Blog, Exhibitions, Press Show Picks

Top Drawer's S/S 2020 best small producers

Spice Kitchen :mother and son team Sanjay & Shashi Aggarwal

Visiting trade shows always sounds exciting, but for those of you who have been to the likes of the Ideal Home Show and The Country Living Fair, you will know just how exhausting it can be. I recently wrote a piece on new spring and summer 2020 trends. This post is different as it is about my pick of the designers, often sole traders sometimes a partnership, who also show at the big trade fairs.  Their stands are usually much smaller than the large flash companies, but this is where you will often find the truly innovative and inspiring products.

Before we get down to specifics, and despite it being a trade show, it is worth saying that the buzzwords this year are ethical and sustainable. So as well as wanting originality and good value for money the general public are less prepared to purchase at the expense of the environment and those trying to make a living in poor communities.

Many companies support charities, for example Spice Kitchen, a family-owned artisanal spice and tea company run by mother and son team Sanjay & Shashi Aggarwal (aka Mamma Spice & Baby Spice!)  What started as a discussion over the kitchen table on Christmas Day 2012, Spice Kitchen has developed into a thriving small business that has never lost touch with its roots.They  support the charities   FRANK Water who build sustainable water projects in India and Nepal and Find Your Feet who help families in Asia and Africa build a future free from poverty and hunger. They produce small-batch, freshly ground spice blends and tea blends. They source the freshest raw spices from around the world, and then hand-blend, hand-roast and hand-grind them to authentic recipes. The containers they come in are covered in old Sari’s.

The Kindness Co-op

Rainbow kindness

The Kindness Co-Op, is an online clothing and gift store for children aged 0-14 years started in 2014 as The Wee Store. It was re-launched and re-branded by Lucie Carr and her business partner Charlie in September 2018 in an effort to become more socially responsible, for example sourcing organic clothing that has been locally screen printed with their own designs. The brand makes a donation to the charity Young Minds for every piece of own brand merchandise sold. https://www.thekindnessco-op.com/

One of my favourite brands is

illustrated stories

lllustrated Stories by Kay van Bellen I love the quirkiness and originality of her work.

Netherlands-based ceramics brand, Illustrated Stories, was founded by British-born artist and illustrator, Kay van Bellen in 2019. The brand story emerged from her Dutch heritage and her love of Delft Blue ceramics and the stories that unfold behind each delicately painted image. The pieces in the inaugural collection are made from old, found objects which Van Bellen screen prints and hand decorates to create new narratives. Illustrations are witty, humorous and often sinister, each individual piece is a work of art to hang on the wall.Kay has worked with brands such as Converse, Universal Works and Size? She has recently had a solo exhibition of her work at Pols Potten, Amsterdam. Her latest commission was was to design and produce a range of bespoke giftware with Nottingham Lakeside Museum. https://www.kayvanbellen.com/

Floral Tea Towel by AMPellegrini

AMPellegrini Art & Design was founded by London based designer-maker Anna-Maria Pellegrini in 2019. Her passion for printed textiles, nature illustrations and homeware products developed during her Master studies at UAL, where she fell in love with designing homeware and illustrating the natural world. She mainly draws inspiration from the nature surrounding her to create storytelling designs, reflecting the biodiversity on our planet. Anna-Maria exclusively works with UK based companies only, to ensure all elements are sourced and produced ethically to the highest standards. The current product range includes tea towels, tile coasters, giclée prints and tote bags. https://www.ampellegrini.com

Shortbread House of Edinburgh are known around the world for the quality of biscuits that they produce. In 2018 they again won more Great Taste Awards than any other shortbread producer. However it was the Sables not their shortbread that makes me love them, they are delicious. Pea Green Boat Cheese Sablés. are made using a wonderful blend of Scottish Cheddar and Italian Parmesan, the Fennel & Chilli flavour won the Golden Fork Award for best Scottish Product at the 2019 Great Taste Awards.

https://www.shortbreadhouse.co.uk/retail/cheese-sables/range/

Tea Cosy by Poppy Treffry

Poppy Treffry is a  Cornish based company, producing a range of quirky textile based products. They have been going a few years now but always come up with new products of a high standard. These include bags, rucksacks, totes, purses, tea and coffee cosies and much, more. Their latest exciting product is a reusable sandwich wrap.

https://poppytreffry.co.uk/

Sea Garden

www.materiarica.com are  a husband and wife design team who laser cut walnut which they are then paint to make very imaginative jewellery. Their motto is Choose Your Style, Wear Your Story. Here is their story :

Tea Time

Destiny united the paths of Marta, a Polish artist who lived in London and painted pictures of peculiar characters, with Joan, who was passionate about both design and technology and was running a laser cutting company for creative projects. Together they began to transform Marta’s illustrations into small works of art to wear: brooches, earrings and necklaces, which Marta sold in local creative markets in the English capital.

Roar

In 2014 Marta and Joan set sail for the Mediterranean and founded the Materia Rica brand. In recent years the growth and international projection of the project have allowed the team to grow, incorporating Oscar, Clara and Sonia.

British Colour Standard original book of ribbons

British Colour Standard was originally conceived in 1931 by the British Council, cloth -bound earthy green ‘dictionaries of colour’ crammed with 100’s of brightly dyed ribbons were created to standardise colour reproduction throughout the British Commonwealth.

paint from British colour Standard

When the art/design team of Jackie Piper & Victoria Whitbread discovered an old colour dictionary in an Oxfam shop, they began a journey to re-establish this long forgotten brand.produce a range of products based on the book of coloured ribbons.  They were original colours not used since 1958. The designers turned entrepreneurs now produce paints, ceramics, basket work glasses in bright colours www.britishcolourstandard.com

Stylish Tea Towels by Rye & Moor

Rye and Moor were another fabulous find. They are a partnership who have designed  a collection of contemporary  furniture, textiles, home wares and prints using their own prints. As it says on the tin. Simply Designed. Thoughtfully Made. Remarkable objects for modern living. www.ryeandmoor.co.uk

Rye and Moor Bench

As you may have gathered I love quirky and one of the originators of this genre is Donna Wilson. She produces strange cushions, animals, toys, many knitted and felted. She has recently added platters, trays and mugs to her range. www.donnawilson.com

Pretty Bee fresh DIY bees wax wraps

As a replacement for cling film, Beeswax  wraps have been round for a while. wwwprettybeefresh.com have come up with a new and fun idea, a DIY box with everything in it to create your own beeswax wraps. They too, are supporting a charity and have teamed up with www.workforgood.com For every purchase of on of their larger packs a tree is planted.

Dalmation design by Scarlett

There are lots of stationary designers around but I was particularly drawn to the work of Scarlett Josse. Her work is whimsical feminine and romantic. All made in England and her greetings cards either come wrapped in compostable plastic sleeves or naked. www.byscarlett.com

Bowls made at Selbourne Pottery

I definitely have a thing for blue which given it is Pantone colour for 2020 is probably a good thing. So my next recommendations are all have blue elements. I met Robert Goldsmith from Selborne Pottery. He makes beautiful hand thrown and curated stone ware. He has used some beautiful blue glazes. on his work. www.selbournepottery.co.uk

I like be meeting makers, and Lisa Reddings of  www.indigowares.com was no exception, particularly as she was her hands were covered in indigo dye, and her work is beautiful. She runs workshops and sells her goods at shows and on line.

Arashi workshop

Another lover of blue is Hayley Potter RCA. She works from her studio in Dorset creating works on paper and ceramics inspired by the wild, folklore and magic. She uses the image of the hare in much of her work. www.hayleypotter.co.uk

Sunrise card by Hayley Potter

I love lino-prints as a medium and particularly these made by Sarah Cemmick her work consists of original Lino cuts of predominately British wildlife with exclusive editions of only 25.

‘Highlander’ linocut & watercolour 
48cm by 58cm
Limited edition of 25

Each print is produced by hand in Sarah’s Cumbrian studio. Designs are printed on Japanese tissues and traditional printing papers which are then tinted with watercolours. A range of 90 art cards detailing the lino cuts compliment the original prints. They are produced in England on recycled board with recycled envelopes and biodegradable cello bags.

http://www.scemmick.wix.com/sarahcemmick

Earrings designed by Sally Holyoak

Using the brand name  My bear Hands Sally Holyoak hand makes silver jewellery from re-cycled silver. www.mybearhands.co.uk

This is her mission statement:

‘As a maker, I want my jewellery to be beautifully designed and well made.  But I don’t want this to be at the expense of the earth or people who live in it.  Jewellery is a luxury item, and there is really no justification for damaging natural environments or exploiting workers in it’s creation.’

The final company I am writing about is Roka. They have just celebrated their second birthday. They create practical, colourful, beautiful ruck sacs and bags. I have bought many of them in different colours from my favourite emporium ‘ Live Like This‘ in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. For any stylists out there they look great in shoots.

A yellow Roka rucksac stars as a prop on a shoot.

This bag is made using 12-15 recycled bottles. 

In order to reduce waste in the ocean, Roka has created a new line of bags. Made using 12-13 recycled bottles, the Sustainable Finchley iThe production of this bag not only uses recycled materials, but also uses less energy than traditional production methods. 

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Fresh Clean Home by Wendy Graham

Fresh Clean Home 9781911595106This is an unusual book for me to review as it is not about crafts, although if you follow the very easy recipes to create your own cleaning products you will be crafting them. I must admit to not being too keen on the hippy dippy yoghurt knitter vibe that creating your own cleaning products might suggest. However Fresh Clean Home is  very far from that and is full of recipes for natural cleaning products from

Wendy Graham who runs the green living blog ‘Moral Fibres’. I love that name, it sums up the blog in two words.

This book shows you how to make your home smell as fresh as a daisy with these eco-friendly, money-saving, germ-busting recipes.

Using a base of essential oils and natural ingredients, these cleaning products are easy to make, are kinder to your skin and to the environment, while being as effective as any shop-bought solution.

The recipes use simple, inexpensive ingredients that are widely available such as bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, salt and citrus fruit, and will leave your home sparkling clean. You can even customize the fragrances to make your home smell crisp, time and time again.

FRESHHOME_SHOT 04 31

Fresh Clean Home guides the reader from the kitchen to laundry and the bathroom, and also includes a section of recipes for specific household cleaning products, such as window and mirror cleaner, carpet and upholstery spot cleaner and sticky stuff remover.

Clean every nook and cranny, with surface cleaners and bathroom shiners, laundry powder and fabric conditioner, kettle descaler and more, for a beautiful, fresh clean home.

Obviously I had to do some testing, so first of all I tried the ‘Lemon Grove microwave cleaner’ It is very easy to make and did the job well.FRESH HOME SHOT 13 17

I then went on to try out her method for getting ink stains out of garments. I have a much loved pair of cashmere finger-less mittens that were ink stained. Wendy  suggests putting ink stains in milk. I did just that and  the milk turned blue within twenty minutes and the stain came out. It felt like alchemy and I  am more than delighted with the result.

The third item I tried out was a necessity.  I was at a friend’s for dinner and whilst passing me a glass of wine she managed to  tip a lit candle on to  me, the result was wax on a new cashmere cardigan, tee shirt, vest and trousers. The method of wax removal I was already familiar with, but for anyone who doesn’t know, it is the way to get rid of candle wax. Place a piece of brown paper over the  area where the wax is and iron with a warm iron . The wax will melt on the garment and go through to the paper. You may have to do it a few times before it all disappears. When you have removed as much as you possibly can, wash the garment. At the end of all that everything is as good as new and no stains!

A book I highly recommend. Oh and I forgot to mention, lovely styling and photography throughout the book. Photographs by Rachel Whiting.

Wendy Graham graduated with an MSc in Environment Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh in 2005, but it wasn’t until she became a mum that she started her blog in 2013. Since then she has shown thousands of readers how easy, affordable and stylish it can be to love a greener life. Whilst interested in a wide range of environmental topics, green cleaning is a particular passion.

£12.99

Published by Pavilion 

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