Bow down to Charlene Mullen

September 30, 2009

Making her debut at 100%Design last week, Charlotte Mullen is a textile designer who’s going places. Her unusual hand and machine embroidery cushions and accessories are inspired by…deep breath…Elizabethan blackwork embroidery, English lace, Eastern European textiles and urban landscapes…in Charlene’s own words: “from Victorian Christening gowns to prison tattoos – nothing is taboo.”

charlene mullen2Her eclectic range of influences means that she achieves her goal to create modern designs within a historical context – and many of her pieces have an intricacy that can only be achieved by the human hand, making them extra lovely.

charlene mullenI like the fact that Charlene doesn’t take herself too seriously – from the little UFO flying above St Paul’s to her quirky ‘Boy with a Coif’ cushion, there are touches of humour everywhere – her designs are tactile, elegant, but human. Her website features some of her lovely work, and I think it’s a great example of how a website can work when it’s designed well – it’s really beautiful.

charlene mullen3Charlene’s little red and white name tapes were sewn to her press releases at 100%Design and looked so cute. Bethan in the office has just found a fabulous website – GB Name Tapeswhere you can buy 144 name tapes for £5.85 – so I’ve ordered some “with love from ellie x ones to prettify presents, jars of home-made jam and generally anything that sits still long enough for me to slap a pretty name tape on it. As Bethan said, just think of the Crafting Potential (CP) – the possibilities are endless! Tragically, I’m almost as excited about these name tapes as I was when we discovered the amazing free butterfly and insects online image library – ah, happy days. – Ellie

charlene mullen4

100%Design – ones to watch

September 25, 2009

A breath of fresh air – I came back from the 100%Design show at Earls Court yesterday buzzing with positivity. It was a better show than last year in my opinion, largely due to the fact that the 100%Futures area was packed full of graduate designers, fresh from college, exhibiting for the first time and bursting with new ideas and enthusiasm. Their energy is highly contagious – just talking to them for a whole day made me feel creative! It’s impossible to mention everything I saw, but here are some people who stood out, and who are definitely going to become big names over the next few years.

transformer-collection1Firstly, I spoke to Chun Wei Liao, who grew up surrounded by his family’s cardboard packaging business and today uses paper and cardboard to create stunning lampshades. They come flat-packed and are very easy to construct – you can move the prisms to create any effect you fancy, and you can even spray or decorate the shades for a bespoke look. They looked so beautiful hanging up – and of course they’re eco-friendly as well as lovely.


Another young designer well worth a mention is John Green, a cheerful product designer from York, whose work really impressed me. Having graduated from York St John University, he’s now working on products in collaboration with Snow Home. His elegant plywood coffee table caught my eye – it’s basically two tables that slot together, so they can be used separately, or together for a storage shelf. Simple, stylish and clever.

john greenJohn Green also designs and makes funky flat plywood stag heads, which he screen-prints on to by hand. The graphic, pixelated deer faces look weirdly 3D from a distance and since antlers are all the rage at the moment, these quirky heads are bound to be popular.

john green antler

Textiles trio Print, Tuft and Fold was another highlight. Zoe Beck, Claire Alderdice and Kim Bassett are all graduates of Chelsea College of Art and Design and although their work is varied, it sits so nicely together that it looked great on a shared stall.

print tuft fold

Zoe Beck designs and makes brightly-coloured cushions and lampshades with urban prints and was showing her new London cab design, which I really liked. Claire Alderdice’s bold rugs and carpets were gorgeous, too, and Kim Bassett’s folded fabrics that are based on Origami techniques, equally beautiful.

print tuft and foldYoung furniture designer Charlie Davidson gave his metal mesh chair a very catchy name. It’s called: ‘Is this the coolest chair ever made?’ Check out the picture below and see what you think!

charlie davidsonAmidst all the inspiring graduate work, there were several names we know and love show-casing fresh designs. Selina Rose, who’s enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame in the interiors world over the past few years for her delicate cut felt items, had her own stand for the first time and showed her new ‘Cut and Fold’ felt wall-covering, which was really effective. You can create your own patterns in the felt by folding as many flaps as you want, so it’s a kind of interactive wall fabric.

Picture 4Elsewhere, Rachel Dormor was exhibiting her beautiful rippled ceramics – they’re so tactile and simple, they look as if they’re natural objects. I particularly like her elegant colanders.

inthekilnWhile I was in the mood for ceramics, I popped over for a chat with Kaoru Parry and to admire her pretty china teacups. Since launching Welovekaoru last year, her cups have been featured in a host of design magazines and are now stocked in Liberty. I think they’re gorgeous!

welovekaoruI also popped to the Paperboy Wallpaper stand to see some lovely new wallpapers designed especially for boys. I love the ‘Dya-think-e-saurus’ design, and the ‘Animal Magic’ one with skeletons on animals, but my favourite is the new design, ‘Hand Made’ with funky hand shadow shapes.

paperboy2paperboy wallpaperAll-in-all it was a very exciting and energising show with so many interesting designs to check out. And then, to top off a great day, I spent the evening chatting to Sir Terence Conran – oooooh, there’s nothing like a good name-drop for a Friday afternoon! More about that on Monday… have a lovely weekend. – Ellie