Follain is a tiny beauty boutique in Boston’s South End that carries over 30 independent brands of healthy, high performance skincare, hair care, and cosmetics, all made in the U.S.A. The shop is owned by the lovely (natural beauty) Tara Foley, who personally vets every offering.
Foley spent a summer working on an organic lavender farm in France followed by working with a private label skincare manufacturer in Maine. Armed with an MBA from Babson College, Foley opened Follain last summer.
In April she added a second Follain store on Nantucket. Last month the Follain webshop launched. If you can’t make it into the Remodelista-worthy shop (subway tiles, pale wood, farmhouse sink, marble counters, succulents), try the website, which has the same aesthetic and offers the same products as the Follain brick & mortar boutique.
Back in May 2009, I went to Brimfield for the first time after reading about it for years in Martha Stewart Living. That it took me six years after moving to Boston to get there is kind of ridiculous, but finally, prompted by an assignment for Boston Globe Magazine, I trailed interior designer and shop owner Jill Goldberg of Hudson. You can see Jill Goldberg’s top ten Brimfield vendor picks here.
This year, Boston’s most darling publicist Nicole Kanner suggested I trail Abby Ruettgers, who owns the new South End boutique Farm & Fable, where she sells culinary antiques, vintage cookbooks, and new tabletop items. (She also hosts cooking & drinking classes in the basement and has two enormous friendly dogs.) The Boston Globe’s Food & Dining section editor thought it was a great idea, so I went with Abby and Nicole’s sweet assistant Liz Greene to Brimfield in May.
When someone from luxury linen company Frette suggested I check out its offerings, I figured it was about time I did. Although there’s a Frette boutique in Boston, right across from the Apple store in fact, I have never been in, nor have I worked with Frette for local publications, since I didn’t have a contact. Hopefully that will now change.
Of course I am familiar with Frette bedding (oh, to have crisp Italian linens), especially the Frette Hotel Classic line. I was delighted to see a selection of fun prints too.
The cashmere feather weight fringed throw is done in a new, clear shade of blue that coordinates perfectly with the Carline Euro cushion cover. The pillow’s graphic 1950s inspired sunflower design, embroidered on cotton canvas, is an homage to the French Atlantic coastal town of Biarritz. I love the playful crisscross petal pattern embroidered on the Bayonne sheet set, and the boho pattern of the Labourd printed duvet cover has the same graphic design as the pillow.
The Delft Tournai Collection takes cues from the Dutch hand painted tiles. the sheets features printed borders, while the quilt and sham use this small scale pattern all over cotton jacquard. The Bayonne sheeting from above mixes in well with it too.
I’m not really a floral print person, but have been appreciating them a lot of late, with its resurgence in fashion and home decor. Frette’s Fiorito floral is fresh and pretty without being sweet. The palette is clear and strong, incorporating 13 different colors. And what my mother-in-law would do for that new violet colored lightweight cashmere throw. So totaly her color. The TraviataFleur de Saffran scented candle in a lilac porcelain holder with platinum trim is the perfect touch for the bedside table.
Now we’re into my personal decor territory. I actually have a similar duvet with gray border, in fact. This Bicolore Duvet Cover is part of the Frette Essentials Collection. To add the illusion of texture without color, try tone-on-tone pieces, like this Cap Ferrat Tressage Euro Sham, which has a jacquard cotton upper with a vintage basket weave design. The gray-on-gray Lou Lou throw is a combination of silk, cashmere and cotton jacquard, decorated with an Art Deco stylized floral pattern inspired by Jean Cocteau.
Lastly, since Cape Cod is on my mind (just 2 1/2 weeks until school ends and we’re out of here), I couldn’t resist sourcing a little shopping list for my summer self. This Bicolore pillowcase in hemstitch cotton sateen reminds me of my wedding invitation; I love the creamy border on white. The Kishar slippers with silver embroidered logo seems so civilized, especially in butter yellow. Brings me back to Venice. I love the subtle contrast of the skinny braided straw handles on this white leather Idra tote, and the Demetrio teal leather keychain, which can go around your neck, on a hook, or slipped through your beach tote handles.
On Friday I walked over to the Marimekko flagship on Newbury Street to meet Finnish designer Mika Piirainen, who was in town to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Marimekko’s iconic “Unikko” print. You know, the oversize mod floral that immediately springs to mind when someone utters Marimekko.
Mika Piirainen, who graduated from the Lahti Institute of Design and Fine Arts in Finland, is celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. He snagged a position with Marimekko back in 1994, after the head of women’s fashion for the brand saw his final student presentation at Ravensbourne College in London.
He says, “The Marimekko people came to critique the show, and afterwards, they told me to call them. I had an interview within a few days, and got hired as a design assistant in the middle of the first meeting.” Then he adds, “I was lucky.”
That fateful collection was inspired by milkmaids in the Finnish countryside, and he reprised it just three months after starting at the firm. He says, “I redid the milkmaid collection in black, navy, and white, using the same shapes and materials. They sold quite well.”
Piirainen worked on staff at Marimekko for several years, and then transitioned into a freelance role, which has been good for both him and the company, which has almost 20 freelance designers on tap.
He says, “At this point I’ve done everything—women, men, kids, umbrellas, towels. I used to do lots of kids, but I’m done with that. Now I concentrate on women’s clothing and bags. “As for how many pieces he puts out, he recalls, “One year I made 140 pieces, now it’s more like 20 to 30.”
He favors simple silhouettes that let the textile designs speak for themselves. And although he sometimes designs his own prints, he also likes to use those created by young designers. He’s also been using lots of archival prints for new pieces he designs. After all, Marimekko has about 3,000 prints in its archives.
Piirainen explains, we have to check in with copyrights, talk to them about scale and color. Some like to have input, others say we can do whatever we want.”
Mika Piirainen and I chatted on the lower level of the Marimekko store.
Then we went upstairs so he could show me some of his designs. Piirainen designed this Silvi dress, as well as the actual textile pattern, named “Sato.”
Piirainen prefers a neutral palette. With “Sato” he used black & white, playing with the positive and the negative. He hand draws his textile designs, rather than designing them on a computer. He makes big swishing motions with his arm to describe the movements he used in the studio while putting these freeform lines to paper.
Marimekko celebrates the 50th anniversary of its “Unikko” floral this year. Love the Unikko bean bags.
Pod is a charming home furnishings and gift shop in Brookline Village, that I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never visited IRL until last week. It’s got a great feel—sort of Brooklyn meets Japan with old wooden floors and festive Asian lanterns. A lot of the items, like the gold leaf lotus bowl, porcelain feather ornaments, Kinfolk Magazine, metallic zip pouches, and brass coffee spoons are for sale online, so if you’re not in Boston, you can still (and should) shop.