thread some crusty baguette on the end of your prong, wipe the cheesy grin off your face, and be thankful that Fondue is back and hotter than ever. Here's some nice Fondue models to get you inspired and joining team cheese.


For more awesome appliances, check Complete Home. And don't forget about the gorgeous kitchen to hold your fondue party in.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Homes Around the World



“There’s no place like home,” said Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and while she may have wished for her farmhouse in Kansas, it’s hardly the final word in what a home can be.

Having spent much of the last five years both living and travelling throughout Asia and Africa, I’ve seen firsthand how different the concept of home can be in different cultures. While the “Australian Dream” might be for a house with a yard, for example, most families in the buzzing, densely-populated city of Seoul, South Korea generally aspire to an apartment in one of the city’s thousands of high-rise towers. While these apartments might come complete with traditional heated ondol floors (perfect for the cold Seoul winters) and possibly a special kimchi refrigerator to keep that all-important Korean condiment at a constant temperature, they also tend to be tiny, usually less than 100m2.

Nor does home even have to be a constant place. While I’ve spent a year at a time living out of a 40-litre backpack, there are an estimated 30-40 million people worldwide who are permanently itinerant, following a traditional nomadic lifestyle. Nearly half of Mongolia’s population might live in the blocky, smoggy, urbanized sprawl of Ulan Bator, but another third still are still pastoralists, horsemen and herders driving their flocks across the steppes in search of pasture. For this million-strong population, home is a ger or yurt, a portable circular hut made of wool felt supported by a timber frame, and carried on the backs of yaks or camels, which can be assembled in as little as two hours. In Mongolian, in fact, ‘ger’ literally means ‘home’.

By contrast, the peoples of Lesotho, a mountainous landlocked country inside South Africa, used to be pastoralists who moved between high pastures in summer and low valleys in winter until this pattern was disrupted by the pressures of colonialism. Needing a home that could stand up to both the intense sun of summer and freezing cold of winter in the mountains (80% of the country lies above 1,800 metres), they devised a type of circular rondavel known as a mokhoro, built with thick walls of mud and stone for insulation and a heavy thatch roof to keep the weather out. Often partially built into the hillsides of north-facing slopes, these traditional dwellings are an excellent example of passive heating and cooling, embodying principles now being adopted in the low energy “passive houses” of Scandinavia.

Of course, it’s also often said that “home is where the heart is,” and in most of the places I’ve lived or visited, considerations of family (and extended family!) are central to the concept of a home. Whether in India, Mozambique, or Guatemala, I’ve most often found grandparents, grown children, and grandchildren happily living together in “generational” households. Surprising as it may seem, this trend toward “permaculture” living is on the rise in Australia, too: from 1981-2006, the number of multi-generation homes in Australia increased by 26.7%, according to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

TOUR TO MOROCCO WITH KATE ST JAMES




Exclusive Vacation in Morocco

With managing editor,
KATE ST JAMES, FDIA 


 
Fez is Europe, but closed
Marrakesh is Africa, but open
Fez is black, white and grey
Marrakesh is red
(John Gunther, Inside Africa 1955) 



Morocco is one of the few places on earth where you switch from a country of donkeys and mules from the biblical past to one forging into the future while the cry of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer wafts across a labyrinth like medina. Cellular phones make no distinction between elegant suits, couture fashion jeans or djellabas and haiks in impossibly bright tones of orange, lime green, ochre yellow and pink.

Morocco is a visually sophisticated nation with a distinctive beauty and cultural legacy
which reached its zenith from the 11th to 13th centuries when the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties ruled North Africa from Marrakesh to Tunis. The Moors excelled in mathematics, literature and medicine, they built mosques, minarets and palaces that were the envy of the entire Islamic world. Curiously, these achievements were preserved by defeat at the hands of the Crusaders in 1492 and for the next 500 years Morocco was closed to outsiders. The skill of Moroccan craftsmen, already legendary more than a thousand years ago, now has fresh relevance. Among peaceful oases and palms, age old crafts adorn restaurants and palaces and the world’s trend setting contemporary stylists grab ideas and translate them comfortably into the now from this captivating, colourful, exotic country.

Our tour to Morocco is leaving March 25, 2013 – April 7, 2013. If you would like to join us contact Kate St James kstjames@universalmagazines.com.au




Friday, November 2, 2012

Bang & Olufsen launch BeoPlay A9 (and know how to throw a party)

Last night I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Bang & Olufsen launch party for the new BeoPlay A9 in Australia. And what a party. With every store manager from the Australian Bang & Olufsen stores, crammed into a very cool Surry Hills apartment, and surrounded by some of the most upmarket and cool technology hitting stores, I don't think it could have failed.

The BeoPlay range is something that is quite new and exciting, not only for Bang & Olufsen, but also for the market (you could tell all of the Bang & Olufsen reps were super excited, the speeches were pepped up and enthusiastic, and every rep wanted to tell you about the range). The company is moving with the times and how digital our lives have become; this range allows for it with digital televisions, ipad docks, ipod/iphone/smartphone docks and speaker systems. All of the products are about producing the highest quality audio and visuals but accommodating our futuristic technology. 


I do love the wireless smartphone/iphone dock - it has so many options, and you can continue using your smartphone while the speakers are blasting your favourite music away on the other side of the room. I can see this being super useful at parties - you don't want to leave your phone on the dock in case some dishonest person nicks it, or friends want to prank your facebook. But with this you just log in on the apple airplay, pick your music and continue on with your dancing or gossiping.

The setting itself was gorgeous, along with the food and drinks. B&O managed to find this ultra-cool open plan apartment in Surry Hills, Sydney (up the top of 6 flights of stairs!) and boy, does the owner have an amazing interior. What I found most intriguing was the way they suspended a wooden ladder horizontally from the ceiling above the kitchen bench to hang the pots and pans from. This was the drinks area, so I didn't manage to grab a photo. With such a hot night (it's really starting to heat up here in Sydney) I was glad for the chilled water they had on offer (along with the champagne). But the chilled water was served in glass jars with old fashioned red and white paper straws. This is what the entire evening was like - a strong attention to detail and those final touches. It was very cute and very cool.

This night was particularly exciting for B&O as they were unveiling two very new and exciting products - the new BeoPlay A9 and the BeoVision 11. Both of these are extremely sleek and high-quality products. The BeoPlay A9 is a round speaker system (on the left in the above picture) which can be lifted off its stand and placed on a wall, or wherever you want. It was developed by young Danish designer Ã˜ivind Slaatto (check out his other work, it's pretty neat) who based the design on the way musical harmonies are mathematically imprinted in nature. The result is astounding - the sound quality is perfect, and the look and feel of it is perfect for the contemporary home. What I particularly liked was the way the back of it was touch-sensitive; so if you want to change the volume, a swipe to its back is all you need.

The BeoVision 11 is a new television for the company. It sits on a remote-controlled stand, so if you change seats or rearrange the room, the television angle is easily adjusted. The visual quality is insane though - I was sitting very close to the side of the tv, and I could still view the image perfectly - there was no distortion at all. The speakers are also very high quality, and as usual, you can link it to almost everything - your entire soundsystem, your apple tv, your game console. 

All in all it wasn't your typical launch party; instead it had fantastic food, interesting company, an awesome setting and the surrounds of premium futuristic home technology. And I think it was a good night was had by all.


P.S. If you want the latest updates on Home technology or even keeping your home secure, head over to Complete Home.