Amelia’s Magazine | Stick of Rock mugs: An interview with product designer Lydia Leith

Lydia Leith stick of rock mugs
The striking designs of product designer Lydia Leith first caught my attention at Bust Craftacular a few years back so I was delighted when she got in touch to tell me about her fabulous new project: the Stick of Rock range of mugs.

Lydia Leith royal family moulds
How much did your parents influence your decision to enter the creative world and what was the best advice they gave you?
Both parents have always been creative (Father illustrator and Mother craft teacher). Growing up in London we just happened to live in a very creative community, our neighbors (and friends) included a well known ceramicist, a fashion designer, an RA artist and in the house opposite us a Turner Prize winner. As a child I just thought this was very normal but looking back it was lucky coincidence and I have very fond memories of it all. From an early age I always assumed I’d end up working creatively, it never really crossed my mind to do anything else. The best advice my parents ever gave me was to “do the best I can” and “to occasionally break the rules”.

Lydia Leith badges
What was it like to leave London and relocate to a small town in rural Cumbria?
Moving from London to a small town in Cumbria at the age of 12 was a total culture shock. Once I had got used to the countryside it was a great (and probably a safer) place to spend teenage years.

Why were you inspired to create so much design based on the Royal Family? (your sick bag, jelly moulds and more)
The Royal Family theme happened by accident and I had made the Royal Wedding Sick Bags as a bit of a joke to practice my screen printing and to entertain myself. After their success and with the Queen’s Jubilee the following year it seemed fitting to run with the Royal themed designs for a bit longer, people expected me to bring something else royal themed out so I did.

Lydia Leith mural
You recently moved again, this time from Newcastle to Hackney – what prompted this latest move and how is it going?
I love the north and often pop back to see family etc. It is good to expernence new places. As a designer I felt I could be missing out on something by not being in London. It is early days for me here in Hackney, I am settling in well, it is fantastic to discover new shops, meet more creative people and find new inspirations. I am looking forward to becoming a Londoner again.

Lydia Leith wired up china
Your ‘Wired Up’ china set first attracted my attention a few years ago – where did you get the idea for this and how did you adapt the designs to suit the whole range of table ware?
Although water and electrify don’t usually mix, I thought a fairy lights design could be visually exciting but also would tie in with the cosy feeling of coming home and having a cup of tea. Using a tea set worked well because the design worked on cylinder and circular shapes and having multiple pieces meant we could have fun with mixing and matching.

Your latest Stick of Rock mugs are another stroke of genius – where did you get the idea for these from and where are they produced?
The idea popped into my head one day after watching rock being made. I had to find the right shaped mugs and ended up using a factory in Stoke in Trent to make them. I’ve started with Brighton, Blackpool and Margate but aim to make eventually all the seaside towns, Skegness, Bognor Regis etc.

Lydia Leith mural
When did you first start collaborating with your father and how does this process work in practice?
I started to collaborate with my father on some projects because I saw his talent wasted. His illustration work was seen everywhere over the 70s/80s/90s, he never adapted with computers and sort of disappeared off the radar once the industry became digitalised. However he was still a prolific worker but a lot of his personal work was finished then put in a drawer and never seen by anyone (the opposite to when he was working commercially). I thought this was a waste so I helped him get a website and we started working on some projects together.

So far we have worked on large scale murals, a range of mugs and coming soon children’s books. We get on really well, between us we have more ideas than we can keep up with making into reality. I am currently planning for a retrospective for his commercial illustration work, which is very exciting!

Lydia Leith mugs
Where can people buy your products?
People can buy my products online here: www.lydialeith.com my fathers website is www.paulleith.co.uk General info and updates are on instgram and twitter too.

Categories ,Blackpool, ,Bognor Regis, ,brighton, ,Bust Craftacular, ,Cumbria, ,designer, ,Humorous, ,illustrator, ,interview, ,Lydia Leith, ,Margate, ,Paul Leith, ,Queen’s Jubilee, ,Royal Family, ,Royal Wedding Sick Bags, ,Seaside, ,Skegness, ,Stick of Rock, ,Stoke in Trent, ,Turner Prize, ,Wired Up

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Amelia’s Magazine | Tent London 2010: Sustainable Design Review

vuvuzela lamp tent
Tent 2010 Tomoni Sayuda photo by Amelia gregory
Tomoni Sayuda. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Tent London featured both curated rooms and areas where designers had paid for stands. In Tent Digital I loved this whimsical piece by Tomoni Sayuda even though I have no idea what it’s purpose was: ambient sounds were played when the glowing eggs were placed in different nesty holes.

Tent 2010  David Chipperfield

Kingston University had cleverly invited all their now famous alumni, medications including David Chipperfield and Ed Carpenter of the ubiquitous pigeon lamp, viagra dosage to display their designs in the Made in Kingston room – thus creating the biggest promotional tool ever known. Very very savvy. The only Kingston graduate show I had time to look at was the MA Illustration show; read my review here.

Tent 2010 Ed Carpenter

And then onto the stands…
The Modern Garden Company make exterior furniture, page and I was most taken with Rock, fun felt wool cushion seats that will even work in the great outdoors, allegedly.

Tent 2010 Modern Garden Company

Bespoke lamp stands from Alex Randall featured antlers and a swarm of stuffed rats from Susan Labarre dubbed the “most nightmarish lamp ever created…”

Tent 2010 alex randall

Beautiful abstract carpets from Danish textile designer Naja Utzon Popov are designed in her East End workshop and woven by skilled artisans in India.

Tent 2010 Naja Utzon Popov

Kitchen clocks that once graced the walls of 1970s German kitchens were lovingly sourced, repaired and displayed by London Timepiece. Confusing name though.

Tent 2010 London Timepiece

A vuvuzela lamp! Whatever next! Very amusing. From John Edwards.

The JJAM Curators Collective had put together a fun collection of designs made using the most banal everyday item – the yellow dishcloth. Stand outs included Polish it Off! by Dora & Fullard, So Much Time So Little To Do (I wish!!!) by Cure Studio, and A Word about Fashion by Catherine Ann Haynes.

Tent 2010 So Much Time So Little To Do (I wish!!!) by Cure Studio,
So Much Time So Little To Do (I wish!!!) by Cure Studio

Tent 2010 JJAM Collective
Tent 2010 Polish it Off! by Dora & Fullard
Polish it Off! by Dora & Fullard

Tent 2010 A Word about Fashion by Catherine Ann Haynes
A Word about Fashion by Catherine Ann Haynes

Recycled fabric covered armchairs by Kelly Swallow reminded me of local shop Squint. But anyone who refashions old fabrics has got my seal of approval – there’s room for many of these bespoke designers up and down the country.

Tent 2010 Kelly Swallow

The Makaranda collection by Quirico featured vibrant brightly patterned and coloured foot stools and pouffes – although I somewhat balked when I discovered the price – a mere £425 each. Oh what it must be to have a huge disposable income.

Tent 2010 Makaranda collection by Quirico

There was some lovely delicate jewellery on display from Clerkenwell based shop Family Tree.

Tent 2010 Family Tree

Miller Goodman make wonderful wooden block games out of rubberwood for kids.

Tent 2010 Miller Goodman

Very clever plastic fold up Flux Chairs, but I wasn’t convinced of their comfort levels.

Tent 2010 Flux Chairs

And a big mention surely has to go to the huge blue rope Knitting Nancy interactive installation from Superblue that was prominently installed as everyone came in. Fabulous fun, and a serious nod to the impact of craft techniques on the entire design world.

Superblue knitting nancy

Tent 2010 Tomoni Sayuda photo by Amelia gregory
Tomoni Sayuda. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Tent London featured both curated rooms and areas where designers had paid for stands. In Tent Digital I loved this whimsical piece by Tomoni Sayuda even though I have no idea what it’s purpose was: ambient sounds were played when the glowing eggs were placed in different nesty holes.

Tent 2010  David Chipperfield

Kingston University had cleverly invited all their now famous alumni, about it including David Chipperfield and Ed Carpenter of the ubiquitous pigeon lamp, check to display their designs in the Made in Kingston room – thus creating the biggest promotional tool ever known. Very very savvy. The only Kingston graduate show I had time to look at was the MA Illustration show; read my review here.

Tent 2010 Ed Carpenter

And then onto the stands…
The Modern Garden Company make exterior furniture, and I was most taken with Rock, fun felt wool cushion seats that will even work in the great outdoors, allegedly.

Tent 2010 Modern Garden Company

Bespoke lamp stands from Alex Randall featured antlers and a swarm of stuffed rats from Susan Labarre dubbed the “most nightmarish lamp ever created…”

Tent 2010 alex randall

Beautiful abstract carpets from Danish textile designer Naja Utzon Popov are designed in her East End workshop and woven by skilled artisans in India.

Tent 2010 Naja Utzon Popov

Kitchen clocks that once graced the walls of 1970s German kitchens were lovingly sourced, repaired and displayed by London Timepiece. Confusing name though.

Tent 2010 London Timepiece

A vuvuzela lamp! Whatever next! Very amusing. From John Edwards.

vuvuzela lamp tent

The JJAM Curators Collective had put together a fun collection of designs made using the most banal everyday item – the yellow dishcloth. Stand outs included Polish it Off! by Dora & Fullard, So Much Time So Little To Do (I wish!!!) by Cure Studio, and A Word about Fashion by Catherine Ann Haynes.

Tent 2010 So Much Time So Little To Do (I wish!!!) by Cure Studio,
So Much Time So Little To Do (I wish!!!) by Cure Studio

Tent 2010 JJAM Collective
Tent 2010 Polish it Off! by Dora & Fullard
Polish it Off! by Dora & Fullard

Tent 2010 A Word about Fashion by Catherine Ann Haynes
A Word about Fashion by Catherine Ann Haynes

Recycled fabric covered armchairs by Kelly Swallow reminded me of local shop Squint. But anyone who refashions old fabrics has got my seal of approval – there’s room for many of these bespoke designers up and down the country.

Tent 2010 Kelly Swallow

The Makaranda collection by Quirico featured vibrant brightly patterned and coloured foot stools and pouffes – although I somewhat balked when I discovered the price – a mere £425 each. Oh what it must be to have a huge disposable income.

Tent 2010 Makaranda collection by Quirico

There was some lovely delicate jewellery on display from Clerkenwell based shop Family Tree.

Tent 2010 Family Tree

Miller Goodman make wonderful wooden block games out of rubberwood for kids.

Tent 2010 Miller Goodman

Very clever plastic fold up Flux Chairs, but I wasn’t convinced of their comfort levels.

Tent 2010 Flux Chairs

And a big mention surely has to go to the huge blue rope Knitting Nancy interactive installation from Superblue that was prominently installed as everyone came in. Fabulous fun, and a serious nod to the impact of craft techniques on the entire design world.

Superblue knitting nancy

Tent 2010 Tomoni Sayuda photo by Amelia gregory
Tomoni Sayuda. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Tent London featured both curated rooms and areas where designers had paid for stands. In Tent Digital I loved this whimsical piece by Tomoni Sayuda even though I have no idea what it’s purpose was: ambient sounds were played when the glowing eggs were placed in different nesty holes.

Tent 2010  David Chipperfield

Kingston University had cleverly invited all their now famous alumni, viagra including David Chipperfield and Ed Carpenter of the ubiquitous pigeon lamp, to display their designs in the Made in Kingston room – thus creating the biggest promotional tool ever known. Very very savvy. The only Kingston graduate show I had time to look at was the MA Illustration show; read my review here.

Tent 2010 Ed Carpenter

And then onto the stands…
The Modern Garden Company make exterior furniture, and I was most taken with Rock, fun felt wool cushion seats that will even work in the great outdoors, allegedly.

Tent 2010 Modern Garden Company

Bespoke lamp stands from Alex Randall featured antlers and a swarm of stuffed rats from Susan Labarre dubbed the “most nightmarish lamp ever created…”

Tent 2010 alex randall

Beautiful abstract carpets from Danish textile designer Naja Utzon Popov are designed in her East End workshop and woven by skilled artisans in India.

Tent 2010 Naja Utzon Popov

Kitchen clocks that once graced the walls of 1970s German kitchens were lovingly sourced, repaired and displayed by London Timepiece. Confusing name though.

Tent 2010 London Timepiece

A vuvuzela lamp! Whatever next! Very amusing. From John Edwards.

vuvuzela lamp tent

The JJAM Curators Collective had put together a fun collection of designs made using the most banal everyday item – the yellow dishcloth. Stand outs included Polish it Off! by Dora & Fullard, So Much Time So Little To Do (I wish!!!) by Cure Studio, and A Word about Fashion by Catherine Ann Haynes.

Tent 2010 So Much Time So Little To Do (I wish!!!) by Cure Studio,
So Much Time So Little To Do (I wish!!!) by Cure Studio

Tent 2010 JJAM Collective
Tent 2010 Polish it Off! by Dora & Fullard
Polish it Off! by Dora & Fullard

Tent 2010 A Word about Fashion by Catherine Ann Haynes
A Word about Fashion by Catherine Ann Haynes

Recycled fabric covered armchairs by Kelly Swallow reminded me of local shop Squint. But anyone who refashions old fabrics has got my seal of approval – there’s room for many of these bespoke designers up and down the country.

Tent 2010 Kelly Swallow

The Makaranda collection by Quirico featured vibrant brightly patterned and coloured foot stools and pouffes – although I somewhat balked when I discovered the price – a mere £425 each. Oh what it must be to have a huge disposable income.

Tent 2010 Makaranda collection by Quirico

There was some lovely delicate jewellery on display from Clerkenwell based shop Family Tree.

Tent 2010 Family Tree

Miller Goodman make wonderful wooden block games out of rubberwood for kids.

Tent 2010 Miller Goodman

Very clever plastic fold up Flux Chairs, but I wasn’t convinced of their comfort levels.

Tent 2010 Flux Chairs

And a big mention surely has to go to the huge blue rope Knitting Nancy interactive installation from Superblue that was prominently installed as everyone came in. Fabulous fun, and a serious nod to the impact of craft techniques on the entire design world. Read about the LAB CRAFT exhibition at Tent here.

Superblue knitting nancy

Tent 2010 Zoe Murphy
Painted tables by Zoe Murphy.

Now for the best of sustainable design at Tent London, ailment which was dispersed throughout the exhibition and included the exterior exhibit ShowHow, showcasing Danish design, in Dray Walk.

Furniture Magpies collect old furniture and put it together in unconventional ways – so for instance chair legs become a lamp stand, and an old drawer becomes a desk with a liftable lid. Their designs don’t always work – sometimes the results just look a bit too clunky – but I really liked the bravado of these designs, which often use brightly coloured fabric trimmings.

Tent 2010 Furniture Magpies
Tent 2010 Furniture Magpies

The Nogg chicken house is the latest in avian des-res. And you can’t beat it for a stylish bit of garden sculpture – it’s the most modern chicken coop you can lay your hands on, made of yummy smelling cedar wood as well. Great for rearing your own eggs.

Tent 2010 nogg chicken coop

Zoe Murphy is based down on the south coast in Margate, where she no doubt sources all her retro furniture for a pretty penny – but it’s her beautifully painted designs which make these pieces an absolute joy. Not something most people would be able to replicate at home. *You can see why she sold most of her designs to Liberty in the first half hour.*

Tent 2010 Zoe Murphy
Tent 2010 Zoe Murphy

era was founded only this year with the aim of challenging our preconceived notions of sustainable design. Chairs and tables are based on a honeycomb design which is cheap to make but has an extremely strong cellular structure. The structures are held solid by a stiffening tube of steel and they currently have a patent pending on this technology.

Tent 2010 era sustainable design

The Rod desk lamp is made from hazel rod and fibres, an excellent example of how very simple unprocessed materials can be used to make something very beautiful and useful. Sebastian Cox from the University of Lincoln makes all of his products from coppiced hazel, a strong, light and entirely renewable material that grows in abundance in the UK, and was once used to create many things. This is truly sustainable design.

Tent 2010 Rod desk lamp Sebastian Cox

What about a cardboard rocking horse, isn’t he pretty? The Eco Rocker from Shell Thomas is a flat pack cardboard horse made from 100& recycled paper board.

Tent 2010 eco rocker Shell Thomas

Now over to ShowHow… where I met the lady responsible for the project – curator Iben Hansen of the Danish Design Centre in Copenhagen. She was very keen to explain her principles of sustainability, which for me really stretch a definition: apparently anything that is really good design and built to last is sustainable. I think that’s one aspect of sustainability, but there’s a whole lot more to being properly sustainable – such as making use of materials that are not harmful to the environment either in manufacture or disposal. And just not consuming vast quantities of new stuff all the time. Her attitude is very much of the ‘we must carry on enjoying the luxuries in life’ school that excuses consumerism – Green Capitalism in fact. I don’t entirely disagree, I think we will always crave new stuff, and people will always want to make lovely new stuff (eg. me) but this has also to be tempered with the careful use of resources that truly sustainable design should tackle.

Oficina Creativa acapulco chair
The Oficina Creativa Acapulco Chair

Amongst the Arne Jacobsen design classics on show at ShowHow there was an ethical beauty product range from Unique, and some samples for me to take home in teeny tiny wasteful plastic bottles. And I wasn’t impressed with some intelligent fabrics that require less water in washing from huge chemical company Novozymes, again accompanied by the most insane amount of gumph; a big box of huge promotional cards, destined to go straight in the bin.

justyna Piotrowicz_show how

I rather liked the gorgeous blown glass LED lights from Justyna Piotrowicz and the wonderful Acapulco chairs made by valued Mexican artisans out of brightly coloured plastic wires for Oficina Creativa. Oh so comfortable to sit in.

Oficina Creativa acapulco chair

I suspect there was a serious amount of big company sponsorship money infiltrating this exhibition: it was a shame that ShowHow didn’t find space for more of the truly grassroots sustainable designers that I am sure abound in Denmark.

Categories ,Acapulco Chair, ,Arne Jacobsen, ,Danish Design Centre, ,Denmark, ,design, ,Dray Walk, ,Eco Rocker, ,Elemental Textiles, ,era, ,Furniture Magpies, ,Glass, ,Green Capitalism, ,Hazel, ,Iben Hansen, ,Justyna Piotrowicz, ,liberty, ,Margate, ,Nogg, ,Novozymes, ,Oficina Creativa, ,Sebastian Cox, ,Shell Thomas, ,ShowHow, ,Silviculture, ,sustainability, ,Tent London, ,unique, ,Unique Products, ,University of Lincoln, ,Zoe Murphy

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Amelia’s Magazine | Tent London 2013 Review: Best Soft Furnishings and Homewares

plate by Louise Wilkinson
Bone china plate by Louise Wilkinson.

As usual there was a plethora of new and exciting designers to discover at Tent London 2013, showing alongside some familiar favourites that I look forward to catching up with each year. Here is my round up of the best soft furnishings and homewares brands I found. Wall art, furniture and lighting will follow in my next blog, though this delineation is pretty arbitrary since many brands happily encompass all aspects of interior design.

Tent London Cushions Melanie Porter
This outrageous outsize knitted cushion is by Melanie Porter, who was trained at Central Saint Martins and turned her hand to soft furnishing design after ten years working as a designer for international fashion brands. Melanie became a mum in July, so good on her for staying up to speed and putting on such a great show at Tent this year. Those of us running our own brands don’t get much time off!

Chocolate creative cushions Tent
Geometric prints were everywhere at Tent London this year. I love these cushions by Chocolate Creative.

Tent London Melody Rose plate boxing
Tent London Melody Rose plates
I spent some time chatting with Melanie Roseveare of Melody Rose ceramics whilst Snarfle marvelled at her new collection of printed plates. Melody started out upcycling vintage fine china – adding her own designs on top of vintage ones such as the blue plate above (which features a picture of her dad, an amateur boxing champion). Now she has launched her own bespoke range that includes this artfully placed classical nude. I love the way she has arranged these plates to make the most of the design.

Honeycomb geometric print cushions from Room 39
These honeycomb geometric print cushions are by Petra Green of Room 39, a Slovenian designer now settled in the UK who excels in the use of bright colours and eye catching prints on unusually shaped cushions. Some of her designs are made up in a family run factory in Slovenia, some are made up by the Working Well Trust (which provides opportunities for those with mental health difficulties) and some are manufactured in her East London studio space. She aims to marry craft techniques and modern technology in as sustainable a way as possible – I like her production style!

Tent London Sian Elin Thomas abstract cushions
Tent London Sian Elin Thomas cushions
I first admired work by Sian Elin at New Designers this year, but didn’t cover it at the time because my photographs did not do the collection justice. Her wonderful cushions feature abstract designs (and the fab peacock patterned design above) in a range of luscious colour combinations.

elephant print cushion Rachel powell
Since I discovered her at New Designers in 2011 Rachel Powell has gone from strength to strength, and it’s so nice to see a recent graduate doing well commercially within a few years. My favourite thing in her new collection is this bold retro inspired elephant print that would look lush in a kid’s room. The design also comes on fabric that can be purchased by the metre – what a brilliant idea for all those crafters out there!

Magnetic porcelain train - Reiko Kaneko
What fun – this magnetic porcelain train for eggy soldiers is by the Japanese born designer Reiko Kaneko. Having graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2007 she set up her own studio in London’s east end, but has since relocated to Stoke-on-Trent in order to integrate design and production in the home town of English bone china.

The Staffordshire University Flux ceramics
Speaking of fine bone china, the Staffordshire University student collaboration Flux Stoke-on-Trent continues to impress with beautiful ceramic designs. This project is an example of collaboration between a teaching establishment and industry – forging new bonds that will lead to viable careers in an industry which can be notoriously difficult to infiltrate successfully.

Brushes by Swedish brand Lofstrom
These beautiful brushes by Mikael Lofstrom of Lofstrom skilfully make use of the natural shape of tree branches, which are paired with upcycled thistles.

Etelka Meixner of Hungary; pearl embellished chinaware
Etelka Meixner of Hungary has tapped into a very current theme with her luxuriously decorative pearl embellished chinaware.

Townscape design by Maxine Sutton
I had a long chat about the joys of living in Thanet with Ramsgate based designer Maxine Sutton, who has recently overhauled her shop in the centre of the newly vibrant Margate to become a stand alone store for her homewares range. This graphic townscape design perfectly showcases her style.

Kristine Five Melvaer -Norwegian design showcase
Over at the Norwegian design showcase I was most taken by these jewel coloured stripe pots from Kristine Five Melvær. Kristine works in glass and china to produce objects of exquisite beauty.

Fine china by Louise Wilkinson
Ceramic jug by Louise Wilkinson
Finally, I am just a little bit in love with fine china by Louise Wilkinson, an illustrator and fashion textile designer turned homewares designer who is inspired by Japanese design. I think her unique creations also owe a slight debt to the cute animals so often featured in 40s and 50s children’s book design: no wonder I find them so delightful. In fact we promptly bought a jug and matching mugs for some soon to be married friends and I am just a little bit envious.

You can share my discoveries as I find them by following me on instagram here.

Categories ,2013, ,Bone China, ,Central Saint Martins, ,Chocolate Creative, ,Etelka Meixner, ,Flux Stoke-on-Trent, ,Homewares, ,Hungary, ,japanese, ,Kristine Five Melvær, ,Lofstrom, ,Louise Wilkinson, ,Margate, ,Maxine Sutton, ,Melanie Porter, ,Melanie Roseveare, ,Melody Rose, ,Mikael Lofstrom, ,New Designers, ,Norwegian, ,Pearls, ,Petra Green, ,Porcelain, ,Rachel Powell, ,Ramsgate, ,Reiko Kaneko, ,review, ,Room 39, ,Sian Elin, ,Slovenia, ,Snarfle, ,Soft Furnishings, ,Staffordshire University, ,Stoke-on-Trent, ,Tent London, ,textiles, ,Thanet, ,Upcycled, ,Working Well Trust

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Amelia’s Magazine | Tent London 2013 Review: Best Soft Furnishings and Homewares

plate by Louise Wilkinson
Bone china plate by Louise Wilkinson.

As usual there was a plethora of new and exciting designers to discover at Tent London 2013, showing alongside some familiar favourites that I look forward to catching up with each year. Here is my round up of the best soft furnishings and homewares brands I found. Wall art, furniture and lighting will follow in my next blog, though this delineation is pretty arbitrary since many brands happily encompass all aspects of interior design.

Tent London Cushions Melanie Porter
This outrageous outsize knitted cushion is by Melanie Porter, who was trained at Central Saint Martins and turned her hand to soft furnishing design after ten years working as a designer for international fashion brands. Melanie became a mum in July, so good on her for staying up to speed and putting on such a great show at Tent this year. Those of us running our own brands don’t get much time off!

Chocolate creative cushions Tent
Geometric prints were everywhere at Tent London this year. I love these cushions by Chocolate Creative.

Tent London Melody Rose plate boxing
Tent London Melody Rose plates
I spent some time chatting with Melanie Roseveare of Melody Rose ceramics whilst Snarfle marvelled at her new collection of printed plates. Melody started out upcycling vintage fine china – adding her own designs on top of vintage ones such as the blue plate above (which features a picture of her dad, an amateur boxing champion). Now she has launched her own bespoke range that includes this artfully placed classical nude. I love the way she has arranged these plates to make the most of the design.

Honeycomb geometric print cushions from Room 39
These honeycomb geometric print cushions are by Petra Green of Room 39, a Slovenian designer now settled in the UK who excels in the use of bright colours and eye catching prints on unusually shaped cushions. Some of her designs are made up in a family run factory in Slovenia, some are made up by the Working Well Trust (which provides opportunities for those with mental health difficulties) and some are manufactured in her East London studio space. She aims to marry craft techniques and modern technology in as sustainable a way as possible – I like her production style!

Tent London Sian Elin Thomas abstract cushions
Tent London Sian Elin Thomas cushions
I first admired work by Sian Elin at New Designers this year, but didn’t cover it at the time because my photographs did not do the collection justice. Her wonderful cushions feature abstract designs (and the fab peacock patterned design above) in a range of luscious colour combinations.

elephant print cushion Rachel powell
Since I discovered her at New Designers in 2011 Rachel Powell has gone from strength to strength, and it’s so nice to see a recent graduate doing well commercially within a few years. My favourite thing in her new collection is this bold retro inspired elephant print that would look lush in a kid’s room. The design also comes on fabric that can be purchased by the metre – what a brilliant idea for all those crafters out there!

Magnetic porcelain train - Reiko Kaneko
What fun – this magnetic porcelain train for eggy soldiers is by the Japanese born designer Reiko Kaneko. Having graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2007 she set up her own studio in London’s east end, but has since relocated to Stoke-on-Trent in order to integrate design and production in the home town of English bone china.

The Staffordshire University Flux ceramics
Speaking of fine bone china, the Staffordshire University student collaboration Flux Stoke-on-Trent continues to impress with beautiful ceramic designs. This project is an example of collaboration between a teaching establishment and industry – forging new bonds that will lead to viable careers in an industry which can be notoriously difficult to infiltrate successfully.

Brushes by Swedish brand Lofstrom
These beautiful brushes by Mikael Lofstrom of Lofstrom skilfully make use of the natural shape of tree branches, which are paired with upcycled thistles.

Etelka Meixner of Hungary; pearl embellished chinaware
Etelka Meixner of Hungary has tapped into a very current theme with her luxuriously decorative pearl embellished chinaware.

Townscape design by Maxine Sutton
I had a long chat about the joys of living in Thanet with Ramsgate based designer Maxine Sutton, who has recently overhauled her shop in the centre of the newly vibrant Margate to become a stand alone store for her homewares range. This graphic townscape design perfectly showcases her style.

Kristine Five Melvaer -Norwegian design showcase
Over at the Norwegian design showcase I was most taken by these jewel coloured stripe pots from Kristine Five Melvær. Kristine works in glass and china to produce objects of exquisite beauty.

Fine china by Louise Wilkinson
Ceramic jug by Louise Wilkinson
Finally, I am just a little bit in love with fine china by Louise Wilkinson, an illustrator and fashion textile designer turned homewares designer who is inspired by Japanese design. I think her unique creations also owe a slight debt to the cute animals so often featured in 40s and 50s children’s book design: no wonder I find them so delightful. In fact we promptly bought a jug and matching mugs for some soon to be married friends and I am just a little bit envious.

You can share my discoveries as I find them by following me on instagram here.

Categories ,2013, ,Bone China, ,Central Saint Martins, ,Chocolate Creative, ,Etelka Meixner, ,Flux Stoke-on-Trent, ,Homewares, ,Hungary, ,japanese, ,Kristine Five Melvær, ,Lofstrom, ,Louise Wilkinson, ,Margate, ,Maxine Sutton, ,Melanie Porter, ,Melanie Roseveare, ,Melody Rose, ,Mikael Lofstrom, ,New Designers, ,Norwegian, ,Pearls, ,Petra Green, ,Porcelain, ,Rachel Powell, ,Ramsgate, ,Reiko Kaneko, ,review, ,Room 39, ,Sian Elin, ,Slovenia, ,Snarfle, ,Soft Furnishings, ,Staffordshire University, ,Stoke-on-Trent, ,Tent London, ,textiles, ,Thanet, ,Upcycled, ,Working Well Trust

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Amelia’s Magazine | What to do in Margate and Broadstairs (whilst wearing Chatham Marine Deck Shoes)

sparkle boat margate photography by Amelia Gregory
This weekend we went down to the seaside in Kent: my partner’s dad lives in Ramsgate and when we go down to Thanet we always go for a pootle around Margate and Broadstairs.

sparkle boat margate photography by Amelia Gregory
Maria Nepomuceno margate photography by Amelia Gregory
In Margate American artist Alex Katz is showing Give Me Tomorrow at the Turner Contemporary, which has just the right amount of space to put on the perfectly sized exhibition for a sociable stroll with the family. He’s not a painter I’ve heard of but I really enjoyed his work: particularly rolling abstract waves and epic seascapes inspired by his home in Maine. That and his work from the 70s and 80s, often featuring his friends and family but put together to imitate glamourous magazine shoots and stills from films. Also on show was a massive interactive beaded installation – Tempo para Respirar (Breathing Time) – by Brazilian artist Maria Nepomuceno.

margate photography by Amelia Gregory
margate photography by Amelia Gregory
Margate has become a haven for artists and there are some great places to discover in the old town: piles of old boxes, a random collection of knitted dolls in a tree… there are plenty of junk shops and second hand book stores to peruse.

victoria browne pushing print margate photography by Amelia Gregory
Victoria Browne

pushing print margate nikki davidson-bowman photography by Amelia Gregory
Nikki Davidson-Bowman

And then we came across some really fabulous work as part of Pushing Print Festival at the Margate Gallery (on now until 27th October) Here are just two of the artists on show: beautiful screenprinted monoliths by Victoria Browne and Nikki Davidson-Bowman‘s sculptural laser print wall hanging.

oscars broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
oscars festival cafe  broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
Broadstairs is great for little eateries: we like visiting the old fashioned Morelli’s Gelato seaside ice-creamery if only for the amazing intact 50s decor, but this time we opted for Oscar’s Festival Cafe… a beautifully appointed shack that is manned by someone called Graham (not Oscar).

snarfle festival cafe oscars festival cafe  broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
The impeccable decor did not disappoint: we had the best ever scrambled egg and bacon, on top of a Kentish delicacy known as a Huffkin: part muffin, part bagel. Visit it if you are ever down that way.

Chatham Marine deck shoes beach  broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
Then we took Snarfle down for a windy jaunt along the beach. I wore my new pink Chatham Marine Alcyone deck shoes, which were a recent gift: they are the first pair of deck shoes I’ve owned and I must say I rather like them! Particularly worn with a pair of natty socks (always).

Chatham Marine deck shoes beach  broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
A bit about Chatham Marine:
Chatham Marine are a British family run business who are specialists in boating wear, and their shoes and boots are available in over 500 independent stores and chandleries across the UK, as well as John Lewis, Jones the Bootmaker, and Debenhams stores. They sell in over 200 stockists across Europe.

Chatham Marine deck shoes beach  broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
Chatham Marine‘s mocacassin constructed boat shoes involve hand stitching the leather uppers through the grippy rubber sole with rot proof waxed cable thread so that the leather will wrap around the shape of the foot. The shoes are unlined for the utmost comfort, and they can be worn sockless without worrying about breathability. In a boating situation water is able to permeate between the spaces created by the waxed cable: in effect the shoes are designed to let the water in and out.

Handy that: even if I didn’t go any further than the old concrete tidal pool on Broadstairs beach.

All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Categories ,Alcyone, ,Alex Katz, ,Boating, ,british, ,Broadstairs, ,Chatham Marine, ,Debenhams, ,Deck Shoes, ,Give Me Tomorrow, ,Huffkin, ,John Lewis, ,Jones the Bootmaker, ,kent, ,maine, ,Margate, ,Margate Gallery, ,Maria Nepomuceno, ,Mocacassin, ,Morelli’s Gelato, ,Nikki Davidson-Bowman, ,Oscar’s Festival Cafe, ,pink, ,Pushing Print Festival, ,Ramsgate, ,Snarfle, ,Tempo para Respirar (Breathing Time), ,Thanet, ,Turner Contemporary, ,Victoria Browne

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Amelia’s Magazine | What to do in Margate and Broadstairs (whilst wearing Chatham Marine Deck Shoes)

sparkle boat margate photography by Amelia Gregory
This weekend we went down to the seaside in Kent: my partner’s dad lives in Ramsgate and when we go down to Thanet we always go for a pootle around Margate and Broadstairs.

sparkle boat margate photography by Amelia Gregory
Maria Nepomuceno margate photography by Amelia Gregory
In Margate American artist Alex Katz is showing Give Me Tomorrow at the Turner Contemporary, which has just the right amount of space to put on the perfectly sized exhibition for a sociable stroll with the family. He’s not a painter I’ve heard of but I really enjoyed his work: particularly rolling abstract waves and epic seascapes inspired by his home in Maine. That and his work from the 70s and 80s, often featuring his friends and family but put together to imitate glamourous magazine shoots and stills from films. Also on show was a massive interactive beaded installation – Tempo para Respirar (Breathing Time) – by Brazilian artist Maria Nepomuceno.

margate photography by Amelia Gregory
margate photography by Amelia Gregory
Margate has become a haven for artists and there are some great places to discover in the old town: piles of old boxes, a random collection of knitted dolls in a tree… there are plenty of junk shops and second hand book stores to peruse.

victoria browne pushing print margate photography by Amelia Gregory
Victoria Browne

pushing print margate nikki davidson-bowman photography by Amelia Gregory
Nikki Davidson-Bowman

And then we came across some really fabulous work as part of Pushing Print Festival at the Margate Gallery (on now until 27th October) Here are just two of the artists on show: beautiful screenprinted monoliths by Victoria Browne and Nikki Davidson-Bowman‘s sculptural laser print wall hanging.

oscars broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
oscars festival cafe  broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
Broadstairs is great for little eateries: we like visiting the old fashioned Morelli’s Gelato seaside ice-creamery if only for the amazing intact 50s decor, but this time we opted for Oscar’s Festival Cafe… a beautifully appointed shack that is manned by someone called Graham (not Oscar).

snarfle festival cafe oscars festival cafe  broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
The impeccable decor did not disappoint: we had the best ever scrambled egg and bacon, on top of a Kentish delicacy known as a Huffkin: part muffin, part bagel. Visit it if you are ever down that way.

Chatham Marine deck shoes beach  broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
Then we took Snarfle down for a windy jaunt along the beach. I wore my new pink Chatham Marine Alcyone deck shoes, which were a recent gift: they are the first pair of deck shoes I’ve owned and I must say I rather like them! Particularly worn with a pair of natty socks (always).

Chatham Marine deck shoes beach  broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
A bit about Chatham Marine:
Chatham Marine are a British family run business who are specialists in boating wear, and their shoes and boots are available in over 500 independent stores and chandleries across the UK, as well as John Lewis, Jones the Bootmaker, and Debenhams stores. They sell in over 200 stockists across Europe.

Chatham Marine deck shoes beach  broadstairs photography by Amelia Gregory
Chatham Marine‘s mocacassin constructed boat shoes involve hand stitching the leather uppers through the grippy rubber sole with rot proof waxed cable thread so that the leather will wrap around the shape of the foot. The shoes are unlined for the utmost comfort, and they can be worn sockless without worrying about breathability. In a boating situation water is able to permeate between the spaces created by the waxed cable: in effect the shoes are designed to let the water in and out.

Handy that: even if I didn’t go any further than the old concrete tidal pool on Broadstairs beach.

All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Categories ,Alcyone, ,Alex Katz, ,Boating, ,british, ,Broadstairs, ,Chatham Marine, ,Debenhams, ,Deck Shoes, ,Give Me Tomorrow, ,Huffkin, ,John Lewis, ,Jones the Bootmaker, ,kent, ,maine, ,Margate, ,Margate Gallery, ,Maria Nepomuceno, ,Mocacassin, ,Morelli’s Gelato, ,Nikki Davidson-Bowman, ,Oscar’s Festival Cafe, ,pink, ,Pushing Print Festival, ,Ramsgate, ,Snarfle, ,Tempo para Respirar (Breathing Time), ,Thanet, ,Turner Contemporary, ,Victoria Browne

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Amelia’s Magazine | Putting optical illusions on homeware: an interview with designer maker Dionne Sylvester

Dionne Sylvester plate designs
I first discovered the striking homeware of designer maker Dionne Sylvester at Spitalfields Market earlier this year, where they immediately caught my attention. Her colourful designs give traditional teacups, plates and upholstery a zingy modern update inspired by the play of light on the Caribbean sea and a fascination with optical illusions. I love them!

Dionne Sylvester portrait
Where do you find inspiration for the combinations of colours that you put together?
My inspiration first came from looking at different menswear books, which led to researching the phenomenon of British Dandies and the collections of Ozwald Boateng in particular. I like the smart appearance of the Dandies and the extravagant colour clashes so beloved of Boateng, who uses unexpected shades for the inner lining as his signature look. My shocking colour ways are also influenced by Caribbean culture. You can see these references running through my range because it is both fun and traditional.

Dionne Sylvester designs Meadow
How do you create the feel of optical illusions within your artwork?
I use a combination of simple techniques to create illusions. The main image is often created in a prominent colour so that your eye is led to it, even though it has been well hidden in the final design. Sometimes other colours further distract the eye from the original image. When your eye detects a form your mind will then create logic from the whole pattern. It’s really nice to hear what people see in my designs: birds, dancing people, faces and just about anything you can think of. Everyone sees something different in my work.

Dionne Sylvester bolster cushion
What was the best thing you learnt during your degree in fashion design in Falmouth?
The best thing I learnt was digital printing, I was really lucky that I had the best technicians and I was taught so much about the practical uses of the equipment because I was in the first year to do the fashion degree. This meant that the technicians had a bit more time to give us tips on using everything and it was all new. I completed the first year on a Contemporary Crafts degree before I changed over to Fashion, which is funny since I have now gone back full circle and my work could be included under the umbrella of ‘craft’. My studies enabled me to pick up a real fusion of different skills.

Dionne Sylvester teacup designs
Why did you decide to crossover into the production of homewares, and what has been the easiest and hardest things about the transition?
I’m still not sure how it happened! But, I knew I wanted to do something of my own and I love making and being creative. I bought the same equipment that I used at uni to do digital printing for fabric and it started from there when I began to experiment with the equipment boundaries. The first products I produced were sets of teacups which I got into a shop in Margate a week later, and the original prints on those are still being used on products which I sell.

Dionne Sylvester designs mugs
The easiest part of all of this is how creative I can be and I am basically making, designing, painting and producing pretty things on most days. But the hardest transition is that I’m learning as I go along. I didn’t know anything about homewares or the craft business. From production to location of selling and keeping accounts, I am constantly learning. But it is still fun and I have met lovely people on the journey.

Where and how are your products made?
I source all my products locally or from within the UK, and I produce all my products from my home studio in Kent. It’s a bit crazy and gets messy, but it works at the moment. I’m looking into getting the ceramics made by a specialist outsource as I want to expand my ceramic range.

White Horses Whitstable art sails
How did you get involved with the White Horses Whitstable project and what inspired the final design that appeared on a sail? (see Dionne’s sail on the far left)
I got involved with White Horses when I saw their advertisement for local artists and I wanted to be part of the project because it sounded very unusual and I have never been involved with producing public art before. The print that was featured on my sail is called A Water Dance and was inspired by my travels to the Caribbean – inspiration came from looking at how the sea reflects the different colours around it, changing the tone and creating movement and textures. I thought that would fit in well with the theme and it is also one of my favourite designs that is featured on my range of cushions.

White Horses Whitstable 2013
White Horses Whitstable 2013. Photo courtesy of Leo Mason.

Whom do you produce fashion prints for, and how do these complement your own range?
I have sold to Bally, Gap and straight to textiles houses. My designs for fashion are very different as they tend to feature hand drawn illustrations in pen and ink and use a lot less colour than in my own work. I make mini collections of prints around themes such as decaying nature, the human body and creepy animals.

Dionne Sylvester- a water dance
Dionne Sylvester – A Water Dance.

How has the Prince’s Trust enabled your business to grow?
The Prince’s Trust has been brilliant! I went to them when I was unsure of what I wanted to do, and my mentor made me think about the possibilities of my small idea. She made me realise how much I had learnt from my studies and what an enormous love of art, craft and design I have. Taking part gave me the confidence to use all the skills I have.

Dionne Sylvester designs cushions
Where can interested readers find you in the run up to Christmas?
With the run up to Christmas, I’m going to be selling in Style Market on Saturdays at Spitalfields Market, at Handmade Christmas in the O2 on 15th December and at the Of Cabbage of Kings Christmas Market in Stoke Newington on 15th December.

Lastly, I believe you now live in Chatham in Kent – can you share with us what is happening creatively in the area? I’d love to know…
I have always worked and socialised in London but it has been three years since I left uni and I’ve kind of settled in Chatham now. There is a really creative buzz going on in Medway with lots of artists and designers hosting interesting events. This is not just because of the different arts universities in the area – it feels as if the local people are coming together to make a creative community, which is growing very quickly. It will be interesting to see how Medway artists affect the local landscape in the coming years.

You can find Dionne Sylvester‘s etsy shop right here. Photography by Caroline Wenham.

Categories ,A Water Dance, ,Bally, ,Caribbean, ,Caroline Wenham, ,Chatham, ,colour, ,Contemporary Crafts, ,craft, ,Dandy, ,designer, ,Dionne Sylvester, ,Falmouth, ,fashion, ,Fashion Print, ,Gap, ,Handmade Christmas, ,Homeware, ,kent, ,Leo Mason, ,Maker, ,Margate, ,Medway, ,Medway Towns, ,O2, ,Of Cabbage of Kings, ,Optical Illusion, ,Ozwald Boateng, ,Sail, ,Spitalfields Market, ,Stoke Newington, ,Style Market, ,textile, ,The Prince’s Trust, ,White Horses Whitstable

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Victoria Foster of The Aviary

the aviary Darling Jane Detachable Peter Pan Collar
Victoria wears the Darling Jane Detachable Peter Pan Collar.

The Aviary is the brainchild of two fine art graduates, Victoria Foster and Ben Fletcher. In late 2009 the project began life as a way of upcycling the ever-growing array of clutter that surrounded these inveterate magpies, by re-appropriating curios as jewellery, charms and stationary. The couple have a commitment to living mindfully in all they do: read on to discover more about their inspiring outlook on life, where to hang out in Kent, and how their latest illustration collaboration came about.

the aviary Autumn Breeze vintage pendant
Autumn Breeze vintage pendant.

the aviary kent
Hello! firstly, I didn’t realise you live in Kent. What took you to Kent and whereabouts are you? What do you recommend that visitors to your part of the world should do? 
Hello! Well, we came to university in Canterbury and haven’t been able to tear ourselves away from Kent since! Recently many of our friends and contemporaries have made their way to the bright lights of East London, and although we’re often there, we made a conscious decision to reject the trend and have now set up our home and studio on the stunning North Downs, between rolling fields and a forest! Perhaps growing up on the outskirts of the Big Smoke spoiled the magic a bit.

the aviary home woods
Ben in the woods.

If you’re heading away from London for a day or two, these are some of our fail-safe favourites! Maybe we should get sponsorship from the Kent tourist board?! Stour Valley Arts is based in Kings Wood on our doorstep, and most loved works have to include Jem Finer’s Score for a Hole in the Ground and London Field Works Super Kingdom.

the aviary home 1
The second Folkestone Triennial took place last summer and the town now houses an array of permanent artworks by artists such as Cornelia Parker and Mark Wallinger that allow you to encounter a faded seaside town with fresh eyes. There’s also some interesting creative collectives like Diver School who provide good nights out and a great burgeoning underground music scene thanks to Box Social Records who put on great gigs. Very excited about Tall Ships on Wednesday 1st February!

the aviary home 2
Turner Contemporary in Margate has a brilliant programme of exhibitions, and the Old Town is now full of gorgeous vintage stores like Showtime Retro, cafes and independent, ethical shops like Blackbird that champion designer-makers as well as running great workshops. And of course, there’s the cobbled streets of Canterbury where coffee at Boho is a must, then seasonal food, cocktails and bad dancing into the early hours at The Farmhouse.

the aviary home 3
Summer is the best time to be here for impromtu beach gatherings, sea swimming and woodland walks. It really comes to life with the yearly arrival of Lounge on the Farm music festival. Sondry Folk’s inaugural jamboree was pretty special last year too.

the aviary roost
The Aviary grew out your love of hoarding charity shop finds, something that I suffer from myself, any tips on how to make the most of such finds within the home?
Ha! Well, our studio is in a state of perpetual chaos, and is in serious danger of looking like a room from Grey Gardens. However, since relocating to the sticks we have been a lot stricter with what vintage and thrifted finds are allowed across the threshold from our workshop and into our home. We’re in no way stylists but do both love domestic interiors. As a rule of thumb we favour decorative yet genuinely functional objects. Either they must be of use at home, or work well as props to display our work against. Obviously there have been a few special exceptions! Small grouped collections are always better than cluttered surfaces, and mixing up the old with new and handmade stops our house looking like a local history museum, or worse still, a care home! One of the best things about living in Kent is that bargains can still be found in local charity shops, boot sales and flea markets. We picked up our antique organ for a fiver, a beautiful 1920s portable typewriter for £3.50 and an ornate gold mirror out of a skip!

the aviary charm pendant
Charm pendant.

Your products are exquisitely made, can you tell us something of the process? Do you ever find it hard to dismantle or cut up old things?
Thank you! We place a lot of importance on craftsmanship. We’re both pretty fastidious about the finish of our products so it’s lovely to know it shows. A clear desk, a box of favourite finds, a sketchbook and pen, scalpel, pliers, piercing saw and files, blowtorch and solder, along with patience, tea and 6music are the bare essentials at the start of our design process! All of our jewellery and accessories are, wherever possible, made from reclaimed, recycled or preloved items. Gathering these disparate fragments of vintage ephemera, taking them apart and then making temporary collages from them is always the first process in translating them into new, one-of-a-kind pieces. Sometimes the decision to dismantle a particularly old, or rare item can be difficult, but usually the items that we are using have already come to the end of their previous useful lives either through decay or neglect so we feel that we’re rescuing them from being lost to landfill, or simply forgotten about. It’s as much about uncovering aspects of lost stories as it is about upcycling existing materials.

the aviary pocket watch case collage pendant
pocket watch case collage pendant.

Why is it so important to you to be sustainable in your business practice?
Without wanting to sound trite, we really see The Aviary as an extension of the way we’re trying to live. For us, being in an incredibly rural community is about learning to slow down a bit, adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. We feel it’s impossible to justify cheap mass produced items and a ‘throwaway’ attitude when the impact of climate change and the strain on resources is already so evident. Therefore the only option left to us as contemporary designer-makers is to create sensitively and responsibly. As makers, it is also wonderful to see a design through from start to finish. Thankfully, we also adore the aesthetic of low impact materials!

the aviary workbench
How did you get from fine art to handmade limited edition products? Were there any bumpy moments along the way and how does your partnership work?
Our practices always seemed to mix fine art concepts with craft-based techniques so the transition has mostly felt like a natural progression. We still employ many of the same skills too, such as illustration, collage, assemblage and small sculpture. After our degrees we were both still making work, exhibiting and interning for artists and arts organizations, but working within the confines of limited studio access and equipment meant we started to reassess things. The final ‘change’ came after taking part in the 2009 Art Car Bootfair with our collective, Club Shepway. Selling our first, unofficial range of miniature fine art works and curios went down a storm. We haven’t looked back since! As a partnership we work alongside one another to create overlapping bodies of work that then form our collections comprising of individual pieces. It’s so helpful to have someone to share ideas with and perhaps enables us to be more ambitious yet playful. The only thing that is less fun is bickering over who does the greater share of the admin! There are still bumpy moments, mostly involving money and time, but on the whole it’s been brilliant. It has taken a couple of years to shake off the art school guilt and officially ‘come out’ as designer-makers, but we’re getting more confidence in the integrity and worth of our products.

harriet gray illustration collab
Harriet Gray illustration collaboration.

You have recently collaborated with some illustrators, including Gemma Milly who appears in ACOFI, how did you hook up with them and what were you looking for in a potential collaborator?
To be honest, the collaborative projects stemmed from frustration! Surrounded by a sea of half-made collections, half drunk cups of tea, scrawled lists, collages and quick sketches we felt in desperate need of some fresh perspectives – something that we probably took for granted whilst at art school. We put a call out via Twitter asking for young illustrators who would consider working with us to communicate the nostalgia and uniqueness of our trinkets and treasures and reflect back the kind of girl they thought would wear our jewellery. We were completely taken aback by the number of creatives at similar points in their careers who also wanted to join forces but quickly settled on three incredible illustrators – Harriet Gray, Gemma Milly and Scarlett Rebecca, not only because of their amazing technical skills, but because we felt that they, and their work shared a similarity in spirit to ours.

gemma milly illustration collab
Gemma Milly illustration collaboration.

What have you produced with these illustrators?
The girls each created a range of beautiful illustrations using a selection of samples we sent them as their starting points. They took our trinkets and treasures and translated them into something more than the objects themselves. In return, we are now in the process of making a small collection of pendants and brooches based on their illustrations. This collection won’t be for sale but will be documented and shown online alongside the original drawings. The project has opened up new and exciting dialogues about our work and has really helped push fledgling ideas forward, as well as being really fun!

scarlett rebecca illustration collaboration
Scarlett Rebecca illustration collaboration.

You are featured on Not On the High Street, a great website for independent designers. How did you get together?
Well, we’d heard a little about NOTHS.com through friends and fellow designer-makers. After making some tentative enquiries we were really pleased to be invited to become a ‘partner’. It seems to be a brand that lends another layer of credibility and professionalism to our little venture, which has helped with making other retail and press contacts. We’ve been impressed with the functionality of the site and the control we’ve been given over the content of our ‘shop front’ with them. They’re very supportive of young businesses and allow us real flexibility.

the aviary deer one pendant
Deer one pendant.

Where else can you buy Aviary products? 
We’re so lucky to stock with some fantastic independent shops across the UK! We currently have collections on sale with Of Cabbages & Kings in London, Pretty Scruffy in Chichester, Chapter Arts gallery shop in Cardiff, Made in the Shade in Glasgow and in the very near future we’ll also have ranges available at Moonko in Sheffield and Lionstreet Store in Rye.

the aviary double sided pendant
double sided pendant.

If you want to come and see us in person we’ll be at Love Handmade? Valentine’s Fair in London on Saturday 11th February as well as the Designers/Makers market at Old Spitalfields throughout the year.

tatterattles
What are you most excited about working on at the moment?
So many things! In some ways, this is the best time of the year for us because it’s the recovery time following the Christmas rush. We’re currently developing new collections looking at charms and amulets because of having this time to be playful. And we’re having a bit of breathing space to concentrate on other side projects, such as Ben’s Tatterattles EP release on Holy Ghost Records. We’re also really excited about other future collaborations, putting together a ‘proper’ look book with a great photographer, and having chats with potential summer interns!

Categories ,Art Car Boot Fair, ,Autumn Breeze vintage pendant, ,Ben Fletcher, ,Blackbird, ,Boho, ,Box Social Records, ,Canterbury, ,cardiff, ,Chapter Arts, ,Chichester, ,Club Shepway, ,Cornelia Parker, ,Darling Jane Detachable Peter Pan Collar, ,Designers/Makers, ,Diver School, ,Folkestone Triennial, ,Gemma Milly, ,Grey Gardens, ,Harriet Gray, ,Jem Finer, ,jewellery, ,Kings Wood, ,Lionstreet Store, ,London Field Works, ,Lounge on the Farm, ,Love Handmade? Valentine’s Fair, ,Margate, ,Mark Wallinger, ,Moonko, ,North Downs, ,Of Cabbages & Kings, ,pocket watch case collage pendant, ,Pretty Scruffy, ,rye, ,Scarlett Rebecca, ,Score for a Hole in the Ground, ,sheffield, ,Showtime Retro, ,Sondry Folk, ,Stour Valley Arts, ,Super Kingdom, ,sustainable, ,Tall Ships, ,Tatterattles, ,The Aviary, ,The Farmhouse, ,Turner Contemporary, ,Upcycling, ,Victoria Foster

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Margo McDaid: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.

Margo McDaid
Artist Margo McDaid captured my heart with her gorgeous sailors on instagram and has produced a wonderful double page spread for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featuring her highly decorative portraits of men and women. Here she talks about her move to the coastal town of Ramsgate, and how motherhood as fostered a renewed energy for creating pictures.

Margo McDaid
Where did you study and what happened after graduation? 
I studied at Camberwell College of Art. I exhibited at the New Designers show in Islington and was approached by a company called Babylon Design. I was incredibly naive about the business side of design but so pleased to have been approached by a really well known design company. My designs were produced and sold in The Conran Shop in London and in Paris. When I saw the product I designed in the shop I felt an enormous sense of disappointment. I had laboured over this design in my final year, months spent working on the milling machine, ensuring the product was as beautifully made as possible. The product in the shop was crudely made and lacked the integrity of design. It was a huge revelation and it really quickly made me realize, that I was not prepared to be part of this.

Margo McDaid
How did you get away from mass production and what did you do next?
I started volunteering in an adventure playground in South London. It was so vibrant and fresh and the children were so full of energy and life. It felt like a complete fresh break away form the corporate design world. I started to really love this creative journey. I wasn’t ready for the design world. I just wanted to continue a creative process. I ended up running art workshops in Islington and South London and eventually became a teacher.

Margo McDaid
When did you start drawing and creating for yourself again and who or what has inspired you?
Having a baby was life changing. I became a mother and it felt like a fresh start, a creative start. I had always kept a sketch book and would produce drawings purely for pleasure and make birthday cards for friends. One day I saw my boy drawing and I saw this amazing artist at work. He would come to me and say “I need to draw”. He needed to draw and it completely awoke a long buried need in me too.

Margo McDaid
Can you tell us more about your draw a picture a day project?
It was the daily rituals in my life that led to #drawapictureaday. I believed that if I wanted to make a difference to my artistic journey, then I would have to really invest in skill building. I would need to rid myself of preconceived ideas and just get on with it. Losing a fear of failure is essential. I wanted to discover more about me as an artist.

Margo McDaid colouring
Who did you draw for my colouring book and how did you create your artworks?
I drew two sailors for the colouring book. The sailors are together and are relaxed, they are about to sail away. You can see a boat in the back ground and lots of sea patterns adorn the page. They leave behind the dull aches of life and any expectations others have of them. They have escape. The three women standing in a forest are huddled together in solidarity but there is sadness and fear, both in their expression and body language. They look despondent and detached. They wear clothes that are rich in pattern and their heads are covered in scarves. I think the sub text is about feminism and have we as a society really made progress for women?

Margo McDaid
Where do you draw and how do you integrate your creativity with family life?
I have several tables in different spots where I draw. I tend to move around to be with my children. I set up my drawing table in a playroom/studio. I also have a table in my bedroom/family room. I read a quote recently, by Tracey Emin and she said that mothers couldn’t be successful artists. I felt really angry by that remark but having discussed it with friends I think she made a valid point. To be successful takes a lot of work and focus and as parent, it is almost impossible to give that time to ambition. So that is why I draw everywhere. I draw on the train to work, at football practice, in front of the TV. Any chance I get – I draw.

Margo McDaid
Why did you move to Ramsgate and in what way has it inspired you?
We were living in a tiny flat in Islington, North London and I felt so imprisoned by the physical space. I grew up on a small holding in the North West of Ireland, so I just could not face the thought of my children not having access to the outdoors. Ramsgate was cheap and cheerful, and we fell in love immediately. I have always wanted to live beside the sea, to wake up and just walk to the waters edge. Ramsgate is a varied and really interesting town. The overtly ornate architecture of a once golden age are beginning to be rescued one by one from decay, and even though I am a DFL (Down From London) I have a natural love for this place. Ramsgate has a long history of attracting creative people and has a vibrant art scene. I really feel at home here.

Margo McDaid
What are you currently working on?
I am working on drawings of sailors. I feel that there is a rediscovering of the golden age of seaside life. Dreamland in Margate is a really fun and inspiring place. I want to explore more about seaside aesthetics and develop them in my work. Sea.

Margo McDaid
What imagery and ideas have inspired your range of postcards?
I love the sea. I love the grey textured sea and the clouds. The Thanet skies are really incredible, so much pattern and texture. I make postcards from recycled envelopes. I was opening the water bill one day and thought of the sea. I love patterns, I see them everywhere and I like to combine the way patterns can compliment or contrast. The British Gas cross hatch looks like the November sky in East Kent with rain very softly coming in from the sea.

I have sold out of the first batch of Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featuring the work of Margo McDaid and 43 other artists, but you can preorder a copy to receive in mid January here. Make sure you don’t miss out!

Categories ,#drawapictureaday, ,Adult Colouring Book, ,Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, ,Babylon Design, ,British Gas, ,Camberwell College of Art, ,Colouring Book, ,Down From London, ,Dreamland, ,interview, ,kent, ,Margate, ,Margo McDaid, ,New Designers, ,Ramsgate, ,Thanet, ,The Conran Shop, ,Tracey Emin

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Amelia’s Magazine | Lounge on the Farm 2013: Festival Review

Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Way back in 2009 contributor Amelia Wells visited Lounge on the Farm in Kent for Amelia’s Magazine. She was duly wowed by this small scale family orientated music festival and wrote a glowing review, so I promised myself I would make it along one day too. It’s taken me a mere four years to fulfil that promise, but this year my little family finally made the trip down to Merton Farm near Canterbury, mega pop up tent in tow (Quechua 4.2 seconds family pop up tent since you asked: can’t recommend it enough). How things have changed for me since 2009! Back then it would have been all about the late night dancing. Now my festival needs are somewhat different – I’m looking for a laid back atmosphere with space to relax with my baby, plus lots of things to keep him entertained. Lounge on the Farm does this admirably, with a dedicated childrens area called the Little Lounge full of wonderful willow structures, yurts and a miniature big top playing host to entertainments aimed at the wee ones. All this and a wonderful space hosted by the local NCT group: a haven for breastfeeding and nappy changing.

Jennifer Dionisio Illustration Lounge on the Farm Review
Lounge on the Farm by Jennifer Dionisio.

We arrived on Friday evening, and were directed to pitch our tent in the ‘quiet area’ rather than in the designated ‘family area’ at the top of the hill. Camping in the quiet area was an unfortunate choice as it turned out, since it was also a cut through from every other part of the camp and during the first night it seemed as if half the festival tripped over our (dark coloured) guy ropes and nearly crashed wholesale onto our slumbering bodies. In between this and constant breastfeeding (he’s teething, that’s the latest reason at any rate) I didn’t get the greatest of sleeps. But enough of the griping, we had a wonderful time.

Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm by Marianna Madriz
Lounge on the Farm by Marianna Madriz.

Once we’d unpacked we headed into the festival to see what was on offer, a big eyed Snarfle in tow. After an impromptu tour around the working part of the farm we feasted on Merton Farm burgers, 0 meat miles. These were cooked in a kitchen at The Farmhouse Restaurant staffed by chef Rob Cooper, one of the founding DJs, and coincidentally the brother of my NCT friend Christine. It’s a small world, and growing ever smaller: his wife Vicky founded the festival 8 years ago with her friend Sean and nowadays works closely with a lovely ex student and ex intern of mine, James Penfold, who books all of the bands.

Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm by Emma Russell
Lounge on the Farm by Emma Russell.

Everything at Lounge on the Farm has been lovingly thought through: there was a full Victorian funfair with helter-skelter and big wheel, hay bales aplenty to relax against and artwork everywhere I looked: lasercut painted sculptures and brilliant illustrated cutouts of festival goers from wonderful illustrations by Maddy Vian. The main site was split across three fields bounded by striking beech hedges, with plenty of space to rollick around: I hate it when festivals get stupidly busy and this was never a risk, though the music stages became packed enough to generate the ideal atmosphere for good bands. All the food we ate was delicious and in the main organic and local as well as very reasonably priced. Special mention must go to the fantastically tasty wild venison and wild boar burgers served up with duck eggs by Phil the Gameskeeper at the Godmersham Game stand: all hunted from the wilds of the Kent countryside. At The Farmhouse Restaurant the beer and ale had all been produced from Kent hops. The festival aims to support ‘the local arts, culture, agriculture and economy‘ and does so admirably.

Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm by George Morton
Lounge on the Farm by George Morton.

I didn’t know many of the bands playing during the day time, but as always made some impressive discoveries: on Friday we were treated to Lucy Rose, a diminutive blonde with a guitar and a big voice. Sadly I missed the headliner Seasick Steve as it was early to bed for me: there was no way Snarfle was going to sleep with so much stimulation going on so we were tent bound by 8pm on both nights (and most handy when a huge thunderstorm struck on Saturday night).

Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
On Saturday my big discovery was the lilting sounds of a Southampton based outfit called Pale Seas on the Farm Folk Stage: I loved the combination of evocative melodies from the lead singer, with backing vocals contributed by the unassuming female drummer. My other big discovery was the astonishingly tasty fruity drinks at the Sunshine Smoothies van behind the NCT tent – who would have thought that lavender would work with cherry? We visited the NCT tent on numerous occasions, where Snarfle enjoyed the Baby Sensory classes and free access to bedtime books. Outside there were toys to play with, edible gardens to make, bushcraft shelter classes, drumming, juggling and much more. The film tent (complete with popcorn stand) hosted a singalong Jungle Book showing.

At The Playhouse we enjoyed comedy excellently compered by John Robbins and cabaret from Lekido, Lord of the Lobsters (above).

Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge On The Farm by Zo Bevan
Lounge On The Farm by Zo Bevan.

On Sunday I treated myself to a lovely massage in the obligatory Healing Fields, and enjoyed music by the Snowdown Colliery Band, Intensified and Aswad. I missed Margate based rapper Mic Righteous but heard good things. Sadly we missed Soul II Soul because after a long weekend of partying Snarfle was starting to fray at the seams. This was a massive shame since they are the sound of my youth (summer of 1989, ghetto blaster, Clapham Common, Brixton, The Fridge) and it would have been the perfect end to an absolutely glorious two days of sunshine, but we drove off into the Kentish night refreshed and just a little bit more in love with this beautiful and abundant part of the UK.

Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm 2013 review
Lounge on the Farm by Rose Hudson
Lounge on the Farm by Rose Hudson.

What I love about festivals such as Lounge on the Farm is how they happily cater to all age groups – this was certainly the perfect boutique festival for London and Kent based families, but it was also thoroughly enjoyed by a younger local crowd. As night fell it seemed as if half the teenagers of Canterbury were thronging around the dance orientated Hoe Down tent in heightened hormonal anticipation. I may have seen far fewer bands than I would have done in years past (Snarfle was not always a keen wearer of protective headphones) but I had a wonderful time adapting our visit to the needs of a little one. We definitely plan to return next year, need I say more?

Categories ,2013, ,Amelia Wells, ,Aswad, ,Baby Sensory, ,Breastfeeding, ,Brett Anderson, ,Canterbury, ,Child Friendly, ,children, ,Emma Russell, ,Families, ,Family Orientated, ,Farm Folk Stage, ,George Morton, ,Godmersham Game, ,Healing Fields, ,Hoe Down, ,Intensified, ,James Penfold, ,Jennifer Dionisio, ,John Robbins, ,Jungle Book, ,kent, ,Lekido, ,Little Lounge, ,Lord of the Lobsters, ,LOTF, ,Lounge on the Farm, ,Lucy Rose, ,Maddy Vian, ,Margate, ,Marianna Madriz, ,Merton Farm, ,Mic Righteous, ,NCT, ,Pale Seas, ,Phil the Gameskeeper, ,Pop-Up Tent, ,Quechua, ,review, ,Rob Cooper, ,Rose Hudson, ,Seasick Steve, ,Snarfle, ,Snowdown Colliery Band, ,Soul II Soul, ,Sunshine Smoothies, ,The Farmhouse Restaurant, ,The Playhouse, ,Victorian funfair, ,Vine, ,Zo Bevan

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