Style Travel

Travel inspiration with Meriko London

Meriko London Colorado collection

Meriko London was founded by jewellery designer Meri Hovsepyan in 2013. Originally from Armenia, Meri’s work is inspired by her travels and her love of nature, with each collection named after destinations that reflect her pieces. I caught up with Meri to talk travel inspiration, jewellery design and business advice – and left with a serious case of wanderlust!

You left Armenia when you were 13 years old. What are your fondest memories of being there?
My fondest memories are the people. Armenians are so warm and hospitable; even if you go to the home of someone with little money they will lay a table for you with the last of their food! In general, my childhood spent in Armenia was special. I was there until I was 13 and I always look back at my memories of playing with my friends in kindergarten and school with fondest memories and nostalgia.

What recommendations would you have for anyone looking to travel to Armenia? What about the area do you love the most?
Armenia is known as an ‘open air museum’. There is so much to see, including many historical monuments and churches. Armenia adopted Christianity formally in 301 so you are never short of an ancient church or ten to see each day – they really are works of art.

My favourite place is Lake Sevan, about one and a half hour’s drive from the capital Yerevan. The colour of the lake is just stunning; it’s light turquoise in colour and later on became the inspiration for my jewellery designs. I remember as a child every time going there with my family, and how as soon as I could see the lake my heart would beat so fast from the excitement.

You’ve lived in a lot of places over the years – from Armenia and Moscow to London and Spain! Which place has had the most influence on who you are today?
It’s hard to choose between London and Spain. You can’t beat the thrill and fast paced excitement of life in London; the energy and pulse of life there never leaves you. London has it all – from history and culture, to the latest in art and design… it’s a jewellery designer’s dream as inspiration is on every street corner. As for Spain, or at least the South of Spain where we have a home and I spend a lot of time, that’s the very opposite and it truly nourishes my soul. Where London wakes me up, Spain chills me out. From my bedroom window I can see mountains on one side and the sparkling Med on the other. I can take my son to the old town in the morning, the beach in the afternoon and in the evening go to the huge array of fiestas and parties that seem to go on every night in the summer. I wake up each morning smiling because the sun is always shining and the air is always clear.

You’ve mentioned that travel and nature are your biggest inspirations. What impact have these had on the pieces you produce for Meriko London and which destination has been your greatest inspiration to date?
Other than Spain, which as you can tell brought me closer to nature and inspired my Gold Coast collection, I would say that California holds a special place in my heart too. It’s such a visually beautiful place… in fact it is quite Mediterranean in places. The surrounding areas of LA such as Orange County (Laguna Beach, Long Beach) and Santa Barbara are so, so pretty.

Where in the world would you love to travel to next and why?
I love all things Latin and I am dying to go to Cuba and Mexico. I love colour! And these places seem to be teeming with it. I love countries where the people are warm and the weather even warmer; where the food is delicious and art and culture is all around you. I can’t wait to get to Salsa and Samba in the streets of Cuba one day, and hopefully come away with some inspiration for a new collection.

Meriko London
At what point did you know you wanted to be a jewellery designer?
I can’t remember wanting to be anything else! As a small child I could watch my father make fine jewellery all day. Precious stones and gems were like toys to me, instead of learning colours out of a book I was introduced to the colour blue by being taught the difference between turquoise, lapis and aquamarine stones.  I specifically got my degree in Art History to understand the evolution of design, and then went on to study accountancy and business… the perfect stepping stones toward my vocational nirvana. Which is where I am now.

What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?
Do your research, because it takes a lot of investment – both time and money, so you need to know exactly the direction you are going in. Know your competitors as well as you know yourself, and get to grips with the changing face of technology and social media, because without it no one will know who you are. It’s also important to surround yourself with the right team – you don’t know everything, so make sure you work with people that are knowledgeable, trustworthy and as passionate about your brand as you are. It’s not easy, and even when it looks like it’s all for nothing keep soldiering on as you never know if your big break will be tomorrow.

And for someone who’d love to work in jewellery design?

Remember, everyone out there is already bigger and more successful than you… so make sure you really have a passion for what you do or it will show in your work. Stay on top of the game – be creative, innovative and unique in everything you do. I truly believe that when you love your work, never give up and stay hopeful…good things happen. Well I hope they will!

Your top tip for travel:
Insider knowledge. I believe you won’t ever truly experience a place if you don’t live it like a local. So immerse yourself in the culture, language, food and customs. Make friends with local people who will show you the unseen parts of where you are. That’s when you go from being a tourist to being a true adventurer.

Meri’s newest collection, Colorado Escape, is now available online at www.merikolondon.com and through stockists in London, Madrid, Malaga and New York.

Food London

The House of Peroni | Vita all’Interno

The House of Peroni returns to Brick Lane this month with the brand’s latest residency, this autumn entitled ‘Vita all’Interno’ and open to explore throughout November. As something of a super-fan (I’ve made it to every residency so far, it’s becoming tradition) I’m looking forward to experiencing the ‘most immersive and multi-sensory residency to date’ and, of course, the cocktails.

The month-long event aims to bring the heart of the Italian home to London, welcoming guests to explore Michelin-starred food and Peroni Nastro Azzurro infused cocktails in surroundings inspired by the Italian home.

House of Peroni 2015

From ‘passionate nonna’s’ running the home to a never ending dining table, a laundry room inspired by Italian couture, and keys which open the doors to experiences hidden with the event, I’m intrigued to see what’s in store!

Look out for a few sneak peaks from tomorrow’s launch on instagram @acidbrights – close ups of cocktails likely.

The House of Peroni takes up residence at 
152 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU 
from 29th October, closing 25th November. Free entry, 18+ only. For more information about The House of Peroni visit: www.thehouseofperoni.com You can read my reviews of the previous residencies here, and see what happened at the launch of the original House of Peroni in July 2013 here.

House of Peroni Brick Lane

City Travel

Hotel Saint-Louis Marais, Paris

Place des Vosges

Area around Hotel Saint-Louis Marais
Exploring Paris
Le Marais
Travel is good for the soul, I genuinely believe that. You can workout every day of the week and eat your bodyweight in superfoods, but experiencing somewhere new and escaping the everyday can invigorate you in a way no spin class can. If I had it my way I’d live in a different AirBnb apartment every month and travel the world, but for now city breaks and weeks by the sea keep me happy and satisfy my every growing wanderlust…

So it feels only right that I share with you here some of my favourite places – the places that complement my quest for balance and do for my wellbeing what a barre class does for my calf muscles…

I really, really love Paris. Whenever I visit I come over all ‘Amélie’ and get carried away with the romance of it all – the red lipstick and breton stripes come out, I instantly wish I had a chic brown bob, and extra thought goes into my somewhat scruffy London uniform. Much the same occurred earlier this month when I took my boyfriend to the city for a birthday trip (Paris in Spring is beautiful – I can’t recommend it enough) and previously last summer when I travelled to the city with my mum and my sister for a long weekend.

Every time I’ve visited I’ve been lucky enough to stay in the Marais, the most lovely area in my opinion. Some visitor guides will tell you to avoid the Marais at certain times, warning how packed it can be on a Sunday when the rest of Paris is typically having a rest. Whilst this may be true, I absolutely love the business of the area – the buzz of the crooked medieval streets, the vintage shops, the galleries and the beautiful architecture. Living in East London, it felt almost like a home-from-home when I arrived (albeit a far chicer, prettier one) and I instantly wanted to explore.

View from Hotel Saint Louis Marais
Hotel Saint-Louis Marais
Hotel Saint-Louis
We stayed in the most beautiful hotel whilst we were there, just off of the river and a ten minute walk from Notre Dame. The Hotel Saint-Louis Marais on Rue Charles V is perfectly placed between the buzz of the Marais cafe culture and the equally lovely Ile Saint Louis, another of my favourite spots. We spent a lot of time exploring the local area, trying out the coffee shops and wandering aimlessly through the pretty streets.

I’d recommend the hotel as a base to explore the city, and can vouch for the third floor bedrooms being worth the extra 20 euros! Throwing open the windows from the top floor and peering out across the rooftops certainly lived up to my ‘pretending to be Parisian’ fantasy… and yes, red lipstick was involved.

Doorway in le Marais
Fresh fruit le Marais
Street art in the Marais
If you’re looking for things to do in the neighbourhood once you’ve finished your café glacé (I had a lot of these), the Place des Vosges is around a ten minute walk away from the hotel and is said to be one of the prettiest squares in the whole of Paris. It really is beautiful, and although busy in the late summer sunshine, it also felt incredibly peaceful.

Food-wise you’re spoilt for choice, but L’As du Falafel is a must-see on rue des Rosiers, and Miss Manon on rue St-Antoine was our favourite spot for breakfast.

View from the hotel
Fruit stall in le Marais
A street in le Marais
You can read more about Hotel Saint-Louis Marais and the local area on the hotel’s website, which also has a great list of recommended restaurants and bars.

Photo credit: images six and seven credited to the Hotel Saint-Louis Marais

Emma

London Style

LCCA Four Seasons Fashion Show

LCCA Four Seasons Fashion Show

LCCA fashion course
Four Seasons Fashion Show
Other than scanning through the usual flurry of excitement on twitter, I have to admit that LFW passed by almost unregistered for me this season.  A busy work schedule has meant little time for swotting up on SS16 trends (I will regret this come March), but I did get in on a little piece of the action this Monday evening at the LCCA Four Seasons Fashion Show. Held by the London College of Contemporary Arts, this year’s graduates showcased an impressive collection on the catwalk, centering around the theme of constant change and up-cycling within the fashion industry today.

LCCA designer
LCCA Fashion
Fashion at LCCA
London College of Contemporary Arts fashion show
I particularly loved the collection from Vilma Indrisiunaite for it’s simple lines and crisp white palette, the raw edges of Sally Spencer’s dresses, and special mention to Bryony Sansome for naming her luxury streetwear collection ‘Heavy Metal Peacock’. Perfectly fitting and very, very cool.

We had a brilliant, prosecco-filled evening, met some lovely designers – including one who asked for a selfie – and left genuinely impressed with what the graduates had to offer. Looking forward to seeing their names pop up over the next few years.

Emma