Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Cool Kids of Brighton | Family Store

After a short trip to Brighton a couple of months ago I was pleasantly surprised by a new addition to the Kensington Gardens strip. You see, I wasn't sure if Brighton could get any better but Family Store have now arrived and I'm actually pretty glad I don't live too near as I'm not sure I could handle the damage it would do to my bank account. 

The guys at the store have managed to compile the greatest collection of records, publications, tees, pins and patches as well as some kickass graphic posters. It's literally an illustrators / graphic designers dream. It's always great to see Hato taking centre stage on the book shelf but there's a load of other great looking zines accompanying Jean Jullien and Emily Rand's 'In The' laser cut series too. I think these guys single handedly started my patch obsession and with great prices on all of their memorabilia it was hard not to walk out of the shop with everything. 

I'm keeping this post short and sweet as I'd rather you find out more by taking a visit to the shop yourself, but there's a few more photos of that bloody lovely cork interior below so check it out and go and welcome the cool kid newbies to the Laines. 


Sunday, 29 May 2016

The High Five | May


1 // The Barbican by Cafe Royal Books / £6
2 // Coconut & Sweet Pea Soy Candle by East Wick / £10
3 // Things Will Work Out Pin by People I've Loved / £10
4 // Alive Iron On Patch by Stay Home Club / £7
5 // Travelife Notebook by Mark's Tokyo Edge / £10

My High Five for this month is slightly different as all of these lovely items can be shopped in the same place, all under one monochromatic roof. The lovely lasses, Roxi & Em of East Wick have just set up their online concept of 'curated chromophobia' where you can find not only their beautiful natural soy wax candles but also a selection of like-minded independent brands that are truly hard to resist - how they haven't kept everything for themselves I'm not quite sure. The whole point of the new launch is to bring similar small brands with a designer maker ethos together in a form of collaboration so if you fit the uber trendy bill why not get in touch with them?

From skincare to zines to patches and pins, this is any modern day gals idea of heaven and I demand that you go and take a look right now. The Cafe Royal books will call out to you for sure. I happen to have just put through an order myself (with a few things still on the wish list) so stay tuned for that package to arrive as I'm sure it will be coming to Instagram fairly soon - I'll be patching up a jacket while smelling my favourite East Wick scent. Follow the ladies on Instagram for more witchy delights and head off to curate your chromophobia now. 

Friday, 27 May 2016

The Shape Lady | Rose Thomas of Flagge Haus


Okay, here we go again. It's squiggle time. This time courtesy of the amazing independent designer maker, Flagge Haus. Around a month ago I came across a world of wiggles and squiggles over on Instagram and it was love at first sight, a festival of shapes and even better, in jewellery form. Now, I'm normally draped in silver but something about the Flagge Haus necklaces had me at hello and I knew I had to have one - one of those graphic statement necklaces to match my all black attire and provide that wow factor that is sometimes needed. Hey, I also like to surprise people every now and then by wearing something totally different. 

There was actually a competition running at the time so I entered and hey presto, I won! I was going to ask for an interview in any case but now I can say that I have tried and tested the product and as you can see taken some shots. Wonderful, isn't it? 

Flagge Haus is the brain child of Rose Thomas, a designer maker based in London bringing the essence of the 80s and early 90s back to jewellery design. Each piece is handmade from laser cut acrylic and most of the designs come in an array of vibrant colours. The WIGGLE design that I'm lucky enough to own started life as a hand drawn shape, taking inspiration from 90's surface design, Charles and Ray Eames, Matisse, Josef Frank, Estrid Ericson and natural shapes found in exotic leaves, coral and seaweed. Read on to find out a little more background about Rose and what is next in the world of wiggles.

What is your design background? 
I have a degree in Graphic Design which is where my official Design education began, but really it started years before in the ‘making things’ cupboard in my childhood home. I’ve always enjoyed making things with my hands, and after I graduated I knew I didn’t want to work as a traditional Graphic designer in a studio. At that time there was a big revival in traditional print techniques, which really engaged my love of design and making. After doing a few internships and short courses I was asked to return to my University to help set-up a new print studio and from there I started working as a Print Tutor, teaching various printmaking techniques in Art Schools. A few years ago I did an MA in Design Critical Practice at Goldsmiths which opened my practice up to a broader idea of design and led me towards being a Designer Maker.

How do you collate inspiration for your pieces / collections? 

I am a big fan of Pinterest, I do love a bit of organisation and systems of collation, so a website where I can store all my visual inspiration into different categories is right up my street. I take notes of names of artists I come across through exhibitions and books and find images of their work on the internet to pin to specific boards. I also take my own photos to upload and I tend to keep most of my boards set to private whilst I’m still pinning, I like that there is a public and a personal realm on Pinterest.


You obviously have a love of shapes, especially squiggly ones, where does this come from? 

I really don’t know, I just find a great enjoyment from drawing random patterns, I always have. Being born in the 80s some of my earliest memories are my Mum and her friends wearing amazing patterned leggings and I remember really being drawn to all things pattern all through my childhood. The squiggly shapes are a fairly recent development, I find myself going into a bit of a trance when I’m drawing them, my hand seems to take over and my brain doesn’t really get involved- it’s a bit hypnotic and relaxing. I’ve filled whole books with those patterns over the last few months, I get so carried away and can’t stop! 

How do you find being a designer maker living in London? 
I think London is an amazing place to be a designer, with amazing collections of design objects in museums like the V&A and the Welcome Collection and major exhibitions of artists at galleries like the Tate and the Barbican a bus ride away there is always somewhere to find inspiration. I also love living in South London with it’s big and beautiful parks, I spend as much time in the park as I do in the city when I looking for inspiration. It is also tough though, studio space is expensive and the rapid rate of development means that artists and designers are continuously being moved on from their studios so they can be turned into apartments. I know so many people who have up and left London in search of more space in the past few years and I can really see the appeal. 

What are your plans for the future?
At the moment I’m slowly building up my jewellery designs, turning my squiggle patterns into new pieces one by one. I’m starting to think about what next and have some ideas for creating textiles from the squiggle patterns so that’ll probably be my next squiggly adventure.

Follow Rose on Instagram and Twitter to keep updated and look out for more necklaces to be added to my collection very soon.

All pink images my own (obviously), monochrome images provided by Rose Thomas. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Design Geek | Clerkenwell Design Week


As some of you may be aware from my Instagram, it's Clerkenwell Design Week / Clerkernwell Three Days this week - one of my favourite times of the year when the streets around Farrindon and Barbican are absolutely buzzing with the design industry. As part of We Blog Design we were approached to organise a blogging tour and not one to miss out on a chance to see some of my very favourite ladies I set right to it, trying to round up the best that Clerkenwell had to offer. Of course with only a few hours of everyone together it was easier said than done, as there is so much on offer during this time of year and everyone is vying for attention and offering various talks, events and plenty of alcohol to entice you in. I thought I would share with you the bloggers' tour route we took yesterday for now but I will be returning tomorrow so watch this space (and social media) for more from Additions and Icon House of Culture.
Stop One | Arper


We started off the tour at Arper with some much needed coffee and a few introductions amongst bloggers. It was great to see a good turnout and Arper are the digital hub of the event meaning this is the main space dedicated to bloggers and digital press attending CDW2016. The Digital Hub is offering free WiFi and refreshments, all in a gorgeous setting complete with orange and grey hues and some graphic acoustic panels which might just pump out some tunes if you ask to see how they work.  

Stop Two | Tom Dixon


Of course it is quite clear that I'm a mass Dixon fan so when I heard he was installing his lighting in The Church and was going to talk to us all about it, I was suitably pleased. Having collaborated with Andrew Baughen, the enlightened Vicar of St James’, a unique workspace for the residential community of Clerkenwell has been created as well as a large central chandelier hung in the main space, a co-working environment and a kitchen which have all been donated as permanent fixtures. The church itself is wonderfully breathtaking but with the addition of Dixon this is probably where I'd like to get married! If you do visit, make sure to head there around lunch time when you can by some soup from The Soup Kitchen, where proceeds will go to an actual soup kitchen later on this September. 

Stop Three | HakFolly


The arch of St John's Gate always makes for an interesting installation and this year is no exception. FleaFollyArchitects and Hakwood have designed and created ‘HakFolly’, a 4.5m high temple of timber which hopes to bring a moment of calm to Clerkenwell. The architectural lines of the structure against the arch are simply wonderful and you may even catch a glimpse of the pink HakFolly bike which you can potentially win!

Stop Four | Vitra


As one of the first initial Clerkenwell showrooms, Vitra holds a lot of history in the Clerkenwell design scene, so it was imperative we paid a visit. The showroom has had a colour makeover this year and all of the spaces have been arranged to reflect a different zone: MEET | READ | RELAX | REFRESH | CONNECT. I fell in love with the textures and colours of the red area as well as the brand new Hack workstation which is making me really crave a much bigger home to move it in. For now I'll have to stick with the eye washi tape!

Stop Five | Sensorium Installation by HÅG and Hassell


Although a little on the outskirts we were told that the Sensorium was not to be missed and indeed, it was worth the extra calories burned. The presentation plays with smells, textures and sounds to present a unique experience that questions how we view the world. Having tried on a pair of virtual reality goggles and experienced some rather weird sensations, I was ready to move on to the steamy smells and a reward of candy floss at the end. This was probably one of my favourite experiences of the day and the most photographable due to the gorgeous triangle mirrors and coloured translucent film, make sure you get down there!

Stop Six | Billboards


With the layout of Clerkenwell having changed just a little and some new venues on the map, Giles Miller has created some rather inventive wayfinding structures in collaboration with British Ceramic Tile. The handmade glass scales looks sublime in the sunlight, creating a ripple effect that simply can't be captured and with over 8,000 tiles used across the four billboards, you can only image how much time has gone into creating each one. The pieces illuminate at night, hopefully guaranteeing a few less lost, drunk people in the maze of Clerkenwell.

Stop Seven | Platform


An essential stop for any female in the design industry is the We are the Women area in Platform, curated by Laura Lea and Sarah Evans. More of a 'girl power' statement than a feminist movement, this is all about female empowerment and progressing women in the design industry and with nine very talented ladies all taking part it's hard to see why they're not at the top already. The epitome for me has to be Augusta Akerman who shone with her surface pattern design and elegant yet graphic sample fabric collection. I want to wrap myself in her patterns so here's hoping she gets some good offers from potential collaborators. Arlette Ess was also right up my street with her detailed patterns and mysterious drawings. I loved the pop of colour in the collection and I'm told you can pick up scarves at Laura Lea Design in Leytonstone - you're welcome! 


Want some more tips of places to go? Just drop me a tweet or comment below. You can also follow the official tour hashtag on Instagram: #WBDxCDW2016


Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Creative Mini Guide | Berlin

The city of street art, falafel, uber-cool cafes and flea markets. The one that holds my heart firmly in it's hands. It's no secret that Berlin is where my soul comes to life and one day I hope to pack up my bags and make the big move to the land of pretty parks and abandoned buildings galore. Having visited pretty frequently over the last five years, I have quite the list of recommendations over on the East side (Kreuzberg, Neukolln & Mitte are the places for me) and it would surely be a shame to not share them with you? The full list would probably take about three weeks to write so for now I'll give you some of my favourites but if you're visiting soon please just get in touch with me and I'll send you my full list of places to go! Personally, my favourite time to visit is for the fun of May Day where you can drink and dance the night away but I'm also rather prone to putting myself through the harsh winter conditions, there isn't a bad time to go and I wholeheartedly recommend buying a plane ticket now if you haven't made the trip yet.

To Stay.


Michelberger Hotel, Warschauer Str. 39, 10243

I tend to stay with friends while in the city now but Michelberger is always my first port of call if I have a little bit of extra dough. With the most chilled vibes and brilliant interior design, the Michelberger is the ultimate reasonably priced hotel and you'll find Instagram opportunities on every corner. Working and drawing in the bar is a favourite pastime of mine and even the toilets spark inspiration with a new soundscape on every visit. The cosy room is small but does what it says on the box and provides you with a comfortable space to rest and a steamy shower, complete with window that looks out on to the bed (maybe just one for lovers). If you don't stay, be sure to pop by for drinks in the evening and a game of table football, it's the place of cocktail and dreams and here you do feel like all of your fantasies could come true. 

To Chill.

Boxhagener Platz, Grünberger Str., 10245
Boxhagener is a charming little park, perfect to relax in and just a short walk away from the Michelberger. On Sundays you'll find a sweet little flea market with vinyls, clothes, furniture and various other little trinkets, much more bearable than some of the other larger markets around and surrounded by great food and drink! Santa Maria is a trendy Mexican restaurant just on the corner with great mojitos and BURGERAMT does top notch burgers to eat-in or takeaway.


Monkey Bar, 25hrs Hotel, Budapester Str. 40, 10787 

You might have to wait a good while to get into this bar on a busy evening but trust me the wait is worth it. With panoramic views of Berlin and windows directly overlooking Berlin zoo, the interior of the place is vibrant yet cool and relaxing. The extensive drinks menu is hard to choose from but one thing that you'll regret not trying is the sweet potato fries - a perfect snack for overlooking the hoards of monkeys. I've heard accompanying restaurant NENI Berlin also does lovely food but I'd advise booking ahead to ensure you get a table.

Cafe Cinema, Rosenthaler Str. 39, 10178

Cafe Cinema resides in one of my favourite areas in Mitte. The entrance to a secret passage, this is the perfect little cafe to enjoy a hot chocolate avec Baileys and people watch from the antique-filled interior. On a sunny day sit outside and take in the graffiti and flags in the passage, all leading to a secret cinema, bookstore and art installation - perfect!

To Scare Yourself.



Ruine Kinderkrankenhaus, Hansastraße 178-180, 13088

We always have to visit somewhere abandoned on any trip to Berlin, even though I'm an absolute wuss and spend most of the time crying behind my camera. Although I've been to a few places, the best thing to do if you're looking for somewhere abandoned to visit is just to check out the #abandonedberlin tag on Instagram - new places appear all the time and old places have a habit of being burned to the ground. One place that does seem to have lasted some time is Ruine Kinderkrankenhaus which recently had a facelift by a graffiti artist with a penchant for repetitive doodles. There's a lot of abandoned building to go through on the site but look for the actual doors to property (as opposed to trying to scale the building) and you'll find it's pretty easy to walk around without injuring yourself in the process. The whole abandoned thing is rather beautiful when you see nature take over, but do be careful too as there are a lot of open manholes and the structures aren't technically safe so always stay vigilant and don't go at night, unless there is a party because yes, that happens too and I wouldn't want you to miss out.

To Shop.


Motto, Skalitzer Str. 68, 10997
Tucked away in a courtyard on Skalitzer Strasse, Motto is a hidden gem of a bookshop and one that I tend to spend a good hour browsing in. In here you'll find rare books, zines and tiny illustrated books from a variety of artists, it's fully of typographic inspiration and wonderful book layout designs. Make the time to look around as the books tend to be stacked and your one true publication love could be hidden.


Schee, Rosenthaler Str. 15,
A delightful little creative lifestyle store selling a wide range of prints, interior pieces and stationery. From the golden walls through to the little tags you take to the counter to purchase your print, everything has been thought out in this store and I was rather thrilled to find it on my latest trip. Everything is super affordable and eclectic, making it the perfect stop for gifts, or just for yourself of course!


Do You Read Me, Auguststraße 28, 10117 Berlin
Do You Read Me is a fairly well-known destination these days but it will still remain on my list of places to go every visit. I rarely buy anything due to luggage restrictions but it is so lovely to see so many publications all housed under the same roof and occasionally I'll come across a zine or smaller magazine that I just can't say no to.


R.S.V.P Papier, Mulackstraße 14, 10119 Berlin 
The ultimate store for any paper lovers out there. There are actually two store just opposite each other on the same street and you might think you don't need any more stationery, but R.S.V.P will show you otherwise. From their board of bulldog clips to their sweet selection of cards and wall of paper, there is something to entice you in every crevice and you're sure to find something you didn't even know you needed.



Bikini Berlin, Budapester Str. 38-50, 10787

Bikini Berlin is probably my favourite shopping centre ever. It doesn't put a foot wrong with any of the shops inside and although I can still pick out a few favourites such as Schwesterherz Berlin, LNFA store and the Super concept space, this ever-changing landscape is likely to surprise you with it's creativity and imagination. I've never seen a similar concept and if you're a lifestyle store addict this is the absolute shopping destination for you. The garden space allows you to look across the zoo and the rooftop is also the gateway to Monkey Bar as mentioned before.

Do you have any secret gems in Berlin? Be sure to comment below if you do!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Punk Rockers | Punk 1976-78 at the British Library

If I could have lived amongst the generation of the punk scene I would have. Oh how I wish to have lived my teens in the sixties and refused to grow up by turning into a punk in my late twenties. Not that I would have called myself a punk, that would not have been cool at all. Damn my mother for being so straight-edge and not having a whole attic filled with zines and old punk tees, a gentle reminder to those feeling they need to be 'minimal' that your future children will probably not appreciate it. 

The cut and paste aesthetic of the punk era is one that I hold dearly in my heart. Collages of irrelevant things, breaking every rule in typography and not giving a f*** about the outcome is what makes this era so great for design. There was SO much freedom and I feel that is what we lack these days, we put far too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect and perfect doesn't always make perfection. 

If like me you're dreaming of the days of multiple fonts on a poster, why not get down to the Punk 1976-78 exhibition which has just opened at the wonderful British Library? Think bold colours, zines with attitude and an array of records that dominated the punk era. Exploring the early days of how punk became punk, the exhibition starts with the impact of the Sex Pistols in 1976 and reveals little secrets about some of the people involved in the movement (did you know John McTernan, political secretary to Tony Blair, and Shane MacGowan actually created the Hanging Around zine?) as well as rare fashion, flyers and posters. You can feast your eyes on the first copy of Punk magazine where it is believed the term punk may have originated from and learn more about Sex on King's road where Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols used to hang out. In fact, let's all make like the Sex Pistols and get sacked from our contracts for being naughty. They won businessmen of the year you know? Just for their ability to land large sums of money and manage to break out of contract with the record label for being so uncontrollable. 

It was pretty amazing to see all of the kickass ladies involved in the era. This was the first time women were really doing something totally different and with the only form of inspiration really coming from Patti Smith, bands such as Siouxie, Poly Styrene,  Penetration and The Slits left their mark on the music world. It all left me really wanting to form a band. Good job I had some ladies with me all thinking exactly the same as Photo Booth opportunities await in the British Library shop and I can promise you this is your chance to go absolutely wild. You'll find me and my hair on the wall already. 

The shop itself is another dream. It features a ‘record store’ style set up, meaning you can try vinyls before you buy in the 1970s replica listening booth - my advice, go with The Clash! There's also lots of other punk inspired memorabilia including posters, books, badges and fashion items. It was so hard not to buy it all! A couple of posters did manage to make it into my basket which you can see below but I'm still craving a number of things so I thought I'd create a little wish list to ponder over. With the exhibition and shop open until the 2nd October, its an absolute certainty I'll be back with the boy, leather jackets and an attitude as essential accessories to really get in to the spirit.

The Wishlist
2 // Blue Eye Brooch / £28

Details of the exhibition: 
Venue: Entrance Hall, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB
Dates: Fri 13 May - Sun 2 Oct 2016
Price: FREE!

Monday, 16 May 2016

The Pretty Patternista | Volpine

Nature, pattern and strong detailing - exactly what you are looking for in an illustration you say?  Well let me introduce you to Maria Sole Cortese of unique luxury illustration brand, Volpine. I've had the pleasure of chatting to Maria Sole on a few occasions over the last month and it's been lovely to have had the chance to get to know someone so involved in market stalls, pop-ups and generally just trying to become more established as a designer. You may remember I mentioned her designs after seeing them at the Makers & Friends event at the beginning of April and I've since caught her at The London Artisan with a rather beautiful looking stall capturing the crowds of Shoreditch.

I think one of the things that shines through from Maria Sole is her dedication to only bringing the best, be that in her illustration, the materials used or the meticulous branding of Volpine. Each scarf is hand illustrated, the colours have been carefully selected and the softest silk has been used, no corners have been cut in the design process. The end result - an incredibly vivid and intriguing object that looks just as wonderful as a centrepiece wall hanging as it does tied around your neck for a statement fashion accessory. Want to know more? Read below to find out more about Maria Sole's inspiration, design process and expectations!

What is your background and how did Volpine end up coming to life?
I studied costume and theatre design at Central St Martin’s but have always had a fervent love of illustration as far back as I can remember and I have always wanted to start my own business. Last year I really knuckled down and began thinking of a brand name and style and so the Volpine journey started. I worked at Liberty as part of their retail design team for a few years and that’s when I started falling in love with all things silk and pattern. How can you not become totally obsessed with scarves when each morning you walk through the scarf hall? Volpine is the culmination of a love of illustration, a passion for silk scarves and luxury accessories and an incessant craving to head up my own design house.

Can you tell me the inspiration behind the designs, they're obviously influenced by nature?
The first collection is all about Wondrous Beasties intermingled with Victorian encaustic tiles (a little obsession of mine lately). I love the unexpected, slightly macabre, but still feminine and I am fascinated by patterns that appear when playing with nature. The intricacy of the designs is subtle but if you look carefully you can discover unexpected layers that perhaps at first you hadn’t noticed. I like to create statement pieces that can be collected and that don’t necessarily follow fashion trends, unique and timeless designs to be cherished, gifted or passed down to a loved one.

Each illustration is extremely delicate and precise, how long does it take to complete each design?
Everyone asks me this question and I’ve never really timed myself properly to be able to answer accurately. The illustrations take much longer if I’m not inspired but when that wave of inspiration finally comes I’m done for, I almost detach from the world around me and delve deep into this other world of intricacy that literally draws me in. When I finish and look up, hours and hours have passed without me realising. So I guess the short answer is, a really long time!

You manage to provoke such a sense of luxury in your designs, is this something that is important to you?
Luxury is so important, it’s paramount, but I see luxury as perfection in the way you can choose to make something the best it can possibly be, in the finishing touches of the meticulous hand rolled edging, the brightest ink printed onto the softest silk, the copper thread in the Volpine label, the monogram on the lower right corner of the scarf.

That for me is luxury, knowing that no matter what, the best choices were made throughout the design process and nothing was compromised, ending up with a truly luxurious item, worth falling in love with.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I’d like to continue to expand the collection and to grow the brand, possibly go into home-wares and soft furnishings. The culmination would be to become a covetable brand known for its quality, impact and slightly quirky designs. Certainly I will continue to strive to achieve the unexpected with each collection and hopefully the rest will follow.

Keep track of Volpine by following their Instagram (hello gorgeous feed) and Twitter and let me know what you think of the designs. Want to see more interviews like this? Let me know!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Creative Powerhouses | Designed in London

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of listening to a brand new podcast from Designed in London - a group of three female graphic designers / creatives from you guessed it, London, talking about going through the third year of university and graduation in general. I was probably always going to love it due to my fascination with talking to students and also the lovely Natasha being involved but hey, I have to say it was one of the best things I've listened to in a hell of a long time and I had so many thoughts from it that I thought I'd add my own comments in a blog post - guest speaker next time please guys?! Soofiya (who has strangely been an inspiration of mine since my third year) and Sherida (a new girl crush because just look at the website) are the other ladies involved and they are humorous, thought-provoking and perhaps a little hell-bent on Pentagram. What could you not love about three women talking design? Let's get started by listening to the podcast below. As I may have already said, it's funny, inspiring and absolutely bloody useful so grab a cuppa or listen on a journey and laugh out loud on the tube like a wally as I did!

So hopefully you've taken my advice and you're now feeling very enlightened - it's great right?! I love to listen and chat to those with hindsight, those who can reflect on a time that you went through in your life and provoke thoughts of "yes, I felt exactly like this." I strongly feel like this subject isn't talked about enough and rather than us talking about it to the people that matter we just tend to go on about it to the others who have also already been through it. Alumni need to get back into their universities and give insight to their peers, letting them know it's all going to be okay and as the ladies say "nobody is going to die." Obviously putting it out their to the world like this or via writing blog posts is also a great tactic. My old university is pretty good at getting us oldies involved (it's like we can't leave!) but is this the norm everywhere else? Let me know if you still get involved with exhibitions and projects at your university as I'm quite intrigued to know if everyone still has this sense of community or if we are just strange. One of the most inspiring days I had as a student was listening to those from the year above me talk about their latest ventures in the real world and actually it was great to hear it with honesty.

I think the main point of me posting about this subject is that I have so many things I want to add, I could go on and on for hours about this topic and I'm perplexed as to why I haven't discussed it on here yet. If there is one thing that I want to do with this blog, it's to support those coming into the design world and let people know that there is a wave of people ready to give you advice and help you along the way. Before I start rambling even more about how wonderful these women are, here are a few of things that I wish I could say to a third year me / some of the other people on my course and to any of you too.

Look at your year as a community. You're not competition unless you make it that way and you never know how others will influence your progress as a designer.

You're all likely to be competing a little but guess what, that IS the real world so it never hurts to learn it early. That being said, I find I automatically go to design studios and collectives created by different designers so why not think of your peers as those who you will potentially be working with in the future. It really is a common occurrence nowadays, especially with starting a business being a little tough right now.

The design world is definitely all about who you know. Not in a rich, elitist way (okay, maybe sometimes) but more so in a being a nice person is everything way. The connections you build along the way are vital into shaping you as a person and although someone may not be 'useful' to you at first, they damn well may be in the future. They could also be a helpful figure to someone else you know, which can only improve your standing as a person to talk to and connect with. The one thing I've learnt is that first impressions are everything and anyone that has left a bad one on me certainly won't be called upon in the future. You never know where someone will end up later on down the line so always be kind and curious about their practise and never think you are above anyone else.

Your university life is the start of these relationships and making friends that will last a lifetime is key to having a support network if life doesn't go your way. Everyone from your university will go down different routes. I know lots of people working directly in Graphic Design as well as some that have gone down other paths like I have, still maintaining an interest in the practicalities of the trade but choosing to learn other sides of the industry. This is what forms the design community and university is where that community starts.

Your degree show isn't important but organising it is. 

I completely agree with the ladies about the 'hype' around your degree show. I do know people that got a job through my own but most are not in said job now as it wasn't actually right for them so who really cares? Don't put pressure on yourself to be that person, as realistically it might not be the right move for you and better things could be round the corner. Just have a laugh and a good time with your peers to celebrate all of your hard work, anything else is a bonus. It is good practise to get used to talking about your work though so do that to everyone and anyone who is interested although my top piece of advice is not to jump on people. Be available, say hello but don't bombard people with everything about your project. I can assure you they will ask if they want to know more.

One of things I do absolutely think helped me gain so many skills was helping to organise the degree show. Yes you hate life, yes you've not slept in weeks and yes a little party sounds good right now, but I can assure you rewards come for those who get stuck in. I can hand on heart thank my degree show for giving me my absolute best friends after university life and actually allowing me to have more time with my lecturers which has turned out to be invaluable. I was already organised before third year but I became the queen of being organised over the degree show and I'm pretty sure I'll always be proud of what we achieved whilst also being able to relay the skills I developed as valid experience for potential jobs.

Your grade doesn't really matter.

I have been to SO many talks and workshops since graduating where the big boss has said they don't even bother looking at CV's and everything is all about the quality of the portfolio, your personality and the way you present your work. That being said I know how I felt at the time and getting a first was like the icing on the cake, to show all my hard work had paid off,  it was more of a personal battle as opposed to something I thought would benefit me on the jobs market. Just try your absolute best and don't worry if things don't quite go your way as creatively nobody cares about how an institution grades your work.

It is completely okay not to rush into anything.

Coming out of university is hard, you can't deny the fact that lots of people, including your mates, are going for the same jobs. This rush to be the first to get into anywhere and brag about it isn't necessary. Take the time to consider where you'd like to be and be selective about it if you're in a position to do so. There is absolutely no point in being stuck in a job you despise, even if just for six months. There also isn't any value in taking internships that don't add value to your own skill set, so pick carefully and don't be vulnerable to agencies looking to take advantage of graduates who will work for free. Just like the ladies said, this culture has to stop and we're the only ones who can change it. You are always worth something and a paid internship for giving up your time, even at minimum wage, is the least any company can do.

I'm also an avid believer in learning other parts of the trade first. I'm quite honest about the fact that I don't want to work for someone else when it comes to graphic design and illustration and I'm currently developing my skills in other things I'm passionate about such as writing. I'm making lots of connections, immersing myself in the design culture, learning about PR, marketing and social media so if my life ever does go down a freelance route, I will be bloody ready and I won't make the mistakes I commonly see others making.

Don't be afraid. 

Your tutors might be harsh on you. God knows I ended up in tears after a few crits and I genuinely has fear of them during second year, but once I got over them they pushed me to be like f*** you / actually I could do that better and I'm definitely a more confident, self assured person because of them. Give your tutors stick back (in a good way), they crave that passion and dedication from you and they're just setting you up for the world of rejection you are genuinely about to enter. Rejection is good, it makes you fight harder. This also leads me to the end of the post. Don't be afraid to enter the world all guns blazing. Don't be afraid to chill and do things in your own time. Don't be afraid to just do you and everything will work out absolutely fine. Don't be afraid to make podcasts or write or explore other options, you don't owe anyone else an explanation for your chosen journey after studying.

Got any thoughts? Get involved in the conversation and if you do use the #DiLDN hashtag so the gals (and me) can follow the conversation.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Creative Mini Guide | Amsterdam

From the slightly wonky architecture to the intriguing Red Light District, Amsterdam was full of spirit, personality and hidden gems, once you get past the difference between a coffee shop and a "coffee shop" of course. It was my first time in the city but with some help from friends, Instagram and internet scouring I set about finding the best of the best in the Dam for a short city break. 

When I visit a new city I always use my feet as the transport, you never know what you'll find on your adventures and most of the time that is when the best treasures come to light. Two and a half days of fun-packed shuffling later and my feet weren't thanking me but my my mind and notebook certainly were. The city is full of inspiration and absolute forceful figures - that's you Anne Frank (book in advance online to avoid queueing). That said, we didn't make it too far east due to sore tootsies so apologies for those staying on the other side. Nevertheless, here are a few of my discoveries, feel free to tell me yours too as it's a certainty that I'll be returning again. 

To Stay.

The Good Hotel, Westerdoksdijk 38.
So, I'm in love. The Good Hotel is the perfect pop-up social enterprise with design and simplicity at it's heart. Floating on the canal in the perfect location (ten minutes away from the central station) this hotel has taken all the details into consideration and the small yet functional rooms are cosy enough to keep you in bed for a little longer than you might wish. The industrial designed lounge features furniture from Dutch favourites Moooi and Lensvelt, while Brazilian street art fills the hallways. One of my favourite details actually being the stairways which genuinely made me feel like I was on a cruise. To make things even better, the place is actually a social enterprise, one that gives back to young entrepreneurs, so you can feel great investing in this not-for-profit institution and having that third dutch beer before heading off out. Hurry though, Good Hotel won't actually be resting on the river for much longer as it will soon be shipped off to Rio, just in time for the Olympics. Get booking if you're planning on a trip and try the damn fried cheese sticks, they ARE glorious.

To Chill.

TOKIBinnen Dommersstraat 15.
I'd seen TOKI plastered over Instagram so knew it was a must visit for a coffee aficionado like myself. We left it to the end of our trip as it was just around the corner from the hotel and I'm so glad that we did make it for a pre-flight coffee and photo session. Yes, we did even move seats to take over the Max Lamb x dzekdsekdzek designed composite seating - hello, who wouldn't? Sipping on one of the most tasty flat whites I've ever encountered while browsing the selection of cultural magazines dotted around the place, I was in cafe heaven and I can't tell you how much I need a TOKI near me. They actually sell beer from Crate Brewery in Hackney so here's hoping for a UK takeover, one that involves selling the Go Slow tapestries. DO NOT MISS OUT ON IT. 

To Shop.

RestoredHaarlemmerdijk 39
Restored is the most gorgeous little shop on a wonderful shopping street, again just around the corner from our hotel. The curation of the shop is out of this world and you're likely to find the love of your life in some form of homeware accessory, here's looking at you Nina+Co. The designs are pure, clean and minimal and you'll find everything from jewellery to magazines to clothing. Don't be pulled in to the interior of the store too soon though as if you look up outside you'll see a remarkable building facade too!

Hutspot, Rozengracht 204-210
Do I even need to talk about this one? You can clearly see from the interior how beautifully thought out this concept store is. Hutspot was created by three childhood friends back in 2012 and the concept has since grown from a small pop-up to a series of stores with a main flagship on van Woustraat. The store above is actually the second biggest setting, which is still four floors tall I might add. In the store you'll find a selection of beautiful stationery, jewellery, clothing and interior brands and you guessed it, you might be adding a suitcase to your journey home as everything is pretty lustworthy and affordable (design letters, design letters, design letters!)

SPRMRKT, Rozengracht 191-193
SPRMRKT is one of those places that you go into and just know that you probably won't be able to afford anything but hey, sometimes that's all part of the fun right? We all like to see if we can pass off as rich occasionally. Trekking through trees and an exhibition to get into the actual store itself added to the concept and actually there were some affordable books, publications and most importantly coffee inside that made all that pretending worth it. The shop has specific ideals for the creative community and therefore functions as a platform for inspiring ideas in fashion, arts and design. They regularly host events showcasing upcoming talents and exhibitions as shown above so do check out their website to see what's on before your visit. 

T.I.T.S, De Clercqstraat 78III
This Is The Shit. That is the meaning of T.I.T.S and that is exactly what you think when walking into the store and admiring each and every item they have on offer. My biggest regret of the trip - not getting the tits t-shirt, because who doesn't need heart shaped nipples to spread female empowerment and defy the rules of Instagram? I did walk away with a rather cute patch instead though. As with most design-led stores in Amsterdam it sells good coffee and there's even a mirror to tell you that you're the tits too. This store has guts and I like it. 

To Eat.

I won't go in to too many details about where to eat as that ain't what I'm here for but I did seriously have some good grub in the Dam and it would be a shame not to share. Of course the waffles, french fries and free cheese all over the city do just the trick too. Try the dutch sharing plates and delicious fries at Boca's, the refreshing salads and fresh mint tea at SLA, the mexican at Rose's Canteen and get the glow with the Cold Pressed Juicery. For the journey home get your mitts on some Stach chocolate and macaroons, although you may end up hooked - someone tell me if anyone does this stuff in the UK?!

Well that's all folks, stay tuned for the even bigger guide to Berlin!

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