Time out

I know I have not been the most productive blogger of late, and it is because I have been somewhat tied up with my new street food project, converting and setting up a vintage dumpling and salad truck.

The van, a 1948 Ford pickup, is almost finished, and we will trade in weekdays on Leather Lane in London in a couple of weeks.

All of which means that for about a month I will not be posting on nestify while I get things up and running. I will miss spending my days poring over cushions and lanterns and sharing what I find, but duty calls. I will however be blogging about the highs and the lows of van life, and all the experiences the summer brings, on our new website, www.rainbofood.com.

See you soon.

Regal treats from Thornback and Peel

 

Notebooks in Pigeon and Flag or Flag, £6.95 for a set of two or £3.95 each

I am not usually one to go crazy over Britannia-themed designs. Too many Union Jacks, endless Jubilee hype and embarrassing Olympics products and branding make it hard to get really excited about patriotic products on the whole.

Thornback and Peel, however, have risen to the looming Jubilee occasion with a charming and quirky selection of designs that go above and beyond your usual red, white and blue fanfare.Their recently unveiled Jubilee range is fun, elegant and understated – their signature pigeon making many a guest appearance along a less exposed but equally loved royal corgi:

Apron in Corgi, £22.50

Hanky Box Sets, in Corgi and Flag or Pigeon on Bowler Hat and Flag, £15.50

Tea Towels in Crown, Corgi, Flag and Pigeon on Bowler Hat, £21.95 for a set of two or £11.95 each

 

…If they can make jelly and cabbage look glamorous, they can do pretty much anything.

Five minutes with Gudrun Sjödén

Last night I went to the launch of bohemian Swedish design guru Gudrun Sjödén’s UK flagship store on Monmouth Street in Covent Garden. I have long been a fan of her colourful floral patterns and laid back Scandi style and I was particularly excited to see how they translated into a standalone store.

As soon as I walked in, the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden seemed miles away (and this alone is reason enough to pop by and check it out): bright greens, warm pinks, deep crimsons and Jodhpur blues all jostled from every wall and surface in a whirlwind of prints and textures, and I loved it.

From Gudrun’s S/S 2012  lookbook

While fashion remains Gudrun’s mainstay, the interiors line is hot on its heels. Brimming with Indian-inspired florals, warm overdyed shades and soft, thick organic cotton, it is perfect for creating a warm, eclectic, summertime feel, with flowered cushions, soft patterned bolsters, colourful lampshades and lovely thick table linen at the core of the collection. “I like to use the same colourways in the clothes and the homewares because it is about more than just individual pieces – it is about a lifestyle”, says Gudrun. “You wear a certain style of clothing, and you decorate your home the same way.”

And the results are pretty yet versatile, with quilted covers and brightly woven dhurries that delicately complement a colourful dress or scarf creating a complete little world in which you can escape to the bohemian dream. Conveniently, you can also buy her fabrics in the store by the metre, so you can tailor them to your own designs at home.

The flagship store

With her floral and folk-inspired designs clearly rooted in nature, Gudrun is known for having championed organic cotton and natural fabrics ahead of the curve. “We print most of our fabrics in India, and all our dhurries are woven by hand in Rajasthan. Where we do not use organic cotton, we use man-made natural fibres, including silk, bamboo, viscose etc. People are still focusing on buying things at a cheap price but I think we are slowly realising that it is better to have fewer things that are made sustainably and which support traditional artisan methods. I think it is more important than ever to keep these crafts alive, and we currently work with a design school in Gujarat to this end”.

In the same vein, the furniture in the store has all been upcycled, and Gudrun and her team have painted and revamped every piece themselves. Big baskets full of flowers perch on top of pastel coloured chests and cabinets, and they have even let the creative juices flow on the concrete floor, which is replete with flowers and swirls and folksy motifs.

The flagship store

On her site, you can see some of Gudrun’s sketches that inspire her designs (she paints every morning at 7am and will stop at nothing). It is well worth a visit, and the store is as pretty and homey as any I have seen.

Top 5 water bottles

For months I have been refilling the same old Evian water bottle. But today I decided, for three reasons, that it is time to invest in a proper aluminium one. Firstly, I have finally fallen prey to fears of BPA and its harmful effects; secondly, I want to reuse where I can; and thirdly – and most excitingly – I want to sip from something beautiful while I do so. With so many fun designs around I thought I would share my top five: I was tempted by Celia Birtwell but in the end I have gone for Gaiam – I always love their products and know they have been responsibly produced. Happy hydration is just a delivery away…

Anemone water bottle, £8.95, by V&A

Silver damask water bottle, £8, by Gaiam

Thoughtful Gardener water bottle, £9.95, by Wild & Wolf

Folk print water bottle, £13.95 (with carry case),  by Wild & Wolf

    

Floral water bottle, £9.95, by Celia Birtwell

The sweet life

Greenwich

I recently came across these quirky little Sweet View sketches of London boroughs by London-based artist Jack Noel and was struck by how colourful and lively they made the city seem. In these grey end-of-winter days, when we are all longing for more colour and warmth, they seem to instantly uplift and brighten the London horizon.

Kensington and Chelsea

Hackney

Camden

Southwark

Each image is printed in a run of 200 and comes framed and signed by the artist himself for £28. Pick your favourite borough and see the Big Smoke in a new and shiny light.

Glorious graphics by Holli Zollinger

As I was recently given a sewing machine by my mum (my first, and I am very excited), I have been scouting out rare and wonderful fabrics with which to plan my dream textile creations. Amid lovely new offerings from Liberty and others, I stumbled upon these striking patterns by US artist and graphic designer Holli Zollinger and fell immediately in love. If her name alone does not seduce you, her beautiful patterns definitely will. Big, bold and tribal, they are a calming and welcome antidote to this season’s busy graphic prints.

You can buy them on her website, along with other prints and designs. She also has a lovely blog where she showcases new designs and irresistibly sweet photos of her little boy.

 

Drop scones not bombs

UK designer Stuart Gardiner‘s enchanting prints have already been snapped up by the likes of Liberty and Selfridges. Colourful, quirky and thoughtful, they are all you need for a cheery, chirpy kitchen. He is most famed for his Seasonal Guide tea towels, which range from wild food and garden flowers to seafood and sustainable provender, but his cheeky love / hate oven mitts and eloquent ‘drop scones not bombs’ tote are fast blazing their own design trail.

He uses organic materials wherever possible and everything is produced on-site in East London. Doing the drying up has never been so fun – nor so informative.

stuartgardiner.co.uk

The Blackout Studio

My friend Emma’s brother Tom Lakeman, who aptly writes a blog called EMMASBROTHER and runs conceptual still life platform The Blackout Studio, creates breathtaking art from small, humble and inspired beginnings: the good old fashioned gobstopper. I always thought they were pretty cool as sweets go, but I never knew they could look so good:

 

As grey skies hang horribly low, and summer seems a world away, we could all do with a happy hit of colour while we wind our way through February – and this hits the spot perfectly.

In an inspired move, he has also branched into ribbons and the results are equally as beautiful:

I would love to be able to tell you a little more about him, but he is a mysterious character, whose About section says only this:

AN ART DECORATOR

EATS MEAT

CAN BREATHE UNDERWATER

LIVES IN LONDON

As for the rest: you will have to find out yourselves.

TheBlackoutStudio.com

 

A lamp to love

Rhino lamp, £99, Graham & Green

The Organic Farm Shop

I have long been on the hunt for some pretty block printed bedlinen that doesn’t cost the earth or look like I spent too long travelling in India. There is a happy medium, and I have finally found it – courtesy of The Organic Farm Shop.

I always like it when searching for something specific leads you to a bigger picture that is a thousand times more exciting, and this farm / workshop / B&B / textile store does just that. Run by Will and Hilary Chester-Master since 1990, the farm has always been organic and environmentally sustainable and sits alongside a garden, a shop and a cafe as well as a cute little shepherd’s hut and yurt where adventure seekers can hole up for the night.

Often visited by schools and keen green fingered souls, it is a brilliant and inspiring example of a sustainable organic community. And if you are unable to visit yourself, the veggie progress and happenings are wonderfully recounted on the Veg Garden blog, while on the news pages you can find info on special goings-on such as a weekly documentary night at the farm, updates on produce and planning, updated menus and info on new courses. (You can choose from textile workshops, green woodworking, cheese making, willow courses or cookery workshops and all can be incorporated into a camping holiday on site).

Which brings us nicely on to the textiles: beautifully printed cottons in perfectly blended colours, made from organically grown cotton. It is sourced by Hilary in India, who has set up a small workshop in Rajasthan which has been managed by the same two hand block printers for the last 21 years. Their pretty range of table cloths, duvet covers, quilts, handkerchiefs and sponge bags all feature traditional Rajasthani prints without being garish or over the top. And at such honest prices you would be mad not to snap them up.

Hilary says, ‘Our family has used these duvet covers for over 20 years now, and we are just starting our third set. They do fade, but the cotton is strong and very very soft. Once you have experienced sleeping under it, you might not want to sleep under anything else.’

I am all for some weathered, faded charm, and currently debating between designs. I think the best bet is to plan a visit so I can take in the whole Organic Farm Shop experience in all its colourful glory.