Ah, moquette. The hard-wearing, patterned, furry fabric that the London Underground train seats are upholstered in. (I once went to a great lecture about the history of moquette and the various designs, but there were some rather gruesome details about the bed bug problem on various tube lines and I haven’t sat down since without a quick inspection first…) The London Transport Museum design team has already covered various objects with this practical retro stuff – pouffes, headboards, cushions, even handbags – and now, they’ve joined forces with those clever upholsterers at Shoreditch studio Squint to create  a collection of limited-edition moquette patchwork sofas, which will be unveiled during the London Design Festival at Tent London:

If you visit Tent, you could win a stylish moquette armchair…and the rest of the collection will be available from the London Transport Museum’s online shop from the end of September and their bricks-and-mortar Covent Garden museum shop. – Ellie

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If you’ve picked up our May issue, you’ll have spotted our little round up of Festival of Britain buys (on page 15) – products created to mark the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, 1951. After the dreary war years, the Festival was billed as a ‘tonic for the nation’ – a celebration of British design and creativity, centring around the Southbank area of London. The cheery anniversary designs (on display at the Southbank Centre shop from 22 April until 4 September) echo the optimistic spirit of the early 1950s, and are proof that we’re living in an equally exciting era for British design…

Lizzie Allen‘s Festival of Britain wallpaper (top left) is beautiful, but it’s £370 a roll, so perhaps I’ll be getting the tea towel (£10) or the tote bag (£15) instead! I love the little brass band, the pigeons, the collage-style sun beams – everything. We’ve ogled the Mini Moderns Festival wallpaper on here before, but I love the matching rug, too. I also admired ceramic Festival cake plates from Esther Coombs, and stylish Royal Festival Hall designs from People Will Always Need Plates. Let’s have a closer look at Lizzie Allen’s wallpaper design, some of the Festival of Britain paint shades from Fired Earth, and the lovely new book: A Festival on the River:

I think my favourite design of all is this silk cushion from RE, made using a vintage Festival scarf design:

Wayne Hemingway’s Vintage festival is coming to the Southbank this summer, too, and he’s curating an exhibition of Festival of Britain memorabilia which will be well worth a look if you’re in London. – Ellie


HOT SHOP: Sparrow & Co

January 7, 2011

The Sparrow & Co shop hasn’t actually opened yet, but Samuel Sparrow of Glasgow has already been inundated with customer queries, so he’s had to set up a temporary Etsy store while his new website is completed. Just from the beautiful photography and the carefully-selected products, I know it’s going to be a good ‘un! Right up there with the likes of Toast, I predict…

Sam has gathered together a gorgeous collection of exclusive, handmade products from around the globe – from Morocco, Uzbekistan, Asia, Central America, Wales, England and, of course, Scotland. You’ll find woollen blankets, stools, leather pouffes, and pretty candles and notebooks featuring the illustrator Debbie Powell’s gorgeous designs. It’s going to be a real treat.

Sam studied Illustration and Visual Merchandising at the Glasgow School of Art, before working for Ikea and Habitat. He’s setting up Sparrow & Co on his own (although his stunning wife apparently helps out) and the full website is due to launch in a couple of months, so keep checking his blog.

Sam told me he has lots of new products on the way including hand-turned solid walnut candlesticks, quilts sewn from vintage sari fabric and patterned papier-mâché baubles. Clearly this is a man with impeccable taste; and his global-yet-harmonious and pared-down collection reflects it. Can’t wait to see more! – Ellie


HOT SHOP: HANNAH ZAKARI

August 17, 2010

I’ve been at the Edinburgh Festival for the past week, in sunny (no, really) Scotland. As well as seeing about a million amazing plays and comedy acts, I managed to find time to pop into a few shops, too. Thanks to my local guide, Zoe (from Conversation Pieces), I found Hannah Zakari – a lovely shop owned by jewellery-maker and all-round crafty-type, Rachael Lamb.

As well as selling her own lovely designs, Rachael stocks a mind-boggling array of home accessories and treats from other designers, including the likes of Lou Rota, Clare Nicolson and Eclectic Eccentricity. I had a lovely time browsing the shelves, but if you’re not in bonny Scotland, don’t despair – the Hannah Zakari website has even more to choose from. – Ellie


Brissi beauty

April 16, 2010

LOVING these pretty pictures from our friends over at Brissi – show-casing their lovely new vases…

Ah, spring is in the air! – Ellie

I’m a Sacks Addict

January 20, 2010

No, I said SACKS. Indian rice sacks. French linen flour sacks. Old English wheat sacks. Colourful American ‘grain’ sacks. What-evaaa. I want sacks in the morning, sacks all day long, and sacks every night.

They make such fabulous cushions! Retro, cheery, quirky, recycled, cheap, easy to sew – what’s not to love?! I think my addiction kicked in properly a few weeks ago, when I spotted some VERY cool patterned sacks of Basmati rice for sale in a Halal butcher’s shop in south London. Of course, I like rice, but it was the sack I really wanted!! I bought one (just £8), slung it over my shoulders and trudged home with a tonne of rice on my back. Decanting the rice (into, like, a million Kilner jars) took a while BUT it was worth it – the empty sack is covered in Indian writing and bright colours, and it’s going to make a fantastic cushion!! I think this was all a step too far for the boyfriend. He thinks I am completely mental. And he’s a bit bored of eating rice, too.

Of course, new sacks are all very well. But it’s the vintage ones I really love – particularly the colourful American ones, which often pop up in vintage shops or on ebay. I’ve been hunting for two really gorgeous sacks for ages, and just bought a fabulous pair from Coast and Country Home:

The first one has a pretty orange and brown retro carnation design on it, and comes from Oregon, USA originally. It used to contain bleached pastry flour.

The second one has a lovely ‘Colonial Rose’ design and was used for ‘phosphated’ flour, which doesn’t sound very appetising! I really love this sack, because at some point somebody has traced the sewing pattern for a little girl’s apron onto the back of it, but for some reason (and luckily for me!)  they never got round to cutting it out.

Could this embody the ‘make do and mend’ philosophy any better?! It’s funny that I’m re-using this piece of sacking to make a cushion cover all these years later!

And if you prefer the simple, rustic French linen sack accessories, head to Notonthehighstreet and check out Parna‘s range. Right, it must be time for lunch, now. Basmati rice salad, anyone? – Ellie

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Do I need another cushion in my life? Probably not, but these gorgeous limited edition designs from Lisa Stickley are so more-ish, I can’t resist!

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Hand-made and hand-printed, these cushions are made using Lisa‘s drawings and vintage linens. I love her scribble-writing, and the ‘Party’ cushion with a list of retro party games has got to be the cutest one.

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I got chatting when I visited Lisa’s shop in Clapham North recently and discovered she’s planning to open another shop soon – more details coming soon, so watch this space! – Ellie

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