Dining for everyone at Refettorio Felix

Enjoying a hot meal in the company of others is important to us, maybe even conditional for the human spirit? So, when you are at your most vulnerable, can the moment that reminds us of what makes us feel human through the gestures of a meal, give the comfort of that things can change to the better? The Refettorio Felix project gives this a go and are making dining experiences that are for everyone.

Images by Denzeen magazine

The initiator Massimo Bottura, world renowned chef who runs Osteria Francescana in Modena with his wife, approach food like a work of art. The three star Michelin chef wanted to tackle food waste and combined it with also creating a community for people in need. He started Refettorio Felix in 2015, a dining place now in more than seven countries, where people who are homeless or have limited means can go to have lunch. The guests are served with a three course meal each day prepared by some of the best chefs using only food waste (the food is delicious).

Ilse Crawford, who brought humanity into interiors in our modern days, joined Massimo to change the tired community space of the beautiful St Chutberth’s church. All the prerequisites were there, with an enormous ceiling height, beautiful windows and amazing features.  One thing was missing though – the gesture of love. Ilse and her team transformed the space with small means into a beautiful dining area where people from all types of background can find some delicate refuges from the streets and come into a space that provides the comfort of home.

The calming green colours, down to earth choice of material such as the rice lamps that create big impact with their scale and with a repetitive pattern, fill a previously hollow high ceiling into something meditative to watch. The long table communal arrangement encourages the guests to start conversations with someone they didn’t know before.

The dining table is an interesting space to watch. As the dining table is vanishing from our homes: we find ourselves eating at the computer, standing in the kitchen, lounging on the sofa in front of the TV, in the car or walking along the street. What’s the point of a table if we prefer a meal on our laps?

On the other hand, if you have noticed the transformation of restaurants that has happened the last years, you would have noticed a big difference.  We see the usual two or four seating being replaced with long tables. The bar seating added for a new type of guest – the solo diner. The urban living doesn’t per default solve the human interaction need, nor does it sooth our loneliness. Isn’t dining together a quintessential experience after all?

If you haven’t been homeless (like most us luckily haven’t had to experience) you probably haven’t felt the extreme loneliness I can only imagine you’d be carrying. But what we can connect with is the short moments of feeling a bit left out and instances of feeling lonely at times. That feeling connects us and is crucial to understanding how important initiative like these are. Not because they will solve everything, they are still the utopia of how we should be thinking about equality and creating spaces for people who can’t pay for the luxury. Think about all the public spaces in a city, hospital waiting room, official buildings – it can be difficult to think that these were designed for humans in the first place.

To end this story I wanted to share an insight someone found after interviewing hundreds of people about their living situation. He found that people who had very little money to spend, they still want to feel like they have “something”. They would rather spend more on a few items (such as a new phone, an exclusive sofa etc.) if the object was related to their feeling of having dignity. The word dignity kept coming up and seemed to be is something that people always value despite how little they have.

I think the dignity aspect is important to remember as we design for people.

All images by Denzeen Magazine

I volunteered at the Refettorio and it was a wonderful experience. I could chat to people I wouldn’t usually meet in my everyday life and be part of a really great initiative that is making life a little bit better through the simple ideas of community, sharing and food. Read more about volunteering here:  Refettorio Felix
Additional information about the project: Foodforsoul



Slow (down) Social media

In the last year I have been sporadic with my content and in taking part of the various communities out there. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it anymore but life happened; a new flat and renovation, busy at work and then going freelance amongst other life events. No matter if you’re a regular user of social media, blogger, a brand or an entrepreneur, it takes a lot of time and effort to build up an online presence and it can sometimes get stressful.

Let’s face it, in the online world it can feel like our individual value/own personal brand is measured in the social media currency. I definitely felt that the longer time passed between I wrote or created content, the more self-doubt I felt. Would anyone really bother looking at it all?

Thankfully there is always a way back if you feel that you have something that you want to share with the world. After all, I believe that we’re constantly redefining ourselves anyway.

Speaking about that have you heard about slow social media? It’s a call for people not to like or share out of reflex but actually taking the time to read the post or article. It means slowing down, paying attention and genuinely engaging with content, not just sharing because it makes you look good or commenting to increase your own following.

One thing is for sure, social media is changing every day. Here’s what I learned from taking a break from from it.

Being clear with my purpose
I think it’s harder to get in touch with your true purpose if you spend a lot of time online, mainly because what starts as inspiration can turn into comparison of your own work to others.

Understanding your true purpose on the other hand is a truly soul searching job or like therapy, as one of my clients have said. In order to formulate what your passions, beliefs and dreams are, I think that it’s helpful to take some time offline, search inside yourself and find other inspiration. Or you might be limiting it to only be a sliver of its full potential.

Shape my own voice and work
Stepping a little bit away has given me chance to focus on what I want to do, without being too influenced about what everyone else is doing. It has allowed me to go deeper into my subject and think about all the different shapes it could take, without fitting it into something that is already out there.

Measure of success
Though this might not be true in the fast approaching future, I still feel that my measure of success should be based on achievements in real life rather than online. I want to have accomplishments that are rooted in skills and not likes and prefer lifetime projects rather than over night successes.

These are my three leanings of what I gained by not letting social media eat my time.

What is your experience with this? Have you stopped using social media for a while and what did you learn? Share your thoughts below.

Marketing consulting

Are you a small-medium sized business who wants to grow into a loved and recognised brand? Are you trying to get your social media presence off to a flying start – or even back on track?

I can offer simple and actionable plans for you or your team.

Over the years I have managed communications and marketing for Ikea, but also collaborated closely with creative agencies and directly with platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

I can help you create a practical roadmap that will grow your business with more engaged and loyal customers. Through analysing your current situation and defining where you want to go, I will provide solutions that you will benefit from the start but also provide long term strategic advice by guiding you through the process.

I have experience in overall Marketing strategy including the following areas: Brand identity, Social media, Influencer marketing, Content strategy and creation, CRM and email communication, SEO and Web analytics and integrated communications.

Let’s start your journey today.

Available in-person (London) or remotely (video)

Sign up for a free 15min session to discuss your needs.

Get in touch and send me an email.

Creative coaching and mentoring

Looking for ways to grow as an individual? Want to build your personal brand, create a plan for your creative work, or even discover your true passion?

I can help.

I offer personal coaching and mentoring sessions. Drawing on many years’ experience of coaching, both in professional environment but also through coaching individuals in developing their personal brand.

In our sessions we will start where you’re at – whether it’s defining where you want to be, how you can get there, or good strategies and tips that work for content and social media.

We’ll not only look at what and how you could do to develop, but help you find your why, your true purpose to what you do.

Let’s start your journey today.

Get in touch and send me an email.

How to work with brands

Are you approached by businesses that want to collaborate with you?

Wonderful, your hard work and talent is getting noticed.

That said, it could feel daunting to understand this whole new space.

How do you choose the right partners for your brand, the opportunities they offer or what they expect from you? Are some of the terms unfamiliar to you and you’re not quite sure what you need as you enter the professional Instagrammer/blogger/content creator scene?

I can advise you on how you could pitch ideas and respond to collaboration opportunities. I can share legal aspects to be aware of (this is not professional legal advice, only pointers of what you need to be aware of), as well as pricing, negotiation, relationship building and much more.

I’ll give you an instant overview of what areas you need to know about and how you can approach collaborations with confidence – now and in the future.

Let’s start your journey today.

Get in touch and send me an email.

Conscious design

Aspiring a minimalistic life, where we only buy what we really need, where we choose the most ethically, locally produced and sustainable products available, has become a status symbol. Through this we express how mindful we are about the choices we make, a way to show our values and personalities. With the best of intentions it is still limited to those that have the luxury to spend money or time cultivating appreciation for sustainability.

Could we stop feeling guilty about our desire to look good, buy something nice for our home? Designer Anneka Hall decided to allow for these human wants and instead break the conventions by influencing how things are made.

Anneka threads her designs with the love and appreciation for the material, making the most out of what we have and yet with a close understanding of consumer mind-set and our reality. With her down to earth and small scale approach she’s taking on the big and scary challenges we’re facing in sustainability and the textile industry. There is a lot to be inspired by from Anneka who take a full circularity approach for her designs and products.

The combination of Anneka’s creative and crafty side with a grandmother who taught her how to knit, led her to pursue a design career in textile design and more specifically men’s knitwear.

– I always loved the structure and the mathematical, logical thinking that the craft has and for me this comes through in a graphical aesthetic.

After working in the fashion industry for a few years she started feeling frustrated by the disposability she saw and how hard it was for the industry to change.

– As much as you want to say that everyone should stop buying – it’s not reality. I also go to the shops and buy, I know I buy stuff I don’t need and I work in research centre for sustainability! I like to treat myself and look good rather than feel guilty about this we need to find solutions for this.

This inspired Anneka to take a masters in Textile design with a heavy emphasis on designing for sustainability at Chelsea College of Arts and to start her own business to create the change she wanted to see.

The interest in homewares was always there but the reason why Anneka chose to create an interior collection was more of a practical one. Whilst developing her own up cycled yarn, she realised that the material was much better suited for home wares rather than clothing.

– I wanted to play to its strengths rather than forcing something to fit which it wasn’t made for. In home wares you can see some knitted throws and cushions but there is not the same variety as for other techniques. There are a lot of students making bold and exciting products out of yarn but these products usually never reach the shops.

When Anneka started looking at the textile recycling systems as a part of her masters programme she found that though reuse of material was common, the whole lifetime of a material wasn’t being considered. Working with all types of material, she found that the knitwear she used to design is being sold to be turned into “shoddy” materials. Meaning that a knitted jumper bought from the high street that costs around £40, maybe used a couple of times, immediately was turned into something of almost no value.

To change things around Anneka stood side by side the workers in the textile recycling plant and was able to see what knitwear is being thrown away. This led her to find the colour combinations that would be most realistic to have access to and saw the beauty in these materials that nobody else wanted. The grey and navy threads unpicked from the bestselling jumpers on the shop floors became the starting point to develop her yarn and felt fabrics which inspired the design of the collection.

To fulfil true circularity she encourages customers to return the used product so she can put this back into the system and once again make better use of the material.

With the material bit sorted, next design challenge was to make products, such as a pouf with a simple domestic knitting machine and by working with sturdy, thick yarn by hand.

Everything Anneka talks about in her words and actions are about material and conscious design. So what does conscious design mean to you?

 – To me it’s about thinking things through. Thinking about how I design the product and how they can come back to me. It’s about the full circle, questioning my process, supply chain and understanding how the customer will use what I create.

Designers like Anneka inspire me and more than anything they give me hope that the future of design is a better one. The combination of material focus, true craftsmanship and the mind set that we can change structure and systems of how things are made is brave and inspirational. With a common sense approach the ideals could become reality. Not only for the ones who made it this far reading but also to any one shopping a knitted jumper on the high street.


Anneka works in the new Centre for Circular Design formally Ted research and is about to start her PhD researching how the fashion industry can effectively recycle textiles. She is now looking at the next steps moving into manufacturing her products and being able to design for a bigger scale. Get in touch with Anneka for orders or collaborations/partnerships with brands.

Habits in our homes

A little while ago I wrote about habits and why they work harder for us than resolutions. Let’s not forget there is something positive in the intention that is driving us forward. This is such an important life force, but it’s also about how we help ourselves along the way and subtly arrange details around us to support the formation of a new habit. Look at the items in your home; everything has a certain feeling or a character and can help you create the atmosphere you want for a new, fresh start.

In our home, cooking is very important to us and therefore I focus on the details in the kitchen. I’ve always had a dream of a kitchen with a long, rustic wooden table, where we could gather friends and family. However as our kitchen is small, without the space for a large table, I’ve managed to find a smaller table that fits in our home. Smaller scale but same kind of feeling.

What we focus on grows
One of the habits I will practice going forward, not limited to just 2017, is to be more mindfully present in my body and mind so I can see things more clearly, but also enjoy life more. I realise it’s more than a habit, routine or ritual, it’s more of a way of living.

The connection to all senses is something that I’ve learned, and got a taste for, from yoga and meditation. We tend to be very reliant on our sight and everything is extremely visual nowadays, but there’s something very exciting about plugging in and using your other senses too. Scents that lure your imagination or freshen the air you breath into your lungs, materials you use in your home and keep close to your body, colourful food that inspires the eye as well as stills the hunger, or a sound absorbing bedroom for a good night sleep. All these things can improve our well-being and help us focus on what we’re doing in that present moment.

Here are a couple of very simple ideas, a flavour to a home that helps you create healthy habits. How we organise and prioritise the things that we do every day or wish we did more of.

Making your bed in the morning, to ensure that it’s enjoyable to go to bed at night (and it doesn’t have to be perfect).

A selection of the books you’re reading with a notebook next to them for writing down thoughts and ideas that the books give life to.

Water carafe with a glass next to your bedside table so you remember to drink if enough.

What have you found works for you when forming new habits? What small adjustments did you make to allow for them to move into your life?

Mary’s nature story

Taking one step inside the home of Mary Maddocks is like being transported to a cottage in the Welsh countryside and leaving the South East London location behind the shut door. The cosy, warm and joyful feeling embraces you as you enter this Victorian house. The fire crackles and the smell of wood, mixed with the soft tones from sandal wood candles. The muted tones in soft kelim rugs, wicker baskets and the colourful, upcycled furniture grabs your attention and senses. There is no doubt that Mary and her husband are creative, down to earth, who care a lot about their home. You can see it and you can feel it.



“It feels like our home doesn’t fit in the urban life, we forget that we’re in London”

The nature has a presence inside these walls, in the details of wreaths, dried flowers, sea shells, driftwood brought back home as memories from many walks along the coast, camping trips and outdoors adventures. The link between these places and Mary and Raoul is present and strong, these memories are the grounding roots of this home. The traces of the sea, woods and open fields are forming an atmosphere where you feel shielded and connected to your elemental self. “It feels like our home doesn’t fit in the urban life, we forget that we’re in London”.

The house Mary grew up in was warm, cosy, comfortable, family oriented and colourful. Mary’s mum is house proud but not a perfectionist about her home. It was a haven for my sisters and me, she tells me. Mary’s home today bears a resemblance to her childhood home in many ways.

‘In my family home we had a lot of art on the walls’

The home is becoming much more than just a shelter and a place to restore. It’s now often our workspace, our shared space, a hotel or a restaurant. For Mary her home has definitely been the creative outlet she wanted and her way to express all of that creativity that wasn’t part of her day job.

Already from the beginning when Mary stepped into this house, which had lost its original features and not been looked after by anyone in a long time, she saw the potential and could envision what they could turn it into. This was the start of a year long project to transform this house into what it is today. The couple’s social life had to be put on hold, every weekend was filled with work at the house and staying with the in-laws eventually got tiresome, as you can imagine.

‘It was tough and afterwards I said never again, but maybe one day’

However Mary and Raul never gave up on their dream, despite lots of DIY challenges.  Numerous Youtube tutorials helped them figure out how to do everything from sanding the floors to laying a path in their garden. The attic is now a mini B&Q, filled with all the tools you need for a major home make over. On the question, would you ever considering taking on another project like this, Mary hesitates but continues: It was tough and afterwards I said never again, but maybe one day’.

img_6105One of my happiest memories is finding these tiles underneath a carpet cover.

img_6109Bringing nature home 

Every house is filled with memories and stories of people and big events and mundane moments made into something special. This house holds the memories of a young married couple celebrating their joint 30th birthday with all their close friends, introducing two new furry family members to their home and celebrating Christmas for the first time away from their childhood homes.

‘I think it’s more about the process, rather than creating the perfect, finished product.’

Christmas traditions were simplified and a bit stripped and this allowed for a refreshed perspective of what it really should be about – spending time with the ones you love.‘I think it’s more about the process, rather than creating the perfect, finished product.’



This is a family home that is open and welcoming to everyone from Mary’s youngest sister in need of  a home to start her teaching career in London, second sister coming over at least once week, family visiting from Wales and many friends living close by coming over for dinner.

If you’ve been following Mary’s Instagram account @fleaandbear and blog www.fleaandbear.co.uk like I have for over a year you know that she shares inspirational pictures from her home and life. When I entered Mary’s home I was blown away because it was like coming into the world I’ve been following. It was like entering the world of @fleaandbear.


In their garden you find a little shed which is normally a place where you store garden tools but Mary has turned this into a studio for herself. Here she is taking her inspiration from landscapes she has seen and portraying them with metres of yarn.

Just recently she took the decision to leave the certainty of being a lawyer to do something completely new. The road ahead is open. She is following her passion.

How to create hygge at home

Last week I wrote a post about Hygge, a Danish word for describing the joy of everyday moments. It might be described as something uniquely Danish but all of these things can be found in other Scandinavian countries, as well as German, Dutch and in some way British traditions too. The sense of hygge seems to be an instinctive feeling that we all encompass. To continue on the same theme I thought I’d give you my five tips on how to introduce more of that warmth and cosiness as we approach autumn and winter.


Don’t mind the weather
You’re not really able to change it and it’s just putting you in negative frame of mind. Instead think about how you can make something really nice and special out of a rainy day. It might give you a perfectly good excuse to binge watch an episode of your favourite series, stay in and cook a stew or read the new book you just bought.

How to create Hygge

Invest in your home/your sanctuary
Even if you’re just renting a furnished room, you can still get your own little Hygge kit that’s a treat for all your senses.

Sense: Pick your favourite blanket for your proper Hygge moments. It could be an old one from your childhood or just one that’s in natural materials that gives the comfort like from a hug.

Scent: Buy a scented candle or an incentive stick with your favourite smell, it’s incredible how this adds atmosphere to your surroundings.

Sight: One, or many, natural candles, the best way to feel shielded and create warmth around you.

Taste: Buy a nice chocolate for your treat or whatever your indulgence weak point is. I have a box of chocolates at home that I bring out after dinner sometimes or with my espresso in the weekend. It feels like a nice treat and my friends quite enjoy when I share it with them too.

Sound: Listen to your favourite podcast or listen to your favourite music at home. I love playing vinyl records at home, it accompanies my mood and elevates the feelings I’m having. Don’t censure yourself, listen to some melancholic tunes if that’s your mood at the moment, music just creates a funnel for our emotions to come through.

how to create hygge

Make your friends feel outmost welcome when coming for a visit, by lighting a lantern outside your door, keeping some extra slippers for them to wear inside the house or invite them spontaneously over to share a meal on a Monday night, instead of cooking just for yourself. Hygge is best when it’s shared with a few of your closest friends and family.

everyday moments

Make the everyday life special
Don’t rush straight away to work in the morning. Make time to enjoying the everyday moments. Lit up a candle in the dark morning while you’re having your morning coffe, use your favourite cup and be more present in the daily moments. Think about how your coffee tastes and feels. Does it taste the way it smells? Does it taste bitter like dark chocolate or tangy?

kanel bullar

Be kind to yourself
I never believed in diets (never been on one) and have never cared much for that, so in that sense the Hygge approach suits me well. You can allow yourself to eat something nice like a pastry or hot chocolate and not deny yourself anything. For me this works well, because if I know I can have everything, I’ll only have just enough, or ‘lagom’ which we would say in Swedish.

What’s hygge to you?
Now I’d love to hear how do you create Hygge in your home? What are your favourite moments? Do you share them with anyone and can you enjoy the moment when you are by yourself? How does it make you feel?

Embracing the everyday moments

On a rainy and dark February evening, I’m on my way down to the store to get some candles after finishing work. One of my colleagues catches up with me and we chat about our evening plans. I say I’m going to get some candles, and she asks me “Is there a special occasion?” I get a bit puzzled. I’ve never thought about it that way. Why would it be a special occasion? Running out on candles is like running out on milk for a Scandi, we use more candles than anywhere else in the world. The Scandinavian countries are ranked as the happiest people in the world’s year on year, so is there more meaning to the flick of a candle flame than we might first think?

Hygge ljus

Everywhere in the world people light candles to create a warm, intimate ambience. It’s the sort of atmosphere that provides safety and shielding from the world. In Sweden this cosiness is called “mys”, in Norway “cos” and in Denmark “hygge”. Swedes have turned cosiness into nearly a religion. Every Friday families around Sweden huddle up to make time for “fredags mys’” which would translate into “Friday cosiness”, where you have something simple to cook, preferably a meal where everyone can help out. Tacos is the main thing, followed by watching a film or playing games together. This has moved beyond being a trend and is more of a cultural tradition, as important to Swedes as Lucia or cinnamon buns. The Danes are also really good to learn from and they’re probably more known for creating atmosphere in a spontaneous way. Hygge is so much more than candles and sitting in front of a fireplace. Hygge is essentially a way of creating an ambiance in the everyday moments.

Grit Tind Mikkelsen, a Danish documentary filmmaker based in Copenhagen, describes hygge as an action, event or a sublime feeling. Hygge is a moment that appears naturally and is a state of being. “It could mean a simple moment for myself, drinking tea, or sitting together with a friend under the same blanket, whilst I’m reading and she’s watching tv. Together we would hygge.”

Hygge book

The Scandinavians’ ability to create this sort of intimacy, might come from the history of many long, dark winters where making a mundane moment into something more than just prevailing winter. That sort of simplicity, in turning a functional need into an almost spiritual one, might be what makes the Nordic countries unique. It’s about enjoying every moment, the way it is.

“Essentially hygge is an atmosphere and an experience; it’s not about physical objects”

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, is coming out with ‘The little book of Hygge, the Danish way to live well’ in September. According to Meik, “hygge has been called everything from the art of creating intimacy and togetherness, cosiness for the soul to absence of annoyances. Essentially hygge is an atmosphere and an experience; it’s not about physical objects.

“I think the essence of hygge can best be describe as the pursuit of everyday happiness.”

Hygge is a feeling of home, being in the company of the people we love and where we feel safe and shielded from the world. Here we allow ourselves to let our guard down and take pleasure from soothing things. My personal favourite is a Cocoa scented candlelight. I think the essence of hygge can best be describe as the pursuit of everyday happiness.”

Hygge blomma

How does this translate into the British culture of creating a similar kind of cosiness? What are the typically British ways and expressions of the “hygge atmosphere”?

Helen Russell, the British author behind the book “The Year of Living Danishly – Uncovering The Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country”, moved to Denmark together with her partner. In her book she unpicks the cultural traits behind the essence of Danish culture. I asked her to share her view on what the equivalent of hygge is to British people.

“In the UK, we’ve forgotten how to celebrate the simple things and be kind to ourselves, something I think the Danes are pretty good at.”

“I think that Brits already get hygge to an extent, look at the number of log fires in every house, obsessions with country walks and pub lunches. However we don’t prioritise it like the Danes do. In the UK, we’ve forgotten how to celebrate the simple things and be kind to ourselves, something I think the Danes are pretty good at.”

Something I’ve picked up on and that I think a lot of people would describe as utterly British is the relationship with drinking tea. When entering a home in the UK, you will probably be asked the question, “Shall I put the kettle on/shall I make you a cup of tea”? Then you’ll sit down and have a chat while drinking your tea, which to me is the essence of hygge. The rituals of making tea, or a toast for that matter, is very important to British people, and there seems to be a certain way of making a cup of tea that people hold dear to their heart. I think also this shows an intention of enjoying the everyday moments.

We are now approaching autumn both in Scandinavia and in the UK. Our seasons are fairly similar, with many opportunities to create an everyday atmosphere that feels nurturing and meaningful just the way it is. Let’s not wish our days away but practice a mindful approach in our life and let’s hygge!

More about:
Meik Wiking – Little book of Hygge
Helen Russell