Saturday, 30 April 2016

The City I Fell For | Milan Design Week Highlights

Well what can I say, just wow. It was my first experience at Milan Design Week and I can't even put into words how much fun the whole experience was. Of course I was predominantly there for work reasons but luckily for me the work just involved lots of walking, socialising and eating cheese - that's the design world in Milan and yes it does work for making connections! 

The October team stayed in a lovely air bnb in Chinatown which is a pretty central location and a short walking distance away from the buzzing Brera district. I was immediately sucked in by the beautiful architecture and hidden courtyards that Milan had to offer and this is certainly not a place to judge a building by it's facade. Hidden behind grand doors lie far grander palazzos and picturesque fountains and greenery which you could easily while away an afternoon, providing there's Aperol of course. I have to say that I wasn't expecting to fall in love with the place as much as I did, it's never happened in Italy for me before but alas, this time it did. Maybe it was the buzz of the design scene or the great company during the late nights at Bar Basso, but Milan I'll be back! For now I'll just reminisce over some of my favourite bits and cry about my non-existent vegetarian arancini - still absolutely distraught about this fact, although I did make up for it with gelato and espresso! Click on the captions to find out more and sorry for the massively visual post. 

Elisa Strozyk
Issey Miyake x iitala
Form & Seek
Fritz Hansen

Do You Read Me?
Design Academy Eindhoven

Norwegian Structure
Alexander Mueller
Lee Broom


So there's a few highlights. I'm actually going to be doing some more in-depth posts on my favourite favourites which aren't shown here, so stay tuned for some interesting illustration and design students all the way from Chicago! Oh, a little cheeky bit of Wes Anderson-designed bar, Bar Luce to come your way soon too!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The High Five | April

1 // Gloom Beautiful Words Patch | Ball and Chain Co.
2 // Curiosity Iron on Patch | Stay Home Club
3 // Hand Embroidered Sundown Cactus Patch | Eradura
4 // Panther Iron on Patch | Stay Home Club
5 // Skull & Heart x Hear Me Roar Patch | Skull & Heart

Art for my clothes? Yes please! I think Lee Broom may have started off my patch addiction. Although really not the point of his travelling Milan van (sorry Lee), I fell in love with the ladies manning his vehicle and their equally charming jumpsuit attire. Then, after popping into Brighton last weekend and stumbling across the latest addition to Kensington Gardens, Family Store (more on that soon), I have been absolutely obsessed with the damn things. Cork boards full of pins and things to iron to my clothes - they do funny things to my heart and make me feel all of about thirteen once again. It's time for me to face the music. A denim jacket will be turning colourful this summer and these babies are gonna be the ones to cover it. Got any recommendations? Send 'em my way!

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Embroidery Masterclass | WAFFLE Design x In The Window

In my eyes, the story behind a brand, independent designer/maker or even just someone doing what they love as a hobby, goes a long way in selling a product and creating a long term love affair with said company. It doesn't matter where you end up, your roots are the most important thing in my eyes and it's an absolute essential that your portray how you started and your journey from that point in every way possible.

A couple of weeks ago I was kindly invited to attend an embroidery workshop with Ciara of WAFFLE Design, organised by social storytellers, In The Window. If the promise of the narrative behind WAFFLE wasn't enough, the chance to explore Sugarhouse Studios (home of Assemble) certainly was, although Ciara could have presented outside for all I cared as I was very eager to find out more about how the brand came about and of course have a go at creating my own little waffle to take home! 

On arrival, Ciara took us up to her small homely studio space and started to explain to us about how she works as well as the process of starting a piece from scratch. How sweet is the working environment? I love the textures of the swatches and fabrics as well as the little homely touches that the plants bring and the obvious necessity of your own products surrounding you in your space - truly inspirational! The home accessories range created by WAFFLE is inspired by the traditional waffle weave, using bursts of colour in the hand embroidered detail for a contemporary feel. Ciara uses a textured organic cotton, woven in Kerala, which is already utterly beautiful in it's own right. The fabric travels to the UK by boat, is then organically dyed in Scotland before being hand embroidered in London - quite the journey, but one that is sustainable and beneficial to the environment and the livelihood of those that have spun and woven for generations. 

The process of embroidering the fabric is one that should be slow and therapeutic. Ciara embroiders in small batches using just a needle and wool to create the graphic strip detailing on her designs, quite the opposite to the mass production that we are surrounded by on a daily basis. I can assure you that the whole production is extremely relaxing and could easily help you whisk a day away. Cushions, rugs and other bespoke soft furnishings all make up the WAFFLE range, oozing qualities of true craftsmanship and a traditional artisan process, just what I like to see.

I was super excited to get started on my own little creation but when presented with bowls and bowls of thread, I was a little overwhelmed with the colour choice I had to make. I mean, what would you have selected from those colours, they're all great right? In the end I was swayed by the beautiful array of pinks I had seen pop in some of Ciara's own designs and I decided to be my normal self and try to do something a little different. To ensure the colours stand out from the fabric, Ciara recommended using two pieces of thread for each row. I decided to combine two colours for an ombré effect - something which Ciara said she hadn't tried before so I really knew I was getting a waffle original / it was going to be an absolute disaster. The combination didn't lead to the most perfect lines but I'm more of an experimental person than a perfectionist, so for me the result is just dandy. What do you think? Will I be joining the Waffle team any time soon? 

It really was an amazing experience being behind the scenes in such a lovely environment. Of course this post wouldn't be complete without a mention of the lovely company on the night. Do go and check out these lovely bloggers and have a read of their posts: Uli, Gabby, Josephine, Daniel, Lucy, Emma and Van Anh. We chatted the night away whilst enjoying treats from NIX&KIX (so refreshing), Propercorn, Pop Chips and tasty macaroons from Dinah's Desserts. If I wasn't full enough the Mast Brothers treat in my One Must Dash goodie bag was a very very welcome snack for my journey home. Thanks once again to Ciara and In The Window for hosting such a perfect evening and I can confirm my waffle has already taken it's first journey to Milan, but more to come on that soon!

Follow WAFFLE Design on TwitterInstagram and check out the In the Window story to see more of the collection. 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Fun-loving Foundry | Playtype

I bought five prints at the weekend, yes five AND that's on top of the three purchased in the week. Something about posters has me taking out the credit card and saying goodbye to ever owning my own house, because renting is really cool kids. Adding to this serious amount of bank action is a relatively new discovery - Danish brand and design agency, e-Types who in 2010 established their own type foundry, Playtype, who produce the most beautiful graphic posters I have ever seen.

Playtype creates custom-made typefaces for brands and has an extensive library of fonts available to graphic designers and creative studios. They're all quite cheap and perfect for students looking to have something slightly more individual for a project (because that's really important ya know) and I'd totally advise pooling together for your graduation catalogue typography. I'm particularly loving the bold Boing font designed by Henrik Kubel and the elegant Wave style designed by Jonas Hecksher

If the range of fonts isn't enough to bring out the typographic geek in you / doing it yourself isn't really your thing, Playtype also have their own range of posters, mugs, notebooks, postcards and other limited edition collaborations, all printed on FSC certified paper with Pantone colours, the highest quality materials for the highest quality design. An absolute dream for those who like slogans and probably a lifetime shopping achievement for those that know finials, ascenders, serifs and hairlines.

The designs are pretty playful, case in point, the Banana Split poster and the Beat mug collection showcasing different musical genres. Of course I came home with the Punk mug which I'm planning to house a little cacti in! There are also some new additions to the collection in the form of the Voo Doo, Out Law and Way Out prints which are definitely on my wishlist, with Out Law probably at the top for the monochromatic vibes but the glossy green of Out Law following close behind!

The Danish roots certainly shine through with the bold, clean lines and humorous style. I mean the Playtype showcases the principle of the brand itself through it's name. I'll certainly be popping over to the flagship next time I'm in Copenhagen, especially with the store housed in my favourite scandinavian neighbourhood, Vesterbro. 

Copenhagen feeling a bit too far? Luckily for us all, Playtype are currently popped-up in London until May 6th, just in the front of the ARAM showroom in Covent Garden. This is the first time all of the designs have been showcased under one roof so a truly typographic treat for all of you graphic designers and creatives out there. A perfect accompaniment to an afternoon at Pick Me Up this weekend if I do say so myself. 

Follow Playtype on Instagram for a composition of letters, glyphs and numbers and lust over the full collection here. Let me know if anything takes your fancy! Top and bottom images my own, middle images courtesy of the wonderful Playtype. 

Friday, 15 April 2016

The Instagram Addict | @what.katy.does

Think I'm just a colour addict when it comes to illustration? Well think again, I've got a soft spot for monochrome when done well and a penchant for dots too. Enter Katy O'Shea, an illustrator based in London, with a graphic tattoo style and a love for using the tiniest of dots to create some mini masterpieces. Her intricate works sit perfectly within my Instagram feed to break up the pattern and add something simplistic, even if it isn't technically an easy draw. The mixture of skulls, flowers and mandalas is right up my street but you can also see a hint of her obvious sketching habit by the scenes she depicts on her travels - I have a feeling her sketchbook is always by her side. Katy, you can draw on me any day but for now I'll just settle for your beautiful prints on the wall!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Market Makers | The London Artisan

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, why not pay a visit to The London Artisan? Based in the Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, the market is home to a hive of creative bees (well designer / makers) and I can assure you are bound to find something completely unique, while also having a chance to chat to some of the finest artisans around. The idea behind the market is to not only provide a space for emerging designers to sell their product, but also a place to meet, converse and inspire other producers and makers, putting the social back into shopping.

I've rounded up some of my favourites from the market a couple of weeks ago, but with a changing weekly roster of creatives, I suggest you check it out for yourself.

Every market needs great coffee and boy does Sham City roast it well. I'm a sucker for quality packaging and I love the illustrations on the Sham City packets, there's something very refreshing about the bright, bold colours and rocker vibes - not something you'd normally see on artisan coffee. You can also grab some of the tongue-in-cheek designs on mugs and tees and if you're extra observant you might catch a glimpse of the logo tattooed on head coffee roaster, Dave. Now that's dedication!

Ever heard of a kokedama before? I hadn't before the market and although slightly freaked out by the squidgy characteristics of the moss balls, I'm still rather curious about owning one of these. Kokedama is a Japanese version of bonsai, so you can see why it has actually become a bit of a trend on the lifestyle front. It's the practise of removing a plant from it's container and re-wrapping it in mud and moss before tying it up with string. If you fancy making your own Dotted Line can help, or like me just leave it to the professionals and buy one straight from the stall!

If you're a fan of dogs, this is the market stall for you! Ros creates the most beautiful images of our favourite friendly pooches as well as a selection of other quirky objects (think pineapples). I managed to scoop up a chihuahua card that looked exactly like my little George and now I just need Ros to rename it as George isn't quite sure on being compared to Dolly who currently holds the card title. If they haven't got the pet for you, you can even send in a picture and they'll create something bespoke!

These colourful creations had me lusting for a seventies fancy dress part to attend, not because they're novelty, more because I only wear black on a daily basis. The materials used are interesting and I gotta say that I might be wavering slightly on the normal attire, the statement pink is drawing me in and the subtle sparkles on the earrings are an extra treat. I adore the African influences, modernised for the sassy ladies of today.

Well, that's it for the picks but on another note I have become increasingly interested in what it takes to be successful at a market and have been asking around for some tips. Got any advice? Get in touch. If not, stay tuned for a future post on what it takes to make the cut when selling your stuff.

AND FYI The London Artisan currently has a competition going on over on Instagram to wins whole host of goodies from TLA sellers. To win the lot, you just need to post a picture of a flat lay including some designer / maker loot and tag #TLAFLATLAY & #thelondonartisan. There's not too long left so get flat laying - good luck!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Blogging Community | We Blog Design

When I started working with Kate & Daniel (a.k.a Fabric of My Life & Atelier Tally) back in October, little did I know that they would open doors to some amazing opportunities for me. I've learnt so much about blogging in a short amount of time from the dynamic duo and have been fortunate enough to connect with lots of other brilliant design bloggers.

When they told me about relaunching We Blog Design last year, I knew I had to be involved somehow and five months and some persuasive action later, here we are. We launched a brand new site on Tuesday and I hosted our first ever tweet chat to get back in the swing of things. Follow the action now via @itsweblogdesign

If you haven't already heard of it, We Blog Design was a very successful network a few years ago and was initially run by Katie Treggiden, Stacey Sheppard and Yeshen Venema, with Daniel also involved. Unfortunately it all got a bit hectic so the site was temporarily put on hold, just until somebody somewhere in the blogging world could put the love and effort back into it - cue us taking the time to update the site and it's content almost two years later!

Looking to know more about the world of blogging, get tips on social media or try out the extra SEO trick every now and then? This is the place for you. We'll be posting on a regular basis and the best thing about it is there's a chance for everyone else to be involved to via the forum, inspiration page and social media posts, all you need to do is connect and we'll do the rest.

One of the things I love about the blogging world is the amount of likeminded people you get to meet, it's great to catch up with bloggers at events and likewise even connect with them via social media. As I'm still relatively new to the blogging world, I can sometimes feel slightly out of my depth so a community like We Blog Design is a welcome addition for me. I also can admit that I am a lost puppy when it comes to the technical side of the blog, so compiling all the information as a team has helped me out substantially - I'm a walking/talking testimonial that WBD offers good advice!

My main mission now is to try and get as many new bloggers or people considering starting a blog on board. Sign up here to be a member and PLEASE drop me a message if you do, I want to get to know you! In the meantime, you can get to know me via my interview with WBD here


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Cheeky Kickstarter | Hoxton Mini Press

It's become a little tradition of mine to purchase the boy a book from Hoxton Mini Press for any little occasion and we've been slowly building up our collection over the past six months. Lately he's been super special, so when I got an email announcing Hoxton Mini Press' latest venture I decided he could have all three as a celebration of being great. (He doesn't know yet though so lets see if he actually reads the blog eh?) I couldn't keep this campaign a secret though so do read on if you like hubba bubba, damaged cars or bananas - obviously I must like all three!

If you don't already know 'em, Hoxton Mini Press are a small indie art book publisher based in East London. They describe themselves as "3 people, two dogs and a lot of hope." I didn't realise the team was so small which is great to hear, that's a hell of a lotta passion to do what they do so well. They initially started with the series I talked about above, a series of mini photobooks based on East London and the people that inhabit it, but you may have also seen their collaboration with Katie Treggiden and Charlotte Schreiber, which is quite a hit if you're on the lookout for a coffee table book. I actually only discovered them at Frieze last year but have seen them in a million stores since, disappointingly late to the print party.

With their latest kickstarter project, Hoxton Mini Press are asking why photobooks can't be more playful and I've gotta agree, it does seem to be something lacking in the photography publishing world. It can sometimes seem a little serious and occasionally pretentious. I only have so much room for huge photography books on my table and actually something quite small, considered and humorous would be a welcome addition - thank goodness someone has thought of it!

The series so far consists of 'Bubblegum' by Emily Stein, 'Badly Repaired Cars' by Ronni Campana and 'Hand Jobs: Life as a Hand Model' by Oli Kellett & Alex Holder. All are completely original, playful and would make a colourful addition to your bookshelf. There will also hopefully be more added to the series at a later stage. 

Of course the bold colour shots taken for the promotion were bound to catch my attention in the first instance but furthermore the tongue in cheek covers really had me at hello - I think they are already my favourite things HMP have come out with and they're not even published yet! In fact, talking of not being published, that's where we come in. For this project to come to life we all need to chip in and help these beautiful pastel coloured objects become a reality. There are some great original incentives for you to choose from, like a walk in the park and a portfolio review as well as the books and accompanying artwork too. Get in there now to snap up the good ones (read: all of them) by pledging here and if the imagery hasn't already done it for you, you can watch an even more colourful video complete with two amazing dogs, who hate art but like these books, below. Let me know if you go for anything!


Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Design Drifters | Makers & Friends

On Tuesday night I was lucky enough to be invited to a blogger evening at new designer maker pop-up shop, Makers & Friends, who have just launched on Upper Street in Angel. Although still a little under the weather, I was curious by the promise of a wire workshop and of course any chance to meet up with some of the lovely ladies who have until now only seen my Twitter and Instagram profile! 

This rather special travelling shop has been curated by the lovely Zen who is a creative herself. You can totally see this through the careful selection of the artisans involved and the delightfully pretty curation of the shop, its a pretty good first pit stop for the roving store. All of the designers involved bring their own something to the mix and it was extremely hard not to walk out with something from everyone involved! Expect to see the likes of geometric jewellery from Promises Promises,  gorgeous handmade soap from Stella Says Soap as well as an array of beautifully copper packaged beauty products from Isla Apothecary (bonus points for being vegan) on your visit.

I was particularly intrigued by the narrative behind Fine Cell Work, a social enterprise that teaches needlework to prisoners who then go on to create beautifully hand sewn cushions. I was attracted by some embellished pieces (I'm sorry for lack of pictures, I was not completely with it) but of course the story has sold me even more. Do take a look at some of the very tongue in cheek designs they have going on and help a prisoner or two out!

Another designer right up my street was Volpine. These wonderfully intricate designs work well so well on prints and I love the added detailing of the little diamonds and occasional pop of pink you might find when rummaging through. All of the designs are illustrated by Maria Sole Cortese and even more importantly they have also been transferred to the most luxurious of silk scarves, which are certainly a statement piece worth saving up for. It was a pleasure to talk to Maria about working and creating at the same time, I'm excited to see what is in store for her and the brand but in the meantime merci for the colour inspiration.

Now for the wire work! Zen happens to be brilliant at teaching a workshop or two and it was lovely to try something I probably hadn't done since I was about ten, when every weekend was a crafty one and every christmas meant some kind of DIY jewellery making kit. After feeling a little overwhelmed by kinks and curls initially, I'm happy to say that actually I appear to be a dab hand at making my name out of wire and you can see the results of my practise and final necklace, party ring and all, just below!

Like my efforts? Want me to host your next wire jewellery workshop? I joke, get down to the Makers & Friends shop at 126 Upper Street, Angel and see all of the wonderful work for yourself. Zen may even be on hand to show you the tricks of the trade. It was so lovely to finally meet Natasha, Uli, Shelley & Annie - check out all of their blogs and if you're really interested watch Natasha's VLOG of the event below - WARNING. I make great faces. 

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