Memories of Marigolds


I expect when this journal post reaches everyone’s inbox that we will receive an extra-large amount of out of office replies, due to the fact that this date coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday in the US.

When I was living in Scotland, American Thanksgiving (Black Friday to be precise) was something that you’d see on the BBC news at night – normally throngs of people stampeding into a store to buy huge tellys on massive discounts and we’d all watch rolling our eyes, drinking our tea, eating digestive biscuits, bewildered at the sheer madness of it all. 

Roll on many years, with our population becoming more mobile and our world becoming smaller due to the internet, it now seems like we all celebrate American Thanksgiving even if it’s just with our shopping habits (hopefully without the stampeding and shoving). 

Several years ago, I got an email from the British company Marks & Spencer UK (who does not have any stores in the US) advising me of their Thanksgiving sale and that truly seemed to be in my humble opinion the tipping point in the world with our shopping habits all colliding. 

This year black Friday sales seemed to start in October with everyone trying to get sales in advance of everyone else. I preferred it when it was all contained around the one weekend. I liked the thrill of getting up early and seeing what my favourite retailers had on offer, now I feel like we get to unwrap our gifts before the holidays. But that is maybe just me. 

Our journals are written in advance (sometimes not that much in advance) and scheduled to be sent out on the last Friday of every month. This month the last Friday is today which is freaking me out a little as somehow next week is December and then we are on the final leg of the year. 

We have three installations in December, all have collided during the same two-week period, which was not the intention many months / years ago when decisions were made and tentative move in dates were made. 

Projects can stretch in size; the construction schedule can shift and expand and as we install our interiors last, our time can get scrunched down to the last possible minute especially when clients are moving home for the holidays or have plans to host. 

December is set to be a very busy month and for that I am so grateful. I love to see my clients settled and happy, for the wait to be over, and for things to be cooking in their kitchens.  So as the photo states above – I Hope You Dance – as we’ll need to, in order to keep all the balls in the air that we have next month. 

October saw me in Mexico City and Oaxaca for the Design Leadership Network annual summit. I had a couple of down days in Mexico City in advance of the summit starting and took the opportunity to explore the city on foot which is my preferred way. 

The city is home to 25 million people and 7 million cars. It’s busy and congested but beautiful, the people are so very kind, and the food was incredible. I was totally blown away by all that I saw and had the opportunity to experience in my six days there. 

After the summit, which hosts around 350 members – designers, architects, contractors and industry vendors and suppliers, I went on a four-day trip to Oaxaca with a small group of fifteen people with the DLN. It’s hard to put into words all that I saw and experienced, but I shall try. 

Oaxaca is a town that is located just over an hour flight south of Mexico City. Here we were immersed in the local villages that surround Oaxaca, each village being centered around a specific craft such as weaving, pottery or candle making to name but a few. The craftmanship is exquisite and it was a joy to meet the makers. 

The food is unbelievable, if you are a foodie or simply enjoy good food this is a must visit destination. Everything is so fresh and wholesome I ate like a queen. 

To experience Oaxaca in the days prior to the day of the dead – dia de los Muertos – was an unexpected bonus to this trip. This Mexican holiday is one that is a must to experience. 

Their view of death is far healthier than mine was prior to the trip, and I fell in love with how they connect with their loved ones on this auspicious date. There wasn’t a single street, restaurant, store, garden, table or area that did not have an alter to celebrate and honour loved ones that have passed. 

Each alter was always shrouded in Aztec marigolds – they have taken on a whole new meaning for me, Aztec marigolds are larger than our humble marigolds and come on long stems instead of being short and stubby. 

In addition to the flowers, alters have candles, pictures of loved ones and offerings such as breads, fruit and chocolate. The photo above was of a table we dined at one lovely night and the owners had their alter running down the middle of the table. In the bottom right-hand corner of the photo above you can see a wooden model of a farmer in his horse drawn cart, this was an ode to the farmer who originally owned the property.

At this time of year when the temperatures drop and the winds that blow feel cold on the skin, they believe it’s the portals opening to allow loved ones back for a visit and the chills on your skin are your loved ones hugging you.  The joy and peace of reconnecting was contagious, and it made me rethink how I look at death and hope to have a healthier take on it as I age and grow older. I know next year I plan on celebrating this date with an alter of my own at home. Marigolds will now always remind me of my trip, and I expect to have them in abundance in my garden! 

To keep me connected I am in the early days of working with some makers in Oaxaca to create some textiles and assorted things for our client projects and our GGI Studio Shop. I’ll keep you posted on all, I am excited to delve deep into their craft and see what we can make together. 

Next month’s journal will be issued in advance of the holidays. GGI will be closed from the early afternoon on December 22nd and we will be back with lots to share on January 4th.

I am looking forward to welcoming Monique back from her maternity leave, my list for her has been growing over the past couple of weeks, I am so excited to have her back in her chair and want to thank Christina for juggling double duty on marketing and studio manager over this past year. 

October saw us say goodbye to Rashmi our junior designer, we wish her all the best in her future endeavours and thank her for all that she contributed in her two years with us.  Cris(tina), yes, we now have two Christina / Cristina’s, joined us in November as our new junior designer. We welcome her on board with open arms and are truly delighted at all that she is accomplishing and bringing to GGI. 

For those of you celebrating Thanksgiving I wish you a table surrounded with friends and loved ones, good health and cheer. 

Now head over to our Studio Shop and get spending! We offer pick up from the studio and can also gift wrap your purchases to make all simple and easy. 


Credits and more chatty bits, all images from Mexico and Oaxaca were taken by Gillian
Check out our Studio Collection here.  

Aztec Marigolds in a beautiful black clay Oaxacan vase, Casa Silencio, Oaxaca. Club de Banqueros Mexico City. Classicos. Mexicanos furniture store Mexico City. The plaster mouldings were worth the visit alone! A sneak peak in a working architect’s studio in Mexico City. Our gorgeous and unique quilts as seen in our Studio Shop, photography Virgina Macdonald. The exterior of Sandra Weil’s store in Mexico City where I purchased a fabulous pair of trousers!! The tea room at Mesa Rosetta. A DLN dinner. Divine. Possibly the best seafood restaurant in the world, Contramar by Gabriela Camara, Mexico City. A happy wall in the restaurant that accompanies a beautiful small museum featuring quotes from the owner’s family intertwined in amongst the vines, El Museo Soumaya. Inspiration overload at Xinu. Oaxaca’s streets are canopied with colourful bunting that created beautiful patterns on the buildings below. Candle making like you have never experienced at Casa Vivian. Mexican hot chocolate from the masters at Masea I should have brought home more. Honestly it’s worth the flight. Aztec marigolds flanking a metal wall. Food glorious food at Casa Silencio, Oaxaca. A dia de los Muertos table alter. Backstrap weaving in Oaxaca. Full moon in Oaxaca, always a good sign. Full hearts and tummies at Los Amantes. 

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