Arren Williams is the name, and I'm a stylist, editor and trend reporter. You'll catch my work regularly popping up in print in the likes of the National Post, House & Home and elsewhere. I'm also a guest expert on Citytv's CityLine, and you can occasionally find me on HGTV as well as on ABC 7 News in Chicago.

To keep things fun I've tapped a couple of friends - Julia Black and Jenn Hannotte - to contribute their views on design too. Enjoy!


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Entries in art (18)


Guest blog / Julia Black: Art and fashion

Julia Black: I’m not going to pretend to be an art connoisseur by any means, but I do believe I know what I like, and I definitely like the work of Michael Adamson. I came across one of his fantastic oil-on-canvas abstract paintings at a weekend brunch at Holt Renfrew's swank Holt’s Café in Toronto, a few Tweets later (thanks to the Twitterverse!) and I'd tracked him down. Michael studied at the prestigious Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver and, since then, has been exhibiting in Toronto, New York, London and Tokyo. Now based in Toronto, his passionate work explores vigorous textures and magnificent colours, but, I thought it best to get Michael's inspiration in his own words, “ever changing confluences of art history, social actualities and (my) personal life”. Complex, thoughtful, and undeniably beautiful, take a look below at a snap of his breathtaking large-scale work (it's 50' long and 8' high and was created with artist, Nicole Katsuras) in situ at Holt Renfrew, as well as a piece called Far Shore, and you'll see what I mean. Now, I have to convince my friends to allow me back into the brunch circle because it seems I was rather absent from our table conversation!

To read more posts from Julia click here, and click here to check out her cool blog.


Love 'this'

I see lots of cool stuff in my travels, but occasionally I'm suprised by a sweet bit of a mash-up between something cool, something creative, and something witty. It's the this globe below, snapped by Aesthetic Outburst blogger Abbey Hendrickson in her own home, that happily caught me by surprise, though if you were to spin the globe it would read f this s, which just happens to be a fave epithet of mine when things are - ahem - not going as planned. Of course there is a story behind the f this s globe, which Abbey explains here as being in mourning for not being able to swear out loud now that she has a family. Be sure to check out the rest of Abbey's great blog, it's a lovely mix of inspiration, art, craft, kids and collecting.


5 quick questions: Alanna Cavanagh

I've had a bit of a design crush on the work of ultra-talented illustrator and printmaker Alanna Cavanagh for quite a while, so I'm glad to have cornered her into answering 5 quick questions. You might have seen her illustrations in the likes of Real Simple and the New York Times, but most recently I saw her work hanging in the home of Bev Hisey, where after years of looking at an - imho - awful painting of a blobby lifeless figure floating in the ether, I was happy to see one of Alanna's gorgeous Big Orange Scissors prints sitting pretty on the wall instead. And for that Alanna, I really really have to thank you.

Below you'll find shots of both Big Orange Scissors and Brook Brothers Suit (Green), plus a behind-the-scenes snap of Alanna tea staining one of her Penguin Books cover prints. Next, a peek at Alanna's own place, a shot of a space that currently inspiring her, and finally a super cute portrait photo/illustration mash up. Click here to read more 5 quick questions! [Portrait photo:Janet Kimber]

Arren Williams: What's inspiring you right now?

Alanna Cavanagh: Josef Frank Textiles, Illustrations from the 1950s, the colour limey green, swiss miss blog, springy tulips, Selvedge magazine, Graphic designer Paul Rand, Decoupage artist John Derian, The Workroom on Queen West and most especially: my new 'hood Parkdale.  

AW: Is there anything that drives you crazy when you walk into a space?  

AC: If it's too white and minimal I don't feel comfortable. For me I need to be surrounded by lots of warm wood, cozy textiles, and piles of books to feel at home. 

AW: What's the next thing you have your eyes on for your own house?  

AC: I would love a velvet tufted couch in a jewel tone like turquoise - I'm on the look out for a used one. In the meantime I have my eyes directly set on Benjamin Moore's 'Florentine Plaster' paint. It'll soon be on the walls of my bathroom.

AW: How would you describe your look, and has it changed over the years? 

AC: Fleamarket Chic with a dash of New Romantic! 

I absolutely love a MIX: of high and low, traditional and modern, and new and old. I also love to include whimsical pieces like old birdcages, and vintage signs to make sure the space never feels too serious.

In terms of colour I always paint my walls grey (Benjamin Moore Chelsea Grey is a fave) and then add lots of juicy tones like pink and orange which really POP off the grey.

And of course I love displaying a lot of art. I've always been a sucker for a salon wall. Every time I see one in a magazine I rip it out. My style has always been the same but happily these days I have a bit more high to add to the low. :-)

AW: What's next on the horizon? 

AC: I've just completed 3 new silk screen prints which you can find here on my website. I've also illustrated a campaign for Air New Zealand, and a book cover for Penguin books, and am now working on a tote bag design for Good Egg ( the wonderful food shop in Kensington market). Look out for it in June!


Guest blog / Julia Black: Old school movie style

Julia Black: Ever since I can remember the Oscars® have been somewhat of a religious holiday for me, and every year I start counting down the days way before the spectacular event. Of course all the award shows leading up to the Oscars are also scribbled into my agenda, and the most recent ceremony, on the 21st of February, was the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden. Checking into the BAFTA's I discovered illustrator and graphic designer extraordinaire, Tavis Coburn. Tavis was commissioned to design the program covers of the five Best Film nominees, and he brought each film to life in his brilliant retro-style. I love his work, and how his inspiration - 1940s comic book art, the Russian avant-garde movement and printed ephemera from the 50s and 60s - informs his take on each film. Now, with his illustrations in mind, I am over-the-top excited for Sunday night! Oh, and btw, The Hurt Locker won Best Film at the BAFTA's! Click here to see more of Tavis Coburn's work, as well as his online store. [images via: Joey deVilla]

To read more posts from Julia click here, and to check out her cool blog click here.


Guest blog / Julia Black: Follow that sign

Julia Black: Boris Bally has a talent for discovering a second life for one of the most mundane things that surround us at - ahem - every turn. Street signs. An extraordinary industrial designer and metalworker, he continually creates pieces that provoke conversation, and often times, a chuckle or two. His humorous yet sophisticated furniture, installations, jewellry and even flatware mashes up recycled street signs, scavenged weapon parts and found industrial materials in a process he calls humanfactured. I love how on-trend his pieces feel from both a green angle (Bally reckons he's upcycled close to 70 tons of signage in his career so far), as well as how they'd add a lovely jolt of colour and wit to a space. Click here to check out all the galleries that carry his work in the US, Canada and further afield. From the top: BroadWay Armchairs, Small Square Transit Tables, Transit Chairs.

To read more posts from Julia click here, and to check out her cool blog click here.