Millions of people will be embracing all things Jubilee this weekend. B&Q have reported sales of 100,000 metres of union jack bunting and 3,100 gnomes (who buys those!?). 10,000 streets will be closed for celebrations and I’m gonna bake a Victoria sponge, eat it and wash it down with a jug of Pimms. Hurrah! For months leading up to this weekend we homes journos have been bombarded with patriotic memorabilia and homeware that’s not gonna be available for much longer, so buy it now! (Or wait til Tuesday when it’ll all be reduced). There’s a lot of tat out there but also some rather nice things that I felt worthy of a blog post. Here’s my pick of some of the best jooby booty. Have a jolly weekend! – Alice

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1. Assorted vintage London postcards, £10.95, Rigby & Mac. 2. Queen’s Guard corkscrew, £45, Alessi. 3. Corgi apron, £22.50, Thornback & Peel. 4. God Save The Queen print, £210 (!), Pedlars. 5. British Jubilee ribbon, £4.99, Jane Means. 6. God Save The Queen shopper, £3, Cancer Research. 7. Union Jack wellies, £36.95, Joules. 8. Honeycomb tissue balls, £3.50, Papermash. 9. Queen egg cosy, £14.50, Poppy Treffry. 10. Press out London taxi, £4.50, Muji. 11. Jubilee teatowel, £12.50, Victoria Eggs. 12. Teapot, £12, Sainsburys. 13. London bus plant pot, £9.99, British Heart Foundation. 14. Trooping the colour tray, £20, Unique & Unity. 15.  Jubilee red & blue paper bags, £4 a pack, Not On The High street. 16. You Rule wrapping paper, £7.95, Nancy & Betty Studio. 17. Solar powered Queen and Corgi, £14.95, Pedlars. 18. Lizzie Allen directors chair, £89, Habitat. 19. Red striped straws, £3, Pearl & Earl. 20. Colour your own Jubilee bunting, £5.50, Art & Mable

If you grew up in London and were a regular commuter on the Metropolitan Line, you may well remember their high back seats and capacious 1960’s luggage racks with umbrella hooks. When the trains were decommissioned last year the clever folk over at The London Transport Museum decided to rescue the racks, scrub them up and are offering a limited number in three different sizes. Available from March, you can own a little piece of London history in your own home…

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London Transport Museum luggage racks, storage, reclaimed, vintage, metropolitan line, ideal home, alice humphrys, homeshoppingspy

London Transport Museum luggage racks, vintage, reclaimed, metropolitan line, storage, ideal home, alice humphrys, homeshoppingspy

What a novel shelving solution! Made from aluminium they are super lightweight but sturdy. Perfect if you need a little extra storage in the hallway or kitchen. Other memorabilia includes a reproduction of the original 1960’s poster that introduced the newly modernised line 50 years ago…

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and not sure I’d want to be reminded of the tube this much in my own home, but made to order cushions and cubes are also available in a unique moquette (woven in Yorkshire) based on the Metropolitan line’s distinctive purple and navy, geometric design. – Alice

Cube and cushion in Moquette upholstery,metropolitan line, recycled,made to order, moquette,london underground,ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

Louise Body: Paper tiles

April 27, 2011

Designer Louise Body has just released a new collection of ‘Paper Tiles‘ – gorgeous tile-effect wallpapers, featuring digitally-printed Victorian tile patterns combined with her own illustrations and designs…

Louise designed some similar wallpaper for the toilets at Decorex last year, and was inspired to explore the idea of paper tiles further. The new patterns are really stunning – and no need for the dreaded grout whitening pen!

These papers would look lovely in bedrooms, living rooms or hallways – proof that tiles aren’t just for kitchens and bathrooms.

Each 1m x 70cm panel costs £25 and you paste-the-wall, not the paper (always a bonus for those of us who are a bit DIY-challenged). – Ellie


Font freaks: look away now

October 20, 2010

I don’t want to tempt you, but…

To celebrate the launch of Simon Garfield’s new typography book, Just My Type, six type designers (including Margaret Calvert, who developed the ‘Transport’ font used on all UK road signage) have designed limited-edition prints around the Just My Type theme. You can buy them online at our old favourite, The Literary Gift Company, or at Foyles Charing Cross, where you can see them in the upcoming typography exhibition, 27 October until 19 November. – Ellie

100% Design HIGHLIGHTS

September 23, 2010

Stuck to the usually grubby and miserable windows of Earls Court tube station are wallpaper panels – pink roses, trailing silver leaves and blooms in shades of plum and charcoal. 100% Design is here:

This is the pretty Countess wallpaper, from Graham and Brown‘s new Elixir collection, and very nice it is too. Another paper in the range worth checking out is the stunning Mirage design, featuring silhouetted trees and a sort of misty early-morning-valley effect – very beautiful. Especially in the mustard and grey colourway, which is practically EDIBLE:

Having accidentally eclipsed Barbara Hulanicki while a poor photographer was attempting to capture her, I moved swiftly on to the Korea Design Pavilion, where I got chatting to the 15 young, innovative designers there. I was particularly taken with 601Bisang, a stationery company, and I PRAY that their stunning letterpress notebooks, numbered post-it notes and rolls of colourful ‘glass tape’ are snapped up by British buyers – I’m sure they will be…

These little leaf notebooks have leaves printed on all the pages and are inspired by old-fashioned flower presses. SO nice. I also liked the fun ‘RELATION-SHEEP’ stool from the charming designArtist Soh – designed for two friends to sit on, it looks like two sheep kissing. (You might recognise his book tree shelving unit in one of these photos, which he showed last year).

I also loved the wonderful ‘Ta-Rae‘ lighting (made from spools of thread in traditional Korean colours with thimbles for light-pulls) from Design Virus

Next, I spoke to the lovely people at Print, Tuft and Fold who had been charged with designing some very cool seating cubes for the exhibition’s entrance hall. Covered in gorgeous geometric patterns as well as city skylines and icons, they were proving popular for perching. Zoe Beck’s new London and New York wallpapers were stunning, Claire Alderdice’s new rugs were beautiful, and Kim Bassett’s latest origami-inspired cushions a delight. Woah, so many adjectives. But I can’t help getting as bit over-excited about these things…

I had a nice natter with Joshua Ritchie, husband of textile designer Caroline Ritchie of Corita Rose. I’ve been a fan of Caroline’s eye-wateringly bright fabrics, furnishings and accessories since I spotted them at Tent last year. Channelling Mexican art, circus fonts, Medieval poetry and tattoo symbols, her work is unique and VERY eye-catching! Joshua showed me her new curtain design, with the John Dryden quotation: JOY RULED THE DAY AND LOVE THE NIGHT…

I paid a little visit to the Roca stall to see the incredible light wave installation there and to hear all about the new Roca flagship showroom due to open in Chelsea soon, then headed to Camilla Meijer‘s stand to see her new wallpaper designs. The two new collections, called Victoria and Summer Garden, are every bit as stunning as her previous ranges…

I love this show, but after a while, my energy evaporated as per. My arm started to ache from the weight of press releases, my hair went all frizzy from heat/rain, I felt dehydrated, and I got a bit freaked out by the disgusting new ‘Utter Pots’ from Thelermont Hupton (of Handjob Hooks fame) which are basically little vases with lips, teeth and gaping orifices. Disturbing…

Time to trek back to SE1 and cover my desk with tape from 601Bisang. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. – Ellie

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Meanwhile, on Watership Down hill, Fiver and his bunny buddies had escaped the vicious Owsla. But nothing could prepare them for the RUG…

Glaswegian design duo Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons (AKA Timorous Beasties) has teamed up with Brintons carpets to create a collection of stunning hand-tufted rugs, which will be on display at 146-148 Clerkenwell Road during London Design Festival. I’ve been a fan of the controversial Toile fabrics and wallpaper collection which features Glasgow, London, ‘urban images’ and, rather randomly, ‘pineapples’ for ages, so I’m thrilled to hear about this new collaboration from the “William Morris on acid” designers. I’ll pop along to the launch party later this month to find out more and report back. As well as their fabulous designs, I love the Burns-inspired company name, which is impossible to say without using a thick, Scottish accent. OCH AYE! – Ellie


Yes. I know. It’s true. No, really. I wouldn’t lie about this. It would be CRUEL. Lisa Stickley has indeed designed a range of stationery and it’ll be in Selfridges and at Lisa Stickley London this autumn.

Having just ordered 100 Penguin postcards (possibly to frame, possibly to send, possibly to hoard in my pointless-yet-continually-expanding chest full of stationery), I don’t strictly speaking NEED this range, too. But we’ll see. (Translation: I will be buying it anyway because I am WEAK.) – Ellie


See inside Anthropologie

October 22, 2009

Is there anything I DON’T want in this shop? Erm, no. London’s new Anthropologie did not disappoint when I checked it out yesterday. It was everything I hoped it would be – and more. The interior of the shop is fabulous in itself, before I even get started on the lovely stock! From the huge luxury changing rooms, to the gigantic whale hanging from the ceiling and the incredible living vertical garden wall with 18,000 live plants in it, this shop interior is by far the coolest London’s ever seen.

anthropologie londonThe plants in the vertical garden are watered by rainwater collected on the roof, and reminded me of an eco-house I saw in Paris recently. Every 12 weeks, a team of style gurus and creative set designers will put together a fresh interior look, so it’s going to be one of those shops you’ll never tire of. I spotted strips of vintage sewing needles on the walls, huge apothecary-style chests of drawers, china plate clocks and a curtain made of tea bags.

anthropologie london2Can I just say at this point that, tragically, just when I needed it most, my stupid digital camera failed me and the battery ran out at a crucial moment, so the images on this post are a mixture of PR shots and some snaps taken by the wonderful Wee Birdy, to whom I am very grateful!

anthropologie ukI spent hours browsing and had to be very restrained spending-wise. I basically liked/wanted everything I saw. It was good to see a mixture of American products and stock from home-grown designers such as Becky Oldfield (stunning Union Jack quilts) and the lovely Lisa Stickley. There were too many interesting home buys to mention, but highlights for me included: paint-by-numbers plates from Trey Speegle, cute stamp sets from Yellow Owl Workshop, gorgeous Tokyo Milk bubble baths, cook books from the likes of Ginette Mathiot, Alice in Wonderland drawer knobs, zinc letters, beautiful cards and notebooks, stylish chemistry-set style flasks, and coloured folksy aprons – straight out of Hansel and Gretel. The new folk trend has been embraced by Anthropologie in a big way – I spotted wooden mushrooms, ceramic owls, folk-style patchwork quilts and an unusual vintage-look book titled: ‘Mushroom Magick, a comprehensive guide to psychedelic ‘shrooms‘!

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anthropologie uk3Even the packaging is delicious at Anthropologie, and I was delighted to be given a little Nathalie Lete lily soap in my red-handled goody bag, which made it twice as nice! ‘Mon savon qui sent bon’…sigh. I’m already planning my next Anthropologie trip. – Ellie

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nathalie lete soap

Oh, we’ve waited patiently. We’ve never complained. We’ve twiddled our thumbs and admired Anthropologie.com politely from afar on blogs and in American mags since 1992, with never a moan or a mutter. We waited for the genius Mr Hayne, of Urban Outfitters fame, to remember little ol’ Europe, pack his designer suitcase full of eclectic homewares, and pop over here to open a shop. And now, he’s finally answered our prayers. The UK’s first Anthropologie opens at 158 Regent Street, London, this Friday 23rd October, but I’m going to the sneaky peek press launch at the store tomorrow. Be rude not to really.

Picture 20There’s a Kings Road store planned soon, too, and the online shop Anthropologie.co.uk is launching in spring 2010 to spread the love to the rest of Europe. I haven’t been this excited since 1987, at my 5th birthday party, when I had to be shut in a room to calm down because it was all too much fun and I was in danger of actually popping with joy. Anthropologie, welcome to the UK. We love you. – Ellie

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Going underground!

August 10, 2009

True, we complain. It smells, it’s too hot, it increases your chance of contracting Swine Flu by 87% * but for all our moaning, if we Londoners really hated the tube that much, we wouldn’t want to fill our homes will little reminders of it, would we?

* not scientifically verified

1908 tube map

So what is it about the tube map that makes it so iconic it was deemed a British Design Classic alongside the Anglepoise lamp and the Penguin book, no less? Perhaps if it still looked like the 1908 map above, we wouldn’t be so keen. It wasn’t until 1931 when Underground employee Harry Beck realised that, given that the trains ran below ground, it didn’t matter whether the lines on the map corresponded with the layout of the streets above, as long as they ran in the right direction and the stations appeared in the right order. And so, the diagrammatic map we know and love today was born!

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Notonthehighstreet £44.95

I love this cushion from Notonthehighstreet, which features a section of the map printed on rustic linen – it really accentuates the graphic properties of the design and reminds me of the printer friendly version of the map you can download from TFL where the lines are given patterns rather than colours. Much prettier, though not as practical when getting from A-B!

Rockett St George

And from the subtle to the not so subtle! How cool is this tube map shower curtain, brand new from Rockett St George?

Splashback

I love this quirky glass splashback recently featured on House to Home – great with the zesty orange worktop. Try Digetex if you fancy something similar.

Balcony Gardener

And after all that journeying, pushing, shoving and getting stuck in the door, there’s only one thing for it – relaxing on this tube map deckchair from the Balcony Gardener. Zzzzz…. – Bethan