Designers for Japan

April 7th 2011

I read the Designersforjapan blog today and thought it was really uplifting that designers are working collectively together to raise funds and awareness for Japan, all proceeds go to The British Red Cross Japan appeal.

This post tells just how daunting the situation is:

Toru Yoshikawa on daily life in Tokyo
I’ve heard that many art exhibitions have been canceled.
 France have decided to stop shipping art works to japan.
Some museums’ yearly budget was cut for affected area restoration.
 Now I really feel that we must think intensively and fundamentally
of 3 years future from now.
 And I believe it will determine 10 years future of this country.
Everything has been affected by the disaster in Japan and how the aftershock is still carrying on in the lives of the Japanese.

Also, as part of the initiative, there is an interesting launch at next week’s Milan Furniture Fair with the Michael Sodeau & Suikosha/Anything at Zegna in Milan stationery range the proceeds of which will going to the disaster fund.

Michael Sodeau/Anything Stationery Collection

Michael Sodeau/Anything Stationery Collection. Image courtesy of designersforjapan

Posted in design, product design

Shopper’s paradise

March 29th 2011

Redchurch Street’s reinvention as the area’s best shopping street seems unstoppable, both APC and Labour and Wait have moved in to join Aesop, Sunspel and Caravan. A.P.C is at number 5a and Labour and Wait further down at number 85.

5a Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DJ
T +44 (0)207 729 7727

Labour and Wait
85 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DJ
Telephone +44 (0)20 7729 6253

Posted in design, fashion, interior design, product design, trends

Robin and Lucienne Day – Design and the Modern Interior

March 29th 2011
Robin and Lucienne Day

Robin and Lucienne Day. Image courtesy of Robin Day

A new exhibition of Robin and Lucienne Day’s work has just opened at Pallant House. As Chichester was the couple’s hometown, this is a perfect place for the exhibition, which draws heavily on a collection of their work owned by H Kirk Brown III and Jill A Wiltse from Denver, USA.

Seeing such big pieces of original fabrics is great. You can really feel the quality of the cottons and linens which in those days were less heavily treated. Being left in a more raw state, the fabrics seem more substantial than ours nowadays. In terms of the size of her repeat patterns, Lucienne worked at a much larger-scale than her forbears and I think that’s what gives her designs their modernity. Looking at them this weekend they appeared as crisp and fresh as in the ‘50s and ‘60s. All the greats are in there, including Rock Rose, Runic, Linden (which my mum and dad had in our house when I was growing up!) and Flotilla, the pattern that Lucienne apparently thought came closest pattern to a painting.

Flotilla by Lucienne Day

Flotilla, 1952, Screenprinted cotton, rayon and linen. Image courtesy of Classic Textiles

Small Hours by Lucienne Day, 1951

Small Hours, 1951. A lovely navy and salmon pink screenprinted cotton. Courtesy of the collection of Jill A. Wiltse and H. Kirk Brown III


The exhibition also features Robin Day’s timeless furniture and his brilliant radios including the 1108 for Pye, which won a Design Centre Award in 1966.

Robin Day sideboard for Hille, 1949

Robin Day sideboard for Hille, 1949. Courtesy of Target Gallery, London

Model 1108 radio for Pye by Robin Day

Model 1108 radio for Pye by Robin Day. Image courtesy of the Science Museum

Hand-in-hand with the Day exhibition is A Tonic to the Nation: The Festival of Britain in Pallant House’s De’Longhi Print Room. It marks the 60th anniversary of the Festival that the Days’ were heavily involved with. It features souvenirs, posters and memorabilia.

A Tonic to the Nation is on until 8th May and Robin and Lucienne have taken up residence until 26th June.

Posted in design, interior design, pattern, product design, review, textiles

Green Style

March 11th 2011

Something environmentally-friendly that looks great at the same time, the Plumen 001 lightbulb ticks both boxes and has just won the Product category of the Brit Insurance Design awards. We have one in our studio and I love it. The shape is so pretty and the light is powerful enough to work by without too much glare that you can use it without a shade.



Plumen 001 lightbulb by Hulger and Samuel Wilkinson

Posted in design, product design

Robin Day 1915 – 2010

December 21st 2010

The great designer Robin Day passed away earlier this month . I’d posted something about his equally talented wife Lucienne in April and it’s so sad that they’ve both died this year.

I remember our sitting room at home when I was little had a Robin Day sofa and we also had curtains by Lucienne. Saving up to buy the land and then build our house took 5 years , my parents didn’t have a lot of spare money when it came to the furniture but what they did have was great and lasted all their lives! It was bought from Heal’s which, at that time, was virtually the only place in England where you could modern and contemporary design, rather than antique reproduction.

Robin Day sofa bed for Hille – image courtesy of mark parrish mid century modern

Like many people, another fond childhood memory is of a classroom filled with Robin Day’s stackable chair, found in so many schools up and down the country. I always liked his brilliant  ‘Polo’ chair, which went back into production by Loft in 2000.

Polo by Robin Day

Such a classic it was even featured on a stamp!

Robin Day was an innovator and key part of the British population’s gradual embracing of modern design. As such he was greatly respected by the younger generation of designers like Tom Dixon (also responsible for re-issuing the ‘Forum’ sofa while he was creative director at Habitat) and Matthew Hilton.

It’s lovely to think he and Lucienne had such long, successful lives to still have been around to see how appreciated and influential they were.

Robin and Lucienne Day

Robin and Lucienne Day. Image courtesy of My Deco

Posted in design, interior design, product design

Trends from I Saloni

May 27th 2010

Less is more was the order of the day at this year’s Milan furniture fair. Visitors and press alike wondered ‘does the world need more chairs?’ So in tune with leaner economic times and a greater social and environmental conscience, the newly launched products had a pared down feel. Designers focused on how things are made, exposed construction methods and celebrated traditional craftsmanship skills. The natural state and shape of materials was shown off.

This simplified feel calls to my mind the landscape designer Jacques Wirtz. He might be in his 80s but he’s so relevant, creating clean, beautiful sculptural forms that are refreshing and highly in step with what’s being produced by younger designers across interiors, furniture and product. It’d be great to see him create something for Milan one year.

Jaques Wirtz hedges, private garden

Jaques Wirtz hedges, private garden

Jacques Wirtz, private garden

Jacques Wirtz hedges, private garden

Trade fairs are still an essential part of doing business in this industry but these events are expensive, short-lived and incredibly wasteful, really taking their toll on the world’s resources. Not in keeping with current thinking around environmental issues. Saved by Droog’ picked up on our desire to take better care of our planet, inviting a range of designers (nicknamed ‘revivers’) to recycle and upcycle over 5000 items rescued from liquidation sales.

At Moroso there was talk in emotional tones, new designs were developed around words such as ‘memory’, ‘wellbeing’ and ‘intimacy’. In their showroom, the company presented ‘Tumbleweed’, an installation by two artists Francesco Simeti and Andrea Sala that juxtaposed the prevailing trend for plain, angular furniture with large-scale prints inspired by travel and journeys – both real and imagined – to invigorate the overall space.  Similarly at Poliform a blowsy, bold print by Ken Scott was used to upholster sharp, modern pieces.

Moroso, Tumbleweed by artists Francesco Simeti and Andrea Sala

Poliform, Ken Scott print

Posted in art, craft, design, interior design, product design, trends

Designer design

September 26th 2009

I feel that when larger companies link up with artists and designers it becomes more about PR opportunities and boosting sales. Whether Debenhams or Topshop, Habitat or John Lewis, they’re all doing it. A few years ago when Graham & Brown undertook a project in conjunction with the Royal College of Art the results were really interesting and, I think, improved Graham and Brown’s status but I can’t help wondering whether it became yet another case of a marketing team jumping at the chance to use the word ‘designer’ and up the perception of creativity.

Of course, ‘designer’ ranges and products are so popular that they aren’t going to go away. But, there is a danger that we may suffer a designer overdose, especially in the case of particular names.

It seems that the same handful of designers, people like Marcel Wanders, Patricia Urquoia and Hella Jongerius are producing a wide range of products for the same four or five companies. It’s completely understandable for manufacturers to stick to these names as they’re a safe bet and will sell well but there is a downside – the resulting feeling of familiarity and homogeneity. The upside is that it becomes even easier for individuals and smaller companies to really stand out.

Posted in design, fashion, interior design, product design, trends

Paradoxes in colour

September 22nd 2009

I’m experimenting with shiny finishes, grainy metallics but instead of bling, I’m looking at how they exist alongside more muted colours such as dark grey, pinks, beige and camel. Have a look.

Silver, foils and muted creams

Black , Dark Greys and Silvers

Golds and Camel

But, returning to bling for a moment..

Colour Chrome Car

Can you imaging landing on Earth from space, or being fast-forwarded from say Victorian times and seeing this? Aside from whether you would actually buy it, the affect is certainly dramatic, a Benz whizzed past me in Camden Town, I did a double take… was it mirrored or glass? I looked it up and found that there are loads of them!

Have a look on YouTube

Posted in botanical, design, pattern, product design, technology, trends, wallpaper