Category Archives: Products

bluestem curtains

Fabulous Fabrics in the Living Room

I am knee-deep in renovations for our new house.  Unfortunately, Casa del Dumpo is still in the early stages of work, specifically the carting-rubble-away-in-skips stage.  Not very exciting.

I’ve been looking at window dressings for the new house, including the living room, to keep me inspired through the long slog of the unexciting but necessary basics of the build.  For my window dressings, I would like to pick floaty linen curtains. The windows in the back will be large and south-facing. I definitely will need some sort of window covering to diffuse the light.  Nothing worse than glare on the computer screen if you are trying to do some work! I do not, however, want anything heavy because we are not overlooked in the back by other houses.

I asked for some samples from The Natural Curtain Company of their linen fabrics. My favourite is this linen fabric in Bluestem which is a gorgeous duck egg blue colour.  I love this soft faded shade of blue which is both calming and gentle. The fabric itself is 100% linen and gentle to the touch.  The Natural Curtain Company uses a non-chemical process to soften the colour to create this dreamy shade and to create a relaxed drape in the fabric.

The elegance of linen which is at once simple and sophisticated inspires me to create a contemporary Scandinavian look mood board.  The duck egg blue colour coordinates well with the greys and off-whites I like so much. The linen fabric likewise works really well with values that focus on natural, simplicity and eco-friendly design.

fabulous fabrics

The Natural Curtain Company’s linen fabrics come in a variety of modern colours and prints.  I was tempted by these other colours but, as soon as I saw the Bluestem fabric, I knew it was The One.  Interestingly, I thought my favourite was Field Gold when I saw the swatches on my computer and, perhaps, Bluestem was a bit too dark a blue.  When I received the swatch, however, the blue was not dark at all but more faded with a tinge of grey and green. This experience once again underscored how important it is to see a real sample and not rely on computer screen colours.

I love this vintage print linen curtain and the styling in this photo.  It looks so relaxing and serene. I think the windows would have looked too bare without the curtains.  There’s a lot of wood in that photo without the softening effect of fabric.

In the past I’ve had linen blinds like those pictured below.  Although these particular curtains are relaxed, I’ve had linen curtains stiffened so they look more formal.  I’m ready to go with curtains for my next house, however, because the windows are so wide I think blinds will look somewhat unwieldy.  In addition, for privacy and sunlight I will be able to adjust the curtains as little or as lot as I need.

It seems I’ve chosen my living room curtain fabric!  The Natural Curtain Company will be able to make made-to-measure curtains that will fit my windows perfectly when I’m ready.  If only, however, I had a house! I’ve also started a Pinterest Board for inspiration on this fabric and colour scheme.
What do you think?  Do you love the natural look of linen curtains and blinds as much as I do?
B&B italia hive collection

Put a Hex-agon on Your Room

Hex-quisite Design.  Design Hex and the City.  Interiors Hex-traordinary.  Please, someone stop me.  The bad puns just keep popping into my head.  In addition to geometrics generally, it seems the interiors world has gone crazy for hexagons, specifically.

One of my favourite mid-century modern designer, Isamu Noguchi, created a design classic with the Prismatic side table in 1957.  The three-legged table is a beautiful, simple, geometric shape made entirely of folded aluminium.  Inspired by origami (the Japanese art of paper folding) the Prismatic table was also the last piece of furniture Noguchi designed.

Noguchi Prismatic table

Image credit: Vitra

The hexagon side table comes in many iterations.  Not only are most of them easy to configure in multiples and move about as needed, they look great too.  Here are six of my favourites.

Clockwise from top left:  Hexxed by Diesel (available in 2 heights and 3 colour combinations including black and metallics); the double-decker Hex table from Dwell in white, wood or stone; the Hex side table from West Elm with a marble top and steel legs; the Hive collection from B&B Italia are side tables in two heights and ottomans in a leather finish; Hex glass mirror from Gram & Green with a ground glass top and a trio of gold Hexagonal legs; the Slit table from Hay is available in 6 metal colours and also mirror and brass.

Interestingly, the Hay table like Noguchi’s table was influenced by origami and is named after the slit that is formed when the metal frame is folded underneath the table top. The B&B Italia Hive Collection was inspired by the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.  This natural phenomenon of 40,000+ polygonal basalt columns is a UNESCO Heritage site.  The resemblance is really striking isn’t it?

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway
Image Credit: Andrew Hurley

The patterns you can make with hexagons work really well on the wall too.  Check out this simple shelving idea which makes a big impact.  The blog, Nestful of Love, has directions on how to make your own hexagon shelving.  Alternatively, you can buy hexagonal shelves as a set of three at Next Home.

Hexagonal mirrors also look great on a wall.  I can see these mirrored tiles creating an interesting honeycomb configuration in a hallway.  From Graham & Green, the mirrored tiles come in sets of 18.

Hexagonal tile mirrors

Image credit: Graham and Green

In addition to mirrors, many more tiles are now available in hexagon shapes.  Here are examples  created by Spanish designer, Patricia Urquiola from the Dechirer range which blend contemporary large-format tiles with an artisanal cement heritage.

For you commitment-phones, there are lots of hexagonal accessories which won’t require you either to spend so much or to make a long-term design decision.  I think a group of this hexagon boxes on a table is a really cool way to clear clutter.

evie group hex boxes

image credit: Evie Group

Although contemporary Danish design brand, Hay have had their Kaleido tray system for some time, they are now available in new colours of chocolate, jade and blue.  You can use them individually or mix and match for a fun modular look.  This season they have added these sweet trio of hexagon-shaped notebooks.  Yes, they are notebooks! They are almost too pretty to disturb never mind use.

On the British design side, Tom Dixon has added to his hexagon tea light holders this year with this new etched wood design on steel, brass or copper.  I also loved the hand-hammered hexagonal bowl in still-trendy copper.

What do you think?  Would you consider hexagonal side tables, shelves hex-cetera in your home?

 

four poster bed

Moody Decadent Bedrooms at Decorex 2014

The entrance to the Decorex 2014 show is always special and this year was no different.  Unlike last year when only one designer, Kit Kemp, inspired with her vision of The Silk Route, this year a handful of leading designers were tasked with the project of the entrance.  Different designers created vignettes based on each of the eight prints from A Rakes Progress, William Hogarth’s indictment of the moral failures of Georgian Society.  The prints show the story of Tom Rakewell, a rich merchant’s son who comes to London, wastes his money on a decadent lifestyle, ends up in debtor’s prison and ultimately goes insane.  Happy times!

drapery

Here is the original print which is the inspiration for my favourite vignette, The Prison.  Not only do his debtors want his money, his wife is having histrionics and his faithful mistress has brought his illegitimate son to visit – no wonder he goes a little loony. In my opinion, stitutionalisation would be a welcome respite from all that chaos!

Hogarth's The Prison

The Prison print by Hogarth

The Prison was created by Shaun Clarkson whose style and store (Pitfield London) in East London I love.  Pitfield London is a treasure trove of vintage pieces and homewares that I could easily browse for hours.

The Prison

The Prison
image credit: Decorex

I love the dark moodiness of this room which works really well for a bedroom.  Dear old Tom has not given up his love of luxury as indicated by the sumptuous furnishings and the liquor in the room.  He’s probably only sorry that he lost all his money and has no real regrets about his decadent lifestyle.  This story is clearly not a Victorian morality tale.

A lot of the furnishings were antique or one-off pieces sourced by Clarkson. For example, the four poster bed, the Napoleon chair and the cabinet are from Pitfield London and the antique telescope from Sisters Antiques.  I created a digital mood board of some of the other accessories.

moody decadence

Clockwise, from the top right, we have the following in the above mood board:  angel wings from Cowshed Interiors; leather and fabrics from Altfield London; caged chandelier from Vaughan Design; cushion from Fine Cell Work; and more fabrics from Altfield London.  

Note that all the sumptuous fabrics and accessories are layered.  The luxurious look does not really invite minimalism.  Here are some more affordable alternatives just in case you don’t want to spend £4000 on a chandelier for a decadent bedroom design.  Tom’s decadent lifestyle is after all a cautionary tale to lavish money wisely.

For the bed, try the Eleanor four poster scaffolding bed from The Wrought Iron & Brass Bed Company in a raw metal finish.  The burnished pewter finish has a lovely sheen which will go well with the rest of the golds and greys.

Then layer up the texture for luxurious curtains, wallpapers and fabrics.  The luxe finish in accessories is completely on trend for moody and metallics this season.

luxe decadence

The background is John Lewis cut pile velvet fabric in putty.  Top row, from left to right:  Vintage Brass Candelabra from Etsy (£29); Supersoft Fur Throw from Cox & Cox (£185); and Carved Angel Wings from Cox & Cox (£65).  Middle row, from left to right:  Modesty painting from Abigail Ahern (£179); Acrylic Napoleon Chair from The French Bedroom Company (£125); and Chantal Crystal Drop Chandelier from Graham & Green (£170). Bottow row, from left to right:  Lisbon Silk Quilt and Cushions from The White Company (£30 -$330); Black Baroque Mirror from Debenhams (£120); Andrew Martin Atlantis Wallpaper (£70).

What do you think?  Would you try out a moody boudoir?

Favourite Finds from Decorex 2014

Decorex 2014 showcased luxury interiors and design as part of the London Design Festival in September. As one would expect, the glam and glitz was on full throttle with some fabulous stands and products on display.

In honour of the 300th year anniversary of the Georgians ascending the throne of Britain, the entrance to the show was a display of modern interpretations of A Rake’s Progress curated by leading designers like Kit Kemp.  A Rake’s Progress is a famous series of paintings by 18th century artist, William Hogarth, which provide biting social commentary on the mores of the day.

There was lots of inspirational design on display.  So many pretty things on display both contemporary and traditional, extravagant and affordable.  Let’s look at 10 things I thought were noteworthy.

Doors & Walls

Not that I am an advocate of hacking up books, but Original Bookworks has created a very clever way of making a door disappear as a built-in bookcase.  They also do a range of paperback books for a more contemporary look or for the minimalist hater of colour, vellum books.

Like the mixed-tile look but not ready to commit?  Portuguese wallpaper company Oh Wallpaper has created this wallpaper based on Portuguese traditional tiles.  The story goes that in 1498 King Manuel of Portugal went to Spain and brought back the style of Moorish tiles that he found in Spanish cities, such as Seville.  So this wallpaper is a blend of  Portuguese/Moorish/Spanish influences updated for today.

portuguese tiles wallpaper

photo credit: Oh Wallpaper

London-based Blackpop created by designer Maxine Hall does distressed elegance in wallpaper better than anyone else.  They have now launched their designs onto fabric as well, specifically velvet, for a louche, opulent look and feel.  I saw these wallpapers at their launch at Tent in 2013 and fell in love then.  If you are tired of the distressed Brooklyn tiles wallpaper look launched by Parisian concept store, Merci, then you may just love this look too.

 Lighting

Is it a light fixture or is it sculpture?  Serip Organic Lighting was one of quite a few Portuguese designers at the show.

IMG_2284

Firmly in the extravagant yet traditional column, I Dogi had only one item on their stand – this gargantuan £120,000 Venetian glass chandelier.

photo 3

Textiles

London-based textiles designer, Korla, showed off two trends – the continuing fascination with painterly fabrics and the colour blue.IMG_2283

Fine Cell Work has been the official charity partner of Decorex for the last couple of years.  Trained by volunteers from the Embroidery and Quilters guild, approximately 400 inmates in prisons in the UK have been taught needlework to make cushions and quilts.  A tag on each of these beautiful pieces are handmade by prisoners who are identified on the tag.  Fine Cell Work encourage purchasers to write thank you notes to these prisoners.  Not only do inmates receive pay for their work but also positive encouragement, a useful skill and a creative outlet which can provide a life line in prison.

Accessories

Spina designs luxurious trimmings and accessories to elevate fabric to the next level.  How beautiful is this tassel?  Such a humble object has become a work of art in itself.

photo 1

Garden

Myburgh Designs does these covetable copper garden swing suitable for both indoors and out.  The fluid shapes are designed in on-trend copper.  The only thing missing from your garden will be a dashing prince on his white charger.

Scottish company, Precious Design, make steel planters which are made to measure for your garden.  They come in assorted colours and can be made to any specification (around a corner, with a trellis, covered for a seat etc.).  I wish I knew about these steel planters when we did our garden boxes for my last house.

photo 2

What do you think of my choices?  Which one is your favourite?

anglepoise + paul smith against a white background

Pedigreed and Poised: The Paul Smith+Anglepoise Collaboration

The whole hyphenated surname thing is definitely more a British thing than American.  I presume both surnames are so important, that neither of them will give way to the other? So, when two British icons get together, it seems only natural that they would produce something that had a double-barrelled name.  In addition, in lieu of a common hyphen, they’ve inserted a plus sign.

Anglepoise + paul smith signature base

In the case of Paul Smith‘s new design of the classic Anglepoise lamp, the resulting lamp is  fabulous and worthy of its name.  The collaboration makes sense because both brands are known for their skilful blending of tradition with modernity.  Here is the Angelpoise Type 75 before its Paul Smith Makeover.

Anglepoise Type 75 Table

Anglepoise likes to encourage creativity as shown by their exhibition in 2014 for Clerkenewell Design Week. In the Creating Balance project, 10 photographers were paired with 10 artists and 1 Anglepoise lamp each to create whatever they wanted.  And, boy, did they go to town!  This year, Anglepoise worked with an established design brand to create what I also feel is a work of art.

The first Anglepoise was created in 1931 by George Carwardine who wanted to create a lamp with both flexibility and balance.  The Anglepoise lamps have had several iterations throughout their long history to keep it current with the times.  The latest version is the Anglepoise+Paul Smith which was launched at Clerkenwell Design Week last month.

anglepoise + paul smith against a white background

The base lamp is the Anglepoise Type 75 which was created by Sir Kenneth Grange who is the company’s design director.  The Anglepoise Type 75 was inspired by a 1970’s version of an Anglepoise lamp which itself reflected a 1950’s design.

anglepoise+paul smith lamp

Paul Smith is a company known for its multi-coloured design.  This colourful approach was applied with restraint on the Anglepoise lamp to accent the industrial design of the original lamp.  Pink, green, blue and grey (or in designer speak, fuchsia, lime, cornflower and clay) are used on different parts of the lamp which itself is a medium grey.  The Paul Smith logo is front and centre on the base.

The Anglepoise+Paul Smith lamp will be available to order online from either the Paul Smith or the Anglepoise websites from August.  It will be available in stores from September.

image credits:  Paul Smith

table

Mid-Century Modern Style on a Budget

My favourite design-inspiration room set at Grand Designs last week was created by Maxine Brady, an interior stylist from Brighton.  Entitled “Inspiration for First Time Buyers”, she has perfectly created a style-conscious, budget-friendly look in a limited space.  The finished look relies heavily on the current trend fashion for mid-century modern furniture and Scandinavian style.  The studio room works well because different areas are zoned for different uses but underlying themes and colours create a coherent look.

Kitchen/Dining

Although the colour scheme appears bright, the colour palette is very limited.  She has used flashes of yellow to add interest to a predominantly grey and white neutral scheme.  Having a base that is neutral with accessories in colour makes it easier to swap out items if you decide your space needs a revamp.

The Ikea dining table is based on an iconic Saarinen design.  The chairs and the step stool are Ikea as well.  I think the use of the Ikea kitchen is inspired as well.  With a mix of flat fronts, textured fronts and open shelving, the kitchen looks very designer.  The hexagonal wall tiles also are a very current trend.  They are used in a small space and so give maximum impact for a limited budget.

Living Room

Pattern is also used throughout the space to add interest.  There are lots of geometric prints but they don’t clash because of the restricted colour palette. sofa I love this table and the Hay nesting trays on it.  Although not a cheap option (the Hay trays together cost about a £100), they are a design classic.  In addition, buying good-quality accessories is cheaper than buying name-brand big items.  They also elevate the rest of the space into looking more expensive than it really is. table

 Study Area

Like I mentioned in a previous post on how great Concreate looks, I love flooring which mimics poured concrete but are actually tiles.  This floor is from Harvey Maria which is a cheaper option than Concreate for the budget-conscious.  The look of the floor is warmed up with cozy patterned rugs.  I also like how the sense of space in the room is highlighted because of the mid-century modern vibe of the furniture.  The furniture is lifted of the floor on slender legs which visually adds space to the room.  Everything seems collected and calm which goes well with the rest of the Scandi look. study

Get The Lookgeometric

  1. Ando Concrete tiles, Harvey Maria, £42.95/square meter
  2. Hex tiles, Piazza Tiles, £49/square meter
  3. Frankie, Plantation Rug, £175
  4. Inlay cushion, Sian Elin, £45
  5. Tress wallpaper, Sian Elin, £90/10-meter roll
  6. Tress teatowel, Sian Elin, £6
  7. Geo knitted blanket, Seven Gauge Studios, £250

 

mid-century modern

  1. Curve candlestick, Edited Brighton, £22
  2. Buttons 3-seater sofa, Sofa Workshop, £1279
  3. Ben de Lisi Set of 2 Metal Tables, Debenhams, £76
  4. Kmix Toaster, John Lewis, £50
  5. Frame coffee table, Joined & Jointed, £195
  6. Hay Kaleido Tray, Heal’s, £12
  7. Ceramic flower pots, Chive, £12
  8. Tolix-style stool, Lakeland Furniture, £59

 

What do you think?  Do you like this room as much as I do?  Would you style anything differently?  I’d love to hear what you think.

john lewis green

Five Favourite Finds at Grand Designs Live

Did you have a chance to visit Grand Designs Live in London last week?  I’d be curious to know what you thought of it.  I was a little underwhelmed – there was a lot of repetition of the same types of stuff and the same stalls from last year.  For example, there were at least a half-dozen firms promoting their garden rooms.  The most exciting was the Noa house from Katus Architecture which I wrote about last week.

Here are my 5 favourite finds from the rest of the show:

John Lewis Kitchens

The John Lewis Kitchens stand was really buzzing.  It was easy to see why.  I had expected a boring or even safe kitchen but I think John Lewis have really upped their game.  I loved the mustard yellow splash back combined with the black/off-white and grey colour scheme.  It’s neutral yet not boring.  Check out the design of the countertop as well.  The slight recess underneath the countertop makes it appear as if it is floating above the cabinets.  It’s a lighter look than if the countertop was flush with the cabinets.

john lewis green

Another kitchen I thought was cool had a weathered wood finish.  The look adds texture and rustic charm in a modern setting and without the splinters.

Concreate 

I love concrete floors but they are a major undertaking to install.  Concreate have set themselves up as an alternative to poured concrete floors because they provide engineered concrete tiles. Ingenious!  If you get bored with the look, you can just replace the tiles just like any other tiled floor.  At Grand Designs, the Poggenpohl display was on Concreate tiles so that you could see the tiles in a large space.  They look fabulous.  Of course you do get grout lines which you wouldn’t with a poured concrete floor.  On the other hand, you have a lot more flexibility.

poggenpohl concreate

Alfreshco

It would never have occurred to me to graffiti anything as a kid.  Seriously.  I was as boring and suburban as they come.  Street art, however, has come a long ways since then anyway.  Alfreshco is a company that lets you live out your urban artist fantasies.  They provide markers as well as spray cans as well as other accessories so that you can tag whatever you would like.

There is an amazing array of colours.  I would seriously give my kids some of these paints and let them loose on a garden wall in our home.  My daughter would draw hearts and my son would draw airplanes.  They would love it!  And, we can always paint over it at a later date.

Georgia Lindsay trug seats

Georgia Lindsay is the garden designer who created the Family Garden for the show.  She created these charming seats using regular tub trugs and filling them with colourful cushions.  They can be stacked and easily moved around.  Although created for the show, they are available for sale if you contact her through her website.

trug seats

Jamie Hubbard Creative Woodwork

I met Jamie Hubbard who had created artwork his friend’s stand in the Grand Gardens section of show gardens.  A cabinet maker, Jamie uses offcuts from his work as well as other materials he recycles into cool one-off art pieces.  The X below, for example, are recycled bottles he gets from a cafe near his workplace mounted onto wood with LED lights.  His pieces are one-offs and he works to commission as well.

As an added bonus, I was delighted to see the scaffolding four-poster bed from The Wrought Iron & Brass  Bed Company was featured again this year as a Kevin McCloud green hero.  That is two years on Kevin’s list.  Upcycled industrial is here to stay!

bed

What do you think of these products?  Did you get to visit Grand Designs Live?  Were you more impressed than I was with the show itself?  I’d love to hear from you.

Swivel San Brown

Rattan for Inside and Out

Our rental house in North Carolina last week was a typical Southern beach house.  The house was blessed with double porches and large windows which gave fantastic views over Currituck Sound.

OBX house

This house had one of the most comfortable chairs that I have ever sat in.  It was fairly unattractive and, worse, my friend’s husband had one in his university dorm room.  I was in love with an ugly student chair.  The horror.  In the end comfort won out and it was pretty much ‘my’ chair for the week.  Even the kids knew that it was mummy’s chair!

The chair, called Swivel San, from Pier 1 Imports acts as a rocker and swivels as well.  The cushion comes separately jn various colours.  I’m pretty sure that my dislike of the rental house version was because the rattan was in white and the cushion in baby blue.  So very 70’s.  It looks way better in the dark colour.

Until my recent Swivel San obsession, I did not realise rattan was separate from wicker.  Rattan is specific type of very strong wood (made from palm trees) but wicker is a type of weave.  Wicker furniture can be made from rattan or other types of wood such as bamboo or straw.

Rattan furniture does have a lot of advantages such as being very strong and eco-friendly.  The trees from which rattan is made are easily grown.  A tough, durable material, rattan is very popular for outdoor furniture.  The material is low-maintenance and doesn’t require much to keep it looking good.

I think the lines in these dark rattan chairs are very elegant.  The combine nicely with the sofa and table in this room for a casually elegant look.  I am not a fan, however, of the light-coloured wicker chair in the corner.

I will definitely be thinking of rattan as a furniture option in the future, both for inside and outside.  What do you think of rattan and/or wicker?

Coastal Style Inspiration

We are visiting friends in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for Easter.  The beautiful beach environs inspires me to think of coastal style.

I think these rules are apt because there really shouldn’t be any more expectations of life at the beach than these rules.  I’m considering buying this little gem and shipping it to our summer house.

relax

What could be more relaxing than a porch swing in the sunshine?  My kids are just watching the world go by.  We are all so busy nowadays that there are fewer opportunities for quiet contemplation.

photo-188

I found these gorgeous sea glass inspired vases at West Elm.  I am LOVING the colours.  Yes, of course, I bought some.  I love sea glass.

seaglass

Also at West Elm, the store had a beachy vibe going for its decor.  Even for just a casual barbecue, I think this place setting is gorgeous in its simplicity.

More inspiration for the terrarium that I plan on making.  Here is a seashore inspired terrarium from West Elm:

 

terrarium

Remember the tree house bunk beds available in Europe?  Pottery Barn Kids has picked up on the theme to go all sea shack.  Yes, I still love it!

beachhouse bunk

Coastal style for me means relaxed living and lots of natural colours/textures.  There are, of course, variations such as nautical or Hawaiian/tropical or the vibrant colours that characterise Lily Pulitzer clothing..  What does coastal style mean for you?

 

wagumi coloured teapots

Guest Post: Shopping for Japanese Ceramics In London

While I’ve got the children out of school for half-term, my blogging buddy Fran Pickering has kindly offered to take over this Wednesday’s home and design post.  Her enthusiasm for Japan and its culture is wonderful! Enjoy!

***

I developed an abiding love of Japanese ceramics when I was working in Tokyo. There’s something peaceful and calm about them, and I love the concept of wabi-sabi – honouring artistry even when the materials aren’t valuable and relishing the patina that age brings.

There are still many traditional potteries in Japan where the local clay gives the pots a unique character, and where the kilns have been in operation for hundreds of years, passed down within families as son follows father. One example is the Mashiko area, where the kilns suffered badly in the Tohoku Earthquake but where they are now rebuilding and restocking. Mashiko is best known for its association with Bernard Leach, friend of Mashiko potter Shoji Hamada, who co-founded the Mingei folk craft movement.

Now I’m back living in London I still seek out places which stock Japanese pottery. Real Japanese ceramics are hard to find (and affordable ones even harder) but I’ve come across a few specialist shops. They tend to be hidden in places you wouldn’t think to look, so unless you came across them by chance you’d never know they were there. Here’s a  few that I’ve found.

If you’ve visited the South Bank and headed from the National Theatre down to the Tate Modern along the river path, you’ve probably walked past the Oxo Tower, that art deco column where the windows spell out OXO. Next time you’re there, don’t walk straight past. Take the stairway to the first floor and visit Wagumi, a tiny but beautiful Japanese lifestyle shop. There you’ll find ceramics and other craft objects by, among others, the Rin Crossing and Takumi collectives – groups of Japanese craft studios that are starting to make their work available in the UK.

waguchi

The ‘wa’ in Wagumi stands for peace and harmony, and the peaceful shop looking out over the ever-changing Thames is an oasis of beauty and style. Besides a lovely selection of ceramics they stock glassware, kitchen implements and shopping bags.

My next recommendation takes you to fashionable Shoreditch in East London, and to a bike shop called tokyobike. They sell beautiful bikes but they are also home to a shop within a shop by Momosan who regularly visits Japan to select wonderful pots for her calm and elegant displays. She has a good selection of Mashiko pottery (not always on display so do ask about seeing more) as well as other makers and some quirky ideas – like colourful spinning tops.

Finally, for the times when you just want something basic to use everyday, try the Japan Centre on Shaftesbury Avenue. It’s a great Japanese supermarket, the best place in London to buy Japanese food and ingredients. You take a very shiny escalator to the first floor for the food but before you go in, look for a stall selling pretty and inexpensive sake and tea sets. It’s next to the Taiyaki (waffles baked in the shape of a fish) bakery.

sake set

Then pop up the escalator to the supermarket and buy some sake to go with your sake set!

sake

Store information:

Wagumi is at Unit1.08 Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, SE1 9PH. Opening hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11.00 am to 6.00 pm,  Closed Mondays

Tokyobike is at 87-89 Tabernacle Street, EC2A 4BA. Opening hours are Tuesday – Friday 11am to 7pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am to 5pm, Closed Mondays

Japan Centre is at 19 Shaftesbury Avenue W1D 7ED UK. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday 10 am to 9 pm, Sunday 11am to 7 pm.

About my guest blogger, Fran Pickering:

Fran’s new book The Cherry Blossom Murder, a murder mystery set in Japan is out now in Kindle and paperback. Buy it on Amazon (I’m taking it with me for apres-ski reading by the fireplace!).   She blogs about Japanese art and events in London at Sequins and Cherry Blossom.