Posts Categorised: Design/Interiors

INSPIRE ME – with ZPM.. and WIN a Weekender wash bag ! CLOSED

Today is ‘Inspire Me’ day, all about Zoe Phayre – Mudge, the creator and designer behind the wonderfully stylish, fun and eye catching ZPM British branded bags, amongst lots of other pieces. Made from a huge selection of cool oil print fabric prints …. and the great thing about ZPM is that you can find something to suit anyone in your life if you visit their online shop !

Having been a fan of Zoe’s ZPM brand for rather a long time now, I first spotted some gorgeously kitsch floral printed ZPM bath accessories in a shop, my eyes instantly lit up with delight – and I have to say, years on, the pieces I bought then still look as good as ever and have travelled far and wide with me !

You may well also, be aware of the Trolley – Dolly.. an innovative design, created by ZPM, where you can shop plastic bag free – with 21 bags compacted into just one outer bag – and not just eco friendly but good looking too ;)………

To add even more fun to the proceedings ( and celebrate me reaching 10,000 followers on Twitter this week ) – you are in with a chance of winning this cute as a button ‘Weekender’ bag in Songbird fabric ( below ) from the ZPM range – I can highly recommend it as I have one myself and you can fit soooo much in it !

Find out what you need to do to enter the Giveaway at the end of this interview…

Who and what inspired you to become a designer ?

Just something in you I think – growing up you are either into computers or into dogs or love fireworks or something.. I just loved making things but more than that I  loved doing “running a business” . My mum and dad ran a fruit and veg business and they gave me old stuff when they moved office once and I got 3 old phones and lots of stationery.. I loved all those paper clips and folders and I loved making things…  I basically don’t think anything has changed !!!!!!!!   The washbags happended as I found an amazing fabric that just inspired the product range but funnily enough I still have a set of washbags I made at my primary school when I was about nine. Amusingly the fabric is tiny white dots on a pale blue background and that was 1979 !!! so I think it might have been going to do this from birth !

How did ZPM come about? What were your first products ?

I was living between two houses pretending that I was not moving into my soon to be husband’s flat……and pretending to go home each day to the flat I shared with my brother. I was not enjoying working for the company I was with at the time… felt like  change and new beginnings. I started to develop an idea for a bag that would “sort your life” and solve a problem… I messed about with lots of things – loads of false starts… one factory gave me the best bit of advice ever which was on presenting my idea he said ” I can’t make that for what you want to sell it for!”  It’s been crucial and is crucial that you know what you are trying to do and if the market can take it !

Do you spend a lot of time developing each of your ideas and designs ?

With ZPM we act more like a fashion house that does not design all of its own prints… we buy in a lot but picking the right one is key. I spent ages initially on our shapes but I have alot which I designed a long time ago now. When you get something right people actually like to come back to the same thing – it works and they have stood the test of time  – The Weekender bag has been ripped off endlessly since its first inception, but people still come back to ours as its British made and lasts and the copies generally miss something !

How do you choose your fabrics ?

Instinct. and the buzz as I call it.. sometimes when I look at a print you just “know” its going to work. I have to be wary of being in a “sweetshop” sometimes and getting carried away… I am not great at this as you can see on our site… we have over 50 different prints at any one time !

Your products are really well made, is this something that is important to you ?

It’s crucial. I would be a lot richer if they were not.!!! but we have been making all the washbag range in the UK since we started in 1994 and someone turned up with one the other day over 15 years old.  We even mend where we can ! The prints are so lovely and around for such a short time that sometimes people just don’t want to let go of a bag. Especially if it has some real significance in your life, maybe it was the bag you went round the world with your boyfriend with or your honeymoon bag or the 40th Birthday present from your best friend… that sort of stuff makes an object something other than just an object… and if it falls apart instantly there is no benefit to anyone.

    

Is it fair to say you seem very hands on with your company ? 

Probably too hands on at the moment. We have shrunk a bit in size since we moved to Dorset. My stepdad has alzheimers, so my mum who had been working with me and my biggest help for 11 years needed to retire, I have 3 kids and they needed a new school and the whole thing worked as a move.  Since then I have been a lot more hands on.  I think growing a business is letting go of the minutiae of control and letting the people around you take things on. Its not always going to be done “your way” but it also may not be the wrong way.

    

What is the recipe to running a successful business ?

My favourite expression that our manchester factory owner gave me when I first started working with him was

“Turnover is Vanity, Profit is Sanity, Cashflow is Reality”

Success means a lot of different things to different people… there are the big bucks boys – its all about the money money…. I think they are only half right.

The money is crucial.. you don’t do it for fun, if you had a private income you would surely be in a job that was more charity orientated ?!  but the success can come in different packages !

I have a couple of Trolley-Dolly testimonials that I keep on my desk – I have a note which says “read daily” stuck on them… If your thing is to set out to make something that solves a problem and makes people happy to boot and they buy one and come back to you and say “wow, that really did all of that for me and I love it !” then that’s a successful business.

Describe a day in the life at work for you….

It’s a bit of a mixed bag every day. Almost impossible to do a typical one.. but I thought you might like today…Sorting of my gang of small people ie the 3 kids takes up a bit of time first thing most days….. then I am in the office by about 8.35 am, my commute is 30 seconds to a barn in a field and I am accompanied often by Cedric the cat !

Emails, sorting any post or urgent issues.

Today I had a long skype call to one of the factories we use to make Trolley-Dolly. I had some new sampling in to check through.  Meanwhile I have had a load of Microscooter products to sort out. I design for a number of other people, basically I like to design things and if a company wants a bag that fits on a scooter then so be it. We have had a really positive relationship with this firm.. they make THE best scooters for kids and adults…and we make a lot of their accessories for them. I design the prints for these and the product – it’s a top to toe design service we offer and I have to say I love it !  Sometimes working to a brief however loose can be really invigorating for a company, gives new perspective and indirectly allows you to reach another audience.

What have been the biggest milestones for ZPM ?

Oh supplying people like harvey nichols and Liberty… Day 1 of my first ever trade show my mum and I were sititng in the dark as I didn’t realise you needed lights at these things and Liberty buyer walked on and ordered it. I took the order to the shop in a cab myself !

Standing next to someone actually buying a bag once was a big moment.. when you box it  up and send things to stores you don’t get that personal reaction. Its why I love the web and now facebook for testimonials and thoughts people have. The buyers know there store and the look they want… but there are less of them than the public and all their thoughts… you get so much more through that about what people want…

Having someone you are sitting next to at a wedding go.. so what do you do…. and you go “Oh I have this little bag company… which they have never heard of… and then they go off to the loo and come back and go…..oh oh god you are those great printed bags !!!!” those are nice milestones !

Getting your first staff to help…

    

What is your current best selling product ?

 We have three so I can’t pick between them…

The flower shower caps.. are mad, gorgeous and really work so they tick a lot of zpm boxes….

The weekenders. These just really do the job, and they come in so many lovely prints and they will last and last……

The Trolley-dolly.. newest in but wow is she movin !!! How to do green in a stylish way….. and this bag works and works and works ! its no wonder she is in the top three.

    

Tell me about your Trolley – Dolly – I love the look of it ! What inspired this ?

Ooooh I love this …   I could wax on for a while about this but a video might be simpler – list attached for you to choose from !!!!

Basically I was unpacking one night and that inspirational woman who made Modbury ‘Go Bag Free’ had been in the news… I was chucking all the placky bags on the floor as I unpacked. When I turned around there was a huge pile.  I looked at them and thought , I make bags for god’s sake I must be able to do something that solves this.  Other people were doing single bags and I just thought  – how am I going to get my shopping home with some logo’d jute number ? .  It took a year to get to the right size and the right number of bags for a realistic family sized shop. I have 3 kids and an au pair so it’s a fairly large shop each week.   I wanted something compact, washable, that looked nice and on a really efficient day I could take by itself rather than taking the bags and a handbag….. In terms of “look” I have tried to achieve  a wink to the 50s housewife style handbag  in shape and some wearable patterns that are either fun or something you would not be embarrassed to be seen with !!!.  We tend to go for spots and things which you will notice sitting in the kitchen…. and remember to take with you……….the shopping list window is the BEST part, you cannot go without  the list… keep your list in the front and between that and the token we provide with each bag it should help you remember the bags 9/10 times !

    

Can you offer a few words of advice for someone starting a new venture ?

PERSEVERE !!! PERSEVERE ! PERSEVERE……… Oh did I mention you really have to stick at it and keep at it day in, day out…

I have a fridge magnet saying by Winston Churchill which says never, never, never, never give up !

What’s in the pipeline for ZPM ?

More telly ! We sell via QVC and we are heading overseas with this.. Australia next month and then Germany.  I love doing it, we sell out in minutes but it’s great being able to talk to lots of people at the same time !  Loads more new styles of Trolley-Dolly will be on our site from September – there is even a Cheetah one coming !

Lovely new range of prints for This Winter. A new bag that solves travelling, camping and sorting your baby…… Something for festivals next year….

    

Big thanks and thumbs up to Zoe ! A very clever woman and lovely with it :). I literally can’t wait for the Cheetah print Trolley – Dolly ! 

Sign up to the ZPM newsletter to hear about competitions and new goodies. You can also find them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter – go on.. you won’t regret it :)

Now, all you have to do to enter this Super Giveaway to win the ZPM Songbird Weekender in white worth £36, is Tweet this post ( button below ) stating:

I have just entered the @lucylovesyablog Giveaway to win a @TROLLEYDOLLYZPM weekender wash bag !

Please, also leave me a comment below this post to let me know that you have done this ( don’t want to miss any entries ! ) – and so that a winner can be picked by randow draw on Tuesday 2nd September at 7pm.

T’s and C’s:

This Giveaway is open to entrants internationally.

The winner will be picked by random draw and announced on Tuesday 4th September 2012 at 7pm.

No purchase necessary.

Please share the love by clicking on the links below xx

All images copyright ZPM 2012.

INSPIRE ME – with Irregular Choice

I think I ‘may’ have *cough* mentioned before… once or twice ;) that I am a HUGE Irregular Choice fan. As in, not able to pass a shoe store without popping in and checking out their latest designs… trying on…… and then purchasing them…. :)

For a while now, I have wondered about the innovative creator and designer behind this now world renowned label – Dan Sullivan.. how he puts his lines together each season and what makes him tick. Not only do Irregular Choice design mouth watering footwear ( that I have recently also seen cool brides adourning ), clothing, bags and accessories – they even now make very pleasing on the eye homeware !

So, my friends.. today is a really special day. It’s ‘Inspire Me’ .. all about Dan, his design inspirations for Irregular Choice and his directional, extremely exclusive new collection – Dan Sullivan . A collection for “die hard fans” – and I can assure you, he has not held back – they really are incredible as you are about to see…

    

Dan, how did you get into shoe design ? Had it always been your plan ?

My parents had a line of shoe stores called Transit in the UK during the 70’s punk Camden London era, so from an early age I grew up around footwear, design and how to retail that to the consumer. I then learned about production by traveling to the factories jn the far east. I didn’t go to fashion or design school.

  

What I love about Irregular Choice, is that your shoes, clothing and accessories are totally unique – where do you get your inspiration ?

Thank you, that’s definitely our brand ethos. Everything I’ve done has been self- taught and influenced by travels- experiencing a huge variety in world cultures, people, fashions and food. I have to say Japan is probably my most influential place.

          

Do you have a strong vision of each piece before you start the designing process, or does it evolve as you work?.. and do you name the shoe style before or after ? :)

I have a clear vision of the direction I want to take, design wise, in order to push the boundaries from the collection before. I then use a huge library of colors, textures, trims and fabrics to make that happen. I make sure that each collection has meaning and is well- rounded, so although the shoes are very different and strong , there really is a shoe for everybody. The naming of the shoe comes afterward, once we see how the shoe has turned out in person as opposed to drawing.

        

You have a huge fan base, worldwide – is this something that happened very quickly ?

I’m very thankful to the Irregular Choice fans, the fan base has evolved greatly over the past 12 years which is great. I think that the opening of the London England store in 2009 really saw the brand catapult here in the UK as it was a place for fans to come and really understand what we are about as a whole lifestyle.

           

As well as stocking internationally, you have your own Irregular Choice stores in Brighton, London, Hong Kong, Virginia in the USA and currently a ‘pop up’ shop in Paris, Does this mean you spend alot of time travelling and how do you combine it with the designing side of things ?

Yes, our retail has expanded which is really where I want to see the growth of the brand in the future. It means I can present Irregular Choice in an environment so unique and memorable that people keep coming back. Although I do travel a lot, particularly to the Far East and to the factories to check on production and sampling, I set aside specific time to design the season’s collection. I plan it into my schedule and close the door from outside distractions. Thats the only way I can really get the point of the brand across in design and keep each collection consistently unique.

          

Do you get time to switch off? What is an ideal day of chilling for you ?  

Sometimes ! Spending time at home with my family is the best day.

   

Recently, you launched an exclusive collection under your own name – Dan Sullivan. Will you be doing this every season and what can we expect ?

I went back to the roots of what makes IC unique and desirable and timesed it by 1000. The Dan Sullivan Collection is really a thank you to the fans, and I havn’t held back in creating one- of a kind shoes. These I think are some of my favorite designs as it’s truly different. I also wanted to keep them unique by making only a dozen or so of each style, so each customer really feels special. At the moment they are available on www.dansullivan.eu and each month I will be launching new styles between now and Feb 2013.

           trendy shoes irregular choice japan

For anyone reading this interview who wants a career in design, what advice would you offer them ?

I never went to design school, so I can’t say that works for everybody. But I would say to emerse yourself in whatever inspires you and whatever motivates you to design and makes you happy.

        

A large cap doffing thanks to Irregular Choice and of course, Dan himself.
You can keep up date with Irregular Choice on Twitter, Facebook and also on their website and blog www.irregularchoice.com

 

Please share the love by clicking on the links below  xx

All images copyright of Irregular Choice 2012.

INSPIRE ME – with Paris – Coldplay’s Artist in residence.

A few weeks ago, I talked about my evening at the Coldplay concert at Emirates stadium on the leg of their Mylo Xyloto UK tour.

As my husband is currently working with them, myself and a few friends went to their show and our first impressions of the huge stage area were all literally “WOW”.

We were completely blown away by the graffiti artwork, the enormity of it all and how totally captivating it was. A massive beautiful work of art !

This week for ‘Inspire Me’, I feel very lucky indeed to be interviewing the artist who has created all of this – Paris, and to find out more about his artwork, inspirations and plans for the future as well as what it is like to be collaborating with Coldplay, one of the biggest bands on our globe…

Firstly, Paris, what an amazing gig to get ! Please tell me how your collaboration with Coldplay came about ? 

I’ve been so lucky to land what I reckon is one of the best jobs in the world !….

The band already had an interest in graffiti , but they wanted to meet a real graffiti artist… I was recommended through a friend of a friend.

I met the band, we had fun spraying in their studio, and before you knew it we were painting the Album cover for Mylo Xyloto and getting jetted around the world to paint all kinds of things for their shows !…

 How does it feel having 50,000 people a night at the Coldplay shows looking at your graffiti work ?

It’s an amazing feeling, I got to see quite a few of the Stadium gigs last month in Europe, and the other week in Manchester was one of the best yet… the whole show, the whole production is incredible ,so just to be a part of that is great…when I think how many people see it in just two days its staggering…and our artwork is hard to miss, it’s all over the stage, instruments, screens & stadium !

My husband, Andy, is blown away by your speed ! You turn Chris Martin’s piano and Will Champion’s drum kit into pieces of art so quickly. Do you pre plan what you are going to create and do you always work at a fast pace ?

I think working fast keeps you on your toes, and it gives your artwork an added vitality.

This is what first attracted me to graffiti as a kid, when it’s done well it has a lot of visual power.., and a lot of this comes from painting at night, the thrill and the energy comes through in the work.

For the Coldplay artwork I’m creating a look that is playful and loose, and this can be a lot harder to create in a studio than it looks…one way of getting the right effect is to do it fast, get loads of paint & pens and just go at it !

At what age did you start graffiti-ing and what inspired you ?

I was about 7 or 8 when I first saw graffiti, in about 1981, at that time it was just Punk graffiti, stuff like the Anarchy symbol & “The Jam” & “Sis loves Saz” written on walls near my house, even then I remember it fascinated me, to think who did this ? and when did they do it ?..

By about 1984 there was a lot more breakdance style graffiti around Hull, and this was more colourful, that stuff I loved.

In the middle of a housing estate you’d see “Egyptian Lover” in 6ft high letters in reds, oranges yellows blues & greens…I’d see this from the school bus every day….I just thought “I want to try that” it looked like so much fun.

Did you study art at college?

Yeah, I had a really good tutor at Hull College called Connie Littlefield, she taught a whole bunch of us Hull kids about the Great Masters & the great art movements..The Cubists, The Impressionists,  Art Deco.. all that.. and took us to London & Paris ( this is where I chose the name….in 1992 )..she really opened my mind to what was out there, really really inspired me…, after that I studied in Bolton for 2 years, then in Bristol for 2 more specialising in Printed Textiles for Fashion.

This was definitely the best course for me, so much looser than Graphics, and Fine Art was a bit too snooty…

I came out with a First Class honours so that was okay, but I had to build my business myself, and that took years !

 

Where did you used to do your graffiti art and do you know if any of it has survived the test of time ?… 

I used to live near a big park as a kid and like everywhere in Hull back then there where a lot of abandoned buildings.

There was an old boat house that we called the “Acid Hut” and this is where I did some of my early pieces with my mate Xenz and later we teamed up with an older lad called Eko. We painted an old swimming pool in the park too, the Lido, and the basket ball courts, it was good fun in there, not bothering anyone, and if you painted when Home & Away and Neighbours where on it was so quiet you had the place to your self and all the time in the world to spray. Sometimes the Park-keepers would chase us off but it was all good fun.

Most of those places have been re-developed or knocked down now, the handball court is still there but that gets re-painted every month or so…..it’s a legal graffiti wall now…haha.

I guess its the nature of graffiti to be temporal, even if it survives the test of time the weather will one day wash it away, there might be few bits & pieces around, maybe in someone’s back garden!

Your girlfriend, Milk, is also an artist, do you ever collaborate ?

Yes, Milk has helped me out a lot with some of the bigger Coldplay jobs, and we often get the chance to paint together at Festivals and on walls around the city. We met through painting, and our styles compliment each other well, I think it’s a match made in heaven ! X.

I’ve discovered French street artist Koralie and Swoon, from the States.. Are there alot of female graffiti artists in the UK ? 

I think there are a lot more female graffiti artists in general these days, though even in the beginning in 1970s New York there was Barbara 62 & Eva 62 and in the 80’s there was Lady Pink who still paints now.

I think it can be daunting for girls who want to paint, as graffiti can be a bit of a boys club, but the female influence is vital, I think it really freshens it all up. That’s how I met Milk, I saw her work and it was a hundred times more original than most blokes graffiti out there, with really beautiful colour combinations too.

Milk’s done a few pieces with my sister K184, and they also did a show called “Great Birds of the British Isles” with Amour and Dora who are also female artists.

How do you get inspiration nowadays ? 

Even if it’s just on the walk to my studio I’ve started noticing all these amazing marks on old walls and doors, and the effects corrosion can have on buildings. I find I’m looking at all of this around me with new eyes, I guess it’s just looking properly…, its always been there.

The Hockney show in April had a pretty profound effect on me..that was very inspiring, just the scale alone, it helped me see “the bigger picture”… a true master, and Jeremy Dellers recent show was also a real eye opener.

I find travel is one of the greatest sources of inspiration, wherever me & Milk go we’re always searching for the ‘down at heel’ bits of a city with Dusty shop fronts and old cafes.

We went all over Europe in 2010 and when we got back we just had hundreds of photos of old logos, shop fronts and bits of fabric !

 Are there any other artists/bands that you would really love to work with ?

I’d have loved to work with the Beastie Boys, as I admire everything they’ve ever done….

Jay Z would be cool to do something for, or I’d like to create something for a Detroit Label, I love that futuristic sound.

It would be pretty cool to create artwork for a sci-fi film …maybe just decor or graphics.

Your website www.paris1974.com showcases your paintings for sale – is this something you’re focusing on more now .. and what is happening for you in the near future ?

Yeah, now I’ve got a lot more time in the studio it’s really helped my painting to flourish.

This is something I really want to push, hopefully I can exhibit in London & further afield.

I find painting on canvas pretty scary, but you’ve just got to persist at it.  Doing a wall anywhere, in front of hundreds of people is nothing to me, but I really feel the pressure with a canvas. One way to get over this is not be too precise about it. I’ve got a big wall behind my studio and I nail a load of canvass to this and then just go off!, have fun then work back into each painting individually over time. The work’s selling really well and the prices are rising so hopefully this is something I can keep doing for years to come.

The Coldplay work has made all of this possible, and a lot of my new paintings have been inspired by this collaboration.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists ?

Keep doing what you LOVE doing, theres a lot of distractions out there, but if you feel that art & creativity is your chosen path you’ve got to grab hold of it with both hands, Hockney’s work showed me that , he’s 70+ and all he’s been doing all his life is painting & drawing and being creative..and his work shows it, and its all totally possible, you’ve just got to believe in it, no-one will make it happen – but you.

Thanks so much to Paris, for giving me this interview and us all an insight into his life and inspirations. Really interesting, eh ?

If you would like to find out more about Paris’s artwork for sale, head on over to his website www.paris1974.com – that’s where I’m off to …. :)

All images are copyright of Paris 2012. Thanks Peeps

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INSPIRE ME – with Melody Miller

If you love unique, vintage inspired, colourful fabric then this week’s ‘Inspire Me’ is right up your street :)

I have been a big fan of Melody Miller for a while now, a textile designer who has also created four lines so far, for Japanese fabric company Kokka. Her print collection’s are full of images of retro telephones, portraits, typewriters and vinyl records.

Ruby Star Wrapping –  Melody’s first book is out later this year…

How did your career start?

Well, I was trained as a fine artist and for several years after I had my daughter, I painted.  When that just didn’t pay the bills, I worked as a graphic designer at a real estate company, then after having my son, I decided to go out on my own with a line of curtains.  Those didn’t sell very well (okay, I sold one!) so one thing turned into another and I finally ended up shopping a portfolio around Quilt Market, which is how I began designing for Kokka.

Who and what inspires your work?

I have a background in industrial design, and am fascinated with the design of useful objects. For colour and pattern, I often reference vintage fashion and decor.  I’ve always loved to draw and paint faces, so those appear in my work as well.  I’m constantly inspired by artists, illustrators, crafters, designers, and sewists, and try to absorb as much as possible from the people around me.

  

What’s the best thing about your job?

I love that my job entails so many different creative endeavours. I go from the intensive designing process on my computer, to actually sewing samples with the fabrics. Then sometimes I have bursts of intense activity, like last summer when I was writing my book (it comes out this fall!), or next spring, when I was designing my booth for Quilt Market. In the meantime, I’m able to be here for my children and participate in my family. I feel very lucky to be able to do all of this :)

 For anyone wanting to break into the world of design – do you have any advice?

 Trust your own voice.  When you lean too far in the direction of someone you admire, you can lose yourself.  If your work scares you a little, that’s probably a good sign.

When will your next line of fabrics be available to buy and what can we expect?

My upcoming line was just released at Quilt Market in May, and will hit stores sometime in July.  There are 3 designs in 3 separate colorways on super-wide lightweight cotton/linen fabric (it’s over 60″ wide, and so breezy!  The fabric itself is a dream).  One print features 9 separate blocks that are each just shy of being fat eighths.  Another print features full-scale 7″ vinyl records (and a few of the labels were created by fellow fabric designers Thomas Knauer and Lucie Summers).  The last print was designed with skirts, aprons, and dresses in mind, and has decorative rows of silhouettes that had been featured in my previous fabric line, Ruby Star Shining.

Such amazing designs – truly inspiring ! A big thanks To Melody, I can’t wait for the vinyl records fabric :)

To find out more about Melody Miller and her work, visit her website or blog.

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INSPIRE ME – with The Sleep Room

I am always inspired by someone who can create a really successful business from scratch and that is exactly what Charlie Marshall – owner of furniture and accessories brand – The Sleep Room ( soon to be renamed Loaf ) has achieved.

The Sleep Room is one of the fastest growing companies in the UK and it’s no surprise. They have the right mixture of stylish, lovely products, and good customer care.

So, I am really happy today to be featuring Charlie today on my ‘Inspire Me’ post….

How did you start The Sleep Room? Was it something you always wanted to do?

It wasn’t something that was part of the big life plan for me. I started off with a soup factory, something at the other end of the scale to beds. It was my first business which I set up in 1999 and sold in 2007. It was an incredibly tough learning curve but we eventually became the supplier of choice for clients such as Pret a Manger, Pizza Express, Caffe Nero, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Eurostar. It was possibly the best learning experience I could have hoped for and it made my objectives for starting The Sleep Room very clear. After selling Primal Soup, I bought a new house and went off to find a new bed. After a really stressful Saturday, traipsing around the usual suspects, I made the decision then and there to make bed buying hassle free and the process quick and simple. So two years, 187 mattress factories, four continents and some seriously comfy beds later, The Sleep Room was born in January 2009.

What inspired the name change? How did you come up with the name Loaf?

We wanted to move outside the bedroom to offer products for the whole home. And while we were planning the launch of our sofas I had the nagging feeling that we would have to start making excuses as to why The Sleep Room was offering sofas. This was only going to get worse as we launched kitchen tables etc! I then thought that if I could choose any name in the world it would be www.loaf.com as it fitted in with our whole ethos of relaxed elegance and four letter brand names are easy to remember. But I reckoned that there was no real chance of it being available. But by complete luck it turned out that the domain was available and so after a week of haggling with some nice dude in Florida the site became ours.

What do you consider to be your signature product?

Our best sellers are our French beds. We’ve had them since we started and they have remained consistently popular. I don’t really consider any of our products as being signature as we’ve carefully chosen and designed them to complement and work well when you put them together.

I love your vintage style furniture – have you always been a lover of retro?

I wouldn’t say I am a lover of retro per se although I do have quite a bit of mid-century furniture in my own home. What I have always loved is mixing pieces up from different eras: an old French bed with a 20th century Knoll side table and some fifties Danish lamps gets me going, for example!

What would you say is your main ethos?

Treat your customers as you would want to be treated yourself. I personally hate shopping as I don’t like being confronted with a large choice. So at The Sleep Room we only offer a select range of products I would be happy to have in my own home which are both great value and look nice.

Can you offer some advice for new online companies?

Think of your website as you would a bricks and mortar shop: invest in as good a website as you can and it will save you a fortune as you grow.

What’s in store for Loaf for the rest of this year and beyond?

We want to become a British institution known for amazing products and service. We’re already one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK, but we’re thinking much bigger. We’re planning on extending our offering to cover the whole house within the next 18 months (we have floor rugs, kitchen tables and chairs coming out at the start of next year). And after that we’ll be opening an enormous destination outlet complete with kids pool in summer, ice rink in winter and all sorts of other fun things to make it as fun an experience as possible.

I’m looking forward to that :) Thanks Charlie !

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A Medley of veggie love..

Well, my friends, it is National Vegetarian Week.. . Being one myself ( well, pescetarian on occasion if we’re going to be pedantic :) ) it gives me great pleasure to share this veggie mega mix of loveliness with you…

  vegetarian shoes  

How cool are these cake earrings from Dolly Dagger ?.. Bit of fun and very carroty ! Never one to miss a chance to show off some Poetic Licence at Irregular Choice cuties, this “The Right Stripe” pair are fab, I love the cherry charms. Beyond Skin as you may already know are a great company that make beautiful, shoes and accessories – all vegan.

    

Jospeh Joseph make the best worktop savers. I love these character ones. They’re so cool. What do you think ? This Stuart Gardiner seasonal Guide mug is a nice idea for a budding gardener friend. Cool huh ? Everyone needs at least one good vegetarian cook book.. this is from Oliver Bonas.

    

Berry Red are selling a Step by Step Vegetable Patch guide is to suit anyone, no matter how much space you have to get planting. Plantabox.co.uk have a big selection of personalised wooden crates for all occasions. Worth taking a look if you’re looking for something unique. Anything that makes life easy has to be a good thing – what do you think of the Living Larder here by Sparrow and Finch ? You can keep all your herbs and vegetables right near the back door. Yey !

    

For the kiddies – The little fruit tupperware box set is from Oliver Bonas. I think the gardening set here by Moulin Roty at Berry Red would make a really nice gift. It has seeds, real little pots and everything needed to get started. Last but not least.. this “Even Pirates  eat their vegetables” print from illustration company Crumpettytree.co.uk would be a really helpful thing to have right near the kitchen table… speaking from experience :)

Did I do good ? :)

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INSPIRE ME – with 2d Scrumptious

Todays feature is focused on Steven Lenton – the talent behind fabulous character based print company 2d Scrumptious and children’s book illustrator.

Steven, is also an animator and illustrator who has Art directed BAFTA winning animations.


Where do you get the inspiration for your wonderful 2d Scrumptious prints?

My original inspiration was Crouch End where I live – this was a great starting point for the creation of a range of characters, dogs and beloved local landmarks. This lead to more dogs designs, then the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee. My new work is going to feature a range of Zoo animals in tweed!


  

Can you tell me about your children’s books that will be available to buy soon?

My first release is a board book with Little Tiger Press called ‘Five Christmas Penguins’ This fun book has a very eye-catching, red shiny cover and will available exclusively at Sainsburys from September. I am currently working on the follow up to this featuring a family of very cute Snowmen.

My second is a picture book written by award-winning author Tracey Corderoy entitled ‘Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam’ all about two robber-dogs that discover the wonders of baking! This is with publisher Nosy Crow and is out next March.

Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?

Yes I have always wanted to make children’s books and create a brand/products. Anything that involves designing characters is something that I really enjoy so this is a great way of inventing new characters every day

How did you make the transition from animation to illustration?

When I had long animation contracts I would work on my own ideas and characters in the evenings and weekends – it took years to build my confidence to finally work on my first prints for the exhibition in Crouch End that I did with Mia Nilsson at The Haberdashery cafe. The exhibition went really well and these prints are still selling well today. From this I built a portfolio suitable to send to Children’s book agents and publishers and fortunately I was signed up.

You have a very long list of work credits – I’d love to know if you have any personal highlights so far?

My first job working at Ragdoll has a special place in my heart. Visiting the Teletubby set and working with the creators of this show and In The Night Garden was a great experience and I learned a lot about TV production. Holby City was also very different – I was starstruck on a daily basis, having lunch next to members of the Eastenders cast in the BBC canteen was truly surreal!


What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone wanting to start a career in your field?

Its such a cliché but keeping drawing really is the key. Using observational drawing as the basis for all your work is the best way to create original and refreshing design.

What does the rest of 2012 hold for you?

I’m working on a new brand idea involving a collection of very charming little characters. I will also be starting work on my second Nosy Crow book and preparing for the book launch of ‘Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam.’ I’m very excited about this as there will be lots of activities for little ones and fun products based on these two loveable dog characters!

You can find 2d Scrumptious prints, cards and other lovely goodies at notonthehighstreet.com Thanks to Steven – I am in awe !

 

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INSPIRE ME – with Bombus.

Today my ‘Inspire Me’ feature is focused on Amelia Coward, owner of unique découpage gift company Bombus.

Mixing vintage style with modern design, the Bombus ethos is “making something out of nothing” – producing pieces such as bespoke map art, Up-cycled stamp art chairs, cards and jewellery to name but a few….

Amelia, what is your early design background ?

People often ask how I got into découpage and I realise that this was something my mother had introduced me to at a very young age. She would give me scissors and an old magazine and I would cut out small images and organise them in piles. She then taught me how to glue the pictures onto large pebbles and varnish them for door stops.

and your formal design background ?

 I studied textiles and weave at Central St Martins; followed by postgraduate study at The Royal College of Art. After several years working in the commercial textiles and furniture industry I was keen to get back to doing something handmade.

The Bombus story ?

It started in 2003, when I découpaged vintage cowboys and Indian comic strips to a 1950s coffee table. I used it for a shop window display as a prop and it sold within hours. This technique was applied onto chairs and a range of home-ware products. Customers were keen to commission special pieces using their own choice of comics and vintage papers. The light-bulb moment came when I stumbled across a box of old maps. The concept of applying maps to the products, took my designs to a whole new world of eager customers. I now had a waiting list of people wanting their own choice of map location applied to the products.

Nine years later…

We are now a team of seven and working out of our dedicated studio space in a converted stable block on a farm in Kent.

Do you have a Signature product ?

The Bespoke Map Heart. Everyone loves maps and certain places hold special memories. The beauty of our bespoke map collection is that the customer can choose their own map location. You can be as detailed as a street name, as broad as a whole country or anywhere in between.

What was your inspiration ?

In 2007, when my partner and I moved house, I made a Valentines card using a vintage map of the area we were moving to. It was a simple idea but I realised that it could potentially be a good commercial product.

Any advice for a designer thinking of setting up in business ?

Get your pricing right. We time each part of the making process against a stopwatch, so we know the exact cost of labour. There are the obvious costs of materials of course but it’s also critical to remember stuff like VAT and the commission percentage if you are selling via a third party. Keep checking your price against your competitors and contemporaries. We always try to aim for a profit margin of at least 45%. You can’t be sentimental about a product that isn’t going to make you any money.

What does 2012 hold for your brand ?

We’ve had a great year so far. We exhibited at a trade fair in January and now sell via more than 30 independent retailers across the country, including Liberty of London who stock some of our greetings cards. We sell via our own website of course and have two storefronts on Notonthehighstreet.com We are exhibiting at another trade fair, Pulse London in June, where we will be launching new collections and developments of our current range. We’re in early stages of developing a textile collection, which we’re very excited about. And following frequent customer enquiries we’re also currently designing a wedding stationery collection. We’re hoping to ‘soft launch’ the wedding stationery in autumn this year with a full launch in the spring of 2013. We just wish there were more hours in the day!

A big thanks to Amelia and her company – I have much admiration for her. 

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INSPIRE ME – with Beauvamp.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 15.00.19I’ve made no secret of the fact that I really like this brilliant company. My Beauvamp lampshade gets more attention than me, which is fine :) because it’s a real feature and I love it.

Alice, owner of Beauvamp specialises in making one off and limited edition pieces and everyone is unique because they are handmade. Her designs have featured on BBC2 and she has been working on some other really interesting projects recently too… I find her work very inspirational. p00pk9cp

Alice, I think you have a great eye for colour, is this something you’ve always had?

Well, I’ve always loved colour and as much of it as possible. I like a real mish mash and don’t shy away from a good clash! Big splashes of colour can brighten up your day and are great to have dotted around the home. I tend to keep my walls and furniture in pale colours such as white, greys and creams, this helps to really make your colours jump out from the crowd.

Did you study textiles or design?

Not straight away. I used to work in the events industry putting proposals forward for corporate client events, such as set and stage design, team building activities and theming ideas, which was fun but only ideas on paper. I actually decided that I wanted to design and make for myself and see the finished product. I have been interested in interiors since before I can remember and was forever changing my bedroom furniture around as a kid and decorating my walls with all sorts of nik naks. Design was always my favourite subject at school but then ventured off into marketing and events later realising I was destined to come full circle. I eventually set off on a furniture renovation course learning all the tricks of the trade and two years later, BeauVamp was born in 2007. It’s been great to be able to set up my own business working from my home in Derbyshire whilst having enough time to also spend with my 2 boys. I have 2 workshops and a fab sun room in the house from which to create my designs.

Where do you get the inspiration for your wonderful pattern and colour combinations?

All sorts of places. Travelling through India and across South East Asia was a real eye opener with amazing fabric patterns and colour combinations in the local markets. Catwalk fashion from the 40’s right through to the present day along with interior and craft magazines are another great source for seeing what’s evolving and new out there and then creating your own take on things.

How long does it take to create each lampshade?

It really depends on the design, but I usually spend over 2 days preparing and making a standard lampshade with just one fabric and trim. Lampshades with more fabrics and fringing can take longer.

Working in a patchwork method I mainly apply a range of fabrics over the top of a sound base fabric, this allows all sorts of light weight fabrics to cover the shade that would not normally be suitable if using the old and traditional method of stretching. Working in this way means I can really play around with the fabric patterns for example when working with stripes, each panel can be cut to a different angle, i.e. horizontally, diagonally, vertically and so on. Or a number of different patterned fabrics can be applied to just one shade. There are an abundance of fringing options available from hand sewing my own ruffle trim in fabric to applying glass beading, tassels, feathers, pom poms, the choice is never ending, a real wonderland mix! BV2
BV1

I’d love to know more about the vintage lampstands that you revamp?

Yeah, I have been working on these more recently and have attached a few pictures for you to see. I salvage original vintage stands and recondition them. I have them professionally re-wired if needed and then prepare them for paints and fabrics. Paints used are usually from the Farrow & Ball or Little Greene collections and then the fabrics are applied again in a patchwork manner using a fabric adhesive. The fabric is then coated in a special matt sealant that makes the fabric hardwearing.

Do you have lots of interesting commissions coming up?

Well, I’ve just finished some exciting projects, one of them being the new Zizzi restaurant in Victoria, London, where I got to work with B3 Designers on providing the lighting ( pictures attached). I’ve been told they are submitting the restaurant into the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards, so that’s all very exciting and I wish them the best of luck. http://www.restaurantandbardesignawards.com/

I’ve also been busy producing lampshades for the recently featured Ann Robinson Show on BB2, My Life In Books. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01czf06

I also have a few more potential projects in the pipeline for a pub chain and hope to be launching my new online shop shortly www.beauvamp.com …… watch this space! Please note in the mean time all my current stock can be viewed on the following link www.notonthehighstreet.com/beauvamp

If anyone has any question or ideas they would like to discuss just drop me line at alice@beauvamp.com and I will be glad to assist.

Thanks Alice. A very clever woman ! :)

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Beautiful Brighton – Part 2

B1Well, where do you start with great shops in Brighton ? There’s a fair few.

But, I have several that I head straight for ( salivating all the way ) when I’m in Town. What I especially love about these ones is that they have all started out in Brighton.

It will come as no surprise that Irregular Choice on Bond Street is high up on the hit list. I go all giddy when I enter their establishment. They sure know how to make a girl happy… and not forgetting their men’s ranges ! Their shoe, bag and clothing designs are so clever and unique. The sparkly jewellery section is hard to tear yourself away from too.

They also stock Poetic Licence shoes.
Since Dan Sullivan, the designer opened the first shop, they have gone on to open others in New York,  London and Hong Kong.. along with ranges in many other well known shoe stores.
It’s always nice to know though that this one is where the magic began. B2

Dolly Dagger is a vintage inspired Boutique at Brighton Place. You may well have visited their lovely website already ? If you’re looking for a pretty prom 50s style dress or a fitted 40s number then I absolutely recommend this place. I find their clothing to be very well made. They have lovely cardigans, the leopard print one being my favourite :) They also stock other brands including a nice selection of shoes and some awesome jewellery pieces by designers such as Tarina Tarantino and Steven Shein along with their own fab range. B3

There is a fairly new shop called This is Not a Butchers ( website coming soon ). You won’t miss it if you’re heading up Bond Street. It’s full of really fun, colourful homeware including lovely lighting. They’ve got great gifts and I noticed although this was my first visit there, that the staff are really friendly. Always an important factor.

In Kensington Gardens you will find Get Cutie. They are a Boutique, who handmake their dresses, skirts and homeware. They use really gorgeous unusual retro style fabrics – which they stock per metre too. I’ve been a fan of this company for a long time and they are always very helpful online when you make an order – and will make your desired dress if it isn’t in stock ! B4

The fabric shop I pretty much jog too when in Brighton is Ditto Fabrics, again in Kensington Gardens. I love the people who work in there and they have a superb selection of across the board fabrics – If you’re a dressmaker or just love gawping at lovely material, have a look at their site. The prices are really reasonable. B5

I could go on and on but I think these are enough to be getting on with :)

xx