Rupert Blanchard is a scavenger with style. He’s been all over London, finding, reclaiming and collecting odd drawers, and has up-cycled them into beautiful pieces for his ‘New Furniture’ collection. ‘Every drawer has been salvaged without its original carcass or housing,’ he explains on his blog. ‘I don’t use or collect drawers that already have a use in an existing piece of furniture.’ The results of Richard’s work are impressive – he’ll be launching the range later this week, but here’s a sneaky peek:

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rupert blanchardEvery drawer has a story behind it. Rupert’s collection includes, among many others: oak haberdashery shop drawers from Battersea, Singer sewing machine table drawers from a factory in Shoreditch, a handle found in Brick Lane and a teak-fronted 1950s office desk drawer from Clapham. I really like these pieces of furniture and they prove, once again, that recycled furniture can be just as stylish as new designer furniture – if not more so, because it oozes history and charm. I’m looking forward to meeting Rupert on Thursday at his launch party to find out more. – Ellie

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I’ve just been admiring, stroking and generally cooing over the 11 new Marimekko covers from Bemz, the lovely Swedish chaps who produce stylish slipcovers for IKEA‘s sofas and armchairs.

Unikko_Henriksdal_7b_lowresNow, I don’t know about you (you might be an oligarch for all I know), but my budget’s not quite up to a designer sofa. I do, however, have a trusty IKEA Ektorp three-seater, which started life as Blekkinge White but these days is more, well, Blekkinge Grey – and not in a good way. It’s been washed many times over the years – after the famous Lasagne Incident of 2005, following the notorious Kitten Accident of 2008, and more recently, in the aftermath of the Red Wine Catastrophe of 2009.  It’s time for a change. These Marimekko covers might just be the answer…

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It’s hard to choose, but my fave classic here has got to be the Fandango print, which comes in a light grey and a hot pink. Gorgeous! – Ellie

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Heal’s 200 Years of Design and Inspiration is a romp through history, telling the story of London’s most iconic furniture store from 1810 when it first opened to the present day. Being a complete interiors addict, this is just the kind of coffee table tome I love – full of retro adverts, beautiful furniture and brilliant design splashed across every page.

heals1There are fascinating photographs from the past, showing mattresses being stuffed and delivered in the 1890s, Heal’s wartime Home Guard lining up in the 1940s, and photos of machinists sewing parachutes during the war.

heals2I really enjoyed looking at all the 1950s and 60s images in this book – there are Lucienne Day fabrics to admire and stylish adverts that ooze sophistication.

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The book looks at key people who have contributed to Heal’s over the years, from John Harris Heal, who launched a mattress-making business back in 1810, to Terence Conran and Orla Kiely who have designed for Heal’s in recent years. The design of this book is perfect – there’s enough text to convey a good amount of interesting information, but it’s the images that take the lead so the balance between words and pictures is bang on for a design book. I particularly like the black silhouette illustrations, borrowed from the V&A archive.

Picture 1But I think my favourite thing in the whole book is this little plate about ‘good taste’ from a vintage Heal’s leaflet. It’s such a good motto! Heal’s 200 Years of Design and Inspiration will be launched on Monday. – Ellie

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Anorak, Showpony and Roddy & Ginger are TOP OF THE SHOPS for me this week, and if you’ve not heard of them before, now’s the time to add them to your little black book, filed under: ‘GORGEOUS THINGS’. Let’s kick off with a quick look at Roddy & Ginger.

roddyandginger2Based in south east London, graphic and textile designer Virginia Armstrong designs retro bags, cushions, clothing and prints, and also stocks cute vintage items. Her latest design, Spanish Village, comes in two colourways and is inspired by family holidays in a tiny village in Catalonia and the Sardana, a traditional Catalan dance performed by young and old at village fiestas and holidays. Virginia’s designs are full of colour, warmth and fun. Check out the rest of her collection – I’ve got my eye on the cute folkdance print…

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Next stop is Anorak, run by designer Laurie Robertson. Having both been made redundant from their jobs, Laurie and her boyfriend decided to put her Royal College of Art print textiles Masters to use and launched a company they’d been dreaming of for some time, specialising in stylish homewares and outdoor accessories inspired by retro 70s camping holidays. Now, Laurie’s brother works with them too, and the company’s going from strength to strength.

anorak1I love the first range – called the ‘Kissing Animals’ collection for obvious reasons – and it’s the stags oilcloth that’s top of my wishlist. By the way, check out the horse prints – bang on trend!!

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I’m also a huge fan of Showpony. Based in Glasgow, designer Emma Henderson creates stunning screen-printed bags, tea towels, cushion covers and accessories, all with a quirky feel. I adore the ‘Hot Dogs’ cushions, but it’s the Alphabetti circus font badges that I’d really love to own.

showponyEmma makes personalised commemorative teatowels for weddings that are so lovely – mental note! There are so many designers in the UK at the moment creating fabulous, fresh work, it’s a really exciting time. From the future of design to the past…here in the office, we’re gearing up for a big party. Myself and the other Ideal Home girls are heading over to Whisky Mist soon to celebrate Heal’s bicentenary furniture collection and the new book Heal’s: 200 Years of Design and Inspiration. Tune in tomorrow for a sneaky preview of the book before it’s launched…expect a visual feast – vintage adverts, retro furniture, fascinating black and white photos and style icons galore. – Ellie

Trend alert: Equestrian chic

September 16, 2009

Grab a saddle, cowboy, and get ready to ride the latest trend – a quick gallop through the autumn/winter collections reveals pony patterns and horse designs galore.

horse trend2From top left clockwise, pony clock from Decoylab; Collette horse wallpaper, Sandberg; Horsey lampshade, Rice; Pony magnets, Plumo. ‘Equestrian-chic’ is sweeping the fashion ranges this season, too. Pony necklaces, T-shirts and accessories are everywhere:

horse trend 1I like these stylish horse fabrics from Bristol-based interior designer Emily Bond. Check out Emily’s cute home accessories and Dachshund dog patterns too – chouette! 

horse trend3They obviously like horses in Bristol, because I just randomly stumbled across another Bristol-based company with pony patterns, Zedhead. It sells some really funky horse accessories including cushions, lampshades and mirrors – all with a retro horse design that reminds me of the kind of traditional colourful plaster horses you’d find on an old fairground carousel.

horse trend4So, this season we’ve got a stare of owls and now a stable of horses too. What creature will be next? Watch this space, we’re on the case! – Ellie

Autumn is well and truly here. It’s dismally dark outside – the London sky is dark grey and it’s pouring with rain. The office has that yellow, artificially-lit glow, that makes you feel as if you’ve gone back in time to school and it’s ‘wet play’. Since we’re stuck indoors – in my case, eating mushroom soup that looks and smells like sick – let’s cheer ourselves up and pass the time by addressing one of the oldest design dilemmas in the book. Every stylist’s nightmare. The one that rumbles on, day after day, nagging away, keeping me awake at night. Nevermind world peace, crime, society, the future, health, religion, or the meaning of LIFE. It’s whether or not to colour-sort my books that I fret about. (Of course).

books-sorted-by-colorThe internal debate runs thus: Do I sort my books into tidy blocks of colour, creating a pleasing visual display – an organised, stylish, veritable rainbow in my living room? But then, endure the inevitable moans and groans as the boyfriend claims to have spent days if not weeks searching for the Rough Guide to Paris, because he believed it to have a blue cover when in fact it was green all along… OR, do I store my books in a boring, untidy, visually pants, library-esque alphabetical A-Z order which looks awful, but means he can find any book, any time, in about five seconds flat, and, crucially, without having to ask me to find it for him?

colourcodedbooks1It’s a toughie. But I’m afraid aesthetics triumph over practicality any day for me. There’s something so lovely about books that are sorted by colour, even though I know it’s a bit pretentious and/or impractical in reality. But, once you’ve rearranged them into meticulous colour order (which takes the best part of a day if you’re a hoarder like me), the problems don’t stop. What order should the colours go in? Richard Of York Gained Battle In Vain? This is all very well, but looks a bit like an actual rainbow…and where should all the black, brown, beige and white books go? Should I just arrange the colours randomly? Alphabetically? Sometimes It’s all too much. Sometimes there’s a fine line between stylish design and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

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Don’t even get me started on the patterned covers, which could be classified as any number of colours and ruin the whole system completely. (FYI, these pesky books are probably best banished to a cupboard in case they send you completely insane). And there’s nothing more annoying than noticing a fuchsia pink book in the lime green section, because SOMEBODY doesn’t ‘get’ the new system. SIGH. So, what do you think? To colour-sort or not to colour-sort? Answers on a postcard to the usual address please: ‘yay’, ‘nay’, or ‘get a life’. – Ellie

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We love, erm, LOVE pillows

September 14, 2009

I don’t want to sound like I’m in High School Musical or some similarly saccharine tweenie flick, but O.M.G! Why did nobody tell me that Cox & Cox’s gorgeous pink LOVE pillows (which I have been ogling for a while and debating whether or not to buy…) are in fact available directly from the people who make them, Lush Designs, for £7 less than Cox & Cox, and in lots of different colours, including red, which is perfect for our bedroom as it co-ordinates with my Union Jack bunting? SIGH. You just can’t get the staff these days. – Ellie

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