Bone china plate by Louise Wilkinson.
As usual there was a plethora of new and exciting designers to discover at Tent London 2013, showing alongside some familiar favourites that I look forward to catching up with each year. Here is my round up of the best soft furnishings and homewares brands I found. Wall art, furniture and lighting will follow in my next blog, though this delineation is pretty arbitrary since many brands happily encompass all aspects of interior design.
This outrageous outsize knitted cushion is by Melanie Porter, who was trained at Central Saint Martins and turned her hand to soft furnishing design after ten years working as a designer for international fashion brands. Melanie became a mum in July, so good on her for staying up to speed and putting on such a great show at Tent this year. Those of us running our own brands don’t get much time off!
Geometric prints were everywhere at Tent London this year. I love these cushions by Chocolate Creative.
I spent some time chatting with Melanie Roseveare of Melody Rose ceramics whilst Snarfle marvelled at her new collection of printed plates. Melody started out upcycling vintage fine china – adding her own designs on top of vintage ones such as the blue plate above (which features a picture of her dad, an amateur boxing champion). Now she has launched her own bespoke range that includes this artfully placed classical nude. I love the way she has arranged these plates to make the most of the design.
These honeycomb geometric print cushions are by Petra Green of Room 39, a Slovenian designer now settled in the UK who excels in the use of bright colours and eye catching prints on unusually shaped cushions. Some of her designs are made up in a family run factory in Slovenia, some are made up by the Working Well Trust (which provides opportunities for those with mental health difficulties) and some are manufactured in her East London studio space. She aims to marry craft techniques and modern technology in as sustainable a way as possible – I like her production style!
I first admired work by Sian Elin at New Designers this year, but didn’t cover it at the time because my photographs did not do the collection justice. Her wonderful cushions feature abstract designs (and the fab peacock patterned design above) in a range of luscious colour combinations.
Since I discovered her at New Designers in 2011 Rachel Powell has gone from strength to strength, and it’s so nice to see a recent graduate doing well commercially within a few years. My favourite thing in her new collection is this bold retro inspired elephant print that would look lush in a kid’s room. The design also comes on fabric that can be purchased by the metre – what a brilliant idea for all those crafters out there!
What fun – this magnetic porcelain train for eggy soldiers is by the Japanese born designer Reiko Kaneko. Having graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2007 she set up her own studio in London’s east end, but has since relocated to Stoke-on-Trent in order to integrate design and production in the home town of English bone china.
Speaking of fine bone china, the Staffordshire University student collaboration Flux Stoke-on-Trent continues to impress with beautiful ceramic designs. This project is an example of collaboration between a teaching establishment and industry – forging new bonds that will lead to viable careers in an industry which can be notoriously difficult to infiltrate successfully.
These beautiful brushes by Mikael Lofstrom of Lofstrom skilfully make use of the natural shape of tree branches, which are paired with upcycled thistles.
Etelka Meixner of Hungary has tapped into a very current theme with her luxuriously decorative pearl embellished chinaware.
I had a long chat about the joys of living in Thanet with Ramsgate based designer Maxine Sutton, who has recently overhauled her shop in the centre of the newly vibrant Margate to become a stand alone store for her homewares range. This graphic townscape design perfectly showcases her style.
Over at the Norwegian design showcase I was most taken by these jewel coloured stripe pots from Kristine Five Melvær. Kristine works in glass and china to produce objects of exquisite beauty.
Finally, I am just a little bit in love with fine china by Louise Wilkinson, an illustrator and fashion textile designer turned homewares designer who is inspired by Japanese design. I think her unique creations also owe a slight debt to the cute animals so often featured in 40s and 50s children’s book design: no wonder I find them so delightful. In fact we promptly bought a jug and matching mugs for some soon to be married friends and I am just a little bit envious.
You can share my discoveries as I find them by following me on instagram here.
- Christmas Gift Ideas 2012: Top Ten Best Mugs by Illustrators and Designers
- Christmas Gift Ideas 2013: Homeware and Prints for the Wall
- Renegade Craft Fair in London 2011 Review: Ceramic Design
- Melody Rose Ceramics: an interview with fine bone china homeware designer Melanie Roseveare
- Home London at Olympia, January 2015: Review