Month: January, 2012

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.

 

Crash candles: aromatic art

Top row: designs by Angela Adams; bottom row: designs by Lotta Jansdotter

I just wrote about Crash Candles for Dalani and think they are a great idea – even if the name is a little unnerving.

Set up in 2005 in Illinois to support emerging graphic artists, they create delicious soy candles in beautiful glass tumblers which feature exclusive designs by a handpicked selection of represented talent. Each fragrance is developed to complement the design that contains it; and after burning you can keep the tumblers and enjoy their pretty designs for years to come.

You can buy them via Crash here, or keep an eye out for an upcoming sale at Dalani, where you can snap them up for less.

 

I Like It Here

 

In the ravenous and fast-moving consumer times that we live in (I am no angel I can assure you), I am always keen to promote designers and boutiques that give design-led shoppers the chance to purchase homewares that are both stylish and ethically responsible; both factors being of equal importance.

Only recently has the gap between style and responsibility started to really close in the interiors world, and no one illustrates its progress better than the lovely Hanna Jaaskelainen, who recently set up a new online boutique called I Like It Here. She got in touch to tell me about the project and I think it is great. In fact I have been online all day coveting pretty much everything in stock – from rugs to handbags and necklaces you didn’t even know you needed.

Offering carefully curated home and fashion accessories from Kathmandu, Stoke-on-Trent and Brooklyn, I Like It Here is a sophisticated, eclectic and colourful online shop that appeals to nomads and glamazons alike. Sourcing its products from three very distinct yet specialised locations, its stock is a cut above your usual socially responsible offering and is blazing a trail for a new generation of directly sourced artisanal goods that are as stylish – if not more so – than their mass-produced counterparts.

I asked Hanna about the inspiration behind the store and its signature style:

How did the concept for the boutique come about?

I wanted to reflect my mixed background, feeling like a slight outside observer wherever I have lived. It is rooted in my travelling a lot and experiencing different cultures, and my constant search for good design – from the smallest of objects to the grandest of furniture.

How did you settle on your three chosen locations?

The three locations were my starting point to show consumers that a small, ethically-minded luxe boutique can source products globally and intelligently. The idea is to bring one world and its crafts, materials and traditions into one lifestyle store.

I chose Brooklyn because I travel to New York for inspiration, and on a sabbatical struck upon the amazing Etwas bags we now sell; Stoke-on-Trent because I was attracted to the heritage of the area and strongly feel it’s about time to make these neglected UK towns fashionable again, and I wanted to help represent the best of British craft-manufacturing.

And with Kathmandu, I had an opportunity with my recent travels to meet some amazing people and visit the social enterprise projects they are involved in – in the factories and studios I saw first-hand how the handicrafts are created by women’s enterprises – like the colourful woven pouches.

 

Do you think consumers are becoming more aware of the origins of their purchases?

Absolutely. The emotional connection with the shopping is so important: the origins, how it’s made, who made it and the whole story behind the purchase, small or large. Many high street shops celebrate their eco-ranges of Fair Trade cotton, for example, but how far this socially responsible attitude goes is ambiguous. With I Like It Here I wanted to set out from the start with an open policy about the products sold.

What do you look for when you buy something?

First comes emotion: what do I sense when I see something? And then the practical aspects of the purchase: ideally it’s ethically made, and in general quality is important. I’d rather buy less, but get good value from the purchases I make.

The boutique reflects my personal taste at the moment; all items are chosen by me and I would not sell an item I wouldn’t have bought myself.

What is most important to you?

Finding happiness and that people close to you are safe; living intelligently and responsibly without forgetting to have fun.

What are you currently reading?

Isprinsessan by Camilla Lackberg (translated it’s Ice Princess) – a Swedish Crime Detective novel.

Where is your favourite place?

It varies. You can’t beat Helsinki in August or Zanzibar in January, Portland Oregon in May… and funnily enough I quite like international airports.

 

You can visit the bouqtiue here.

People we’re loving: ConiLab

While away over New year, I was contacted by Barcelona-based graphic designer Coni Della Vedova (aka ConiLab) and think her covetable prints are the perfect way to kick off 2012.

Initially hailing from Buenos Aires, where she studied graphic design, Coni specialises in handmade silkscreen prints with positive catchy slogans that very much speak for themselves. Snap one up now and start the year off as you mean to go on.

 

 

 

 

You can find her prints on Etsy here.