Cash vs. credit: oil burners

Grey evenings are upon us and there is no better time to indulge in aromatic oils – in the bath, by your bed, anywhere you like. Say no to the Ambi Pur revolution and enjoy a pretty burner instead.

Temple soapstone burner, £4.99, TheIncenseStore.com; terracota oil burner, £10, The Body Shop

 

A nice idea

I saw this on holiday in Italy and thought it was a lovely, simple idea – as the best things often are.

 

Handmade in Britain 2011

On the weekend I went along to the 2011 Handmade in Britain expo at London’s Chelsea Town Hall. I am ashamed to have only written it up now but time seems to have slipped away.

Organised by fashion and home accessories designer Piyush Suri, the fair started in 2007 with the aim of bringing together and promoting craftsmen from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There was a wonderful variety of crafts to explore including jewellery, ceramics, textiles, glassware, and paper sculptures – and the workmanship was second to none. With our purse strings firmly tightened, the only purchases made were from the lovely Namiko Murakoshi of NamNam ceramics, who I met at Artsmart and whose stall was irresistible with all its little faces:

 

 

Other designers that caught my eye:

Deryn Relph

 

Norman Yap Ceramics (also pictured at top)

Noa Ceramics

 

Lettie Belle

 

Rachel’s Wool

 

Original finds from Original House

German industrial trolleys, £210

Last week I went for supper at my friends’ house where I spotted a beautiful, robust and wonderfully worn out coffee table which was in fact just an old crate on wheels. But it was so solid and old and weathered, I couldn’t stop looking at it. I wondered all the way through supper how such a stylish number had ended up nestled between sound systems and granny’s cushions in their cosy, hotchpotch and rather boyish living room.

The answer: Original House, a furniture store founded in 2008 by Archie and Caddie Mackie which specialises original reclaimed pieces. Describing their style as “relaxed yet exciting” – as all good things should be – they scour Britian and beyond for one off pre-loved items and sell them online and through their showroom at Northleach, in the Cotswolds. Environmentally aware and disdainful of mass production, they know what they are doing and their pieces show it. Here are my current favourites:

1950s Tulip table by Eero Saarinen, from the QE2, £540

Portugese factory toolboxes, £110

Vintage Eastern European gym horses, £1200

Dutch enamelled industrial tables, £135

See more at OriginalHouse.co.uk

People we’re loving: Helen Rawlinson

Cushion cover, £22

My friend Ariadna, who knows more than anyone when it comes to alternative therapies in London and beyond, recently  pointed me in the direction of a wonderful wellbeing website and directory called The Baoli. Here, not only will you find a host of alternative and holistic therapies and practitioners, as well as a thriving online community of like-minded people offering up their latest alternative finds – you can also browse a carefully curated section devoted to living and the home. It is there that I recently discovered Helen Rawlinson’s sumptuous hand printed textiles – and they are worth shouting about.

Tea towels, £9 each

Large pendant shade, £69

Based in London, Helen screen prints all her textiles by hand in an old converted chocolate factory. She uses only water-based inks and unbleached organic cotton and has become best-known for her signature Moroccan tile print – simple, bright and boldly exotic. She also writes a lovely blog charting her life as a working mother and “how it all works”, and it is a breath of inspiration to mothers and creative minds alike.

 

Slim cushions, £28

Halloween trick or treat mini bag, £6.50

You can buy her collection at NotOnTheHighStreet.com, Etsy.com or through her blog.

Blue animals by Bitossi

As former director of iconic ceramcicists Bitossi, Aldo Londi designed these lovable Rimini Blu animals in the 1950s. They caught my eye the other day and my heart skipped a beat for each and every one – and there are over a dozen. With their dreamy blue hues and intricate textures they are hard not to love, nestled somewhere between cute Scandi folklore and high-end ceramic artefact. Prices range from £24.80 to £150, depending on your chosen animal, and they’re availabe to buy from SCP.com.

 

Guest post: Zoe rounds up the best little vases from the Origin craft fair

Design-fan-about-town Zoe extols the wistful virtues of a teeny tiny vase for autumn.

Shan Annabelle Valla

Two weekends ago, enjoyng the last of the summer, I visited the contemporary craft fair Origin in London’s Spitilfields market.

I was delighted, more than anything, by some little vases made especially for single flowers. Out of nowhere I was struck by the romantic image of picking wild flowers in the countryside and returning to a beauty table with a clothes brush, and a jewelry holder, and a tissue box, and other pretty little trinkets to rearrange. It struck me as something of a sadness that the days of the dressing table and all its feminine little treats are long gone – and summer maybe over but daydreams in the sunshine are not. So why not keep a little flower alive in its own delicate vase and brighten up days of cold and grey skies.

The vases which aided my imagination include: the beautifully paterned ceramic bud vases by Cynthia Vardhan; the elegant and minimalist Kishu vase by Maya Selway, who – by using cooper and silver – has appeared to create just the outline of a vase; the neat and geometrical metal vases from Niklas Ejve; and more porcelain delights from Shan Annabelle Valla.

Cynthia Varden

Maya Selway

Niklas Evje

Then I came across this image by Petra Collins from her album the female gaze, which reminded me of an eerie version of the look I had in mind.

Still – one of Cyhthia Vardhan or Shan Annabelle Valla’s vases wouldn’t go amiss.

 

Autumn at Burford

Last week I passed by Burford garden centre in Oxfordshire and couldn’t resist stopping for a quick coffee and retail runaround. I have only ever been there briefly, running in and out on busy Saturday mornings for compost with my sister who lives nearby, so I relished the chance to wander round in peace and quiet and check out their autumnal offering. With beautiful floral displays and endless, thoughtful ways to accessorise and personalise your home and garden / allotment / window boxes etc, it is the place to go if you need a hit of colour and inspiration.

My favourite find was a lovely range of furniture made from reclaimed Indonesian fishing boats, reincarnating weathered wood and bright pastel colours into simple yet beautiful tables, benches and cabinets.

There is also a lovely selection of colourful Persian kilim furniture – a jumble of wild and eccentric tapestries, chairs and sofas that plunge you into a colourful, chaotic bazaar.

I also spotted some little wooden teepees for kids which look very cute, as well as a ready-to-go shepherd’s hut (for just over £12k) complete with lighting, electrics and bright floral interior.

 

But I myself was frugal and only bought some tumbling ivy to fill my long-empty hanging pots.

For more information and their online store visit Burford.co.uk.

nestify for How To Spend It

I am happy to announce that my second column for How To Spend It has just gone up. It is about cool design things that you can also plant.

You can read it here.

 

 

Luardos: Mexicana kitsch reigns supreme

My friend Simon Luard, from Luardos Mexican street food, just had his Citroen H resprayed and it looks very cool: pink, sexy, and kitsch to the hilt.

You can hunt it down for yourself at markets around London. Specialising in his signature Baja Fish Tacos, it’s where you want to be. They’re delicious.

His other van, no less exciting but with a slightly more down-played Mexicana vibe, serves London’s yummiest burritos every weekday on Whitecross Street.

Go forth and gorge.