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Sunday, 18 December 2011

Portobello Road: Tile tales

Portobello Road has to be the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Amidst the festive stalls selling mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, these 1920s tile hooks immediately grabbed my attention. With unusual colour combinations and symmetrical floral designs, Chloe Alberry antiques have definitely concentrated on a niche market by transforming these hand painted ceramics into something new for the home.

Focusing on the painterly designs, I even dug my old sketchbook out – digitally adding hints of the muted colour tones to my black and white linear drawings...

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Time for tea with Pip Studio

Getting into the festive spirit, this week has seen me hit the fairy-lit streets of Oxford Circus. Yes, I too thought I must be mad! However, I had a surprisingly calm run of the high street on Friday evening. It would seem that whilst some of us were stocking up on gifts, others were more concerned with hitting the pub for post work drinks. Tip for all!

Whilst hunting down the perfect present for my favourite people is enough to get me excited about the month ahead, I have to admit that I found just as many treats that I would love to receive myself. So, just in case Santa is listening - my wish list has to start with Pip Studio... her entire collection will do!

I just love the vibrant colour combinations, along with the playful print compositions. The use of graphics is inventive; combining florals, stripes, birds and polka dots - the designs conjure up a real sense of twee delightfulness, whilst still managing to tell a tale of the unexpected. In my opinion, nostalgia and innovation have never been combined so masterfully as they have here.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Upholstered Loveliness

Moving flats has seen me take even more of an interest in treats for the home this month, although I've found myself far too busy to log the delights that I've stumbled across (I'd like to say because I've been decorating, painting and restoring finds from the junk shop, but the reality revolves more around the mundane practicalities of sorting utility bills & hammering in picture hooks.)

So, to spread some cheer on this foggy, mid November evening - I thought I'd share the patch-worked side table below, which I absolutely fell in love with on a trip to a string of random home stores yesterday... If only more inanimate objects could be upholstered - the world would be transformed into a much prettier place.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Stitched Up Home

Hello blog... it's been a while!

Greek getaway - tick. New flat - check. After being slightly preoccupied over the last month - it's finally time to get back to blogging, and I couldn't think of a better way to kick start my October highlights than with folkloric upholstery and soft furnishings - which are most certainly on their way back. Think Bokja, Designer's Guild and Rochebois and ouila! Our homes needn't hibernate in the dreary colours of Autumn. Instead, save the plums, olive greens and mustards for your wardrobe and let your abode do the talking!

Seeing this heavily embroidered, Turkish inspired chair in River Island, has to be the last place that I would've expected to find such a beautiful piece of furniture. Alas! Despite us being on the cusp of bitterly cold days - this chair actually fitted in well with the Aztec prints and Moroccan colours in and amongst the fashion collection. Although the garments weren't as vivid and bold in colour, this chair speaks for itself and is sure to beat those Winter blues.

Moving away from talk of the impending snow and dark days, we have been busy prepping for our SS12 press launch at Next HQ and we too, seem to be embracing heavily embroidered surface design. If the cushion pictured is anything to go by, then I'm hopeful that Next Home will be full of cultural inspired treats, in time for the New Year!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

SS12 - Clashing Florals!

Another of my favourite trends from the SS12 catwalks has to be the clashing, mis-matched florals that were dominated by Ashish. From over-sized placement embroideries, to all-over prints - the exuberant colour palette screams Summer! In a stark contrast to the pretty pastel palettes, Ashish and Christopher Kane both embrace multicolour and prove that you needn't look further than the English Garden for inspiration!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

SS12 catwalks - Long live muted pastels!

Softly does it - SS12 is upon us & to my relief, the girly pastel palette that dominated much of SS11 (& my final graduate collection) has been given a new lease of life by a fabulous array of designers. Powder puff tones are given a chalkier edge, offering a more subdued, sophisticated take on last Summer's overly pretty candy tones. Block colour is no longer just about audacious shades of cerise pink & orange as subtle combinations of lilac, mint & salmon pink are carefully combined by the House of Holland. Likewise, Preen have mastered the art of carefully constructed randomness by placing watery hues alongside unexpected pops of canary yellow & pillar box red.

Reminiscent of fifties silky night dresses and lingerie - I love the overall vintage feel of the minty turquoises & pale, washed out pinks & so, I'm glad to see that pastels are staying put, at least for the coming season!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A fantastical collaboration - Mulberry AW11 campaign

Autumn. A season of change - a season that is quite simply brought to life in this fantastical collaborative campaign by Mulberry, Shona Heath & my all time favourite photographer, Tim Walker.

Set in a beautiful English manor house, Oxfordshire's Shotover House is transformed into a whimsical masterpiece by the acclaimed set designer Shona Heath. From oversized owls, birds and foxes, to three-dimensional feathers & hatched eggs - scale is experimental, conjuring up a dream-like setting that showcases a colour palette so rich, it makes the viewer want to reach in & feel the sumptuous silks & herringbone tweeds, whilst sinking in to the velvet chairs and admiring the decadent walls.

Embracing all things traditionally British - Mulberry display their brand's heritage impeccably & imaginatively - I only wish I could've been a part of the making!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Tactile Typography

Fabric fonts are becoming a favourite trend of mine at the moment. Although this isn't a brand new phenomena, I've definitely noticed an increase in tactile typography in and around London. Prettifying words can never be a bad thing, especially when they are designed to promote a lovely boutique or craft workshop. In fact, if I had my way, the textile alphabet would replace all signage throughout the country!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Superiority Complex - Incidental Interiors by Tim Walker

Indulging in my daily dose of Twitter feeds yesterday morning, I was not expecting to see a tweet from Shannon Fitzgerald (@canadashanf) entitled - 'Your Daily Tim Walker Photo(s) - Interiors'. If only I'd discovered these months ago, every morning commute might have been as much of an inspiration as yesterday's was,

I forgot quite how much I missed trawling through Walker's fantastical, oversized books in the Art & Design university library, until I saw his latest interior shots...

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The End of Summer? Not at Next's new Shoreham store!

Waking up to the 1st September was never going to be a good feeling for me, but today's press trip to the new Shoreham-on-sea Next superstore certainly made the official end of Summer a lot more bearable!

In fact, today could well have been the very height of British Summer as the sun shone more than it has done for the whole of August - making the brand new array of Next branded plants and flowers seem even more appealing! For the first time ever, Next have merged Home and Fashion, with the addition of DIY & gardening - which is introduced to the customer in a fabulously styled shopping experience.

Moving the indoors outside has never seemed so easy, as garden retreats offer the perfect solution to that spare room, you've been meaning to get planning permission for. Meanwhile, garden sheds have never seemed so attractive - from decorative tool organisers to printed watering cans, being green fingered seems almost glamorous! Garden walls need no longer be plain either as outdoor decorations take on a rustic feel, with wrought iron planters and bird baths; cut work lanterns look too good to keep outside.

For me, the ultra girly patio set has to be my favourite. With the pastel coloured bunting and sorbet paint shades (a range which Next have also extended, especially for the store) - this is surely the right kind of look for a garden by the sea!

Of course, there's plenty more I could write about the whole venture - however, I'll leave this to the professional bloggers (all of which came armed with more than just their Iphone to take snapshots!)

Having spent the afternoon with some of our key press - including Elle Decoration, House Beautiful, Good Homes and many more inspirational titles, freelances and bloggers, the response to the store (along with our four course lunch at Brighton's Pub Du Vin) was outstanding and so, fingers crossed, there'll be plenty more where this one came from!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Urban inspiration

After a super long bank holiday, which included a lot of relaxing and leisurely browsing time at numerous charity shops, I thought it necessary to blog about just a few of the things that have inspired me over this past week.

Usually, I'm not one for stopping & staring at graffitied walls - but a stroll from Columbia Road to Broadway Market did just that last week. There was something about that stroll that felt very characteristic & almost like I'd stepped into a public doodle pad with walls transformed into over-sized collages that didn't quite fit together - I think it was the incongruent nature of these two particular murals that caught my eye. Again, like the peeling paint work of the London Underground, it's the layers and the idea of different spaces of time being merged together which inspires me.

In short, I love the cut & pasted visual elements... Perhaps I should get more into decoupage!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Absolute Vintage!

How to spend a free weekend in London? Simple. Brick Lane's Sunday Up Market has it all - from independent makers selling hand-crafted paper pom poms, to jewellers selling found trinkets as re-worked pendants. Just being in the Shoreditch district on a Sunday is enough to rekindle your creativity!

Although, when you are desperately trying to avoid spending those pennies - I'm not sure Absolute Vintage is a good place to stop by (it definitely wasn't for me anyway!)And I think the below images are enough to show why...

Fabulous prints, brave colour combinations & exaggerated shapes - the rails are an actual dream! As for shoes - there is little wonder that I spent over 2 hours rummaging around in this place... x

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The art of the everyday...

Time for a random post which is, oddly enough, about my daily commute back from Tottenham Court Road...

Everyday I stand & look at this space on the platform & think to myself how interesting & oddly beautiful it is, so I figured it was about time to record it. Of course, you might not agree with me here but what grabs my attention is the random mark making & negative space which takes on a narrative of its own. As adverts have been continuously torn down, it has left what should be an eye sore, yet to me this is like a little piece of history which looks like a 3D collage - layers of paper and concrete are peeled away to reveal little sections of brick work. The result? A flawed piece of the underground that stands as a piece of art in itself.

There, I've said it now x

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

York's Antique Treasure Trove

After graduating from an Art & Design course - I vowed never to try & draw again (even though, according to my ever optimistic tutors, I had mark making ability... just in more of an abstract kind of way!) This has been the only place that I have visited recently which has sparked even the thought of getting out my sketchbook again...

Crammed full of interesting compositions & quirky objects, I hadn't visited York's treasure trove of antique furniture & interior relics for over a year & so, popping in yesterday felt like a brand new experience all over again. From spindle legged chairs and cabinets, to elaborately upholstered chaise longues - this is the only place you will find horse saddles hanging alongside one-of-a-kind glass chandeliers.

Retro crockery stacked upon framed tapestries; ornate brooches are presented amongst war memorabilia whilst vintage telephones are set amongst kitsch ornaments on glass shelves. There is simply something for everyone in Banana Warehouse and it only makes me even more excited about dressing up my house - when I eventually own one! x

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

New Vintage at Next (yes,really!)

Whilst I usually like to use my blog as an outlet for my own inspiration - today, I thought I'd share with you a press release that I put together at work for this week's Miss N Weekly News. I can't tell you how excited I was to see a piece of furniture which looked so authentic in the new Autumn/Winter 2011 collection & so here I am shouting about it! x

Monday, 1 August 2011

Christmas in July at Next

Set in Old Billingsgate Market, Next's Christmas press show couldn't have been set in a more spectacular venue. Life-size baubles created show-stopping pop up exhibition areas, whilst the luxurious, metallic bronze colour theme set the sophisticated, festive mood.

Of course, kids wear stole the show as per usual (not biased in the slightest!) But just take a look at the fabulous still-life display of the key pieces for the coming festive season...

From Broadway Party - an ostentatious story which is sure to see all little girls hogging the limelight in exaggerated spots and girly bow details, to The Stage - a pretty ensemble of Vintage inspired dresses and ballet motifs: Next's girl's range looks more high end than high street!

Of course, boys aren't forgotten as Party promises a smart, yet rebellious look for both younger and older boys. From sparkly braces to glitter trimmed trilbies and tuxedos - the trend is injected with humour with chimp t-shirts and tongue-in-cheek slogan tops. Meanwhile, the festive jumper is back with a vengeance as the reindeer hand-knit zip through was a particular talking point amongst the press.

With all of this and more, Next has it all wrapped up for Christmas and now we can't wait for it to be here! x

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Pretty white things

White on white has always been timeless - at least, that's what my tutors used to say. Being a colour obsessive, I never used to believe them but after spotting the following designers' work I now appreciate the appeal of the muted palette.

Contrasting stitch with ceramics: Michelle Taylor proves how to create beautiful, almost colourless objects. Using reclaimed vintage china, her technique sees original surfaces manipulated with industrial techniques, such as sandblasting - creating ornate, tactile artefacts by deconstructing what was already there.

Taking a more traditional approach, textile graduates Emily Hutson & Deborah Harrison have focused on layering multiple techniques to create surfaces rich with detail. From laser-cutting to crochet; finely knitted fabrics are intertwined with delicately scorched woven fabrics to create a Hutson's strong collection. Meanwhile, Deborah's more organic fabrics provoke a real sense of fluidity with the unfixed laser cut shapes and beaded details.x

Monday, 18 July 2011

Hands On: Pastel Knits

Delectable candy shades were on the radar this year at the University of Derby's Textile Design degree show; proving that pastel hues are almost certain to stay big for Spring/Summer 2012.

Quirky knitted fabrics for interior application by Laura Leo...

Contrasting sugary shades with accents of poppy pinks and lime greens - Laura Southernwood's range of baby wear knits are not only adorable but innovative in the sense that traditional knit techniques are combined with a contemporary colour palette - ensuring that every yarn has a personality of its own... x

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Emma Lundgren in the Press

One more quick mention of the day...

Check out the many more people who spotted Emma Lundgren's amazing MA work at her Facebook page.


Pottering around at Redbrick Mill

Yet again, I have arrived at the middle of the week without posting a single thing about the days gone by. It's a good job I don't have visitors too often, otherwise I'd definitely be waving goodbye to the only bit of 'me' time which is this.

Spending another weekend back home in Yorkshire there were plenty of things I'd have liked to have done; people I'd have liked to catch up with, relatives I felt I probably should visit & generally just enjoying being at home. Yet when my boyfriend suggested heading down to Redbrick Mill in Batley, Leeds - I somehow couldn't resist... And here's why:

... Sometimes I really do wonder if we're destined to live together though, especially when I spot storage boxes as pretty as these. Faded, old fashioned florals never get tiresome in my opinion - but I have a feeling that this might fuel an argument at some point .

Decorating the garden couldn't be made any more exciting than these tactile beauties. From tin to woven rattan; these cut detailed lanterns and tea light holders are the perfect solution to adding that special touch to Alfresco dining.

Taking us back indoors again, here is the cutest set of hooks that I have ever seen. At first glance, they look to be made of vintage fabrics - instead, printed metal is embellished with lace to create a twee design fit for a quintessentially English kitchen.

Tea, anyone? x

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

RCA Show 2011: The Sequel

Wow! Where has the time gone since last Tuesday!? I'm trying to think of exciting reasons why I haven't found the time to bring you the sequel to my fabulous trip to the RCA Show - but that would just be working full time! It's not all been 9-5 office work though. This weekend saw me being involved with an exciting Back to School shoot which included 14 children, a big yellow American school bus and a lot of drama - all of which I plan to reveal very soon. In the meantime though, here are my other two highlights from this year's RCA graduates (as promised.)

'I can't seem to get rid of horses' says Birgit Marie Schmidt with her repetitious, gold cast jewellery designs. Based around the concept of nostalgic childhood fantasies and the recurring nature of these - what drew me to Schmidt's work was the sentimentality behind it. Not only do the interconnecting objects work harmoniously together - they really do hold a narrative which each of us can relate to...

Moving away from simple elegance though... I have saved my personal favourite until last.

Inspired by 'traditional Sami costume decoration' - Emma Lundgren embraces her Swedish roots with unexpected colour compositions and disjointed patterns capturing the random nature of Lapland's 'Northern Lights.' From two dimensional printed surfaces to laser cut perspex - Lundgren embraces mixed media & ensures that unconventional materials work together throughout her collection. Juxtaposition seems to be another key concept with tough, industrial fabrics given a feminine touch with the heavy use of floral motifs and organic undulating edges. To say this Textile Designer is experimental is an understatement for it's not often you see so many techniques combined with such an innovative use of colour. Personally, this collection just makes me happy! x

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

SHOW RCA 2011: Graduating talent

I can't believe I've never made it to this show before. Having been taught by tutors who studied there, along with being inspired by some of the Royal College of Art's most elite graduates: Philip Treacy and Tord Boontje - I was never going to be disappointed by the MA work on show. And sure enough, the show lived up to my high expectations: inspiring any one visiting to grab a sketchbook & start conceptualising.

Sarah Wai - MA Architecture Innovative use of laser cutting - creating relief to re-invent the 2D architect's sketch

Brimming with ideas, disciplines ranged from interior architecture to industrial design. Naturally, I was drawn to the fashion and textiles - stitched, printed, woven & moulded - although I didn't let this obscure my appreciation for all other art forms...

Struck first by the beautifully intricate works of Makiko Nakamura - this ceramic artist has managed to capture organic structures with rigid materials, forming creations that look almost edible.

Of course, three-dimensional form has to get some kind of mention and for me, David Bradley's voluminous screen-printed fashion fabrics were successful with their sensitive compositions and use of negative and positive space, playing with linear qualities to create optical illusions.

A quirkier find - which I can see being sold at Urban Outfitters any time soon, has to be this 'Masterpiece pad'. For those of us who've ever sat on an epic train journey having sat doodling the whole way, there is now a way to frame these individual creations - no matter how insignificant or magnificent they are. By simply tearing off the page & assembling the pre-cut flaps to create paper, baroque style picture frames - Benjamin Parton is fundamentally preventing us from just chucking these in the bin!

More to follow... x

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Bird's Yard meets Emily's Attic!

Bird's Yard Boutique in Leeds welcomes a new addition to its crafty array of handmade stock, with Emily's Attic moving in upstairs!

Packed full of independent designers specialising in an abundance of areas: from vintage apparel to nostalgic kitchenware - E.Rayner now adds furniture into the mix with her up-cycled, upholstered chairs & it couldn't fit in any better! The perfect market for such lovingly crafted products, Emily's wistful range is constantly evolving. From beautiful mis-matched bunting to hand-painted dressing tables - the patchwork cushions get my vote! x

Share & share alike...

What a compliment to have received a mention on Julia Burness' website. Having blogged about her work only this week, she has kindly added my very own blog to her 'Latest News' section of her home page. Funnily enough, I've grown even fonder of her & her work now! x

Check out her website for more info:

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Flowering your Idyllic Day

Not that I'm planning on getting married any time soon but if I had to dream up my own perfect day - it would have to consist of something as beautiful as these...

Just think of all the weird and wonderful antique relics that could make the perfect base for such ornate floral arrangements. And who says they'd all need to match!? Even if, unlike me, you aren't exactly bawled over by trawling antique fairs and car boots - Idyllic Days Vintage China Hire have created the perfect solution to sourcing such ceramic delights x

Monday, 20 June 2011

Laced in gold: Julia Burness Jewellery

Lace & gold: sound like a play on 'oil & water'? Think again.

This innovative jewellery designer knows how to capture a girl's heart with her intricately cast filigree designs. A self-confessed ethical designer - these designs are guilt-free as Burness sources gold 'from artisanal and Fair Trade gold mines', as well as using recycled silver 'where possible.'

Boldly avant-garde - these treasures almost make me want to ditch my patterned wardrobe & opt for something a little more understated, simply to get away with purchasing a bespoke necklace to accessorise with! x

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Heaven On Earth!

I've been meaning to mention this beauty of a boutique for quite some time now. It's not often that a shop window display (especially one of an opticians) catches your eye daily - but somehow the concessionary label 'Heaven & Earth' has me longing for one of its cute, vintage inspired garments every morning.

Re-merchandising its window every week, this gem is tucked away in 20/20 opticians on Tottenham Court Road - an unlikely home for the ultra feminine, whimsical fashion designs. Others would struggle to utilise such limited space as effectively as they do but for now, I'm happy for nobody else to try! x

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Velvet Vintage

Brighton rocks! Well, it does when it comes to independent boutiques; vintage stalls & crafts.

Walking along the sea front on a beyond blustery day, I have to say that seeing Brighton Pier emerge in the distance filled me with about as much excitement as Blackpool tower. Having imagined Southern seasides to be idyllic, quaint resorts - as opposed to rowdy, slot machine-lined promenades selling novelty rock English breakfasts and dummies, I'd expected a little more from the famed Sussex hotspot...

That was until I stumbled upon The Lanes.

From stalls selling homemade leather goods to organic cafes offering wholesomely good shakes and grub - the atmosphere completely changed within walking a few metres. A festival vibe filled the cobbled streets: an 'anything goes' spirit which encouraged people watching as a standard bank holiday activity.

Of course, one particular store stood out to me though and this time it began with a V. Entrancing me with its lavish window display - I was in awe of Velvet's fabulous combinations of silk flowers alongside appliqued owl door stops and Chinese style lanterns. Naturally, the heavy use of floral motifs in all shapes and sizes may have had something to do with my love for this store but it deserves a mention nonetheless. x