HOT TREND: BEES

April 20, 2011

Bee-hold: the latest trend to hit the high street. I’ve bee-n flying about, keeping buzz-y, finding this season’s must-hive buys (groan, groan). But, to bee or not to bee? That is the question…

Let’s kick things off with this cute Honeycomb print from The Spotted Sparrow. (It’s well worth having a peep at The Spotted Sparrow’s card collection while you’re at it – 80s song lyrics combined with Victorian newspapers. Nice.)

Designers are buzzing about hexagonal honeycomb patterns, bee motifs and golden honey colours. (I can’t bee-lieve I get paid to write this.)

1 = Honeycomb pendant light, Dwell. 2&3 = Honeycomb patterned table lamp and votive, M&S. 4 = Bee cushion, Dwell. 5 = Vintage print, Roost Living. 6 = Tea cosy, The Gifted Penguin.

7 = Honeycomb chair, Next. 8 = Hexagonal wall stickers, Ferm Living.

My dad’s a bee keeper, so I asked him for some honey (as usual) and an insider quote about this important trend. “Buzz off…” he said, “…with your trend-related nonsense, and stop stealing ‘vintage’ things from our house.” – Ellie

HOT TREND: WILD WEST

March 3, 2011

London Fashion Week sealed the deal (well, I’ll be honest, Burberry Prorsum did a lumberjack jacket and I spotted a bit of sheepskin here and there but HEY humour me…) The new antlers: cow skulls. The new denim: erm, double denim. The hottest trend on the horizon: the wild wild west…

The words: ‘prairie’, ‘ranch’ and ‘moo’ are being muttered, nay, whispered in the hallowed circles of Those Who Are Fashionable. Think leather chairs with North American rugs (Fun on the Floor), ceramic cacti ‘objets’, dahling, silver cow skulls (Dwell), cow-hide accessories (Tesco and, well, everyone else), leather, gingham and ‘Broke Back’ checks…giddy up, cowboy, yeeeee haaaaa!

Oh, bless her with her little furry cow hat. I never thought I’d go there, but mugs with gun handles (Dwell and Play) and cactus candles (Penelope Tom) might even qualify for this one. It pains me, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Moo. – Ellie

(Carpet shown in top pic: Abingdon Trojan Stone, £7.99 per sq m, Fun on the Floor.)

A positively positive paint palette – these optimistic new colours are inspired by the 1951 Festival of Britain and have been launched by Kevin McCloud at Fired Earth just in time for the 60th anniversary of that event (this May)…

This chic ‘Mid-Century Colours’ range contains colours such as ‘South Bank’, ‘Festival Orange’ and ‘Skylon Grey’ – it’s a jolly retro palette with a very post-war British feel. I like ‘Race Yellow’ best. Check out the May issue of Ideal Home (out in April) for more Festival of Britain buys, including wallpaper from Mini Moderns and silk cushions from RE. – Ellie


HOT TREND: snow globes

October 27, 2010

I know it’s not winter yet and it’s not exactly snowing. But, the clocks go back this weekend, and the lovely new December issue of Ideal Home has just landed on my desk – so it must be close! ‘Shake it like a Polaroid picture’ – snow globes are all the rage. Snow joke. Groan.

This new A3 Papermash print is by Clare Owen – who did a Paris one last year. They’re really sweet:

Kitsch woodland creatures in snow globes can be found at the lovely Lapin and Me

…while Mary Fellows (AKA Pintuck) has been busy screen-printing romantic snow globe prints:

Head to Laura Ashley for snow globe Christmas tree decorations (in a month or so, it’s still a tad early, surely?!) and you’ll find a stylish snow globe photo frame at Dwell. Illustrator Charlotte Farmer is a snow globe fan…

Charlotte’s ‘Shake it’ tea towel is available at New House Textiles. I like the King Kong one the best! – Ellie

HOT TREND: KEYS

August 16, 2010

They unlock doors. They come in all shapes and sizes. And despite your desperate attempts to organise the little blighters – (hooks, bowls, fobs – you’ve tried them all) – men lose them on a daily basis.

They spend hours searching wildly for them at the last minute, when you’re just about to leave the house, and you’re already twenty minutes late, and they always ALWAYS turn up in his jacket pocket, and what’s even more infuriating is that that’s where you said they would be in the first place, and that was before the damn hunt even began, and where the hell is his wallet now…ANYWAY, dear readers, KEYS are big news. Not the boring little Yale jobbies. More the pretty, swirly twirly vintage type. Regardez…wonderful wall stickers above from Ferm Living…and some lovely key designs below from our friends at Warbeck & Cox (tea towel, top mug, cushion and mirror) and Tesco (bottom mug):

If you’re lucky enough to have picked up a copy of our September issue, you’ll have seen our stylists used some vintage keys from RE in one of the shoots…they look so lovely lined up on a mantelpiece:

Luckily for you, I decided against attaching a sound file of Urban Cookie Collective’s 1990s hit ‘The Key, The Secret’ to this post…

Mmmm – loving this key-shaped key hook from Cavania, and this gorgeous little needlework kit from Magasin:

Etsy is awash with keys – on necklaces, key rings (!) and the like…

…but my favourite key buy there has to be the lovely key photograph prints from Yvette Inufio. Check out the rest of her photos too – so gorgeous. Of course, the trend-setters over at Anthropologie have been going key-crazy for months:

Oh, keys. Lovely keys. But sadly the only kind of keys I’ll be encountering today will be the keyboard kind as I tackle the 2000 emails that are waiting in my inbox. Yipeeee. – Ellie

The WAR-TIME trend

January 29, 2010

I spy with my little eye, something beginning with T.  Just when we thought the coast was clear, there’s one more, sneaky, cheeky trend to look at. Let’s check out at the current vogue for all things WAR-related.

Now, this trend is HUGE. And it isn’t miserable, despite the harsh realites of war – rather, it’s quite a cheerful look, channelling the (real or imagined) optimistic war-time spirit of 1940s Britain. As we witnessed with the recent rash-like spread of the now-unavoidable-yet-strangely-still-appealing-particularly-if-it’s-not-in-red KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON poster, the time is apparently ripe for battening down the hatches, putting on a brave face, joining together and reviving the traditional British ‘stiff upper lip’ in the face of adversity. We’re all trying to save money, waste less and stay cheerful. A bit like we were in the war. And so, a trend is born.

Let’s start with flags. Unless you’ve been living under a stone somewhere, you can’t have failed to notice a lot of Union Jacks all over the place – bunting, posters, cushions, teacups – it’s something we were chatting about last spring. The likes of Becky Oldfield (with her flag quilts and vintage medals) are cashing in, and last year the high street was awash with flag-tastic accessories. There’s no getting away from them – for 2010, designers have swapped the usual red, white and blue for floral flags with a crafty look. Check out the new Tesco tins above, and the Portmeirion place mats.

It’s not just patriotic flags we’re luvvin’. Reassuring wartime poster slogans and plucky Government mottoes have become the norm for prints and have been reproduced in their millions.

There’s KEEP CALM of course, but many more including AN APPLE A DAY, DIG FOR VICTORY and, perhaps the most British of all: TEA REVIVES YOU. If there’s a war on, or a recession for that matter, have a nice cup of tea and everything will seem a lot better, ducky.

Our cooking habits are being influenced by the war years, too. Wartime recipe books are being re-printed and are soaring in popularity as people look to save money by using up leftovers and spending less at the supermarket. I read in The Times recently: “Moves to recover the lessons of the war can be seen on the forums of MoneySavingExpert.com, where various contributors have begun to offer tips salvaged from wartime cookbooks, or on Amazon, where the works of that great wartime cook Marguerite Patten are displayed beside books by Gordon Ramsay.” Even Waitrose now stocks cheaper cuts of meat such as pig trotters and sheep brains.

From top left, working clockwise: A cute purse from Rosie’s Armoire with a weekly family food budget printed on it; a vintage ration book; Cold Meat And How To Disguise Ita fantastic collection of war-time tips, recipes and ephemera; and Economical Cookery, and a war-time recipe book I inherited. Bovril eggs, anyone? Our attitude to shopping has changed, too. Check out the interior of this fabulous new shop our editor Isobel found in Brighton. It’s called Utility, and I’m definitely going to pop in next time I’m down that way:

Utility takes it’s ‘name and inspiration’ from the World War II scheme that produced everyday goods with a minimum of wastage, and the website helpfully explains to us, (the ignorant yoof!) that this is ‘because raw materials were in short supply then’. Utility sells ‘simple, but always functional and hardwearing’ home accessories, which ‘stick to principles’ and the founders claim to be ‘waging a war’ on ‘tut’. Shops such as this are evidence of a huge shift towards a simpler, more meaningful way of life that many of us crave after the plastic fantastic eighties and fat-cat-buy-buy-buy nineties; we’re more aware of the environment and we also want to save money, so when we shop, we want to buy simple, ethical things that will last.

(Of course, buying anyTHING when you don’t absolutely NEED to, whether it’s simple, eco and functional or not, kind of demeans this whole philosophy – Utility is, after all, still a shop, selling lovely accessories that are not exactly essentials – but let’s not nit pick or we’ll be here forever. And this is a shopping blog, so who am I to talk!!)

Even our reading matter is war-related at the moment. I love all the reproduction Government-issued pamphlets from the war years that are being re-released, so I picked these up in the Tate Britain shop, but you can also buy them on Amazon. In the 1940s, handbooks were given to soldiers going abroad advising them on the peculiarities of the ‘foreigners’ they would soon encounter. The guides were intended to lessen the culture shock for those embarking on their first trip and the instructions are a wonderful interpretation of the differences between the allies.

Here’s a priceless extract from the Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain book: “The British don’t know how to make a good cup of coffee. You don’t know how to make a good cup of tea. It’s an even swap…”

For me, it’s the war-time craft revival that’s my favourite thang…mmmmm, check out my vintage LEARN TO TAT poster! (You’ll find the MAKE DO AND MEND print at the Keep Calm Gallery.) I like nothing better than to sit about wearing bright red lipstick and a 1940s-style tea dress from TopShop, sipping tea from a vintage teacup, knitting socks for the sheer pleasure of it rather than the necessity. How absurd. It’s 2010. I could buy them in Primark for heaven’s sake, five pairs for a pound. But I and many others choose to buy wool instead and hang out at ‘Make Do And Mend’ pop-up crafting nights from the likes of iKnit and Smack My Stitch Up – ‘Customisation for the Nation’, in case you’re wondering. Ten years ago, if somebody had suggested mixing cross-stitch with DJ-ing, they’d have been locked in a secure unit. Now, such combos are the norm and, thanks to the massive revival of all things homemade and handmade, ‘making do’ and ‘mending’ has never been cooler.

(I couldn’t resist this VICTORY “Wonder-Sock” pattern when I spotted it in a car boot sale – it’s ‘the perfect gift’, and the pink reproduction Ministry of Information Make do and Mend book is available from Amazon.) Take the Shoreditch Sisters Women’s Institute group for example – ten years ago, it was not cool to be in the W.I, but now, knitting is not just for grannies. The members are sassy, sexy young women, all crafting, jam-making, and hanging out being cool in a very Shoreditch way. Check out their president and founder, ‘Jazz Domino Holly‘ (yes, this is her real name. Daughter of The Clash lead singer…always the way with rock stars), seen here in her presidential photo, standing in front of a massive KEEP CALM poster. As if I PLANNED it. And her fellow Shoreditch ‘Sister’ is shown here running a ‘Clothing Customisation Station’ at a recent Bust Craftacular event, proudly holding up the wartime slogan: MAKE DO AND MEND.

These trendy young crafters are living proof that wartime attitudes have been embraced by the hipsters (HIPSTERS?! Groan, I must be getting old) of 2010. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love a bit of V-DAY-style buntin’, a good vintage propoganda poster or a retro OXO tin as much as the next design-addict, but I do wonder what my dear grandmother would say about all this if she were alive today.  She belonged to a generation who HAD to darn socks, fly flags, use up leftovers, scrimp, save, keep calm and, erm, carry on, out of necessity. I suspect she’d think it was strange that we seem to think that a dip in the economy is in some way comparable to the desperately hard times endured by so many in the 1940s. But I’m sure she’d find it funny that I’m wearing floral tea dresses just like she used to! – Ellie

Make room for a ‘shroom

January 22, 2010

As a Brownie, (in the late 1980s, before Political Correctness reached Worcestershire), I was forced to skip around a large wooden toadstool in the village Scout Hut, singing: “I am a helpful gnome, helping mother in the home.” I think this traumatic episode, combined with weird Enid Blyton books (which I always hated), cemented within me a great dislike of toadstools, mushrooms and funghi in general from a very young age.

It is therefore with great surprise, dear reader, that in 2010 I find myself drawn inexplicably to ‘shrooms – like a moth to a flame. The woodland trend (of which we have previously spoken at great length of course, being fully tapped into the Zeitgeist and all that) is in full swing and, some might say, has actually got a bit out of hand. Walk down any high street and you’re practically bombarded with owls, squirrels, bowls made of bark and funky folk-y designs…and, of course, retro 1970s-style ‘SHROOMS. The little toadstools above are kitsch salt and pepper shakers, recently featured in Living Etc, in case you crave them.

Trawling for toadstools…from top left, working clockwise: Toadstools in a basket, Hunter Gatherer; Mushroom Magick book, Anthropologie UK; Wooden ‘shroom, Dotcomgiftshop; Mushroom pouffe, Anthropologie USA; Toadstool hottie, Dotcomgiftshop; Woodland mushroom doilies, Dotcomgiftshop. Have a lovely weekend. – Ellie

FYI: size matters

January 13, 2010

Playing with scale is BIG right now. Ha ha. It all kicked off with the GIANT Anglepoise floor lamp – you know the one – and now, with the imminent release of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland film this April, it seems lots of designers have been nibbling the scale ‘shrooms and super-sizing stuff…

This isn’t just a designer thing. Oh, no. Head to the high street and pop into M&S later this spring and you’ll find a gigantic pair of wooden scissors (the ultimate Arrietty prop for a Borrowers-themed party?) which would look VERY cool leaning on a mantelpiece and they’re pleasingly Make-Do-and-Mend-ish, too. Habitat has huge button storage pots for this summer, and you can even get a giant pencil sharpener pen pot from John Lewis and a BIG Biro lid from Utility Design:

Plus, there are going to be HUGE floor lamps pretty much everywhere this year, copying the Anglepoise classic. Check out our April issue for a feature on these lamps! (PS – I like the idea of putting dolls house furniture under a glass bell jar!! Surprise, surprise…) – Ellie

Skulls, insects, diagrams of horrific medical instruments, Victorian-style Darwin-esque etchings and Natural History sketches are all over the world of design at the moment. Let’s call this trend: Macabre. It’s dark. It’s gothic. It’s black. It’s creepy. Think of a dusty museum display case in the 1800s – full of spidery death and decay; skeletons, faded labels, stuffed birds with beady eyes, sad rows of dead butterflies, scientific diagrams of insects, plants and animals – all lifeless.

Re-found Objects/NorthumberlandHas this dark romanticism got something to do with 2009 being the bi-centenary of Charles Darwin’s birth? Perhaps. But whatever the roots of this dark trend, I’m LOVING it all. RE, one of my favourite shops, has embraced it with relish, launching a whole new ‘Macabre’ collection, with vintage plates covered in skulls, eyes, snakes, scorpions, lizards, lobsters and spiders, as well as insect napkins.

Re-found Objects/Northumberland

Re-found Objects/NorthumberlandAlso, check out their ‘Esquire’ notebooks with sketches of lethal-looking barber’s and dentist’s tools as well as some less-scary brushes. Their ‘Gardener’ notebooks and ‘Cook’ books all feature similar Victorian etchings, too.

mensware

notebooks REThe recent revival of the glorious Pictorial Webster’s – A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities might have contributed to the current obsession with flora, fauna, and dead things sketched or etched…

Picture 20Picture 19Featuring over 1,500 engravings that originally graced the pages of Webster’s dictionaries in the 19th century, this chunky volume is absolutely fascinating. Meticulously cleaned and restored by fine-press bookmaker Johnny Carrera, the alphabetically-arranged engravings show everything from Acorns to Zebras, Bell Jars to Velocipedes – a Victorian list of ‘curiosities’. Crafting fans will be as excited as I am about the rubber stamp set that features these fantastic images…and the A-Z wall cards are CRYING out to be framed as wall art, or propped up in nurseries and designer offices…

pictorial webster's stamp set

pictorial webster's wall cardsThese cute cards also tap into another trend we’re seeing emerge – the Alphabet trend – but let’s not complicate things with all that now!! Having a quick look for some high-street Macabre buys, I spotted a black skull candle in Paperchase, a skull cushion in Dwell, and some funky flock skull wallpaper from Barbara Hulanicki at Graham & Brown

skulls

I’ve been a fan of the Victorian-style sketched jewellery at Paraphenalia for a while now, and it fits in with this look perfectly!

paraphenalia

Let’s end with this pretty butterfly calendar from Anthropologie. Have a lovely, if a tad macabre, weekend. – Ellie

butterfly calendar

Fairy tale time

October 26, 2009

Folklore, magic and homespun charm – flicking through the latest images in the lovely House to Home galleries today, I stumbled upon this gorgeous bedroom. It could be a room inside Snow White’s cottage, and sums up nicely the current vogue for fairy tales and all things folk.

BedroomAfter spying hundreds of toadstools and owls last week at the lovely Anthropologie, I’m getting quite into this trend now. Colourful patchwork, ribbons, pom poms and homemade, knitted accessories – it’s really growing on me! Note how the plastic squirrel, which in any other setting would look tacky, looks cool here. The magic of styling! – Ellie