Surrounded by baubles and tinsel, I eventually found my keyboard (buried beneath a heap of half-eaten mince pies) and decided to interrupt the madness that is ‘Christmas in July’, to bring you some VERY important news. Bold and Noble (our letterpress pals) have made the wise decision to print some lovely calendar wall charts. Drum roll, purlease…

Hurrah. They’ll be £43 each and online soon. But which to choose…?  – Ellie

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HOT SHOP: BLUESUNTREE

July 1, 2011

Yes, it sounds like a Chinese takeaway, but bear with me…

It all started with a mild case of Eames DSW chair obsession. One day, I noticed that my ‘OFFICES TO OGLE’ desktop folder had begun to fill up with desks that had Eames DSW chairs in front of them. (The one above’s a new AW11 White Company shot. sigh.) Things got worse when I renamed the folder: ‘THE CHAIR I MUST OWN’, and I knew it was serious when, one drizzly day in a Croydon department store, I sat in a DSW for 53 minutes to ‘test’ the seat before being dragged away, tearful, confused, clutching at legs, wailing about my miserable bank balance. Ah me. An iconic mid-century Scandi-style chair with minimalist maple wood legs, black metal struts and a crisp white curved seat doesn’t come cheap. In fact, each chair is £302. Ouch. So, if you want six, that’s, (erm, calculator please, thanks) £1,812. OH THE PAIN AND THE INJUSTICE OF IT ALL.

So, imagine my delight, dear reader, when I discovered the most random-yet-useful Leicestershire-based website ever: Bluesuntree. For (ignoring the peculiar company name), me hearties, here be treasure. Treasure I tell thee!

Bluesuntree is THE place to go for designer-style buys on a budget. There are coffee tables. Sofas. Rugs. Mirrors. And Eames DSW style chairs for just £51 each. And honestly, you can’t tell the difference. I should know, I’ve sat on a few. In an ideal world I’d invest in the original and own an iconic design blah blah blah…but until then, this is the next best thing. – Ellie

Designer style at BHS

May 13, 2011

Spot the difference. On the left: Maria Dahlgren’s (2008) London tray. On the right: ‘new’ autumn/winter 2011 BHS cushion. Erm…

Maria Dahlgren’s designs are really lovely and can be seen on her website, Metagram. We spotted a couple of other look-a-likes in the collection, too. The top image (below) is a close-up of a ‘new’ AW11 BHS cushion, the bottom image is a close-up of Charlene Mullen’s hand-embroidered ‘London Calling‘ cushion:

Hmmm. – Ellie

HOT TREND: Cassettes

May 10, 2011

Ah, the humble cassette tape. In case you’ve been living under a stone (or have better things to think about), FYI: The 1980s revival is in full swing and cassettes have never been cooler.

Exhibit A: The classic cassette wall sticker, from Danish style gurus at Ferm Living. (Did you know that Ferm means clever? Me neither.) Sure, I’d clocked the cool kids drinking out of old jars in the Hoxton Pony (or somewhere similar, probably, possibly, actually not really), wearing their retro-yet-ironic cassette tape jewellery. Yeah, I’d spotted the Hackney hipsters hanging out in TopShop, protesting, shopping, wearing their ‘Mix tape’ slogans on their skinny chests. Exhibit B: ‘Something retro on my necklace‘ from Truffle Shuffle:

But now this trend is creeping in to our homes, too. Press PLAY:

Exhibit C: (From the top) Monochrome cassette cushions and bags from the magical Mini Moderns; Evidence of indie-crafters going crazy for all things cassette-related on Folksy; Retro iPhone 4 cases and MP3 players from Accessory Bee and Littlewoods. Of course, the trend-hunters at Rockett St George are on the CASE already….

Exhibits D and E: Rockett St George’s arty prints from illustrator Hanna Melin. The one below can be personalised with your own ‘mix tape labels’…

Ah, cassettes. It’s impossible not to get nostalgic. They symbolise the pre CD, pre MP3, pre-GCSE era. As the Top 40 played, you’d hover; Listening, poised, finger at the ready to press RECORD and capture That Song on your tape. You tried to hit the STOP button before the DJ started speaking. You never managed this. You never actually caught the beginning or the end of any song EVER. But you persevered, and enjoyed sticking the pleasing little labels on it afterwards. You gave your new ‘mix tape’ a catchy name such as: ‘My Pop Music Album III (Ace of Base etc)’. You listed the songs and artists carefully on the little card in biro. Sometimes, you recorded yourself singing. Badly. Or you recorded your own ‘radio shows’ and made your little sister play all the jingles on a glockenspiel. Well, I did. Enough. Some designers have taken this trend one step further and are recycling (UP-cycling?) cassettes in to designer furniture and lighting. Exhibit F: The range from Ooomydesign:

Random DID YOU KNOW box: Apparently, when you see cassette tape wrapped around a lamp post or a tree it means a witch has recorded a spell or a curse on it. Hmmm. Moving on. Exhibit G: The Cassette Tape Closet:

You can find out how to make your own at Creativebarn. No, really. Obviously, this only applies to you if you’ve got oodles of time, a massive wooden frame thingy, some serious DIY skills and about a zillion old cassettes knocking about. And a lot of PVA, presumably. But before you hurry home to staple-gun cassettes to your coffee table, just remember: the 90s trend is next, so save a bit of space for CDs. eh. Or video tapes… – Ellie

(VHS notebooks, just in at Pedlars…)

HOT SHOP: Laurette

April 8, 2011

Listen very carefully, for I will say zees only once: French shop Laurette is now online and shipping abroad, making small, quirky French brands much easier to access from exotic, glamorous, remote locations. Like Croydon.

There are cute BONNE NUIT wall stickers from Mimi Lou, bed linen and accessories from Airdeje, linens from Jack n’a qu’un Oeil and cushions from La Cerise Sur Le Gateau. I like the Russian doll cushions made using Liberty fabrics…

…and the vintage ‘Brocante‘ area, where there are retro lamps, sleek chairs and industrial filing cabinets…

I’m currently redecorating our dining room / home office, so this lovely desk caught my eye:

It’s a compact copy of the kind of retro desk I’ve been ogling on eBay for many months! – Ellie

HOT SHOP: Yaginoyama

March 29, 2011

Yaginoyama is Japanese for ‘mountain of goats’. It’s also the name of a very lovely new mail order company, based in Tokyo…

Founders Liam and Kay (he’s British, she’s Japanese – they met at Edinburgh University and are both sickeningly young) say on their quirky website that we can choose whether Yaginoyama means ‘a mountain on which goats reside’ or ‘a mountain made out of goats’. I prefer the latter. This entrepreneurial duo have hand-picked beautiful Japanese home wares – often handmade by artisan crafts people – to create an online showcase of Japanese design and make it accessible to the wider world.

There are so many treasures, here, but I really love the elegant tableware by Ryuma Matsubara. He and his wife gather clay from construction sites in the town of Tokoname and blend it with sand to create rustic, beautiful pottery:

I also like the sets of  Six giant wooden ‘hum’ magnets, too, for organising creative ideas on various bits of paper! (They’re by design studio Graf). Pleasingly, ‘Hum-Hum’ means ‘Oh yes, I see‘ in Japanese and, according to Yaginoyama, implies ‘a bit of thoughtful chin-rubbing’.

Elsewhere, there are Japanese postcards, teas, rucksacks and satchels, stationery and soy sauce jugs…

Following the recent events in Japan, 10% of the price of every product purchased will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society. – Ellie

Is it a coffee table? Is it a tray? Is it a magazine rack? No! It’s all three…

The good news is – this gorgeous designer wire-work beauty from our friends at stylish mail order company Rockett St George could be yours! Just leave a comment after this post with your email address to enter. At 6pm on Wednesday 30th March, one lucky winner will be plucked from a hat at random. Click here to read the fascinating TERMS AND CONDITIONS. (This competition is open to everybody in the world. The type of hat used for the plucking part is TBC and weather-permitting, but early reports suggest it could be some sort of straw, floppy number.) – Ellie