Friday, 16 December 2016

The Christmas Gift Guide | The Last Minute Edit


1 // Plant Subscription or Workshop from geo-fleur, from £24. 2 // Bespoke Fragrance Workshop from Experimental Perfume Club, from £95. 
3 // Monthly Gift Box from Not Another Bill, from £24. 4 // Create Your Own Ring with The Workbench Box by The Workbench, from £95. 
 5 // Screenprinting Workshop with Tidy Print, from £40

Knowing myself as I do, there's always one person in my life who's a little tricky to buy for, resulting in a last-minute panic buy and ultimately not much of a gift. "Not this year" said I, and the compilation of a last-minute set of interesting gifts began. From plant subscriptions to bespoke perfumery, these ones are probably more for the lucky ladies in your life (here's looking at you bestie) but honestly there are so many unique ideas out there at the moment that it's kinda easy to find something special for everyone. If you're lucky to already have your Christmas sorted - well lucky you - these gifts also make for quite a nice new year present from you to you so don't be silly and go spend all your money!
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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The Paper Paradise | G . F Smith Show Space


This is where things all start to get a little obsessive. If you're not a fan of that thing we make from trees, it's probably for the best if you turn right back around and get back to your Twitter feed. It was never meant to be with us. Those of you who know me, probably still don't know the lengths I'll go to for a good paper stock. A good weight, unique texture, excellent moisture retention capacity - these are all traits I'm on the look out for when it comes to the pulpy stuff. Enter G . F Smith, the matchmakers of the paper world, the paper consultants of every graphic design student's dreams. You can only imagine my delight when Natasha popped over the information that they were opening a permanent exhibition space just off Oxford Circus. 


Located on Eastcastle Street, the two-storey building acts as a multipurpose venue, home to a changing roster of exhibitions, as well as a showcase for the extensive collection of paper and bespoke projects G . F Smith have worked on. You've probably never seen anything like it and you probably won't ever see anything paper-related as good. After 131 years in business, these guys really are top notch and their passion for perfection is apparent.

Developed with long-term creative partner Made Thought and designed in collaboration with architects d-raw, the architectural window display 'Turbulence' helps to set the scene of what's in store inside the space, ultimately providing a snippet of the creative opportunities that await in a vibrant and structural format. A 14-metre Collection Wall is home to every shade of the iconic Colorplan range, filled with every weight, providing a stunning backdrop to the stationery-fuelled setting. Blank grey boxes also represent the future, ready to be filled with new additions to the range. 

Throughout the rest of the space, new projects such as the Make Book and Make Frame initiative have taken over tables as well clever storage units which allow you to discover the history of the paper company. A personal favourite year being 1941 showcasing the reaction of staff from the factories being floored from the Blitz - staff set up shop from their homes to keep the business afloat. This is surely something for more than one visit, a new year discovery for each trip.


Consultants are on hand to guide you on your journey, whether that be for your passion for paper, your interest in the brands history or your dream to collaborate on a bespoke project. From previous experience, this is a company that will show interest in you whatever the situation and I'd advise any students to get down there for a spot of advice on how to use paper effectively. 

"G . F Smith has always had the desire and ambition to inspire the creative world and Show Space is yet another landmark moment in our phenomenal history." explains Joint Managing Director, John Haslam. "We wanted to create a space that challenges, inspires and wows. Students and Creative Directors alike will be welcome to visit us. We promise innovation and education with our ever-changing installations and showcases. Beautiful paper has the power to sway decision, the authority to communicate emotion, the tactility to hold your attention."

The message is clear and honestly, you won't find a space as welcoming. From the specially designed desks that fit paper stock to the millimetre, to the accessible projects of some of the best creatives in the world, there's a little something for the geek in us all and I can only imagine how many times I'll be making a pit-stop. Amazingly, that's not even all the features...


The true showstopper though has to be the White Space on the lower level of the building. The gallery space is currently home to the previously launched 'Tidal' installation, an ocean themed sea of paper showing the range of Colorplan papers in a dramatic setting with calming music for good measure. Designed by Made Thought, the installation was originally showcased at the Kyoorius Designyatra festival and provides an immersive (yet slightly overwhelming) presentation of the power of paper. You'll have to search Twitter for proof of its people surfing dismantling back in September but in the meantime be prepared for the multitude of angles that will surely flood Instagram - it's a colour lovers dream. 

The G . F Smith Show Space is open now at Eastcastle Street, London, W1 and it's bloomin' reem (geddit?) Join these lovely people for some paper perusing, some fancy co-working and some colour lovin' fun. 


For further info visit: https://www.gfsmith.com/
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Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Christmas Gift Guide | The Typography Edit



1 // Work / Play Calendar by Playtype, € 54. 2 // Cool Story Bro Calling Cards by Terrapin Stationers, £6.34. 
3 // Typocircle 40th Anniversary Poster Book via G.F Smith, £40. 4 // People of Print Posterzine Bundle via Department Store, £30.55. 
5 // Black Poppy & Wild Fig Soap Bar by Soap Co, £7.

We've all got that someone in our life that appreciates a little bit of letter lovin' - they're not always the easiest to buy for right? With it's selection of fonts and letterforms, I'd like to think that the above selection would satisfy any budding typographers Christmas needs. Some are quite literal such as the Posterzine bundle (or how about a subscription?) whereas the likes of Soap Co are just gonna bring the typographical needs into the bathroom, while also contributing to the working needs of the visually impaired - bloody brilliant! Playtype continue to be a favourite for me with their amazing range of stationery and homeware gifts and I've fallen in love with the Terrapin Stationers calling card collection which is availbale in store at Modern Society if you wanna save on shipping. Come back soon for the very last gift guide, the one for all those workshop fanatics!
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Monday, 5 December 2016

The Christmas Gift Guide | The Interior Edit


1 // Pink Letterboard by Three Potato Four via Etsy, £41.34.  2 // Marble Concrete Vessel by Studio Emma Mcdowell via Etsy, from £25.  
3 // Ghost by Studio Arhoj via Goodhood, £17.  4 // Geometric Wall Clock by Show Your Bones via Etsy, £26. 
 5 // Dusky Pink & Cream Wall Hanging by Bloomingville via Barnaby & Co, £73.

First off, did you all have a good Small Business Saturday? Here's hoping that you haven't spent all your money as it's time for my favourite gift guide - DRUM ROLL PLEASE - The Interior Edit. I've admitted before that I like to keep things fairly monochrome at home (see EJP minimalism here) but I do have a few colourful additions in the right places and I'm of course a sucker for wall art doing all the talkin'. If there was to be absolutely only one thing on my Christmas list this year it would certainly be this pink letterboard from Three Potato Four. Pink, letters and the potential for sarcasm? Yes bloody please. Paired with the pink clock, at a bargain price by Show Your Bones and some marble concrete loving by Studio Emma McDowell, we really would be onto a winner. Unless I go off pink I guess. What will you be adding to your home wishlist this December?
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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Alternative Market | ICA Garage Sale



A couple of years ago I managed to do all of my Christmas shopping at a little ol' market called 'The Pound Shop', a carefully curated selection of products with most items priced at a simple quid. I'd just started dating the boy at the time and we had decided to only spend £10 on each other. Lo and behold, he struggled in local Poundlands while I bought an array of wondrous stocking fillers from a range of designers and makers - all of which we still have now. The concept was totally brilliant and a refreshing take on the design of a market / sample sale.

Founded in April 2010 by George Wu, Sara Melin and Sarah Gottlieb, the initial idea has since grown and after 17 successful placements, The Pound Shop has gone back to its 2013 ICA roots under the name of the ICA Garage Sale. The range of products will slightly differ from previous sales, with some higher price points, but still prototype testing will remain at the heart of the market with a selection of creations from past seasons, returns and unique work in progress samples on offer. The sale makes for the perfect testing ground for designers to experiment with new and interesting products and test the market reaction to some of their new ideas. Interestingly this means that as a visitor you could also walk away with a piece that never quite makes it into production!

Ruler by Ding Ding, £1; Notebooks by Wrap, from £3; Bangle by Tom Pigeon, £10.
Taking place from Thursday 1st December (yes, tomorrow!), the ICA Theatre space will house over ninety designers selling products ranging from £1 up to £100. I've already got my eye on the rulers from stationery designer Ding Ding, the notebooks from Wrap and the insane looking bangle from Tom Pigeon. There will be loads more to choose from though including prints by Scout Editions, necklaces by One We Made Earlier and unique ceramics from Louise Madzia. The ultimate questions being what will you be buying and if given the opportunity what would you create to sell for a pound? Tell all in the comments below!

INFO: 
Thursday 1st December, 6pm-10pm; Friday 2nd December - Saturday 3rd December, 11am-6pm
ICA, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH
Entry Fee: £1 (Including access to the ICA)
Take cash for a quicker check-out process and let me know your bargain buys. 
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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Christmas Gift Guide | The Colour Edit


1 // Magical Print by Daisy Emerson, £80.  2 // Cyclops Watch by Mr Jones Watches at Oxo Tower Wharf, £135. 
 3 // British Colour Standard Azalea Pink Espresso Cup by Designed in Colour at Oxo Tower Wharf, £10.  
4 // Wonderful Print by Supermundane, £25.  5 // Hand Jobs: Life as a Hand Model by Hoxton Mini Press, £12.95.

'When you buy from a small business an actual person does a little happy dance.'

Surely you've seen this quote from @thepastelfox doing the rounds on instagram in the midst of the Black Friday / Cyber Monday madness? Well it's true and it's times like these that we have to remember quality over quantity when it comes to buying product. My colour edit focuses on those that are working their way up in the creative world while providing you with a pop of pastels along the way. I've even included a couple from the design focused Oxo Tower Wharf where you can find a whole host of independent designers and makers, nestled into their workshops come retail spaces, waiting to boogie the afternoon away. I'll be heading there this Thursday for their Christmas late night opening as well as the launch of the London Illustration Fair so pop along and get your festive shopping sorted.  See you there?

INFO: Late night Christmas activities at Oxo Tower Wharf, Thursday 1st December, 5pm-8pm
Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH

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Saturday, 26 November 2016

The Christmas Gift Guide | The Graphic Design Edit

Emma-Jane-Palin-Graphic-Design-Gift-Guide

1 // How to Create a Portfolio and Get Hired by Fig Taylor via Laurence King, £17.95.  2 // Small Chains Pencil Case by The Pattern Guild, £16.  
3 // Shapes Mug by AANDERSSON via Moxon London, £18.  4 // The Card Box by Mark+Fold, from £10. 
 5 // Silver Gun Print by Steven Wilson via Unlimited Shop, £95.

The official definition of graphic design is 'the art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books' yet for most of us it means something else, normally something completely different. You've probably even done a project on it, right? What I'm trying to get at here is that this gift guide goes with my own graphic design aesthetic and therefore might not be to everyones taste - if that's you I apologise.  I like to think all of these represent a form of visual communication and if you discover the stories behind the like of The Pattern Guild and Steven Wilson I'm sure you will agree. In the meantime, hand me all five of the 'Shapes Mug', fill 'em with coffee and join me in waiting for my next gift guide: The Colour Edit, as if it wasn't bright enough around here already. 
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Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Design Haven | Exploring the new Design Museum


Having always held a soft spot in my heart for the 1940s banana warehouse that the Design Museum previously inhabited I was rather disheartened to learn of its upheaval late last year to a new site based on Kensington High Street. No longer would I get to enjoy the shadows of the modernist typeface casting on the side of the building, while taking in the sound and scent of the river and embracing the times when the sun made it the perfect setting for a spot of peace and quiet. I said my goodbyes on the last weekend of opening, in true punk style, with zine making and a 'fuck you' attitude.

Little did I know that the new building would exceed all of my expectations and I would fall in love once again. The John Pawson designed building quite simply exceeds expectation and I couldn't help but share my exploration of what I believe will fast become mine (and many others) favourite place to settle for a spot of people watching and of course innovative design.


The 1960s grade II* listed building offers triple the space of the previous building with 10,00sqm of light, bright and airy floorspace over four levels, housing two major temporary gallery spaces, a free permanent collection display, a restaurant overlooking Holland Park, auditorium, studios, library, archive and new learning facilities. 

The loving restoration of the modernist building by John Pawson shines through like a burning fire. Immediately you are met with a sense of calm and freeness as well as a feeling of awe and wonder. Known for his ability to create simple spaces filled with refined materials, the atmosphere is warm and the five years of hard work apparent. The ability to see across the whole atrium of the museum makes it almost render-like where everyone looks slightly like a posed ant - what is real and what isn't? A seating area in the middle of the stairs, although seemingly impractical, provides the perfect setting for sketching and watching the world go by.

A distinctive concrete roof restored by OMA, Arup and Allies and Morrison provides a breathtaking element to the new tourist landmark. One that we will surely se gracing Instagram for many months to come - #aminimalminute being the oh so appropriate hashtag. Italian terazzo flooring and oak panels add to the serene setting, further easing visitors into a sense of comfort and joy.



'There are 'moments' in the building that I relish every time I walk around,' says Pawson, 'but I think it is really the way everything comes together - the new and the old - that gives me greatest pleasure. I hope the Design Museum shows people that you don't have to tear down and start from scratch to make exciting new cultural spaces.'

And while I have always been a firm believer in the latter part of Pawson's words, his initial talk of moments got me thinking. For we all have places in London that we hold dear to our heart and it's normally the little things that make it count. The shadows of typographical signs. The visual communication of a simple arrow. The visual appreciation of a monochrome locker room. 

For me the simple (or not so simple) addition of the rotating Studio Myerscough signage brings a moment of pure delight. Coloured triangles and bold typography, it was of course love at first sight. To then learn that this would be the entrance to the new permanent collection display which would be free to the public simply filled with me joy. Designer Maker User houses almost 1000 objects, viewed from the perspectives of designers, manufacturers and users, as well as a crowd-sourced wall. Suspended vinyl logos and a scale model of a new London tube train offer a variety of textures and interactive design. This is one for us all and I can think of nobody better to have envisioned it, with Morag fast becoming a favourite after the lovely Natasha introducing me to her work. 




Of course for me it is the graphic design and typography that matters. While I appreciate the likes of the curious robot that inhabits the 'Fear and Love - Reactions to a Complex World' exhibition and the issues surrounding it, as well as the other thought-provoking installations and films within it, I also can fully comprehend that I simply am quite shallow when it comes to design. Quite simply put, I like design to be simple and 'on a plate'. 

The 'Beazley Designs of the Year' exhibition provides the perfect mix with the variety of graphic publications, fashion, innovation and solutions. Dependent on mood you can simply peruse or dare to find out more about any one of the 70 nominations. The opportunity to choose 'what design means to you' and view live results shows the rich diversity and opinion in our design community. Nobody is wrong and we are all included. From the Hato Press designed signage to the variety of studios and brands included in the exhibitions, it shows that design is always a conversation and one that we should certainly always continue. Visit, explore and have your own say - I'd be more than happy to come with you anytime. 


INFO: The Design Museum officially opens to the public on Thursday 24th November (today!). 
224-238 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 6AG
Open daily, 10am-6pm
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Monday, 21 November 2016

The Christmas Gift Guide | The Illustration Edit


1 // Swimsuit Pin by Marylou Faure, £6.00. 2 // Burger Patch by CoucouSuzette via Etsy, £7.86. 
 3 // Brutal Utopias Screenprint by Fei Alexeli via Print Club London, £200. 4 // Red Hot Giclee Print by Keeley Sheppard via Skull and Heart, £30. 
 5 // Bullshit Pin by Tuesday Bassen via Skull and Heart, £8.00.

'Tis the season to be jolly and get that bloomin' stressful Christmas shopping underway. Luckily for you, this is the first of my specially crafted Christmas gift guides for the graphic babes and typo mad dudes, aiming for a Christmas shopping list with a difference - just try not to buy everything for yourself. Everything included is straight from independent designers and the sites that stock them (think Etsy, Skull & Heart) so put away that Amazon mindset and support the creative community around you. You'll totally be known for your present buying abilities as a result. Next up is the gift guide for the Graphic Design Buff so stay posted and stick around for the next few weeks, there's much more wish list material to come. 


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Saturday, 12 November 2016

The Thing I have with Walls & Floors | Top Ten Places for London Art


I think over on Instagram I've become a little well known for my obsession with the colourful walls and floors that adorn London so it makes perfect sense to round-up my absolute favourites for your viewing pleasure. Hopefully they'll stick around for the foreseeable future so everyone can enjoy - I'll try to update if they do a disappearing act and please do let me know if I've missed off an artist and you know who it is (I absolutely credit where possible but some of these dudes just don't wanna be found). I'm totally not sure why this post hasn't come sooner but I only have Harriet from And Projects to thank for the nudge and inspiration - she's a babe so go check her out for major interior envy and seriously cool DIY's.




1 // The Geometric Galaxy

Coming in at number one is a brand new find in the heart of Notting Hill. Likelihood is you've already seen it from the Boden colour walk a few weeks ago (hence Natasha and I rushing to see it) but this baby is the perfect insta backdrop,  despite some people deciding to dump some junk right by it - who does that?! Tip: Don't make like me and wear a splash of colour to ensure your outfit enhances the art.

Powis Gardens, Notting Hill, London W11 1JG




2 // The Botanical Baby 

After discovering Hixxy a.k.a Josephine Hicks in central London Cafe, Curators Coffee, it was great to connect over Instagram and see that the lady was also working on a mural with her bro in the heart of a historical Hackney estate. Commissioned by ISHA housing association, the mural is based on Loddiges nursery which was the UK's first exotic plant nursery, pre-dating even Kew Gardens. This botanical creation is hidden away in perfect contrast to the surrounding housing, but is merely a short walk away from the likes of Palm Vaults where the coffee cups go with it like a bee to honey.

Lyme Grove, London E9 6PX




3 // The Walala Walk

If only every pedestrian crossing could go through the Walala process, for life would be a happier place. This crossing on the ever so busy Southwark Street has been stopping traffic and distracting tourists since its debut at London Design Festival back in September - look both ways kids! Walala really is the queen of colourful street art in London so do keep you eyes peeled on her Instagram as she's likely to pop up elsewhere in the city relatively soon. 

Southwark Street, London SE1 0HR (head for The Harlequin Building)




4 // The Olympic Swirl

Much to my surprise, my home turf is actually pretty darn good at pulling out the good wall card and this psychedelic piece stretches the whole way through an underpass between Stratford and Leyton. The ‘One Whirl’ installation was created to stop unwanted graffiti and captures the energy of the London 2012 games with a crystal inlay finish bringing some much needed colour and shine to the EastIt's been the source of many a shot for me and I can only hope that more local councils take note to turn dingy tunnels into massively fun places to lurk in.

Temple Mills Lane, London E10 5YA 



5 // The Broken Fingaz

Broken Fingaz never disappoint when it comes to street art and this new addition to the colourful Redchurch Street shows the pink and green should certainly always be seen. I love the way that there work tends to be a little gruesome and tongue-in-cheek yet you still get all the tourists and gals swooning over it. I mean we all love a good painted shirt right? 

Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DJ




6 // The Flash

Another day, another floor, and this time for pattern legends Eley Kishimoto. The Flash Crossings by The Dogstar in Brixton were another LDF addition but should be here for the foreseeable future, unless the abrupt stepping into the road for shoefies gets complained about too much. Yellow, Red, Green or monochrome - which one will you choose? 

Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LQ




7 // The Ever-changing Wall

It seems as this wall piece by Broadway market gets a new lease of life every few months with new additions being added and removed. However, the yellow and black line work seems to remain and quite frankly is my favourite part. Imagine having your front door within this line work baby, sounds like a plan to me.

Ada Street, London E8




8 // The Knowledge of the Northcote 

Another little baby in my local area of Leyton. This mural by Wood Street Walls depicts everything right with feminism, hospitality and just plain doing it right in terms of owning a pub. 'The Northcote welcomes all free thinkers, activists, feminists, movers and shakers. Our pub is your home' is just the last phrase on this wise wall of words and when you can combine art with a G&T in a community-led venue, well why wouldn't you?

Northcote Arms, 110 Grove Green Road, E11 4EL




9 // The Wild World

Although a little different from my usual graphic prints, this collaboration between Imagine Illustration and Steve McCracken is quite the surprise when wondering down Regents Canal. With only a small part of the wall featured above, this mural makes you stop and wonder what the hell is actually happening. Both illustrators seem to have a thing for visual messaging so delve inside their brains through the piece and interpret as you wish. If the verdict is undecided, just marvel at the use of monochrome paired with splashes of colour instead - you're welcome.

Regent's Canal Towpath, Kings Cross, London (head from Granary Square entrance)




10 // Tottenham Court Road Tiles

Despite not techincally being street art, the Tottenham Court Road tiling makes it on this list purely for its vastness and cultural history. The Eduardo Paolozzi designed mural is the perfect colour pop for the London commute and the main circular hall is one that needs attention, as much as  TFL try and whisk you around it. This has got to be one of the most inspired and celebrated Transport for London commissions but baffling as it may seem, people do still have the blinkers on and miss the Pop Art greatness - don't be that person.

Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, Oxford St, Soho, London W1


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Monday, 31 October 2016

The High Five | October | The Copenhagen Edit


Oh my, we're at the end of October already and I'm already relishing in the fact that we're well and truly back in layer season - I hate sweaty summer when my all-black attire just doesn't work and the pasty legs have to be brought out into the world. And as we forward-roll into November, I'm getting ready for my next city break to the land of minimal design, hygge and Smørrebrød. Have you guessed where? Of course you have! Im coming for you Copenhagen and this month's High Five is dedicated to you. After popping by the Harvey Nichols x CIFF Project 109 exhibition earlier this month I was well and truly put in the Danish design mood (have you been yet?) and as a result I've added a crazy number of showrooms and design shops to my to-do list. I've got until the end of the week to scrawl down my favourites though, so do send tips. I'm especially on the hunt for romantic yet cheap spots for food (it's the boy and I's anniversary) and any cool street art, hit me up!

1 // Jessie Jacket by Weekday, £100.  2 // Travel Organiser by Nomess Copenhagen.  3 // Sleep Well Neck Pillow by Hay, £35.
  4 // Work Silver Notepad by Playtype, £10.  5 // Copenhagen City Guide by Lost In, £9
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Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Charitable Christmas | Arlo's Snowflake by Jot Paper Co



As I've become older, Christmas has progressively become a time where food is the main priority and a visit from Father Christmas less so - I'm much more partial to a few surprises throughout the year! In other news, apologies for mentioning the C word a tad tad early but I was compelled to on this occasion and you'll soon see why. 

This year I've felt even more inclined to ditch the commercial Christmas spirit bollocks and embrace more of a 'giving' attitude to charities and causes that are in need of support. Conservation and homelessness charities such as ZSL and Centrepoint are normally top of my list but this year I've also had my eyes opened to design companies who are donating their own profits to causes close to their hearts. 

Charity auctions from Art on a Postcard who donate all of their proceeds to The Hepatitis C Trust and Who's Casper, where 15 creatives have customised a Modus stool for auction with all money raised going to support Movement on the Ground - both will still provide you with a treasured gift to maintain the Christmas spirit but will also generate income for worthy causes - win, win right?!



Although I rather wish that design pals Jot Paper Co didn't have to get in touch with me with a charitable concept, when they did drop me an email to let me know of their Christmas campaign it was a. Love at first sight and b. a story that made me just a little teary - I had to buy them immediately. Unfortunately Dan and Becks' nephew, Arlo passed away just a few days after birth and in commemoration the duo have designed the Arlo's Snowflake card in order to donate 100% of the profits to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital where little Arlo was born. 

Featuring a hand-printed snowflake in blue and white foil, the card design is simply divine and with two stylish colourways, it was a hard choice for me, ultimately deciding on the ice blue that I knew would look just right on any mantlepiece this Christmas. I may have to order the white a little closer to the time, don't ya think?

We all know someone affected by either miscarriage, premature or critically ill babies so it only seems right to make sure your Christmas cards this year are both beautifully designed and contributing to a worthy cause. I know it sounds cliche but honestly even a little donation makes a difference so whether it's one card or a hundred, you'll still be contributing to help other little Arlo's all around. And to pre-empt your lovely donation - just as little Buzz below says with another of Jot's creations below - TA!


For further information on Jot Paper Co visit: www.jotpaperco.com/
For further information on the NICU unit: www.ldh.nhs.uk/get-involved/fundraising/supporting/
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Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Peckham Patterns | A Morning with The Pattern Guild



It was love at first glance for myself and The Patten Guild - a platonic relationship of course. Years have now gone by since our first meeting and finally I feel like the time is right to share the geometric goodness of the independent brand that has stolen my heart and looked after my make-up for a good while now. Thankfully, they are a friendly bunch so I popped by their studio in Peckham to admire their prints and talk the pattern business.

The brainchild of creatives, Amber James and Fergus McDonnell, The Pattern Guild is more than just a decorative brand. The honest approach to design by Amber and Fergus is unbelievable and for once you're guaranteed not to hear of any shortcuts, tiptoeing around certain topics or the erasing of an 'ethos'. These two stay true to their word and I have no doubt they'll continue to stand their ground in the harsh world of design, where we all know sometimes profit margins can compromise certain values. 

Photo by Sarah Lloyd courtesy of The Pattern Guild
Having first met on the buzzing markets of Brick Lane, it actually took a year for the duo to get in touch with each other again, after various pleas from other friends that they should be working together. They were both creating similar designs so ultimately the work drew them together and the collaborative process began. Interestingly, they sent old designs to each other via email to rework. You know like those little concertina images that leave you with like a little wacky, disfigured person? I would kill to see The Pattern Guild versions as one can only imagine the creative juices flowing from their fingertips at the time.

Britishness remains at the core of the brand, namely for their ability to actually create the items themselves. 'It's trying to support the the skills and crafts here, and value them. There's nothing bad quality about what's made in China, it's the fact that it's made at a fraction of what it should be,’ states Amber. ‘It's trying to not be fake as well because we've always had that as, well, not the main ethos but a core part of what we do’. 



For Amber and Fergus, it’s about offering the opposite to the approach taken by a fair few other designers and making sure that they don’t end up frustrating their own customer-base. ‘The advantage of making our own stuff is that we can do whatever we want,’ explains Fergus. ‘We can create stuff we want to put our name to,’ and yes, this does translate to brands to if you’ve come across their range in collaboration with Islington lifestylestore Smug.

Coming from fairly different backgrounds, Amber always wanted to create from a young age and unfortunately when growing up she quickly learnt this wasn’t an easy feat and that making wasn’t in demand. Losing the initial dream of costume design, she studied Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Arts and became part of the digital era of website design that we now rely on today. Luckily the maker in her never lost hope and after years of freelance work in both graphics and textile design, she decided to go back to her roots but in her own way – culminating all of her skills of design, textiles and her ability to make. ‘Having the desire to use those skills and earn money from those skills, combined with there being a lack of opportunities gave me the idea for my business,’ she explains.

Photo by Sarah Lloyd courtesy of The Pattern Guild
Matched with Fergus’ own Northampton heritage (the home of incredibly made shoes such as Cheaney and Dr Martens), the twosome understand the importance of a well-made product and this translates into their own designs. When I first came across The Pattern Guild I remarked at the high-quality material (organic cotton if you’re wondering), the considered branding and of course the pattern itself – for me they are the whole package when it comes to accessory design and no doubt these have all initiated from the pairs shared values and the bespoke nature of how they work.

Moving on to where the brand will be going in the future, there are plenty of things on the go at the moment including a project I am VERY excited about. I won’t talk about it too much as I’ll probably want to feature it when it comes to light but – a few hints for you - it involves bringing a new pair of eyes to the team, a little bit of code and some embroidery to start of the process. They’re looking for a little more substance behind the designs. They’re not scared of an objective viewpoint and it’s this openness that will undoubtedly give them the edge in the future. It keeps it interesting for us to work with other people,’ mentions Fergus. ‘That’s what it’s about. Working with the right people.’


From the get-go of our conversation we hit it off talking about everything from collaborations, frustrations of a 9-5 studio job and a tiny bit of moaning about worker exploitation. It’s refreshing to come across people who are so conscious of their own future and how they can make a change. ‘We know there’s a value in what we do,’ they say, ‘and hopefully we can project that by getting other people on board with that by doing it.’ Well, I’m certainly down with that and hopefully now you are too.

Thanks so much to Amber and Fergus for having me be nosy. For further information and upcoming markets visit: www.thepatternguild.co.uk
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