Home office HEAVEN

August 28, 2009

Retro work space – this sexy office from House to Home has just joined my ‘inspirational images’ folder, and it’s a lovely picture to end the week with. I particularly like the glass desk with the elegant wooden legs…and the owl print artwork. More on owls on Tuesday…! Have a great bank holiday weekend. – Ellie

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What a great start to the week. My breakfast bagel didn’t catch fire in the IPC toaster (most days, it does), it’s sunny here in London and the new Paumes book I ordered, London Ateliers, has just arrived in a little parcel from Japan. It’s far too gorgeous to keep to myself, so it’s officially my ‘Book of the week’ and the ideal excuse for a tasty little post to kick things off…

paumesLondon Ateliers is a real visual feast, packed full of photos showcasing the studios of some of London’s hippest young designers. From Lisa Stickley‘s Clapham workshop, to Sharon Elphick‘s stunning Columbia Road base and Becky Oldfield‘s amazing studio (of Lost and Found)…there are some really interesting and inspiring work spaces in this book, packed full of quirky objects, gorgeous retro furniture and ideas to steal for your own home.

paumes2paumes3The colourful collages of photographs that fill the pages make up for the fact that all the captions are written in Japanese and I can’t understand a single word! Actually, the Japanese text looks really cool visually and kind of adds to the overall effect in my opinion.

paumes4As well as being a coffee-table stunner full of pretty pics, this cute book is also a handy directory of some of London’s most talented designers, most of whom I already know and love, but there are a few names I need to google and investigate further after admiring their style in this little design bible. You can order the Paumes books online for 1800 Japanese yen (roughly £12) each. – Ellie

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NEW winter PLUMO pics

August 21, 2009

Something exciting has just landed on my cluttered desk – the new Plumo winter images…

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There are some really cute new products. Highlights include vintage copper scissors, pretty folding gift boxes, a retro pear doorstop, a haberdashery box, and fun fabric horse magnets…

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If only I had seen these gorgeous Persian bird letter openers when I wrote my snail mail post last week!

PERSIAN LETTER OPENERS

Check out these fabulous Danish spoons,  the vintage Batik printing blocks (good for making your own wrapping paper) the vintage-style bird paperweight, and the fun Eiffel Tower candle stick…

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If I had to pick one product from this stunning new collection, it’d be tricky, but my favourites are the colourful lampshades, shown here. I love the way they’re shot, suspended from coloured string with the stacks of bright fabrics above:

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Plumo’s photography seems to get better each season. Let’s finish the week with these cheery little Matryoshka doll cushions – the perfect start to the weekend! – Ellie

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I think it’s time we had a little ogle at this week’s Book of the Week and wallowed in some gorgeous photography for a while. Atlanta Bartlett’s new book Easy Elegance is a real visual feast, with lots of lovely shots from photographer Polly Wreford. Think clean white walls, elegantly-curved retro furniture and simple but gorgeous styling touches…

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easy elegance 5Mmmmm, so much eye candy here. Hanging the picture low down looks great and books and magazines stacked on the floor is always a hit with me – it’s something I have copied in my own home. The reality is that they get dusty, and it’s a complete nightmare when you want to read the one at the bottom of the pile…but who cares!  Aesthetics have to take priority over practicality sometimes!

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Black painted exposed brickwork – who’d a thunk it. But it really works here, and adds drama to the look. Glass cloches are a stylist’s best friend – you can fill them with dried hydrangeas and they always look elegant. Buy your own cloches from Hibbit of Oswestry to make a fabulous display. There’s so much I like about this book but I’ve got to highlight the simple ceramics – rustic, textured and lovely:

easy elegance4If you like these images, you can order the book for £16.99 from Ryland Peter Small. Definitely one for the coffee table. – Ellie

Just in case you don’t already have enough prints around your house with words and messages on them, check out this new limited-edition, exclusive design from Gail Bryson for Pedlars.

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‘Keep calm and carry on’, ‘An apple a day’, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’, ‘It’s what’s inside that counts’, ‘Tea revives you’, ‘Make do and mend’, ‘Eat your greens’, …these wordy poster slogans are everywhere now and nice and easy to understand. Now, perhaps I’m missing something here, but what exactly does this new Bryson print MEAN? ‘We’re not here because of gravity, we’re here because we like it.’ All very strange. But it’s a poster with words on it, so no doubt it’ll sell like hot cakes anyway. – Ellie

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Are you a Tachonista?

August 19, 2009

I’ve just read in the papers that since the economy took a nose dive, facial hair has had a huge revival and is well and truly back in fashion – for men, obviously. (Not sure it’ll ever be a style statement for women!) From Brad Pitt’s trendy ‘door-knocker’ beard to Johnny Depp’s skinny ‘villain’ tache, every papp-able male celebrity worth his salt is sprouting stubble at the moment and September is now offically ‘TacheBack’ month in the UK, when blokes grow face fuzz to raise money for Cancer Research. The article went on to quote a psychotherapist who claims that facial hair is always popular during stressful times as men often ‘hide’ behind it when they’re anxious about job security blah blah blah, but by that point I had stopped reading because: firstly, I’m a girl, with no ability or desire to grow a goatee. And secondly, I wouldn’t have thought that this ‘Tachonista’ trend was one which could easily cross over from fashion to homes…but how wrong I was. Feast your eyes on this, lovely people. Now you too can enjoy facial hair in your home, regardless of your sex, with the fabulous Mr Moustache cushion, available on Etsy (where else!)

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The interchangeable velcro taches are stored in a handy pocket on the reverse of the cushion when not in use, so you won’t misplace your moustache. Choose from ‘Trucker’, ‘Gentleman’, ‘Fu Manchu’, or ‘Salt ‘n’ Pepper’. Hours of fun for all the family. – Ellie 

Recession-proof Cath Kidston has defied the crumbling economy with her ‘kitchenalgia’ empire (apparently this is ‘kitchenalia’ blended with ‘nostalgia’, in case you are as confused as I am). This year she has sold more polka dot tea towels and chintzy fabrics than ever before and has smugly recorded profits of £4.6m, up from £2.9m in 2008.

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This is a big deal in the interiors industry. Other homeware brands have been hit hard by the recession – The Pier has disappeared. High street favourite Woolworths is a gonna (which of recent years was yawns-ville but in the past brought us such classics as the Ridgway Homemaker tableware collection) and MFI has tragically died. So, for Cath Kidston’s sales to rise from £19.2m to £31.3m is pretty impressive. She’s going from strength to strength and now has 27 stores in the UK and Ireland, with 10 new openings in the last year. And it’s not just us Brits who go crazy for her cute, floral style – she’s also huge in Japan and now has shops in Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama.

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There have been articles in both The Guardian and The Sunday Times recently charting Kidston’s amazing growth and discussing what the secret of her recession success is. Do women turn to her cheerful designs for comfort in hard times? Do her vintage patterns remind us of our grandmothers, idyllic childhoods and homespun rosy days? Is the CK lifestyle ‘a way to nest, but without all the hard work involved in nesting’? In the Daily Mail recently, Leah Hardy, a self-confessed Cath-addict summed up why she’s obsessed with the brand: “In Cath Kidston world, surrounded by my Cath Kidston things, I can believe I am the perfect housewife. I live in a mullioned rectory. There are perfectly behaved, rosy-cheeked children and well-trained dogs at my feet. Carrots are growing in my garden and there’s a homemade cake cooling in my kitchen. The reality, of course, is somewhat different. I’m a harassed working mother living in a South London semi, with cats and urban children, at whom I sometimes shout, especially when I’m on a deadline and they are fighting over the TV remote control. There are no roses around my door, I wince when my bank statements arrive and my ironing pile is a disgrace. In my retro-styled sewing box I have a Cath Kidston floral-print tin button box but I can’t remember the last time I sewed on a button.”

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So, Cath allows us to fantasise and escape reality. But can she peddle this dream forever? There have been rumbles in the press that she’s grown too big – that her ‘pinny porn’ has spread ‘like ivy’ – that fashion will turn against her as it did with Laura Ashley in the 1990s – that selling spotty bags in Tesco, phones for Nokia, tents in Millets and opening an outlet store in Bicester is a bit too much and somehow, well, chavvy. It’s like when you hear a song you like on the radio. Every day. Twenty four times. It soon loses it’s appeal and becomes a bit annoying. It’s overload. Controversially, a former Cath-fan recently referred to Kidston as ‘a bit of a tart’ in the Daily Mail. She explained: ‘Cath Kidston is everywhere now – and there’s nothing more annoying than finding your hidden gem is suddenly a cheap bit of costume jewellery available on every high street.’

While I’m sure Cath won’t relish being labelled ‘a tart’, she might be glad of all this convenient media attention, as there are rumours flying around that she’s planning to sell her empire… so, what do you think? Have you had your fill of sugary florals? Are you all Cath Kidston-ed out? Or are you a complete convert? Do the new CK  images here still give you a thrill? Will you be rushing out to buy the new Cath Kidston Roberts radio (above)? So many questions! Let us know what you think! – Ellie