Design With A Story

Discovering like-minded and passionate people is always inspiring, whether a designer, advocator, educator or blogger, so it was lovely to be introduced to the Scandinavian version of Look Like Love, Nordic Design Collective. Having a received an invitation to their first pop-up shop based in Putney, South West London, it was an opportunity to share our approach, ethos and ideas on how we both support, nurture and promote our own native designers.

With a global appeal and popularity for Nordic design, (just add 'scandinavian style' into Pinterest and you'll see what mean,) founder Maria Richardsson spotted an opportunity to showcase a variety of designers from across the Nordics, and provide an online marketplace to sell their wares. With a strong emphasis on homeware and accessories, there is a beautiful freshness to the curated mix of independent designers on show, with simple materials, forms and colour combinations perfectly surmising the ever-popular Nordic style.

Designers from across the region can apply to be added to the site, but what links both Look Like Love and Nordic Design Collective is that there has to be story, a meaning behind each piece. This is not design for design sake, the layers of aesthetics have the ability to be peeled back to reveal something about them as a designer, their inspirations, their aspirations and ultimately their meaning.

Earlier in the year, the team sat down to try and outline their passion for what they offer and how this could influence and empower others. After several discussions and brainstorming sessions, the Nordic Design Collective Manifesto was launched, and now forms the basis for the company's approach and outlook not only on the business, but also as their own personal mantra.

Be Passionate. Life is too short to settle for less.
Create Great Things. Make stuff that makes you proud.
Share your Ideas. And give credit to the one who deserves it.
Be Kind. Compassion brings happiness.
Be Brave. Find your way and believe in it.

A simple set of rules, but powerful nonetheless, and with degree shows opening across the country as we speak, they feel even more important and relevant to to the next generation of new, independent designers.

Nordic Design Collective Popup Store in collaboration with Blåbär Nordic Living in Putney, London. Open from 20th June to 20th August.

London Design Festival…

After roughly eight months of planning, and with our red Shoreditch Design Triangle sign blowing in the breeze, we opened our one-night only exhibition on the 16th September.

It's our second year of being involved with London Design Festival and 'Hand-Picked' brought together twelve talented graduate and emerging designers under the roof of 5th Base Gallery in East London.

We had ambitiously decided to host the exhibition to celebrate the launch of our new website, something we've been working on for some time, and bring a 'Hand-Picked' creative force off the pages of design blogs and Instagram feeds, to the forefront of one of the most important design events in London.

It was important for us to not only show work from graduates we had spotted at New Designers and D&DA New Blood, but also emerging designers we had come across either via social media, networking or simply from an email saying hi, this is what I do.

A huge thank you to all the designers who took part, Shoreditch Design Triangle and everyone that made it down to support us and the designers on the night. Oh and the impromptu interview with London Live on practically no sleep and wearing no mascara, (something that dawned on me the following day!) It was a fantastic night and we couldn't have done it without you all...

Work by Lucinda Ireland greeted people as they came in with her collection of Hello's in her signature bold, graphic style. This sat next to the monochrome work by illustrator CM Carter, who had a range of prints, comics and screen-printed tees on display.

Domesticity ruled in the central space with a clash of not only cultures, but colour and pattern with work from House of Arike, Rose Honick and Jessie G showing that textiles needn't be drab or traditional.

Hand-drawn illustrations from Kayleigh Hadley gave a truly personal touch and sense of humour from her latest collection of typographic twists and twirls.

For the first time we included fashion in our selection, and the craftsmanship from Reece Curtis-Walwyn has to be seen first-hand. Her strong tailoring in muted, autumnal tones contrasted with the loose layered pieces and tassel detailing and the explosion of colour from Lisa McConniffe.

Screen-printed silks by Holly Eden added a softness to proceedings with her own hand-drawn designs transferred directly onto fabric.

Our selection of homeware has also extended this year with two designers we found at New Designers last year, Tom Hutchinson, who has recently, and successfully completed a Kickstarter project can now put his beautifully crafted Obtineo Range into production. And Sophie Cobb's ceramic collection Pick and Mix, shows the subtleties you can achieve in glaze for a fresh approach to the craft.

Last but not least, Max Lyne our first eco-product designer showcased his hand-crafted and stand-out light designs, sensitively using timber to create one-of-a-kind pieces.

We're off to start planning for 2015, see you then!

 

From Part One to Part Two…

One of the favourite parts of our job is scouting the degree shows for new talent, and 2014 has proved to be another hugely talented year.

New Designer's held at Islington's Business Design Centre every Summer is the hub for the UK's Universities, coming together to showcase the very best of their creative talent. This is our third year of attending and here are a few of our favourite finds over the last two weeks…

Part One

Amy Pegler

We starting following Amy Pegler, a graduate from Hereford University, a few weeks before New Designers as we loved her graphic, urban environment inspired textiles. There's a freshness to her designs that caught our eye, and were lucky enough to meet her and have a chat about her collection too.

 

Melody Vaughan

 

Melody Vaughan from Nottingham Trent University had an interesting take on ceramics, and her pieces were more of an interactive, visual tool as well as a sculptural one. We loved the moulded shapes and colour combinations that formed the stand-out collection.

 

Aimee Bollu

 

Also from Nottingham Trent University, Aimee Bollu's final collection was based around collecting and hoarding, with a touch of her own OCD. Mixed with her beautifully simple ceramic pieces, she combined found objects from the streets of Nottingham, otherwise deemed unloved, or uninteresting, and puts them at the forefront of what makes her work elegant, understated and modern.

 

Francesca Stride

 

A graduate from Glasgow School of Art, Francesca Stride had a very different way of displaying her wares. Using 2D card cut-out figures to drape her creations, the collection aptly titled 'Compositions for a Cardboard Cut-out' showcased industrial knitting techniques with fine wool to create a bold and colourful collection.

 

Part Two

Daniel Lau

Daniel Lau, a graduate from Nottingham Trent's Product and Furniture Design degree was on-hand to show us his chair collection, and chat about his future plans. Already successfully in production in the UK, an important aspect for Daniel, his Kai collection of wireframe chairs were striking, and finished impeccably. Available in a range of colours to suit the user, we loved the simplicity of the design and Daniel's passion for British-based design and manufacture.

 

Joshua Townley 

Joshua Townley's playful illustrative style caught our eye with his monochrome piece perched amongst a sea of colourful examples. We loved his work with just enough charm mixed with the right level of dark humour.

Alice Greatrex

The soft green hue used in Alice Greatrex's ceramic collection was stunning. We both loved the simplicity of the crafted pieces by the Loughborough graduate as well as the display itself. Without having to shout look at me, it was one of our stand-out collections from this year's crop of new talent.

Charles Parford-Plant

One of our final spots was by product and furniture graduate Charles Parford-Plant. His Tension collection showed how it is possible to create beautifully crafted, elegant and functional furniture without using a myriad of fixings to construct it. One top, four legs and four rubber tension bands are all it takes to put this table together, no assembly instructions required.

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Designed & Crafted in the U.K…

Last month we told you about Tom Hutchinson and his Kickstarter pitch to turn his graduate collection into a new business venture. Well, we are incredibly excited to reveal that not only did Tom make his target, he surpassed it by several thousand pounds!

Now the hard work begins as Tom and his business partner J.J embark on their venture to bring the Obtineo range of products to the market over the next few months.

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Every element of the range is hand-crafted in the U.K by skilled craftsmen, from glass-blowing to the felt detailing, which today seems quite challenging to achieve, and will certainly set Tom's designs apart from the mass-produced wares we see on the high street today.

It does seem though, as Tom forges a path with his first collection, the attitudes to manufacturing techniques and material use is shifting.

There is so much in the press about the fashion industry and conditions of workers abroad, and producing garments for pennies, to be sold for not much more on the British high street. It does seem that many retailers are slowly returning their manufacturing hubs to our shores, not only bolstering our wavering economy, but elevating the quality and standards, both ethically and from a construction point of view. So much so, that we, as consumers are more prepared than before to spend that little bit extra.

Another designer duo who have consciously and successfully set up their manufacturing in the U.K is London-based jewellery designers Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden, also known as Tatty Devine.

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Having started out on a small scale with just the two of them, and a store of Brick Lane, the popularity of their pieces grew incredibly quickly.

The cheapest and easiest way to get the number of pieces they needed to produce, was heading to the factories of China, but this didn't sway the designers, and they took the more costly approach to set up workshops in London and Kent. This not only meant employing the locals, it also meant that they could stay as close as ever to the design, and making processes that inspired them in the first place.

The responsibility for today's new designers is to challenge the process of manufacturing, and not loose that feeling of hand-crafting something special. And not in an arts and crafts, make do and mend sense, but to embrace the U.K's rich and varied skilled craftsmen and women, just like Tom and J.J have done…

It Started With…

Nine months ago in our daily search for new and interesting design talent, we came across furniture designer and up-cycler Yinka Ilori. His approach to recycled design was something a bit different, and not your average shabby chic styling.
As a relatively new designer, (he graduated in 2008) he has been slowly building a following and portfolio of work. His strong design ethos of incorporating story-telling or Nigerian parables from his childhood gave a fresh perspective on furniture design, and the use of unloved pieces as a starting point added that extra depth to each piece.

We met Yinka in the depths of Winter with the intention of presenting his work through our on-line shop, when he pitched the idea of wanting to have his first solo show, and would we be interested in helping him achieve his goal...

 
Fast-forward to the evening of Thursday 12th September, and The Old Shoreditch Station on Kingsland Road in London is bustling with friends, family and press to celebrate the launch of 'It Started With A Parable' Yinka Ilori's first solo show, and a chance to celebrate our collaboration, and more importantly to showcase Yinka's unique furniture designs.
Set against the back-drop of the ultimate recycled building, The Old Shoreditch Station was brought back to life by its owners JaguarShoes Collective using a mish-mash of re-used furniture and fittings, and is now a thriving bar, cafe and shop in the heart of East London.
Yinka's pieces now adorn the windows, ceilings and walls in an explosion of colour and sculptural shapes.

Staying true to our company ethos of supporting, promoting and nurturing new designers, we feel we have achieved our goal, and in his speech on Thursday evening, Yinka feels he has achieved his too, our job here is done!

'It Started With A Parable' runs from 12th September to 24th November 
at The Old Shoreditch Station, 1 Kingsland Rd  London, E2 8AA

See the full photo album via our Facebook Page
All pieces are available to buy from
The Old Shoreditch Station now
and via Look Like Love in the next few weeks...

Look Like Love collaborates with designer Yinka Ilori…

'It Started With A Parable' A solo installation at The Old Shoreditch Station 
12th September to 24th November 2013
 
During the 6-week exhibition, coinciding with London Design Festival and in his first presentation of new work since Milan Design Week, Yinka Ilori adds pieces to his collection by using a combination of vintage modernist furniture and traditional stories from his childhood, creating one-off pieces inspired by traditional Nigerian parables and story-telling, creating meaningful yet humorous furniture designs.
Yinka will be at The Old Shoreditch Station for live up-cycling sessions, using pieces donated by Jaguar Shoes and vintage modernist furniture from across East London, working in all three spaces, the building itself having been renovated and up-cycled by its owners JaguarShoes Collective.
 
“This is a pivotal moment for Yinka who is stepping out of the guise of graduate designer to become an emerging talent. He has already showcased his work at the ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) in New York, and was selected to exhibit at Talents at Ambiente in Frankfurt, so the opportunity to feature alongside some of the world’s finest designers as part of London Design Festival adds to the excitement, and we are honoured to be collaborating with him on his first solo outing.” - Look Like Love

'It Started With A Parable' runs from 12th September to 24th November at Old Shoreditch Station, 1 Kingsland Rd  London, E2 8AA

Look Like Love - Set up by Kate Brewer and Eden Asfaha in 2011 to support, promote and showcase new designers, Look Like Love have extended their reach beyond their blog and on-line shop, to work with designers on an individual basis to co-curate, in Ilori’s case, his first solo exhibition.
Yinka Ilori - Product & furniture designer with the future in mind, Yinka Ilori up-cycles and re-works old, unloved furniture to produce brand new interpretations. Yinka Ilori aims to challenge perceptions of waste through the regeneration and revitalisation of every-day furniture, where every piece deserves the chance to be loved again. Yinka Ilori has benefited hugely from the Prince’s Trust who supported him when he graduated, and without their assistance, he would not be the successful designer he is today.
JAGUARSHOES COLLECTIVE - constitutes a group of creatively motivated businesses and individuals working in art, film, fashion, music, publishing and design. We provide many platforms for creative talent; from exhibitions and events, to collaborative products and retail opportunities. We believe in, and aim to motivate positive change through creative output.
Our launch will take place on Thursday 12th September from 7pm and we'd love to see you there...

Walk Out On The Beach With Me…

Last weekend we took a trip down to Brighton, the sun was shining, it was jacket-free weather with the seafront bustling with people, local and from further a field soaking up the sea air, and to-date a rare glimpse of Summer.

A great weekend on its own, but we were there to support some close friends who were raising money for their beautiful daughter Rosa who was born with Cerebral Palsy just over two years ago.
The aim was to be able to take her to the private clinic in London, The Bobath Centre. The centre specialises in working with children with various degrees of the illness and works with one-on-one therapy focusing on mobility and speech.

We were honoured to be be part of their fundraiser entitled 'Walk out on the beach with me', and with the generosity of our designers, CM Carter, Jessie G, Roisin Connolly and Natalie Hough, we had some amazing donations too.

The evening was a combination of a silent auction, live auction and raffle, with some incredible pieces on offer from artists including Tom Hammick and Dom McGill, as well as local contributions from Karen Potter and Ta King.

And what a response, from the top floor of The Mesmerist Bar in the heart of Brighton, the crowd did not disappoint with bids coming thick and fast for all the pieces on offer. The buzz from the auction certainly didn't stop there with the silent auction equally as competitive. Bids and counter-bids were placed up until the last minute, with eager bidders lingering around the works they really wanted, to stop anyone from putting in a cheeky offer in the final seconds!

Any disappointment was short-lived as the raffle had plenty of amazing pieces up for grabs, from the classic bottle of champagne and spa treatments to autographed cards from One Direction!

The final figure raised on the night is still being totalled up, but early predictions show they have doubled the original figure they were hoping for.

It was an emotional and overwhelming evening for Rosa's parents Alice and Will, and a fantastic show of kindness and generosity from friends and family who came from near and far to show their love and support for their little girl...

 

Vogue Festival…

We always try and find inspiration wherever we go, so this weekend we headed to the rather glam Vogue Festival, this year hosted at the Southbank Centre in London. Our intention, to hear from one of the best designers from our very own shores, Paul Smith.

Not adversed to public speaking, the talk itself began with a snippet of creative advice, as many of the audience members were students. He spoke enthusiastically about inspiration, and how it can be found in anything and everything if you, '...look and see...'

Such simple advice, but with the sheer bombardment of images, sounds, sights and smells we are exposed to on a daily basis, it's easy to forget to take that important step back, edit, appreciate and feel genuinely inspired.
Picture Credit: Darren Gerrish

In conversation with Paul Smith was fashion favourite, Vogue contributing editor, (and cover girl) Alexa Chung. The chit-chat was light-hearted rather than a fact-finding interview, but the content was no less interesting for it. In fact their genuine rapport just added to the relaxed feel and flow as they conversed.

With a career that has spanned over 30 years, Paul Smith shows no sign of slowing down, as the passion for his craft still sees him at his desk at 6am everyday after an early morning swim. And he likes to keep things simple, no computer and no email, ('...just 145 assistants!') to keep him informed of what he needs to know.

Picture Credit: Darren Gerrish

A life-long photographer, it was amazing to discover he shoots all his own campaigns to this day. He could be perceived as a control freak with such a contribution, but he genuinely doesn't come across that way at all, it's all down to the love of it, the passion, and the fact that anything less than 100% just isn't enough. He also spoke candidly about the fact there are far too many designers out there these days, and it's about finding that point of difference, and striving to be at least one step ahead.

We left feeling that little bit more motivated, and more positive that as long as you have passion at the heart of your creative endeavours, anything is possible...