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Posts Tagged ‘interior design’

In light of Mother’s Day coming up, and any other occasion where you need a thoughtful gift, opting for something from the homeware department can go a lot further than just a scented candle. Buying gifts for the home can be a great way to give something that’s long lasting, sentimental and unique. Whether it’s a house warming present, a birthday or holiday, or just something to show someone you care, a thoughtful home accessory can be the perfect gesture.

There are two ways you can look at it when it comes to gifting home accessories to a close friend or family member; adding to their already existing theme of pieces and ornaments, or giving them something a little outside their comfort zone, something they wouldn’t ever get themselves. When giving homewares there is a chance to get creative, have a little fun and give a touching present.

Typically, when it comes to the big touches in a home, the owner will want to make that call on their own, so when giving homeware as a gift it’s all about the small, but special touches. This sweet blackbird tea towel from Angel & Boho is an ideal gift; the adorable print takes away the functionality aspect of the gift, making it a great addition to a kitchen, to be displayed as a bohemian design feature.

‘Blackbird Tea Towel’ from Angel & Boho

Sticking to the bird theme, a simple way to add some life to a garden is with a bird feeder. This rustic piece from Catesby’s is the perfect way to decorate a garden and entice from real birds as well. The piece is great for adding a little charm to an individual tree or a small garden or balcony area.

‘Hanging Bird Feeder’ from Catesby’s

The great thing about giving or receiving homeware as presents is that it’s an opportunity to get an item that you might not be able to justify getting for yourself. Buying something fun, with perhaps just a hint of kitsch that makes a fabulous finishing touch to a home. I love these pin-up candlestick holders from Ark, ideal for putting a smile on someone’s face and lighting up an area of the home, perhaps a table or dresser, giving the space a bit of humour and life.

‘Show Girl Candlesticks’ from Ark

As with many people my age, I’m just being to start a collection of homeware pieces that I’ll (hopefully) treasure forever, so receiving items that I can add to this assembly of ornaments is a great way to give the collection some diversity and give myself new ideas about what I like. Pieces like these multi-coloured candle holders from Habitat are quite a particular style, but if you have someone you know will love them, or someone you think can take on the challenge then they’re a great, creative gift that goes a step further than the typical candle themed gift.

‘Odela Multi-Coloured Ceramic Candleholder’ from Habitat

My mother has always had a love for flowers and nature, whether it’s in the garden or in the home, so giving her pots and vases has always been a sure-fire way of getting her something she likes (and will use), whilst still being able to get her something with an unexpected design or style. This speckled jug from Catesby’s is a versatile piece that can be used as its primary function, or as a vase. It would make a great accompaniment for some fresh spring Daffodils, with the electric blue and yellow contrasting perfectly.

‘Speckle Ware Jug’ from Catesby’s

For more of a rustic feel, these antique French pots from Baileys would make amazing gifts, for vases, planters or just ornaments. The individual nature of them means that you can give a few in an array of shapes, styles and colours.

‘Old French Poitiers Pottery’ from Baileys

If you have a friend, or maybe a son or daughter who has recently bought their first home, or renting their first grown up flat, they may need a few things to help get them started. Whilst a lot of necessities can be bought from places like Ikea, buying some pieces that can give the home a few special touches can make great presents, especially if it’s for someone who can’t justify getting it for themselves. A simple bowl like this one from French Connection is a great starter piece for those finding their style footing. It’ll look great against some simple chinaware sets and begin to add some character to a home.

‘Green Stone Bowl’ from French Connection

On the contrary, if you know this person has quite an experimental kind of style, and is always keen to try new things and be surprised, an item like this flamboyant tray from Porcupine Rocks is not only a fantastic gift, but also full of flair, making it a real statement piece.

‘Shine Shine Tiger Tray’ from Porcupine Rocks

Finally, if you’re searching for a gift for someone that already has it all, then something frivolous and fun may be just the ticket. This lollipop holder from Jonathan Adler ticks all the boxes if you’re looking for a present with a sense of humour, individuality and a hint of madness. It makes the perfect addition to an already fruitful collection of eclectic ornaments.

‘Mohawk Lollipop Holder’ from Jonathan Adler

Buying gifts for loved ones is a great way to express your appreciation from them, and give them something they’ll love. Deciding to give them homeware means choosing something that they can treasure forever, giving sentiment to their home and help add to the collection of wonderful items. Whether it’s an antique item, something a little outside of their comfort zone, something sweet or an item that encourages them to walk on the wild side of interior design, there is so much fun to be had with picking out gifts, you’ll just have to refrain from keeping them all yourself!

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In this contemporary scheme, a comfortable statement sofa worked well to bring a relaxed feel to the room. Photography by Simon Whitmore

It’s weird thing that sofas are so hard to get right, but they really are. Furniture is generally easier to select than say redesigning a bathroom or commissioning joinery but over the years I have heard many sorry stories of profound disappointment on receipt of an eagerly awaited sofa. With this in mind, I often find myself using the 3am worry slot to agonise over an impending sofa delivery. However much I know that we have done exhaustive investigation, double-checking and confirming on behalf of, and involving, our clients in the run up to placing a sofa order, it is always a few hours prior to delivery that I decide that we have definitely overlooked something.

There are a lot of things to consider before buying (or commissioning, more on this later) a sofa. Firstly, you need to think about what style of sofa is going to work in your room – do you lean towards a contemporary or traditional feel, mid-century modern or shabby chic? You don’t need to put a name to the style you want but if you are unsure of what look you prefer then you are not ready to enter a sofa shop yet. Fabric choice is important too and hard to consider in isolation. Building up a picture of the final scheme including wall colour, flooring, other items of furniture, curtains or blinds and so on will help you to avoid a fabric choice that you find hard to match to or that is a bland disappointment. There is a raft of other decisions to also be considered and these crucially include size – a measure of the room with consideration to other items of furniture is vital – and comfort levels of which height of back, depth of seat, filling and how the sofa is constructed all play a role. There are lots more decisions that are important but I won’t go into all of these for fear that you may decide that your hand-me-down, battered sofa that you hated when you started reading is perfectly all right. However, I will say that it is better to consider a lot of these decisions prior to spending that nightmare Saturday morning trailing around high street furniture shops and ending up feeling overwhelmed by information, underwhelmed with what you have seen and temporarily less keen on the loved one that you left the house with that morning.

Can I also at this point, strongly steer you away from the idea that buying a cheap Ikea sofa with the plan to bin it in future and get the one you actually want is a sensible decision. This thought has been shared with me in my professional capacity more times than I care to remember and it is a notion that is riddled with flaws, the primary one being that all you are doing is delaying doing the work to get the right sofa and in the meantime putting up with a piece of furniture that isn’t right because you haven’t given proper consideration to what you do want (whether it ends up coming from our fine Swedish friends or not.)

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A traditional sofa in a plain fabric looks very happy in this country drawing room. Photography by Simon Whitmore

Once you have done your homework deciding which sofa is perfect for you, there is the possibility that you won’t be able to find what you want on the high street. Retailers are undoubtedly getting better at offering flexibility on size, fillings, legs, fabric and so on but I do find that we often have to commission a completely bespoke sofa in order to get what we want and this route is available to everyone. A good sofa maker is able to make or commission a frame to an agreed size, shape and style and then upholster it to your requirements which means that the world is your oyster. It also means that you are speaking directly to the expert, the person who is going to actually make it, so you should receive excellent advice. I know that you will be thinking that this all sounds very expensive and although it is not a bargain basement option, I always think it is less expensive than one would imagine, which is a reflection of not paying for a middle man and normally not paying for a swanky showroom and a glossy brochure. Although there are many excellent sofa makers all over the country, for historical reasons many are located in and around Nottingham which is where our ace upholsterer is based. There isn’t a chance that I will reveal his name but if you find a workshop with stressed looking craftsmen looking at an order and muttering ‘what on earth are they asking for now’, you may be in the right place.

What I will share with you are a few of my sofa related tips drawn from many years of professional sofa buying, some more painfully learnt than others, that I hope will help you in your quest to avoid sofa disaster:

  1. I’ve mentioned checking the size of the room but the other key measurement is the size of the doorway/staircase/sharp turn from corridor to room etc. A beautiful new sofa that won’t go into the room is not a pretty sight and if you think your proposed sofa won’t fit you may be able to have it delivered in pieces (removable legs or arms etc.) but you need to check that carefully.
  2. Don’t rule out the idea of an antique sofa that may or may not (if you are really lucky) need recovering. Often the frames (and sometimes the fillings) are well made and antique sofas can offer something a bit different. As an example, there is a company called Pelikan in Haverhill that buy original mid-century sofas from Denmark and restore and recover them. If your style leans in this direction, and you are in the market for a sofa, you should visit them immediately.
  3. Sofabeds are much better now than they used to be when neither the sofa nor the bed were all that comfortable. They are a good option if you are short of guest sleeping space but remember to consider how the room will function when it is transformed into a bedroom – do you have to move furniture in order to unfold the bed, where does bedding live, where do guests put their things? – often sofabeds are not used as beds because the room doesn’t really work as a bedroom, so it may be better to concentrate on sofa comfort rather than incorporating the bed facility.
  4. I hate hard and fast rules from interior designers because there is normally an exception but I am going to stick my neck out on scatter cushions made from the same fabric as the sofa. I genuinely can’t think of a situation where they are a good idea. The purpose of a scatter cushion (not back cushions or any cushion that is part of the sofa) is primarily decorative and small square cushions that blend into the sofa are apologetic at best.
  5. Lastly sales. Panic buying leads to mistakes. It is great to get a bargain but it is not a money saver if you immediately want to change it. There are many sales throughout the year and I guarantee that if you miss a sale bargain, there will be another tasty offer available sooner than you think.

Finally to anyone who has made a mistake with a sofa purchase, and my heart goes out to you if you have, don’t add to the problem by matching to the mistake. I have had customers say to me that they have a sofa they hate but for whatever reason it has to stay so we need to build a scheme round it. This is not a good plan. My approach would be to design a scheme that we love without considering the offending sofa, and implement it, which will hopefully dilute the impact of the mistake. We may add a few accessories that tie it into the scheme and then we wait for the day the right sofa can be put into the room and the sofa mistake can be found a new home somewhere that it is welcome.

This article first appeared the February edition of Cambridge Magazine 

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I attended a wonderful brunch event at Catesbys (Green Street, opposite Bills) this morning and the company, the breakfast but most importantly, their current stock, was all a delicious delight. I highly recommend a visit for a browse at their home furnishings and accessories followed up by a restorative visit to their first floor café. Thank you Neil and Jonathan, look forward to seeing you soon. X

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We have a few of these bowls in the office – very handy for sweeties

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I didn’t know before this morning how much I want a pair of sleeping lions

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Stylish dishes

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…and more stylish dishes

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According to the Pet Food Manufacturing Association (PFMA), 24% of households own a dog and 17% own cats, that’s eight and half million dogs and over seven million cats! With this many furry friends running around there’s bound to be a few households that have a constant battle between keeping the place looking nice whilst keeping it comfortable for a pet, there is always a slight conflict if you love your home as much as your faithful companion, nothing is more troubling then the sight of a newly upholstered sofa covered in fluff, mud and scratches!

Maintaining a beautiful home and having a pet seems like an unlikely combination but nowadays there are some absolutely fantastic and surprisingly stylish pet accessories and furniture that will completely kit out your home and take it from shabby to chic! Whatever your style, be it traditional or contemporary there are some wonderful products that you’ll want to buy even if you don’t have a little terror running around.

Edison Orange Harris Tweed Dog Bed from Love My Dog

Love My Dog is a fantastic company full of adorable ways to spoil your dog rotten, I absolutely love this Harris Tweed dog bed especially in this vibrant orange, but there are plenty of other colours if you’re looking for something to complement the rest of your home. This dog bed would look perfect placed in the corner of a kitchen and is the ideal style to go with a traditional looking interior.

Igloo Dog Bed in Grey from Mungo and Maud

For something a bit more contemporary and versatile this igloo style bed from Mungo and Maud is just right, it’s relaxed design means it’ll work anywhere and with any style and it’s a great little cosy spot for a small pooch!

If you get the impression that your feline companion is a bit of a fashionista the place you need to head to is Style Tails, a fantastic company with products for both cats and dogs. They stock some amazing contemporary designs that will make the perfect hangout for a cool cat.

Geobed Cat Cave by Catissa from Style Tails

This geometric cat basket is a design marvel, its stylish nature means that instead of a cat basket being a nuance and taking up space it can actually become a rather interesting feature of the house, it also comes in white and a natural wood too to suit a whole range of interiors.

If you want something to go above ground-level this fancy basket will look great in any location of the house and will allow your cat to watch over you from their stylish boudoir.

Anello Cat Basket by Mia Cara from Style Tails

Pet accessories aren’t all about their beds, there are some lovely bowls around that might just make their food look a little more appetising! This lovely ceramic set of bowls from The Stylish Dog Company are stunning, they come in various colours and a few spotted designs. Plus they are specially designed for spaniels and other floppy eared dogs to avoid an ears in the food fiasco.

British Blue Spaniel Bowl from The Stylish Dog Company

For a modern design, these bowls in a wooden structure from Mungo and Maud are brilliant, they’re perfect minimalist chic and will help avoid that awful sound of a metal bowl being scrapped around the floor as the dog tries to get every last bit of their dinner!

Double Wooden Dog Bowl from Mungo and Maud

If you want to keep your dog’s food safely hidden away, so that you don’t have to see garish packaging and so the dog can’t weasel its way into it, keep it in a stylish container like this one from Mungo and Maud, it’ll look good especially if your short on space and need to keep your dog’s food in the kitchen.

Dog Food Storage Container from Mungo and Maud

If you want to spoil your pet and maintain a beautiful home in the process there is a whole market out there for keeping your pet (and your home) stylish. With so many styles and ranges to choose from you’ll be wanting to update your dog’s style as much as your own!

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Lighting is a seriously important component when it comes to creating the atmosphere and managing the ambience of a room or home. From simple changes such as altering the brightness of your bulbs, to updating your lampshades, or completely redoing a room’s setup, the relationship between your home and its lighting needs is a never-ending journey.

Though our first instinct may be to jump straight to ceiling or wall lights, there is much to be said for the use of floor and table lamps as your main source of lighting, especially since it won’t require having to get building or electrical work done. Not only can using table and floor lamps create a softer, romantic, more inviting setting than opting for just using a ceiling light, but they are also a fantastic way to introduce different styles into your interiors. This week at Angel + Blume we’re going to take you through some amazing designs and ideas from the world of floor and table lighting.

Whether you want to create a statement or just give a helping hand to the room’s mood, floor lamps are a great way to go. Floor lamps can be for both functional and decorative use. A floor lamp with an amazing design, whatever your style be it simplistic or avant garde, positioned slightly away from the rest of the furniture in the room will make it become the room’s focal point, the object your eyes will initially land on. Therefore choosing the right style and design for your home and yourself is imperative.

Grossman Cobra Floor Lamp from Gubi

This wonderfully contemporary design from Gubi, which comes in five colour variations, is minimalist style at its finest, its design is modern blended with retro influences, ideal for those who love modern style and enjoy having a fun dose of originality in their interiors.

Pedrera PD2 Floor Lamp from Gubi

Another contemporary example from Gubi is this futuristic style floor lamp, its bold design makes it a feature point of the room. It would look great following a monochrome scheme or creating the perfect contrast against a juxtaposition of colourful walls and furniture.

Lamps are superb for creating warm and inviting spaces, opting for floor or table lamps in a sitting room means crafting the optimal space for relaxing or entertaining guests and easily changing from day to night time with just a few flicks of a switch.

Trafalgar Floor Lamp from Pooky

The antique brassy tones from the base mixed together with the yellowy hues from the lampshade gives this floor lamp a sunny warming power, made for those cold, wintery nights were doing anything but curling up on the sofa seems near impossible.

Pooky, as you can see from above and below make some lovely lamps both floor and table. Their designs are absolutely adorable and are the ideal addition if you want to give your home a little face-lift, and at very reasonable prices too!

Wisteria Table Lamp from Pooky

Palmyra Table Lamp from Pooky

For subtle, sweet style that is as far from ostentatious as you can get Pooky is the place to go. Each of their designs are individual yet will be complementary with the rest of your design scheme. A few lovely lamps from Pooky dotted around a living room or study would help create a warm and charming atmosphere to immerse yourself into.

If you work from home, or have a desk or office that is in need of a little finishing touch or an boost of colour, picking out a bright and beautiful desk lamp is a sure fire way to add style and originality to your room without going overboard on the distractions when you need to focus. Something to suit your style will be the pick me up you need when work has you stressed.

Dalù from Artemide

Artemide has reinvented a design from the sixties by Vico Magistretti, the Dalù lamp has the most glorious sixties shape with modern colours. The transparent red and orange are simply stunning and will make the best desk companions.

If classic, elegant style is music to your ears, your one-stop shop for your lighting needs should be Original BTC. Their designs are sophisticated, and exude style without being over the top. A simple, organised desk needs its lamp equal and Original BTC is the place to find it. Two designs that stand out from the crowd for their appealing nature are the London Table Lamp and the Walter Table Lamp, both ooze with style and grace.

London Table Lamp from Original BTC

Walter Table Lamp from Original BTC

Recently Heathfield and Zoffany paired up to create a stunning lighting collection, chiefly table lamps. The designs they’ve created together are completely brilliant and would work wonders in a dozen different interior styles. Their twenty-eight piece collection is created using free blown glass, therefore each individual lamp you buy is unique in its own right, giving you a personal touch to your interiors.

 

From left to right: Colmea (silver), Gaia (velvet blue), Novella (antique bronze), Fiametta (smoke blue) from Heathfield and Zoffany

The interesting nature of the bases means that the table lamps make a statement without being overzealous. The designs would look beautiful on a sideboard or end table. They’re great pieces for adding a little pizazz to a traditional or classic setting, and their elegance means they’re in for the style long haul and won’t become dated any time soon.

Finding the right lighting setup for your home can be a fun but timely task, but once you’ve found the perfect arrangement you’ll be living in pure lighting harmony, making you never want to leave your home again.

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Gushing over big Hollywood mansions, especially those own by celebrities, has been a guilty pleasure of mine since I can remember. So a book that gives an exclusive look into the world of the rich and famous and their glorious properties is quite frankly a must-have. From old Hollywood starlets to modern-day directors, Hollywood at Home, gives you a fantastic insight into the houses of your idols. It’s the perfect coffee table book to flick through as you daydream about what your own Beverly Hills mansion would look like. I’ve picked out a few of my favourite homes from the book to share with you.

This Italian Renaissance-style mansion located in Malibu belongs to none other than the iconic Cher, and though the property might be considered a little flamboyant for the average Joe, the home is a little more understated than one might expect from the original goddess of pop herself. However, one thing that isn’t understated is that ocean view (which each room has not one but two views of)!

The interiors of the mansion are classic Hollywood style, with just the right amount of leopard print. The combination of the leafy greens, animal prints and renaissance-style paintings create the perfect glamorous setting without being overzealous.

The elements of a dramatic Gothic Revival theme in the design are rather fitting for this home and location, in any other place they might have drowned a house or interior, but in Hollywood there’s a certain amount of gumption in each and every home that gives them the attitude to pull off such outlandish design schemes.

Popping over to the neighbourhood of Venice and to the home of actress Anjelica Huston and the late sculptor Robert Graham. The house is a subtle, sleek and artist marvel and captures the laid-back, modern, sophisticated side of Los Angeles and its surrounding boroughs wholeheartedly.

The house embarks on a mission of originality and flair, even in its foundations. The walls are not just there for shelter, and the windows not just to let the light in, you can tell that each architectural decision has been made with the utmost consideration, creating the perfect artisan bunker, a sculptural masterpiece.

Sunset Boulevard in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles was once the home to Jayne Mansfield’s Pink Palace, until its demolition in 2002. Rarely does a home embody the character and nature of its owner quite as well as the Pink Palace  personified Jayne. Known as one of the original ‘blonde bombshells’ of Hollywood it seems only fitting that Jayne Mansfield’s home be as much of a bombshell as she, although swapping the blonde for her signature pink, the Pink Palace was Jayne’s real estate doppelganger.

From the baby pink shag pile that covers every surface, to the heart shaped, gold leaf bathtub, everything about this room is so wrong its right. It’s the same excessiveness and over the top glamorous nature that had everyone hooked on its occupant, and although you’d probably never dream of installing a similar design in your own bathroom you can’t help but wish you could visit the house and possibly take a quick dip in that tub.

 

While each of the previous homes above capture the essence of a particular style of Hollywood, the outlandish, the sleek and modern, Mansfield’s home represents the overtly decadent and unreasonably luxurious that is only acceptable in Hollywood. It puts style over functionality and glamour over practicality and I’m not sure we’d have it any other way.

 

Architectural Digest Hollywood at Home is available from Abrams Books

All photograph credits to Architectural Digest

 

 

 

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If you ever feel the urge to disappear for an afternoon and get lost in your surroundings, daydreaming of far and distant lands, then I have the perfect place for you. The Leighton House Museum, which was once the home of Victorian artist Lord Frederick Leighton, and the only studio-house open to the public in the UK, is truly an enigmatic and spectacular sight, making you feel as though you’ve teleported somewhere far, far away from Kensington, London.

Photo Credit: https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/

The interiors in Leighton House are completely breath-taking, mesmerising and unique, and they have served as inspiration for myself for many years gone by and many years to come I have no doubt. One of the main features I absolutely love about the house, which is a feature that nowadays is often hard to find, or to find done well, is that the decorative embellishment is a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall phenomenon. Every inch on the building’s foundations serve as a blank canvas and there is barely an inch left uncovered, and it’s this feature that gives the house its character, artistic status and overall wonderment.

I also love that the added bonus with this interior is how unexpected it is compared to the beautiful, but rather ordinary exterior of the Leighton House. Though you may walk by and think ‘what a lovely classic Kensington home’, you’d be forgiven for walking straight past without realising you are in fact missing all the marvellous and hidden treasures that lurk inside.

Photo Credit: http://www.artfund.org/

The house itself contains a large collection of paintings and sculptures from Lord Leighton and his fellow peers. Though Lord Leighton himself, is not the most distinguished artist from his period, his home is a clearly cultivated piece of art itself and is by far Leighton best gift onto the art world. The Leighton House is a visual representation of how taste and culture developed over the thirty years Leighton lived in the home. As well as the interiors of the house showcasing the rich cultural history of the world, the house itself was also occupied by many parties and gatherings of London’s cultural elite and the highbrow members of society, including no other than Queen Victoria herself.

Photo Credit: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk

Photo Credit: https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/

The house features the work of one of my favourite Arts and Crafts artists, William de Morgan and his glorious tiles. The whole house follows the colour palette of deep blues and rich hues, giving it a dramatic and sensuous aesthetic. Leighton was a keen traveller and ventured to the Middle East, and you can see much influence from his travels, the house is even dubbed the place where ‘East meets West’.

Photo Credit: https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/ 

Photo Credit: https://hirespace.com/

Photo Credit: http://www.artfund.org/ 

I think this house is so special to me because as you walk around the rooms and gaze at the sea of ceramics, columns and marbles you can feel the rich history transpire from the walls and into the atmosphere and you can begin to paint a picture what the house was like in its heyday, when the rooms where filled with buzzes of laughter and chatter from a party or an eerie silence as Lord Leighton worked on his paintings. Leighton House Museum is a wonderland and a beautiful place to get lost in, if you ever get the chance.

 

For more information, visit:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk

http://www.artfund.org

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