Saturday, 1 December 2012

Show & Tell...

For one day only at the end of October, South London came to East London courtesy of Visual Artist and Graphic Designer Son Emirali, with his personal and nostalgic installation entitled 'Foster's Newsagents.'

For Son, Foster's, a 90-year old newsagent's in the heart of Brockley Rise, formed part of his childhood, an after-school treat, a meeting place, and a constant on a return home from university.

So in an homage to this special place, Son decided to create a fully documented inventory of every item in pictorial and illustrative form. Over several days he painstakingly listed and recorded every item from M&M's to McCoy's, Rizla to the Racing Post.

The common, and touching thread in the making of this piece was the pride and meticulous attention to detail, that not only Son took, but the obvious pride the owner has in presenting these everyday items.

We had the chance to speak to Son at the 'WeHeart' exhibition in Shoreditch, which showcased a selection of new designers. He talked of the pride of the family-run business, the owners hand-on-heart in the main image, and about the sadness that he may have to close the newsagent's due to the ever-increasing expansion of larger brands and supermarkets on the high street.

This made the process all the more poignant for Son, and important to showcase this special place, somewhere that can easily be overlooked and under-appreciated.

For the exhibition, he put together a limited-edition book of the inventory, as well as a life-size photograph of the newsagent's interior, a challenge, he said, not only to print, but to transport across London without damaging it!

The installation, wrapping around three walls skewed the perspective, and added a slightly abstracted view of the interior when stood within it, almost enveloped by the colourful array of sweets and treats, tempting to the eye, but untouchable like a museum piece.

For us, the most interesting and creative work has a strong personal connection, and Son perfectly showcases these elements in a heart-felt way, and it's understated, quiet approach is symbolic of the very subject matter he has celebrated...

Son's homage to Foster's Newsagent's is available as a limited-edition book, and large-scale photographic prints here...

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Full of Charm...

During our annual scout of degree shows we came across jewellery designer Natasha Thorogood, showcasing her collection as part of New Designer's 2012.

Her collection although set back from the main thoroughfare, drew us over and intrigued us visually as something that we hadn't seen before. There was an organic aesthetic, mini versions of a Monet painting with swirls of aquamarine and yellow ochre on simple, cylindrical forms.

Regular readers may recognise Natasha's pieces from our mini round-up from this Summer's blog posts, and we contacted Natasha soon after her show at New Designer's. After a couple of months of managing diaries and trips to the capital, we ended up in the same room where she talked us through both of her current collections.

We are excited to be featuring Natasha's second collection, and although it has a slightly different feel, still stays true to her metal-smith roots, and her interest in the natural elements. We love the use of polished copper, brass and silver, with the rawness of oxidised metal, in these soft, feminine forms.

Her 'Floral Charms' are a combination of precious metals, freshwater pearls and coloured crystals, and feel as if they have been discovered at the bottom of the ocean with their fluid, languid features and colours. The collection, she says, is a slightly more commercial exploration with 
inter-changeable pieces, but still maintain a hand-crafted, limited edition aesthetic...

Natasha's 'Floral Charm' collection is available on-line now... 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Evolutionary Endeavours...

Every so often, we stubble across a new designer that gets us very excited, and we want to work with them immediately! So today's graduate showcase is of Duncan of Jordanstone Textile graduate 

Claire specialises in digitally printed textiles, which enables her to manipulate her photographs, and vintage finds to create an explosion of colour, and quirky imagery in her range of silk scarves.

For her graduate collection entitled 'Molluscs, Microbes and Mutants', she took inspiration from Darwin symbolism to create her own hybrid of the natural world. 

Although she presents a palette of bright zingy colours, on peeling back the layers of silk, a darker undertone of progressive natural selection is revealed, and her patterns show an abstraction of the core of life itself, fragility and strength seem then, to work in harmony...

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Walk the Line...

We were contacted by the illustrator Estelle Morris last week, and from the many portfolios we receive, her fluid, off-beat and slightly abstract work caught our eye in particular.

There's a spontaneity to her pieces which grabs hold of real-life moments, and her blog showcases some of her as-they-happen drawings from walking around Cambridge, where she's based, to a Sunday afternoon at the pub.

Estelle uses a combination of hand-drawing and digital colour-blocking to create her collage-inspired pieces, which have a freshness mixed with modern-day motifs.

Estelle currently works as a freelance illustrator, and her work has been submitted as part of Amelia's Magazine, (a great supporter of emerging illustrators), as well as illustrations for events and promotions in London to Brighton.

We'll be launching our first newsletter in a couple of weeks time, and amongst all our up-coming news, we will have an extended feature on Estelle with an interview to find out a bit more about her, her inspirations, motivations, and plans for the future. This won't feature anywhere else, so if you want to find out more, simply hit subscribe...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

On the Up...

We're excited to bring you an interview with talented designer and up-cycler Yinka Ilori, a recent graduate from London Metropolitan University who caught our eye a few months ago, and have been keeping an eye on ever since.

We were interested in his aesthetic approach to design, and how he has pretty much turned the idea of up-cycling on its head to create these rich, but simply crafted creations.

In the lead up to the African and African-Caribbean Design Diaspora in London, we managed to catch-up with Yinka to find out a bit more about him and his work...

Did you always know you would do something creative? 

Yes, I always knew that I would do something creative because when I was at secondary I was always good at drawing and really enjoyed Art GCSE and Design & Technology GCSE. I remember my teachers always telling me my work was good and always using my work, and homework book as an example to show the other pupils what their work should look like which was flattering, but at the sometimes embarrassing!

Did you have any early inspirations/ inspirational characters that informed your creative path? 

Yes, I remembered studying BTEC in Art and design studies at London Metropolitan University and we had an end of year exhibition. I had been setting up all day and had to go home and change my clothes. When I had arrived back I had noticed that I had been nominated for a Sir John Cass Art & Design Award, although I didn't win, for me, knowing that I had been nominated inspired and made me believe that I am doing something right.

What inspires you/ any particular places you draw inspiration from? 

What inspires me is everyday things in life, that have a story to tell and I try to incorporate that into my up-cycled furniture, because my ethos for up-cycling furniture is all about re-loving and telling the story of how the furniture was re-loved:) 

I am also really inspired by the African culture, as you may have noticed African prints from Ankara to Aso-oke are mainly used in most of my furniture. I also love old vintage Scandinavian furniture I think they are beautiful, and sometimes draw inspirations from there too. 

Currently, I am really inspired by MBE artist Yinka Shonibare, I think he is an amazing artist who curates moving, yet at the same time interesting installations. His installations are very powerful, with a strong meanings behind it, hence why he has inspired me to do an installation at this year's AACDD (The African and African-Caribbean Design Diaspora) Festival at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, London SE1
19 – 30 September 2012 my installation is titled 'Head of the House'. Hope to see some of you there:)

What first led you to working with old furniture as opposed to creating pieces from scratch? 

When I did a project at university called 'our chair' where we had to do a partnered project, and find two old chairs making it into one chair, using all the pieces from both chairs!

I absolutely loved that project, and it was from then onwards I knew that I wanted to make up-cycling my career because I loved the way each piece of furniture tells its own story, for me furniture with a story is beautiful.

What's been your biggest achievement to date?

Wow my biggest achievement to date would be exhibiting in New York in May 2012 at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and also selling one of my pieces of furniture to a High-end contract furniture company called 'D'Apostrophe'. 

It still feels nice to know that my piece of furniture is now somewhere in New York and will now become a story for someone else, now to tell! So yes, selling a piece of my furniture in New York has been my biggest achievement to date:)

What are your plans/ goals over the next 12 months? 

My plans and goals in the next few months would be hopefully to have a pop-up shop dedicated to my brand, not sure on location but that's something I would like to do over the next 12 months, who knows it may even be longer than 12 months.

What advise would you give to any new designer starting out on their own, or someone considering studying (furniture) design?

What I would advise any designer starting out on their own is to keep pushing because no one said that it's going to be easy, but the main thing is that if you enjoy what you do and your truly passionate about it, never keep up, because it's really important to do something that truly makes you happy, that's what got me here today:)

What's the ultimate dream?

My ultimate dream would be to have my own shop, with all my furniture inside it, and a few other designers works that I also like as well...

You can see Yinka's work at The African and African-Caribbean Design Diaspora Festival at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, London SE1 from 19 – 30 September 2012

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Regarder, Aimer, Amour...

Ok, so the title is quite possibly the extent of my French which has departed my consciousness since the age of 16, (and I'm sure grammatically I'll get pulled up on it). However, experiencing Paris for the first time with an old friend who spoke the language fluently, and who used to live in the city, made it one of the best trips for quite a while...

The week-long trip was a heady mix of tourist must-sees and back street markets, and all neatly rounded off with some of the best food, which for me, and for most, is the key ingredient of any holiday. Now, I don't want to write a city break guide necessarily, but simply want to share some of my highlights, some of which will be pretty obvious, (The Eiffel Tower), and maybe some less so, (Place D'Aligre market). But the hardest thing to do is really condense it down so as not to share every photo I took along the way.

With that in mind, I'm going to be brutal and simply give you my top ten moments from the chicest city on the planet...

Nombre Dix
Jardin du Luxembourg
Park Life - Parisians don't do parks like we do parks. We're all about lazing on the large expanses of lush greenery that we are lucky enough to have in abundance. The residences of Paris on the other hand want to keep the grass green and untouched, so parks consist of tree-lined avenues, and lakes to sit by, to take in the scenery, and of course partake in some serious people-watching from behind those big Dior sunnies...

Nombre Neuf
Image courtesy of
Vintage Finds - Of course no trip would be without a bit of vintage, and as we were strolling down on Boulevard Beaumarchais, I say, "what we need now is to stumble across a little vintage store..." and as if by fashion magic, Little Box Vintage appeared in front of us! A tiny little clothing and accessory store, its window filled to the brim with vintage Chanel. Inside, a treasure trove, and such a lovely lady helped us play dress-up in our new Parisian walk-in wardrobe!

For a bit of fresh air and a proper rummage, then you have to go early to head down to Place D'Aligre, it had a mix of bric-a-brac, clothing and hidden treasures, all of which you can haggle over prices with the seasoned stall holders...

Nombre Huit
Carousel near Palais de Chaillot
Spinning Around - Something that no doubt will turn into a bit of a tradition on return trips, and please do have a go if you're there, is the classic and beautifully painted carousel poised half-way on the walk from the Place du Trocadero to the Eiffel Tower. Away from the seriousness of the historical legacy of the city is a cheeky fairground ride which couldn't go unnoticed...

Nombre Sept
Piece by Nick Walker
Grit and Glamour - Paris has a reputation of being the city of glitz, but it's as much about the gilded statues and elaborate architecture, as the rawness in a similar vein to London, expect Paris is much more condensed so these juxtapositions literally jostle on every corner. From the Moulin Rouge on Boulevard de Clichy to the Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre, both iconic and both within walking distance of one and other. 

I loved this piece by Nick Walker, perfectly positioned next to the classic street sign...

Nombre Six
A good gossip in Place des Vosges
People-watching - I had anticipated seeing glamorous Parisian's at every turn, but like New York in August, the locals tend to head to their holiday homes throughout the month, so there was much more tourist-spotting than  Parisian chic going on. This did have it's advantages though, as people you may not have noticed on a visit during Paris fashion week in September, came to the fore. I had to capture these four ladies sat in Place des Vosges, on one of our many pit-stops. Deep in conversation, with some definite gossipping thrown in, these life-long friends have probably been meeting here for years...

Nombre Cinq
Merci - Boulevard Beaumarchais
Merci beaucoup - As a designer, there were a couple of stores that were a must for me, and pretty well known by the creative industry. Namely, Merci and Colette. Merci on Boulevard Beaumarchais is a hybrid of all the best design stores, a touch of Habitat, a sprinkling of The Conran Shop and Muji. It's chilled, it's a meeting place, and with it's iconic entrance, this lofty space should be on the to-do list. 

Having a slightly different vibe, and more akin to Dover Street Market, the concept store Colette is like walking into a bar, but with no alcohol. The music is cranked up, but just enough not to interfere, and the all white space highlights its wares perfectly. A shopping experience not to be missed...

Nombre Quatre
Original detailing - Art Nouveau style
Metropolitan marvels - An iconic Parisian view, but unfortunately there aren't many of these beautifully languid Art Nouveau Metro entrances left in the city. A few were saved and remain one of the most recognisable details as much as the London Underground symbol is to London...

Nombre Trois

A little bit of Mona time - Now it can't all be quirky corners and cafes on this trip, it did need to be balanced with a touch of tourist activities. And aside from the Eiffel Tower, (we'll get to that,) seeing Mona Lisa was a must for me, and unsurprisingly for millions of people across the globe too.

The Louvre was actually our first stop, and I had no idea it was so big! Reliably informed by my good friend, and personal tour guide, it would take a week-long trip just to see the entire collection of art and sculpture that grace the various wings and rooms of the former palace.

Mona was on a wall all to herself, holding court from behind glass, not shy to the hundreds of cameras constantly capturing her rye smile. I suggest a good zoom on a camera is a must to try to edit out the sheer volume of people gathered...

Nombre Deux
La Belle Ferronniere - Brasserie Parisienne
Nourriture - Now down to the serious business of food! There's always been a bit of snobbery from the French that British food is inferior to their own, and as a lover of our British food, I have to say this statement isn't without warrant. We had talked about going somewhere 'special' and quintessentially Parisian, and after turning down a few along the way, we stumbled across this brasserie called La Belle Ferronniere. 

Typically, locals sit at small tables outside, and not facing their company, chairs are positioned facing outwards to partake in some good old people watching. Words cannot describe how incredible the food and wine was, all I can say is it was a good job we pounded the pavements from morning to night exploring the city in all its glory, and killing a few calories along the way...

Nombre Une
The Tower in all its glory
There's no introduction needed for my number one spot...of course it had to be the Eiffel Tower. I remember my first trip to New York, I loved every second, but it didn't feel like I was actually there until I saw the Statue of Liberty. The same is true of the Eiffel Tower. It's iconic stature is amazing, and whether first thing in the morning with the sun behind it, or as night falls, sparkling and twinkling on the hour, as a constant reminder its still there, it's amazing, and in my opinion, a beautiful beacon wherever you are in the world... Au revoir!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Paper Cuts...

A new designer-maker to welcome to the fold is Polly Tucknott, a London-based teacher who has always been creative, with a particular interest in fairy-tales and far-away lands.

Experimenting whilst drawing, led her to cut her designs out of paper, and naturally her interest took a lean towards screen-printing.

As an introduction to Polly's work featuring in our shop, we have a step-by-step series of photos showing the process she uses to create her delicate designs...

Quick sketches

Checking scale and proportion

Adding detail

The completed design

The cutting process

Exposed onto silk screen

Transfered onto material

Finishing touches


Polly's whimsical work has been translated onto a series of silk and vintage lace cushions, which will be available to buy from the shop very soon... 

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Found Furniture...

In the last round of our graduate fave finds, we focus on furniture, and a few pieces in particular from New Designer Part 2. Universities from across the U.K pulled out all the stops to impress this year with large scale stands which transformed the white boxes into mini design showrooms...

One stand that stood out was from Northumbria University, showcasing a combination of small-scale products to impressive polished furniture offerings. You can often tell from a curated collection on display the passion that exists, not only of the individual designers, but that the course leaders and tutors give the well-needed support and key nurturing needed to succeed.

How can we gauge that from one stand you may ask, but trust us, when every designer is jostling for position, stepping your game up on all levels is so important, because after all it's not just an advert and opportunity for the designers, it's an advertising platform for the Universities too.

So starting with Northumbria, one of our top finds was by Chris Corkery and his perfectly balanced book storage unit. It's mini proportions and simple aesthetic teamed with the honesty of the material and detailing would look great in a student room or a city pad. 

Also from Northumbria is Natalie Hough, and in much the same way as Chris, her use of simple materials caught our eye. There were many stools on show in various guises, but what we loved about Natalie's was the subtle details, the finishing of the legs coming through the seat, and the mini softly formed shelf beneath added a homely quality. (Image from Claire Potter)

Last but definitely not least is Jade Moyse from Bucks New University. The stand was fun and bright, and with support from not only SCP but mid-century modern furniture company Ercol, the standard was high across the board.
Experimentation with timber as well as steel caught our initial attention, and Jade was on-hand to explain her pieces, and her drive and entrepreneurial spirit was evident from the start. She talked about researching manufacturers and finding the right market and price-points. We certainly don't expect her feet to touch the ground any time soon!