Category Archives: Uncategorized

Saints and Sins at San Giorgio

While the sun crept tentatively out from it’s prolonged hibernation this weekend hailing an end to this sustained winter so too there was a glimpse of the summer to come. Moods were visibly lifted along with the hemlines of the park goers.

We at last allowed our minds to drift and to imagine that summer truly was around the corner of the next threatening rain cloud. With thoughts turning to summer plans and dreams of swimming in clear blue seas bolstering us for the next few weeks until summer truly does arrive we thought we would share the beautiful interior spaces of San Giorgio on the Greek island of Mykonos that we got to experience last summer.

Here’s to dreams of blue skies becoming a reality soon

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A little slice of Heaven










Sometimes in life you find a place where all your worries and woes evaporate and a sense of calm envelopes you.

We are privileged to have great friends Frank and Donna who have created one such place in Ireland in the beautiful home they have built with their own hands immersed in their awe-inspiring garden that they have built upon over the years.

From the large glazed kitchen window a row of silver birch trees has become a sanctuary for an array of birds, their riotous dipping and diving through the branches becomes a natural backdrop while you sip an early morning coffee.

Both great cooks, Frank and Donna bring edible flowers in from their garden to adorn a Summer salad which we got to enjoy on the front wooden deck, where French enamel lights kick into action to illuminate the deck as daylight  fades.

The back wooden deck over looks a pond that Frank has installed now rich with lily pads and a lovely place to perch with a cuppa with a few of the family cats for company.

All natural materials have been used to create the wonderfully paired back interior that includes Frank’s art studio, which is swathed in light, perfect for work.

The importance of nature within the design of the house is palpable, the spaces are designed to straddle both the interior and exterior equally.

In the evening the chesterfield is placed outside around a roaring fire from the brazier and wine is sipped while chatting into the wee hours of the morning, truly a magical place to experience.

The Temptations of Tinos

Ancient Greece may have had a thing or two to teach the world about democracy but modern Greece can teach us a lot in terms of pared-back simple cool interiors.

Thanks to our great Greek friends who have even better surnames, Mitropoulos and  Hatziyanaki, we got to experience one such cool interior at their island get-away on the beautiful and unspoiled island of Tinos.

Here’s to happy memories.

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Fassett Square Update


Full steam ahead for Foreign Bear Studio’s site at Fassett Square. We are also delighted to welcome a new member to the design team Marjorie Mohler. The sun came out today so the first coat of fibreglass was applied to the flat roof of the new extension. The images give a glimpse of the amount of glazing used within the project to help create a really bright interior. The flat roof kerbs and the up-stands for the large roof glazing has been created by our carpenter and the glazing is all in situ on site and will be installed next week. We will update you once the glazing is in as it will mean both a watertight site and that the project can roar ahead with the interior detailing.



We also ripped out the horrible plasterboard ceiling to expose the beautiful and incredibly dusty original Victorian suspended timber floor of the flat above us. Alas we cannot keep it in it’s full glory as we will need to put sound insulation between the beams and the floor of the flat above. But it was really great to see the bones of the original Victorian craftsmanship and especially the simplicity of the Herringbone strutting.

Exciting times.

Delightful De Gournay

Foreign Bear Studio have been in love with the company De Gournay for years.

Master artisans in incredible and vibrant hand painted wallpaper that packs a PUNCH!

Just seeing these covetable walls makes me dream of having such a wall…one day.

Giz me shades

The hidden door in the wall is definitely worth nabbing for our next interior design project!

Crazy and perfect

What a colour combination, the fresh flowers are almost part of the wallpaper.

One day perhaps…

Authentically Al-Andalus

Elegant Moorish arch in the exterior wall of the Cathedral in Seville, Andalucia.

Detail of arabesque carving.



Looking onto the courtyard of ‘los naranjos’ (oranges) on the north side of the Cathedral.

Spain has always featured strongly in my life. As a child my family made the trip from the lush green hills of Donegal to the hot, terracotta coloured earth of Spain every year for holidays. Later, as a student in Seville, walking through the labyrinth of narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses, breathing in the sweet sent of orange blossoms that filled the air, I knew my heart was lost to Andalucía.

Witnessing the exotic ceremonies and traditions played out along those narrow streets during Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Seville or ‘Feria de  Abril de Sevilla’ (The Seville April Fair) instilled a thirst in me to find out more about this ancient and varied culture.


In 711, an Arab army crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, beginning a period whereby most of the Iberian Peninsula fell under the rule of the Damascus based Umayyad caliph. The region became known as al-Andalus.

In Andalucía the influence of Arab culture is very prevalent, especially in the food and architecture. Even the smell of Azahar (orange blossom) that fills the air was carried by the Arabs into Africa and Spain.


The pre-existing Giralda Tower from the Moorish period, once the minaret of a mosque, was incorporated into the Catholic cathedral in Seville.

Gate of the Mesquita, Cordoba.

A very unique culinary and architectural culture grew over the centuries in Andalucía. It reflected the cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism of those who came from all over the Muslim world, as well as the Christian and Jewish communities that existed there.

Extravagant gateway to the Feria de Seville, newly designed each year and covered in thousands of tiny lightbulbs.

Foreign Bear Studio made a trip earlier in the year to explore the Mudéjar architecture of Andalucía. Mudéjar denotes a style of Iberian architecture and decoration strongly influenced by Moorish craftsmanship.

The rich cultural influence of the Moors could be seen in the arabesque carvings, in the blue and white tiles that adorned so many interiors and in the beautifully carved fountains standing amidst courtyards filled with orange trees.

As well as some of the most famous surviving examples that we visited, The Mezquita in Córdoba (784-987, in four phases) and the Giralda in Seville (1184) we also wanted to see how contemporary architects incorporated elements of Mudéjar architecture into their buildings.

Walls of the Mesquita in Cordoba.


We have posted a few images from our trip from the Palacio Del Bailio in Cordoba where we got to stay and absorb what can be achieved when old meets new in interiors. We always hope to incorporate some of what we see into our designs, even if it is just in a detail.

One hall of the Palicio Del Bailio with internal moorish window looking into the library.

Doorway to library

Interior of library at Palicio Del Bailio with intricately carved walls.

Highly painted carved ceiling at library of Palicio Del Bailio

Understated pool area within the courtyard of the Palacio Del Bailio.

The pool area situated within the orange tree filled courtyard of the Palicio Del Bailio, the Moorish influences are still very prevalent.

Re-visiting a few old haunts in Seville

Many a night was spent here in the Alameda de Hercules area of Seville back in the day!

After enjoying some hot chocolate and Churros (friend dough pastry) typical of this region of Spain. The Churros are the same as the north African fritters today. The mixing of cultures in modern-day Spain is again obvious on the streets.

Merci for Merci

Foreign Bear Studio on a trip to Paris earlier in the year sought out the great interiors shop Merci and it didn’t disappoint! Looking now at the finished interiors of our most recent project at 215 Graham Road we realise just how much we took away with us from Merci. Just walking the streets of any new city will always be inspiring and a glass of wine shared with friends at the end of the day will also help to soak it all up!


I remember these from old Irish cottages – love em!


Nice way to fill a wall


Rustic and opulent mix – nice.


What a stove – would look good in the dream cottage in Donegal!


Have incorporated something similar into 215 Graham Road kitchen.


Outside Merci with the famous red car emblem in the background.



Hitting the streets for inspiration


Thanks for reviving me post VIVA gals x

Foreign Bear Studio has b…

Foreign Bear Studio has been busy. Busy finishing off our latest project on Graham Road which we will put pics of soon onto our website. But it has meant our blogging has suffered – or been non-existent! But fear not we have photographed or noted everything we found of interest in interiors, architecture or art over the past few months.


Donegal Cottage

This beautiful cottage is hidden away in a place called Edergole just outside Ardara in Co.Donegal. The path up to it is straight out of a fairytale and on entering the living room through the half door at the front you enter into a uniquely Irish dwelling with very low ceilings and stone floors. The cottage has been lovingly restored and sympathetically extended at the rear by its owner Helen McHugh.


The cottage is full of beautiful art and design pieces collected over the years. There is a wonderful spirit at work here with the collection ranging from old lace, old lasts and farmyard tools to Middle Eastern objet d’arts.



The cosy livingroom leads to a bright bathroom with beautiful black and white tiles.

This iron bed sits perfectly with the beautiful fireplace.

The Eastern influence is clear in this mosaic mirror.


This corridor(see above) serves as a walkway from the old cottage to the new extension.

But what is the great achievement at this remarkable building is how well the new extension sits with the old structure. Faced with the task of enlarging the space to suit modern living (not to mention modern stature!) the owner has added on a delightful kitchen/livingroom at the back. As a nod to the dwellings history however she has included many beautiful pieces such as the stained glass window salvaged from a local church as well as re-using some of the original windows ensuring the home doesn’t lose its integrity.


A stained glass piece and Victorian portrait sit comfortably beside this wood burner

Old meets new with excellent use of iron windows with more modern feature furniture


The country cottage is complete with eclectic chair choices and all is stunningly lit by natural light through the new skylight.

Designersblock 2011


As part of London Design Week we visited the Designersblock at the wonderful Farmiloe Building in Clerkenwell.

Highlights from the displays included JAIL MAKE’s reseeding brick (see above).The brick is a witty project bringing greeness to the city by inspiring people to become ‘arbortectural’ growers. Each brick has been loaded with seeds which will grow once the brick is positioned outside. We’re not sure what we’ll do with our brick yet but we’ll be sure to keep you posted!!

The Brick machine in action

For more info visit


Another winning design at Designersblock came from Edward Taylor with his ‘Show-Off’ clothing storage unit which has a very useful clothes hanger. Function and style? What more could a you want?!

For more info have a look at the designers website Edward Taylor