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.

 

3D floral wonders from the V&A

 

 

MDF has never looked so good.

From £25 – £100 from the V&A shop.

nestify meets Valeria Ruzzon, founder of Costa’s Barbers Casual Wear

London’s southern borough of Battersea may be overlooked as a destination for stylish and curious restaurants and cafes, but nestify’s resident design snoop Zoe thinks this is all the more reason to shout about and enjoy the places that flout this assumption…

Costa’s Barbers Casual Wear is one of these treasures, tucked away on 165 Battersea High Street, a little market street – a wonderful one-stop antiques-styling-props haven all under one roof. The vintage furniture, mainly from the 50s and 60s, is available to buy or loan for shoots, and with a cafe at the front where you can enjoy a cup of tea in true retro style, it is well worth a visit. (Particularly if, like us, you are experiencing a sudden wave of unexpected nostalgia after watching My Week With Marilyn).

We enjoyed a chat with owner Valeria Ruzzon to ask how it came about:

When did the shop open?

Costa’s Barbers Casual Wear opened in August 2009.  It’s based in the old barber’s shop on Battersea High Street. I fell in love with the 1950’s shop window and the red and white ghost sign, so I decided to keep the name – it’s as random as the eclectic collection in the shop.

The coffee shop gives people an opportunity to engage with the pieces without fearing a hard sell. Some sit quietly in a corner contemplating something specific, others simply love sipping coffee surrounded by wonderful, unusual things.

 What kind of products do you feature in the shop?

I am not fixated on a specific era, style or look. I buy things that I am drawn to here and there and slot them in together. I don’t try too hard to match – I find many interior retailers over-styled and contrived. Beautiful things find their own harmony and create their own stories.

I buy 50’s and 60’s pieces but only if they stand out. I find that a lot of mid-century furniture can be quite ugly, but because they are still such fashionable and culturally defining decades, everything is thrown in the mix.

(Saying that, I am addicted to Mad Men – the styling is breathtakingly good).

How did you come to open the shop?

After a long career in the city, I moved to project management in interior design for Monica Lupi, a great interior designer and antique dealer based in Florence.  Monica is a great friend and inspiration and she gave me the courage to go solo.  My style is a reflection of my personal, eclectic taste, all I know is what I like.

What is on your Christmas wishlist?

On my Christmas list this year is the perfect addition to Costa’s Barbers: a little four legged friend. And I promise, I won’t call it Costa.

Can you tell us anything fabulous (apart from Costas) about Battersea?

The best thing about Battersea is Battersea High Street, one of the few remaining cobbled street off the beaten track in the heart of London. The perfect spot to watch the world go by, and not a chain shop in sight.

 

 

Dalani Home & Living

I am very excited to be working as features editor for a stylish new interiors site called Dalani.

A close-knit, interiors-obsessed team, we work with a carefully curated selection of designers and brands to offer stylish interiors finds at cut prices. From block printed cushions at Les Indiennes to snug cashmere throws by Rani Arabella, it is a great place to find presents or a little bargain for yourself, so check it out here and spread the love.

 

 

Outline Editions Christmas extravaganza

Kristjana S Williams

From November 26th to December 24th, graphic print hub extraordinaire Outline Editions will be selling some of their funnest and finest prints by an eclectic range of artists in a pop-up shop on Berwick Street. With works by Anthony Burrill, Noma Bar, Kate Moross, James Joyce, Klaus Haapaniemi and Patrick Thomas,  and prices ranging from as little as £15 to £300, there is truly something for everybody.

Here is a little taster:

Klaus Haapaniemi

Anthony Burrill

Patrick Thomas

Kristjana S Williams

Noma Bar

Noma Bar is also running a free Cut It Out workshop there this Saturday where you can make your own Noma-inspired creation. (Overt sexual references optional).

For more details visit OutlineEditions.co.uk

Edie bedlinen at Toast

It may be winter outside but it can just as well be spring inside your bedroom.

 

Edie bedlinen, from £22 to £119 at Toast

How To Spend It: on reclaimed furniture and ethical homewares

My two latest posts have gone up on HowToSpendIt.com’s Haute Seat. The first is about ethically aware e-commerce interiors sites, including Nkuku.com and Jali designs, where you can buy artisanal goods witha clean and happy conscience.

The second highlights my top reclaimed furniture retailers in the UK and beyond – bold, industrial statement pieces that bring salvaged homewares and materials to the design fore.

I hope you enjoy them.

Oak rocking chair at the Futon Co.

I would never have considered investing in a rocking chair until I saw this lovely oak one from the Futon Co. It is bold and angular and quietly stylish and I also love the climbing sidetable.

Oak rocking chair, £199, the Futon Company