May-Design-Series

& Tradtion / Bethan Gray

Unable to make any international trade shows this year because of my pregnancy [I am seething with jealousy over my Instagram feed from Milan Design Week right now] I have been looking for any opportunity for design inspiration closer to home.

Back for its second year, May Design Series is a new design show which aims to tie up the European show cycle with exciting new design products, spark conversations, inspire and inject a little bit of fun into the trade show experience

Held in the Excel Centre in London, this year the trade show is comprised of five design districts: The Furniture Show, Lighting, Decor, DX [Design Excellence] and Kitchen + Bathroom.

Having missed out on the action at Milan Design Week, the show still promises appearances from the cream of the crop. Among those debuting new collections are young Danish company & Tradition, iconic British designer Bethan Gray, Italian furniture company Casamania, innovative wallpaper brand Cole and Son, exciting new rug company Front and award winning British furniture brand James UK.

Inspiring talks will be held throughout the event, like - Interior Trends: Enduring or Fads, chaired by Carole King and Arianna Trapani, co-editors of Heart Home Magazine and interior stylist Pippa Jameson, 20 Things You Didn’t Learn in Design School lead by Architect, interior designer and, most recently, TV presenter Daniel Hopwood and Spaces at Work, dissecting the future of workplace design.

The May Design Series will take place from 18th – 20th May at London’s ExCeL exhibition centre. Entry is free – Register here.

This was a Sponsored Post.

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Casamania / Cole and Son / Front/ James UK

PBN

Swiftly becoming a highlight in my yearly calendar, last week I attended the 4th annual Penguin Bloggers Night. Held as usual on the lofty top floor of Foyles Bookstore in Charing Cross, the evening serves as a showcase of the publisher’s key books for that year with a programme of notable authors reading excerpts from them.

Aside from tables piled with delectable books and Penguin totes to greedily fill, the night is a great chance to talk to favourite authors and for me to discover books that are out of my comfort zone – i.e not historical fiction or sinister gothic tales.

I also love the pianist who has become a staple at the events who intros each reading with a catchy theme tune – my favourite was the intro for Elizabeth Fremantle’s new historical book ‘Sisters of Treason’ she walked on to Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ – naturally. Sheer brilliance.

Here are some of the books and readings from the night that caught my eye and ears.

ElizabethIsMissing

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healy

A mesmerising reading and no doubt multi-layered debut novel by young and talented author Emma Healy - Maud, an ageing grandmother, is slowly losing her memory-and her grip on everyday life.

Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger. But no one will listen to Maud-not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend. Publication Date, June 2014

NinaStibbs

Man At The Helm by Nina Stibbe

This reading had everyone in stitches… nostalgic and funny, Man At The Helm follows a divorced mother and her children, including nine-year-old Lizzie, in the 1970s as they move to a village in the English countryside. All alone and shunned by the villagers, Lizzie’s mother becomes a drunk and a playwright. Worried about becoming wards of court, Lizzie and her sister decide to write letters to the suitable men in the area in order to find a man at the helm for their mother.

After reading up more about this author, none of whose books I had heard of before – I stumbled onto her much acclaimed biographical book published earlier this year Love, Nina: Dispatches from Family Life which sounded equally hilarious. Then I realised I hardly ever, in fact ever, read funny books. I have resolved to begin. Publication Date, August 2014

Everland

Everland, Rebecca Hunt

Two groups, almost a hundred years apart, find themselves on the same desolate Antarctic island in this tense and compelling novel.

1913: Dinners, Millet-Bass, and Napps – three men bound not by friendship, but by an intense dependence founded on survival – will be immortalised by their decision to volunteer to scout out a series of uncharted and unknown islands in the Antarctic, a big, indifferent kingdom.

2013: Brix, Jess, and Decker – three researchers with their own reasons for being far from home – set out on a field trip to the same ancient lumps of rock and snow, home to nothing but colonies of penguins and seals.

Under the harsh ultraviolet light, as all colours bleach out, and the world of simple everyday pleasures recedes, they unknowingly begin to mirror the expedition of 100 years ago. Publication Date, March 2014

SistersofTreason

Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Fremantle

A delicious Tudor drama [with an amazing theme tune] Sister’s of Treason is a gripping tale about  two sisters who tread as dangerously close to the crown as their tragic sister, Lady Jane Grey, executed after just nine days on the throne.

When Lady Jane Grey is executed by her cousin Mary Tudor, it is court painter Levina Teerlinc who  helps Jane’s young sisters, Mary and Catherine,  survive the Queen’s reign. But when the hot-headed  Elizabeth inherits the crown, court life becomes  increasingly treacherous for the Grey girls . . . Publication Date, May 2014

A few other books on the table published last year or earlier this year which caught my eye…

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Em and the Big Hoom, Jerry Pinto. In a tiny flat in Bombay Imelda Mendes – Em to her children – holds her family in thrall with her flamboyance, her manic affection and her cruel candour. Her husband – ‘The Big Hoom’ – and her two children must bear her ‘microweathers’, her swings from laugh-out-loud joy to dark malevolence, and her frequent wish to die.

The Violet Hour, Katherine Hill . A love story that begins with the end of a marriage, The Violet Hour follows a 21st century American family through past and present, from a lavish New York wedding to the family funeral home in suburban Washington, from a drunken PTA party to a scene of unexpected public violence.

The Strangler Vine, M.J. Carter Calcutta 1837. The East India Company rules India – or most of it; and its most notorious and celebrated son, Xavier Mountstuart, has gone missing. William Avery, a down-at-heel junior officer in the Company’s army, is sent to find him, in the unlikely company of the enigmatic and uncouth Jeremiah Blake. A more mismatched duo couldn’t be imagined, but they must bury their differences as they are caught up in a search that turns up too many unanswered questions and seems bound to end in failure.

On Monday I visited London’s first design show of the year HOME London, which after being launched in 2012 is steadily making it’s way to being the definitive venue for homeware brands to showcase their wares in the UK. It’s a good chance to catch some the international brands that will show at Maison and Milan like Marimekko and Ferm Living but also explore out smaller independent makers from the UK.

Here are some of my highlights…

The print-work of Fanny Shorter caught my eye, influenced by her childhood  of English holidays, frequents visits to the V&A, the Natural History Museum and National Trust properties –  her work is a striking contemporary take on vintage English patterns.

Fanny-Shorter

Ceramist Sue Ure, presented a collection of beautiful pastel ceramics in chunky and modern silhouettes interspersed with highlights of black. I loved the delicate imperfections of the glaze and the gentle gradients of colour. Especially attractive were the sugar jars and pourers with stick handles on the lids finished with coloured dot details!

Sue-Ure-Ceramics
Continue Reading…

Renegade

This weekend the Renegade Craft Fair came to East London. A curated indie-craft marketplace showcasing the brightest talents in contemporary craft and design it has counterparts in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago and San Francisco.

Despite a very wet weekend, droves of shoppers browsed the cheery halls of the Truman Brewery. Here were some of my favourites.

I Am Acrylic are a Spitalfields based duo who make colourful and imaginative brooches and necklaces out of acrylic. Painstakingly hand cut so each piece is unique, designs feature cute abstract landscapes, cheeseboard brooches and cactus necklaces.

I-Am-Acrylic

I fell in love with the talented illustrator Kaye Blevgard’s curious ceramic pieces. Beautiful torsos of women, handcrafted regal cats and dishes in the shape of hands etched with delicate markings littered her stand.

KayBlegvad

Super cute wares from OhOhRachio.

Ohnorachio

Precious things out of simple materials – bone china jewellery crafted in the shape of diamonds and facets by Moko.

Moko

Another beautiful alter ego of the amazing Kaye Blevgard was Datter Industries  - a collection of ethereal narrative jewellery.

Datter-Industries

Candy coloured ceramic brooches, rings and faceted boulder brooches by Made by Me Me Me – sugary perfection!

MeMeMe

Unusual geometric and collage vases and tableware by Laura Lane 

Laura-Lane

Literally my best find of the day was Eclectic Eccentricity [and i'm not even a jewellery person]  - specialising in re-imagining vintage components – this imaginative brand adorns jewellery with striding dinosaurs, shooting rockets, and mythical trees bedecked with precious stones. LOVE.

Eccentricity

WH

Last Friday, a spectacular new launch kicked off London Design Festival that gave everyone the feeling of the iconic design weeks of yesteryear where brands pulled out all the stops. A collaboration with between prolific Danish design brand HAY and London-based designer Sebastian Wrong, showcased furniture, accessories, textiles and lighting in a beautiful London townhouse.

The elegant and playful designs sat alongside 18th Century tapestries and busts, each one illuminating the other. The collection was spectacular and had everyone buzzing as they left.

WrogandHay3 WrogandHay2 WrogandHay

What really set the tone of the launch for me was an additional venue we were ushered a few doors along to – a beautiful pop-up restaurant by Peckham Refreshment Rooms inside a Westminster townhouse. The pop-up serves as a showcase for both the new collection which you drink, sit and dine on – and the very cool south London eatery which specialises in simple and delicious charcuterie, cheeses and hearty French and Italian inspired dishes – alongside good wines, beers and cocktails.

The food was fresh and innovative and it was such a unique experience to be able to use the exciting new products inside such an amazing venue. The whole experience was beautifully executed. I would thoroughly recommend hotfooting it down during design week, you won’t regret it!

WH Pop-Up Restaurant by Peckham Refreshment Rooms
14 – 22 September
34 Queent Anne’s Gate,
London SW1H 9AB

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