Monday, 15 December 2014

Giovanni Battista Moroni

Went the other day to the Moroni exhibition at the Royal Academy. I was very drawn to the intimacy of the smaller portraits. My favourites were the ones with simplest clothes and settings - where there was nothing to distract you from the direct gaze of the subject. This one, with a monk just turning and catching your eye was really beautiful.

I also really loved sense of calm and contemplation in the portrait above. The faces are so honest and immediate.

And the one of the man with the red beard made me smile - he would not look out of place on Broadway Market on a Saturday morning. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Orange and Grey

It is always really interesting seeing how our upholstery fabrics are used. Over the past few months we have had a run on the Belmont and Totley fabrics from our Aerial range - both designs are in the hot orange with black and white marl. 

Here are a few of the projects:

Above is a pair of Ercol Windsor chairs in the Belmont fabric used on the A side. They are by 'Be Seated' in Edinburgh. I really like the dark frames and the little pop of the orange side in the buttons. 

This pair of chairs, re-upholstered in the Totley A-side and the Bilsdale A-side are original CC41 utility chairs. I love the playful curve of the arms - it is so interesting how the parameters governing the use of materials in the utility scheme led to some really thoughtful, clean, pared-back design.

The dark-wood Ercol two-seater below was re-upholstered in the Totley by Mick Sheridan. I really like the hot orange against the dark wood and the single large seat cushion.

And finally the pair of 'Mabel' Danish midcentury chairs below by Pelikan . One chair is covered in the A-side side of the Belmont fabric and its pair in the B-side.

The detailing on the arms is wonderful - and it is such a nice example of the scope of the fabric for reversibility.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Shipping and Packing

We do all of our packing and shipping from here in the studio. After each blanket or cushion is sewn, checked and labelled it is ready to ship.

We use good sturdy cardboard boxes to ship as the blankets are sent all over the world and they need to arrive ship-shape. At busy times of the year we have many shipments going out each week  - so that is a lot of cardboard and a couple of kilometres of parcel tape!

For our internet orders we pack each piece in brown paper from Paperback Papers - a London based employee-owned cooperative specializing in recycled paper and board. We really like our embossed day-glo stickers which make a lovely contrast to the brown paper. It's very much the Julie Andrews / Sound of Music approach to packing.

In the Press

We were very pleased to have our Signal blanket included in Matthew Morris's Wallpaper feature 'Learning Curve' this month...

... and equally delighted have it included in the Icon magazine's 'British Design Report' for 2014

... very pleased too to be featured in the second edition of Modern Rustics with a nice piece by Caroline Atkins.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

English Magic

We were in Margate last week, visiting the Turner Contemporary Gallery. Wonderful exhibition of Jeremy Deller's Venice Biennale show 'English Magic'. I loved the film which formed part of the exhibition - with an amazing soundtrack of Vaughan Williams, David Bowie and A Guy Called Gerald played by the Melodians Steel orchestra. 

I also really liked the huge murals. The one above called 'A Good Day for Cyclists' of a hen harrier with a range rover in its claws was painted by Sarah Tynan.

Also rather taken with Arlington House - a striking piece of 1960's brutalism by Russell Diplock Architects. The block is set just back from the sea front, overlooking the beach. It seems quite unexpected among the Victorian seaside architecture and 'kiss me quick' arcades - and all the better for the juxtaposition. I like all the angles and facets - although I imagine it must feel pretty wind-swept up on the eighteenth floor.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Holborn Library

I love this pattern on the facade of Holborn Library - I have walked past it hundreds of times and taken lots of photos of it over the years... But yesterday was the first time I had seen the interior of the building.

The library, which opened in 1960, was built by the Holborn Borough Council Architects department under the direction of Sydney Cook. The architectural design is attributed to Cook's deputy Ernest Ives and assistants I D Aylot and E L Ansell, who worked closely with the Holborn Borough Librarian J Swift.

There is much more detail about the design and architecture of the library on the Twentieth Century Society Website 

Last weekend the building was open specially for an Artangel installation by Brazilian artist Jose Damasceno. The work is called Plot and is made up of a number of different interventions through the building, the most prominent being this streetscape of 1970's Letraset architectural figures installed on the ceiling of the double height space. It works well in the space, and I liked all the monochrome bit-map shading and patterns on the silhouettes.

Perhaps even more exciting for me was all the original 1950's detailing throughout the building. I particularly liked this mosaic in the stairwell with the distorted hexagon forms echoing the facade on the front of the building.

I love that pop of yellow against all the soft greys and greens and lavenders.

There are lots of intact details throughout the building - including this lettering worked on the doorplates. It feels as though the design was really well thought through - right down to the last detail.

Even the back stairs have a lovely grand feeling with the use of warm wood for the banisters and the paneling at the return of the stairs banisters juxtaposed against a cladding of formica on the side walls.

This is a detail of the formica paneling - I love the way that pattern was integrated into the surfaces and materials of the building.

And I have to say that I can't resist a bit of library paraphernalia. Here is a lovely card index in the Local Studies Archive room, and below a random collection of drawing pins in an old unused notice board.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Trunk blankets - post script

We have had a set of swing tags specially made for our Trunk Marker and Signal blankets. Elliott from Victory Press has just dropped them round - and I must say they look wonderful.

They are printed in copper foil on a beautiful light grey textured board. Now they just need stringing with linen yarn. 

The Trunk blankets and our Loop Furniture collaboration with Sfera are featured in the Trunk LABS window for the London Design Festival - please see details here.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Trunk Blankets

This year we were asked by Trunk to develop a pair of exclusive blankets for their Marylebone homewares store. We have sold through Trunk for a year or so and we like their philosophy and approach. It has been a pleasure working with them on this project.

The Trunk Signal blanket is in a dark speckled grey with a copper line running through it. Its pair - the Trunk Marker is in a soft silver grey speckle with the copper accent appearing as a detail along the top and bottom edges. They are a handsome pair and sit together very well.

We will be launching the Trunk blankets at their homewares and accessories store in Chiltern Street during London Design Festival - for details please see our listing here .

We are delighted that we also have an opportunity to showcase our collaboration with Sfera at Trunk during the Design Festival. We will be showing two pieces from the Loop series which were first previewed in Milan in April 2014. The pieces will sit in the window of Trunk Labs for the week from 13-21 September 2014. The shop is at 34 Chiltern Street, London W1U 7QH.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Whitstable Harbour

Just back from a few days in Whitstable. I love the Ladybird Book feel of the harbour - all those clean shapes and colours. It is a very special place - just on the right side of precious thanks to the asphalt works on the harbour.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Sounds of the Working Day

With the weather being so hot this week we have had all the studio windows wide open. We have wonderful views - on the far horizon we look out to the Greenwich Observatory in the East; over to the Cutty Sark and the Naval College in the North East; and around to the towers of Canary Wharf in the North. 

In the nearer distance we see the train and the DLR lines, the Laban Dance Centre and of course Deptford Creek with the beautiful lifting bridge which sits on the Ha'penny hatch between Creekside and Norman Road. So much of the history of Deptford is tied up with the Creek - it was an important Royal shipyard from the 16th to the 19th Centuries and the water must have been full of ships and barges coming and going. Although there are no docks left on the water now, the tidal Creek still has a strong presence and there are odd buildings that point to this history - like this old warehouse across the water with its bubblegum pink door. Gravel barges still unload at a permanent crane on the bridge on Evelyn Street, and the cries of the seagulls remind you that we are just a stone's throw from the Thames on its way out to the sea. 

One of the things I love about working here with all the windows open is all the sounds of activity - the trains coming and going; the saws in the timber yard just across the Creek; the trucks in our neighbouring yards loading and unloading; and far away the sound of planes taking off from City Airport mixing with the gulls. They are noises which if we were at a closer distance would be grating and distracting, but at an arms length create a wonderful productive sense of the the world at work. When we have the loom or the cone winder or the blanket stitch machine going I like to think that we are adding to this pleasing gentle hubbub of activity. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Victory Patterns

Over the last year we have been working closely with Victory Press on all of our graphic print content. Near neighbours of ours in Deptford, they are a small dynamic graphic design and print studio and have been instrumental in the way we present ourselves on paper - they have really upped our game.

One of the things that Victory Press has developed for us is a series of patterns abstracted from the lifting plans or notation we use to plan our weave structures. It is amazing to me that they have taken something so seemingly hum drum as our weave notes and transformed them into such a lovely series of decorative patterns.

The patterns have become a leitmotif which we use across our graphic output - from postcards and pricelists through to packaging. Here they are used on the end papers of a little notebook Victory Press made for us last Christmas. 

A lot of the in-house printing the Victory Press do is on a Risograph press. Looking a bit like an old fashioned photocopier, Riso printing has a lovely quality  '...somewhere between screen print and offset lithography but with a unique aesthetic...'

The image above is of the colour swatches for the different Risograph inks. The intensity of the colour can vary from dense to quite washed out. These basic colours make up the palette for Riso printing - they are overlaid to mix tones resulting in beautiful analogue pixellated effects. Each colour is carried in a cartridge, and multi-coloured prints are run through the Risograph again to build up each additional layer.

Perhaps for me though, the greatest revelation of the last year though has been learning and understanding a little more about paper. It is no surprise to me that the world of paper is just as complex and varied as that of yarns, and Victory Press have really opened our eyes to the infinite subtleties and possibilities.

All images - Kangan Arora

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Architectural details

Walking through Crystal Palace park the other day and came across the beautiful stadium. It was built in 1977 for the Commonwealth Games - perfect elegant functional modernism.

Also stumbled across this beautiful tiled porch on a block of flats in Hackney. I love ceramic relief tiling - I especially like the way that as the tiles get dustier and dirtier the relief pattern stands out more sharply - perhaps they appeal to my more slovenly nature...