Posts by: Ingrid Keneally

Louella Odié

Louella Odié by mother and daughter design team Karen and Lauren Mead, is fast becoming known for its artworks and other lovely products to swoon over. Hong Kong-born Karen is a trained print-maker and her collection of lithographs are sublime. Everything is done by hand and there is always an ‘East-meets-West’ twist in her work. Her floral lithograph that hangs in her workshop is a constant on my wish-list. Karen studied her craft in Britain; daughter Lauren started in fashion branding, and was working for UK label Jack Wills before she went into business with her mother. Now based on Hong Kong’s Lamma Island, the pair has certainly come full circle, and neither could imagine working with anyone else. A ride over to their atelier and workshop is guaranteed to produce delight at their interesting body of work.  

Why Louella Odié? 

Karen: As an artist I am never going to stop making my personal work, but I have to be realistic about finding an outlet for it. I recognised within my work there was a commercial element and I’ve chosen to develop that into Louella Odié.

Lauren: I’ve always wanted to work for myself, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. 

How did the name Louella Odié come about?

Karen: On the first day I met someone who is now one of my very good friends, she said I didn’t look like a ‘Karen’ and named me ‘Louella’ instead. The name stuck with a large group of my UK friends and I have been Louella ever since. Odié is my mother’s maiden name and as we have a history of creative women in the family we wanted to reflect it in our business name. 

Some of the things you might do in a day?

Karen: I try to make sure I draw every day, even if it is just a quick sketch or a scribble. Drawing calms me down. I often spend an entire day working on a print, but could just as easily be found walking around Sham Shui Po looking for fittings for bags. I also teach classes at the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, so once a week I am with my students in the studio there. 

Lauren: Louelle Odié is a small company, so every day is different for me. Some days I spend locked on my computer organising things for a big trade fair we are going to in September. Other days I spend walking around meeting retailers, or – my favorite – meeting bloggers who we can collaborate with!

Describe your style?

Karen: I have no clear idea what my style is, but I am always drawn to extremes, even though I don’t go that far myself. I admire people whose style is decidedly quirky, such as Charlotte Olympia or Lulu Guinness. 

Lauren: I now live and work on Lamma Island which has meant a change in style. Gone are the high heels, jackets and pencil skirts, suddenly I am channeling laid-back resort wear that is perfect for island living. 

Can you name your three best traits?

Lauren: We’ve decided to pick for each other (so clearly, trust is one trait we share). So, for Mum, I think her three best traits are her intuitive nature. Mum often picks up on body language, colour trends and subtle clues that come from her ability to be permanently observant, even when she isn’t consciously aware she is doing it. Secondly her sense of the ridiculous – Mum can always see a disgusting joke in everything. Finally it goes without saying that Mum is creative, but more specifically her creative problem solving abilities are key to our business. She can create something out of nothing and see solutions I would never spot. 

Karen: You soon realise when you meet Lauren how driven she is, to the extent that you wouldn’t stand in front of her for very long because you’d get squashed. She is organised and makes paperwork and all the stuff I hate look easy, but she has a great sense of fun and I love to see her dissolve into giggles. 

Who or what inspires you?

Karen: I get visual inspiration from everything around me, but in Hong Kong I particularly like the juxtaposition of the man-made and the natural. 

Lauren: I have a number of business women I look up to and am inspired by. This would include Stacey Bendet, the founder of Alice and Olivia, for her own driven nature and her ability to beat to her own drum in terns of style. I would also include Tamara Mellon and Tory Burch on my would-like-to-meet-list. 


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Beautiful Bonsai

Bonsai really do capture the whole concept of peacefulness. I don’t know what it is about them but they can make such an impact – one single bonsai just sitting on a windowsill or a few of them outside on a rustic table looks so beautiful. Even though bonsai is a Japanese word it actually was originally a Chinese practice and it came from the Chinese term penzai, which means ‘tray plant’. I think anything minature makes your imagination take hold – they can even be thought of as little sculptures.

If you are living in Hong Kong there are numerous places to buy a Bonsai – even a visitor will love looking at all the different ones available. Our favourite streets to hit are Yuen Po and Playing Field Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon. Sun Kee Trading Co, 5-7, Yuen Po Road, Mong Kok. Tel: +852 2830 8331 sells exquisite little gates, bridges, white standing cranes and hanging monkeys so you can put your styling skills to work to create your own mini world. Shop H2 Ground Floor Kam Ming Court, 12 -14 Playing Field Road, Mong Kok. Tel: +852 2392 4568 has large and small bonsai available. The nursery in Happy Valley also has an amazing array of bonsai and they will happily tell you how to care for them. Known to have a reputation to grow as old as humans – these little trees can fit into even the tiniest of apartments – all they take is watering and love. 

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Cupcakes are a fun alternative to the traditional cake for a party. As you can see from our recent shoot we also found that Perspex trays are the perfect way to bring out the child-friendly potential which makes them a hit for anyone with children or a youthful sweet-tooth. Shop for all your cupcake needs at New Chun Fat, 277 Shanghai Street, Yaumatei, Kowloon. Tel: +852 2388 5318. Here you will find a treasure-trove of patty-pans, small stainless steel tins and other bits and pieces you might want for the perfect cup-cake. I Love Cake, G/F 188 Wan Chai Road. Tel: +852 2671 2644 in Wan Chai has all the toppers and candles you could imagine, plus little cake tins. At my house there are always personal garlands – paper doilies, strips of wool, fabric, and colourful string – which give character to any party. Keep the icing simple, add fresh flowers – how could you refuse anything as pretty as that?

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Spotlight on buckles, buttons and collars

We love the personal details that create original style. You can change old buttons on a favourite high-street blazer, or hand sew badges or quirky lapels on T-shirts or jackets. Look for luxe buttons on Nam Cheong and Tai Nan streets, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon – mother-of-pearl, brass, patterned, textured, brass, fabric and wooden ones are available at key stalls in these streets. Search for delicate collars and embellishments to add to a top at 80 Nam Cheong Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon – and here you can pick up some wonderful brooches as well to make any outfit more appealing. Customizing items from your wardrobe will definitely give definite party appeal. For day-time style sew a pretty lace collar to a cotton or woollen pullover. The sweaters at Uniqlo will not disappoint. For those of you with skirts with a dull hemline, cut a section of the end off and replace with some hand dyed matching lace. After all this, no one will ever look predictable.

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Chola Masala

Chola Masala
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  1. 250 gms chickpeas (soaked in water overnight)
  2. 4 cups water
  3. 1 medium size onion chopped
  4. 1 medium size tomato chopped
  5. 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  6. 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  7. 2 tablespoons of oil
  8. 2 bay leaves
  9. 1 1/2 tablespoons Chola Masala (These are small packs of Masalas you can buy from any Indian store)
  1. Soak Chola (chickpeas ) in warm water overnight (about 8 hours)
  2. Cook Chola in a pressure cooker/ in a closed vessel till they become soft.
  3. Take 1 teaspoon of oil, sauté the chopped onions till they become light brown.
  4. Remove onions from the pan, cool and grind them to a paste.
  5. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a pan.
  6. Add bay leaves, onion paste and sauté for 5-6 mins, now add ginger paste and garlic, sauté for another 3-4 mins.
  7. Once done, add the finely chopped tomatoes and sauté till the tomatoes are fully cooked.
  8. Add Chola masala and after 10-15 seconds add cooked chola.
  9. Add salt to taste
  10. Cover the pan and cook for a further 5-10 mins
  1. Serve with Naan bread or Roti.

Stocking up on enamel

Enamel ware in Hong Kong is enchanting. It’s brand-less and simple, and the fine floral designs add a little romance to the everyday kitchen set. The blue tiffin tins and little coffee cups first caught my eye at this store on Hollywood Road in the late-nineties. Inside was a beautiful mess with all these metal and enamel pieces stacked together. That store’s now closed but here’s the address of one below so you’ll know where to start if you’re searching for enamel plates, cups, bowls, trays, vases, thermoses, or some lovely trinkets in Hong Kong.

See the enamel and metal wares at Chu Wing Kee, 26 Possession Street, Sheung Wan, + 852 2545 3560.

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Latitude 22N

The showroom and studio of Latitude 22N is housed in a 1970’s warehouse in Chai Wan. Here Hong Kong born and bred Julie Progin and her American born husband Jesse McLin work and showcase their varied collections. This clever duo not only create and design but also work with artisans in Jingdezhen province in China, the home of porcelain, to produce a modern yet quirky take on ceramics. You will find it hard to leave Latitude 22N without something. Their suspension lights come in a multitude of colours; their ‘Ding’ light, in white or black, is a delicate yet striking modern take on the hanging light. Their basic porcelain bowls, plates and cups are produced in beautiful hues, and their collections, The Night Market, Song and Waves are unique and refreshing. Everything is done with precision and thought. It makes me think that ceramics/porcelain is definitely coming back in a big way.  After graduating with a Bachelor in Fine Arts at Kansas City Art Institute and then a Masters degree at The Alfred State School of Ceramics Arts Jesse McLin went to New York and taught at Parsons School of Design where he met Julie Progin. Jesse works with many different materials: metal, paper, ceramics, glass, and the incredible wooden tree installations could be used as a room divider or just to just simply have in a space gives a sense of calm. Jesse’s childhood growing up exploring the redwoods of Northern California perhaps gave him an eye to hand carve these beautiful wooden sculptures. Julie studied textiles at Duperré in Paris and ended up exploring product design at Parsons in New York, but her Hong Kong roots brought them back to launch their own design studio. 

What made you start Latitude 22N?

Our wedding was the starting point. We wanted to share our appetite for ceramics and design with our loved ones. Next thing you know, we pulled up our sleeves and set out to create our wedding decor out of ceramic from lights to candle holders down to dinner plates. This is when our Song dinnerware collection came to be. We were inspired by the delicate, simple and nature influenced patterns of the Song era that were made in Jingdezhen, porcelain capital city of China, that we had seen at the Metropolitan in New York where we lived at the time. The designs we came up with had such good responses that we decided we had to find a way to make more pieces and what better place to make them then to go back where the source of our inspiration came from. So we packed our bags and headed off to explore the know hows of Jingdezhen’s craftsmen, dropping off suitcases in Hong Kong along the way. What we found there was breathtaking. Amazing white porcelain and skills that we had not encountered before. Naturally we started exchanging ideas with the artisans there and drew up more and more collections back in our studio in Hong Kong. The name Latitude 22N was then decided – 22N for the terrestrial coordinates of the city of Hong Kong. Latitude as a reflection of our diverse skills, backgrounds and that of all the people involved in the making of our collections. 

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Wooden cutting boards are so great for styling and a can’t-live-without kitchen aid ( the ease of a well-crafted one is a relief when chopping vegetables). A great shop in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon Woodwork Professor, G/F 335-339 Shanghai Street. Tel: +852 2332 2443 specialises in all kinds: square shaped, pizza tray ones to large circular styles. They also have a large stack of camphor boards out the front of the shop. No good for cooking but a lifesaver, when hung in the wardrobe, from moth attacks on precious clothes. Just across the road is Man Kee Chopping Board, G/F 340-342 Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei. Tel:+852 2332 2784 they also have a good selection of wooden boards. 

Rubbing a little sunflower oil or coconut oil all over the board around 3- 4 tablespoons with cloth gloves every few months will keep your board glossed and in prime condition. 


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Christmas is a go-go

Christmas is nearly here, so if you are looking for live trees and beautiful wreaths, head to Chung Hing Gardening & Landscaping, Chun Hing Garden, Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley. Tel: +852 2573 5408. This incredible urban nursery is located in between Happy Valley racecourse and the historical cemeteries of Hong Kong which are a story in themselves. If you are Sai Kung side, talk to Pedro at KK Horituculture – this family run establishment always has lovely Christmas trees, wreaths and candle settings for the table. Tau Chung Hau Road, Sai Kung, Tel: +(852) 2792 7440.

Once you have a tree you will need some decorations. I recently supplied the lifestyle store Mirth in Hong Kong a bunch of my own – I add a touch of Liberty fabric to vintage bells and glass spheres – which will lend some seasonal dazzle to any home or apartment. 

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Fungus Workshop

I first met Baldwin Pui and Philip Lau when I did a leather making class in their workshop late last year. This lovely and very clever duo have been making leather goods for stores such as Harvey Nichols and private clients for quite some time now. They are a highly regarded leather making team. Fungus Workshop is a partnership between Hoiming (a leather goods designer brand) and Cowrice (a lifestyle creative unit). Not only do they run classes but they also sell their designs at Fungus Workshop, a quirky and inspiring studio space on G/F 4 Po Hing Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island, +852 2779 9003.

Baldwin and Philip started teaching leather classes in 2009 and haven’t looked back. They want people to focus on making their own handmade leather pieces, they teach students to stitch everything by hand. The main aim of Fungus Workshop is to share their passion, technique and respect for the leather craft and they encourage people to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from making something from scratch.

Classes are packed so bookings are essential and what you choose to make is completely up to you. I worked on a leather clutch; others in my class were making everything from dog collars, wallets and handbags to children’s shoes. Materials are provided but they don’t mind if you bring along your own handles or leather. I found my leather in Sham Shui Po at Luen Cheong Company, G/F 173 Tai Nan Street, Kowloon, +852 2393 5926. We’ve also been to Sun Hing Lung Leather Company, G/F 170 Ki Lung Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, +852 2391 3448. It’s definitely worth a look – they fill their bins at the front with affordable off-cuts.

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