Gurasu’s top five exhibitions in London this winter

Escape the Christmas crowds with our insider guide to some of November’s best exhibitions

London is an amazing city. We love it. A city at the forefront of fashion, yet with its own innate individuality; somewhere that shouts contemporary spirit amid ancient buildings and streets of history; a place where Michelin-starred restaurants sit next to classic cafes. And it’s no secret that it offers some of the best shopping in the world. That’s why, come Christmas, the streets are thronged with crowds looking for the perfect gift.

Fisherman In The Lagoon Moonlight By Turner

Fisherman In The Lagoon – Moonlight

Image Credit www.tate.org.uk

But sometimes retail therapy isn’t enough – you simply have to escape those crowds and find a spot for some serious R&R. One option, of course is shopping online. Another is to take a break in the heart of town, a few hours of peace and contemplation. The perfect spot for these secret moments? A museum or gallery. There is nothing better than peppering the Christmas madness with a trip to one of London’s exceptional exhibitions, so we have picked our top five to help you find your own inner calm.

1. WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR

This annual treat of an exhibition opens every autumn at the Natural History Museum, displaying that year’s very best wildlife photography. 2014 is the 50th anniversary, and historic images will be displayed alongside this year’s winners. Intimate animal portraits, incredible still lives and action shots, beautifully technical or creatively imagined – the talent and vision on display is spectacular. Plus the subject is a real crowd-pleaser and appeals to all ages, meaning you can keep the kids in tow without any moaning.

Natural History Museum
Until 30 August 2015

2. GRAYSON PERRY: WHO ARE YOU?

The National Portrait Museum is always a treat; wandering between its famous faces is a lesson in who’s who throughout history. From society portraits to commemorative pieces, each one executed with talent and creativity. However, at the moment, there is an additional surprise in store for visitors. Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry has interspersed 14 new portraits amidst the classic and contemporary collections, portraying 21st-century subjects and asking the question: who is worth commemorating in this day and age, who represents our identity and country, and what does it mean to be British? It’s a fascinating insight into our changing times and an easy way to introduce yourself to Perry’s sometimes kitschy aesthetic.

National Portrait Museum
Until 15 March 2015

3. LATE TURNER: PAINTING SET FREE

Coinciding with Timothy Spall’s representation of the landscape painter in the film, Mr Turner, the Tate Britain is hosting a collection of the Turner’s later paintings. Exploring how his style changed as he aged, and how infirmity and illness affected his technique, the exhibition is an exploration of both a body of work, an the actual physical skill behind it. It’s an interesting angle, and one which adds a personal dimension to some stunning paintings.

Tate Britain
Until 25 January 2015

4. COLLECTING HISTORY: THE FOUNDERS OF THE WALLACE COLLECTION

Rather than focussing on one artist or genre, this fascinating exhibition details the creation of a collection – the Wallace Collection, housed at Hertford House, Manchester Square [Link to Google maps]. It tells the story of the Seymour-Conway Family and the paintings, sculptures and objets that they amassed over five generations. Letters, photographs and even art are employed to lead visitors through the family history, introducing the collectors and those around them who helped them to collect. An insight into not only one of the best preserved formerly-private collections in the city, but also into the people behind them and their personal and contemporary tastes.

Wallace Collection, Hertford House
Until 15 February 2015

5. WOMEN FASHION POWER

We’re pretty sure that alongside the games and books there are more than a few items of clothing on your Christmas lists. Whether you are buying for yourself or someone else, find inspiration at the Design Museum. Women Fashion Power looks at the wardrobes of 25 influential women, from Margaret Thatcher to Vivienne Westwood. Each woman has contributed one outfit, and the exhibition considers them as both tools of self-expression and power. It’s not only an interesting statement on the place of fashion in politics, art and society, but also a fantastic display of some of the most iconic outfits of our times.

Design Museum
Until 26 April 2016

Joanna’s top Christmas present ideas

The leaves are falling, the evenings are darkening and thoughts are turning towards Christmas.

As November gets underway, it is time to start planning the festive season and the gifting that goes with it. We’ve taken look at some of our other favourite London brands to find inspiration…

Glass Mount crystal bowl by Arik Levy

Glass mount bowl 365 BOMMA_f_Kristina_Hrabetova

For Her: POLLY WALES: London-based jeweller Polly Wales is inspired by antique treasures and ethnic adornments to create striking, organic designs. She uses a process called ‘lost wax casting’ which yields completely individual pieces, with the stones seeming to emerge from the precious metals they are embedded within. A stack of her delicate halo rings, paired with a chunkier constellation ring, is a lovely seasonal accessory.

MYLA: Beautifully crafted in an Italian atelier and tailored to gently enhance and flatter the body’s natural curves, Myla silk sleepwear is an indulgent way to ignore the cold and stay in bed. The brand’s iconic Isabella range has beautifully cut babydoll, camisole and robe sets, and the new AW14 collection pairs tactile velvets, tulle and delicate lace with on-trend metallic embroidery and innovative tailoring to strike just the right balance between elegance and allure.

PENHALIGONS: The classic British fragrance house, Penhaligons, has done it again this season with a selection of enticing and interesting fragrances. We think ‘Lothair’, with its refreshing and seasonal notes of grapefruit and juniper paired with green fig leaf, is a great Christmas scent.

ANYA HINDMARCH BESPOKE: We love Anya Hindmarch’s designs – elegant with a twist, injecting fun and personality into classic leather tailoring. Add a special touch for a loved one with her bespoke service: initials or a handwritten message or drawing embossed on her signature French calf leather.

For Him

 BILL AMBERG: Bill Amberg is known for his men’s accessories – fun designs brilliantly crafted. The stylish backpacks and messenger bags are perfect for teens or young men who want to cut a dash, but we really covet the new Bridle Rocket, which adds a little individuality into formal wear with its unusual briefcase shape.

SMYTHSON / MARBY AND ELM: What to get the person who has everything? We are always fans of personalised stationary – it is the kind of thing no one buys for themselves. Smythson is the famous name, with a selection of classy, minimalist designs, but Marby and Elm is an excellent boutique alternative, with personal service and some interesting ideas, all printed on a vintage press in Clerkenwell.

For Kids and Teens

 HUNTER: Traditionally associated with Wellington boots and practical outdoor wear, Hunter have stealthily entered the world of fashion, with some impressive collections emerging over the past few seasons. Their dedication to quality and durability remains the same, adding weatherproofing and interesting material and rubber accents to everyday wear. We love the high-heeled boots, in leather or rubber, paired with the sleek, fitted down jackets, to add a bit of dash to your splashing.

CARAMEL BABY & CHILD: Long-acclaimed for their beautiful infant clothing, Caramel Baby & Child have launched a lovely new winter collection. Our favourites are the brushed cotton ‘Willow’ dress. Snug and soft, it has pretty embroidery down the front and would look lovely for a festive gathering. If you’re searching for something for a new arrival, they also have baby gift sets, including adorable striped mittens and hats or merino wool jacket and bootie combinations.

For Pets:

MUNGO & MAUD: Let’s not forget Fido this festive season… Mungo & Maud have lovely pet clothing and accessories crafted in traditional fabrics. We think the ‘Good Dog’ treat jar filled with their organic granola dog treats would be the perfect gift for man’s best friend, while his feline counterparts can snug down for Christmas day in the Corduroy Hideaway bed.

Twist Crystal Whiskey Set

From Gurasu: And of course, we have some lovely gifts at Gurasu, from a minimalist whiskey set, Twist Crystal Whiskey Set, to elaborately coloured and engraved decanters Rainbow Olive Green Decanter. Bright hues also make our Birds of Paradise glassware sets a lovely festive addition to the Christmas meal, while the Glass Mount bowls by Arik Levy  are an architectural centrepiece to grace the most elegant table.

Birds of Paradise Crystal Cocktail Glasses, set of 6

Rainbow Olive Green Decanter

The gift of wonder this November

Winter is the time to spoil yourself and your loved ones, so this year, at Gurasu we decided to create the most irresistible smaller gifts of luxury in a form of sets of two #setoftwo If your tastes run to sparkle, there are crystal glasses galore – from the jewellery-like and vibrant Birds of Paradise tumblers – the most loved product by our clientèle – or the set of two wine glasses to choose from.

Come and meet us at Country Living’s Christmas Fair in London

Country living fair London banner

On 15th of November take a look at our website to find out the pineapple tumblers in the most magnificent, newly-launched colours of crystals including aubergine, lavender, amber gold or sky blue. If you are always tempted by pink sapphire our raspberry hue is coming to our showroom too. So, please enquire or browse our crystal gurasu heaven…

Emerald Crystal High Ball Glasses, set of 6

Chic and elegant, raspberry is a princess among others. With a distinct nod to tradition which embraces a modern happiness and vigorous lifestyle, the collection of Birds of Paradise includes stemware and barware in a mix of colours. It invites the curation of modern “friends and family” drinking experience, which interplays between proportion, weight and size.

Crystal tumbler in raspberry

While for those who always succumb to retail shopping galore, there are the most beautiful destinations to start your treasure hunt for your Christmas gift. The top-quality Country Living Magazine’s Christmas Fair or the open air Belgravia Christmas Market. At both events we will have a pleasure of meeting our lovely loyal and new customers.

Emerald Crystal High Ball Glasses, set of 6

Highlighted by a bold emerald green hue, these stunning high ball glasses make a stylish choice for serving juices, gin and tonics or other long mixed drinks.

Emerald green high ball

The Christmas shopping experience is always enchanting is you choose the right places to shop and here we want you to spoil yourself with crystal at most fashionable, jewel-like crystal ware for your truly magical Christmas table. So start with a set of two tumblers for your best-friend, a crystal votive in amber gold for your mum, and end up with a set of emerald high ball crystal glasses for those unforgettable moments by your Christmas table.
Love
Joanna Maya

Contemporary design inspired by classic craftsmanship

Hand made in countries famous from the best crystalware, each piece of Gurasu crystal represents generations of exquisite craftsmanship, combined with contemporary design for a modern, elegant finish

Man working hot glass

Gurasu Crystal is known for its contemporary flair – a modern take on classic crystal elegance. However, each piece is still crafted using an age-old process, with hours of skilled work going into every step of the process.

Our crystal is produced in the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany most of it is entirely handmade by local artisans who have been working with crystal for generations – says Joanna Maya. Glass and crystal production in Czech Republic has its origins in the 13th century, in the Lusatian Mountains of north Bohemia.

For centuries, this has been the centre of the industry, supplying demand from the finest houses and palaces of Europe. Production has changed little and the Czech Republic is still known as the home of some of the finest crystal in the world.

Glass factory production line

Taking the production to the Czech Republic doesn’t just make aesthetic sense, it is also part of the story of Gurasu. Founder Joanna Maya has been fascinated by crystal since childhood, when she would watch the blowers on family trips to the mountainside.

Mountains are the source of crystal and this is the reason why all factories were situated surrounded by them.  Wanting to preserve this beautiful craft, she established Gurasu in London what now enables her to collaborate with the best, aspiring, British artists on new designs.

London is the most amazing and inspirational design city and I am proud to live and developing the crystal brand here, surrounded by the best design talent! – says Joanna.

Production begins with the raw materials, heated to 2640 degrees Celsius. Historically, crystal was shaped by glassblowing the mixture by mouth and this is still the most valued technique in the industry.

Four specialist glassblowers are required for each piece of Gurasu crystal, dipping the blowpipe into the heated glass mixture and shaping it either by hand turning the pipe or blowing it gently into a carefully-crafted mold. Once it has been shaped, the piece is set to cool. A glass can cool within a few hours, but larger pieces can take several days.

Women working hot glass

Exquisite cut separates beautiful crystal from good crystal. Our craftsmen spend a further eight hours achieving the perfect cut and clarity, by hand and by cutters who understand that each design must be meticulously and finely etched using a two stage process.

It is a painstaking process, but one that produces the sharpest cuts. Once cut, the crystal is delicately coloured and polished by hand to bring out the brilliance and sharpness of the design.

Learn more about the traditions behind Gurasu in A History Lesson category.

What makes a good cocktail?

The best cocktails mixologists don’t just focus on the ingredients. We talk to London’s finest to find out how the glass is just as important as what goes into it.

Birds of Paradise Crystal Cocktail Glasses, set of 6

17th Century England

The origin of the cocktail is one of constant dispute, however, hard liquors began to appear in England from the 17th century, and by the mid-nineteenth, the first cocktail recipe book had been printed, by one Jerry Thomas in the United States. Safe to say, since then, the mixing of spirits to create delicious drinks has been incredibly popular, with ever newer and more outrageous creations invented behind bars across the world.

Drinking Habits and Seasons

While everyone has their favourite, our general tastes shift as the seasons turn. According to Rachel Crozier-Clucas, Bar Manager of Hawksmoor Seven Dials, as the weather gets colder.

Tastes leans towards more ‘comforting’ drinks. The flip makes a reappearance, with the eggy, creamy drinks lending itself to scarf and hat weather. Hot cocktails become popular, especially as an arrival drink. Buttered rum is a firm favourite, although a few years ago I tried a buttered gin that was also astoundingly good.

Presentation is  Vital

And the presentation is important. According to Rachel, we don’t just eat with our eyes, we drink with them too.

People do make assumptions about a drink based on the way it is presented. A Martini served in a chilled cocktail glass, not overly filled and with an attractive garnish is a recognisable and attractive serve. A Tiki mug definitely gives some indication that the cocktail it contains is more than likely rum based and exotic.

Form Follows Function

And it isn’t just aesthetic.

Choosing the right glass for a cocktail can seem like a difficult decision, especially considering the number of options available. It all comes down to what will be going into it. A cold straight up drink, such as a Daiquiri, will benefit from a cocktail or coupette glass as the stem will stop the liquid becoming warm when the glass is held. A delicate, fragrant cocktail will be presented best in a sherry glass, the fluted sides will act as a funnel for the aromas while drinking, enhancing the overall experience. A drink such as an Old Fashioned, containing ice, will work best in a rocks glass as there is enough space for the liquid to move around and release aromas.

We hope you have enjoyed this post and would love you to read more of our posts on A History Lesson.

Autumn/Winter 2014: From the Catwalk to the Home

The worlds of interior design and fashion often cross with each other, blending to create beauty in both the way we dress and the way we live. Autumn/Winter 2014 is no different, and we are seeing styles that have been successful on the catwalk become big in interior design. Here, we take a look at three of the biggest trends this season:

tropical home decor room and model shot

Image credit – Design lovers

1. Geometric Prints

Echoing the look of the 1960s and mod subculture, geometric prints are the ultimate in style and have been used by many designers this season. So, how can we take this trend into the home? You may be adventurous and use a bold geometric print on your wall, however, there are plenty of ways to bring in the shapes more subtly. Try using them when furnishing a room e.g. using a circular lamp in your living room. Dining rooms are also perfect for geometric shapes. Choose crystal whisky tumblers or original bourbon glasses for strong shapes that act as a unique, statement feature within the room.

2. The Natural World

Nature is everywhere on the catwalk and in homes for AW14. From leafy prints and mysterious florals to bird feathers and tropical animals, your home can really become the jungle! It’s easy to buy accessories and fabrics that are patterned with natural prints. However, if you want to bring something different to your rooms, try connecting nature and luxury. Juxtapose peacock- printed plates with luxurious crystal wine glasses or floral printed fabrics in the bedroom with an opulent chandelier. The opposing looks will produce a design that is unique and guaranteed to impress.

3. Blocks and Blues

This season sees colour blocks of all forms on the catwalk. From neutral caramels and whites to all shades of this season’s colour, blue. Whether it’s navy, midnight, pastel or royal, blue has been everywhere on the catwalk. It’s also a calming colour to use in your home. Try coloured wine glasses in different shades, unusual navy furnishings or delicate baby blue fabrics in the bedroom for three unique ways to use blue. As for colour blocks, choose two or three colours and use them in any room for a dramatic and eye-popping effect.

Experimenting with fashions and being inspired by catwalk trends will guarantee you and your home are always in vogue. Have the courage to be creative and give your home the same care you give your wardrobe!

We hope you have enjoyed this post and would love to read more of our post on design inspirations and decor trends.

Six Occasions When To Use Crystal Glassware

As a beautiful and sophisticated choice, crystal glassware is the perfect way to create an impressive setting at your dinner table. The opulence and style associated with fine glassware makes it ideal for special occasions when ordinary glass just isn’t enough.

Here, we take a look at six occasions when we can use crystal glassware:

 

Alfresco dining table with salad bowl


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Joanna Maya on how to keep the crystalware en vogue

The Gurasu Crystal founder and creative director Joanna Maya on her dream to transform the way we think about crystal.

 

Birds of Paradise Cocktail glass

Birds of Paradise Cocktail glass

Crystal glassware has always been regarded as something special and treasured and until recently it was not something that was used as an everyday item. In recent years, that perception has changed as cheap, machine-made crystal entered mainstream retail and Internet stores. For the classic crystal manufacturers such as St Lambert in Holland this has led to a decade of struggle. Manufacturers have found it hard to find craftsmen with hand-cutting skills, leading to a decline across the entire industry.
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