Is creative Britain in reverse?

Organised by The Design and Technology Association and Seymourpowell and supported by The James Dyson Foundation, The Design Museum and The Design Council, the panel discussion ‘Is creative Britain in reverse? ‘ took place on the 12th July in London.

Deyan Sudjic, Ellen MacArthur, Ajaz Ahmed, Dick Powell and other leading figures discussed the threatened state of design and technology education in Britain’s schools and universities, its contribution to successful business, and its role in supporting the UK Economy.

The discussion was prompted by the coalition Government’s education reform agenda, which could see Design &Technology (D&T) being removed as a compulsory subject for all pupils from age 5 to 14.

On the night, this short video was shown featuring contributions from designer Sir James Dyson, fashion designer Sir Paul Smith, former Rolls Royce CEO Sir John Rose, Jaguar Land Rover Design Director Ian Callum, Design Council Chief Executive David Kester, and other leading figures from across from across business and industry.

How do you feel about the possibility that Design & Technology (D&T) could no longer be a compulsory subject in the UK’s national curriculum? What effect would the removal of D&T from the curriculum have on Britain’s creative output. I’d love to hear your views on this!!



Look Above! | Appreciating the architecture above our high streets

STA Travel on the Triangle at the top of Park Street, Bristol

Last week, I received a direct Twitter message from design consultant Paolo Feroleto of Four Design  informing me of a fantastic new initiative he is running called Look Above! and asking if I would like to get involved.

Basically, the initiative is a call to action for us all to take a moment or two to look around our city and town centres and appreciate the beauty of the architectural marvels that surround us.

It is so easy to walk through town, striding from shop to shop hurriedly navigating the hustle and bustle of the crowds without so much as sparing a thought for the beauty that may be above. Spectacular architecture depicting the styles of decades and centuries gone by hides away above our heads unnoticed and neglected. If only we were to look above for a second we would realise that our town centres are not just monotonous rows of Star Bucks, charity shops, Tescos etc etc.

Park Street in Bristol

As soon as I read about this initiative I couldn’t wait to get involved. So last Sunday off I trotted into Bristol City Centre, camera in hand and head held high, eager to see what architectural delights awaited me. I must say I was very surprised by the amount of different architectural styles that were crammed into just one street.

Here are a small selection of photos I took on my gander up Park Street in Bristol.

Sainsbury's on the triangle at the top of Park Street, Bristol

Tesco express at the bottom of Park Street, Bristol

Waitrose on the Triangle at the top of Park Street, Bristol

And lastly, when I reached the top of Park street I came across this sad sight. Habitat plastered in closing down sale signs. The end of an era. Habitat you will be sorely missed.

Habitat at the top of Park Street, Bristol

I thoroughly enjoyed my little jaunt up Park Street in Bristol and it opened my eyes to the wonders that I have missed every time I have trotted up one of my favourite streets in town.

Paolo is collating imagery from towns and cities globally as a way of showcasing the architectural history that sits above our high streets. He is looking for contributions from everyone from budding photographers right through to architectural students. Selected contributions will be acknowledged on the Look Above! website and in a future book.

So if you find yourself at loss for something to do this week, grab your camera, go into town and Look Above! You might be surprised by what you see.

Please send your contributions to Paolo@four-design.co.uk

The Design Encyclopedia

The Design Encyclopedia by Mel Byars

As it is such a beautiful day today I decided to sit out in the garden and have a read of The Design Encyclopedia by design historian Mel Byars. I have wanted to get my hands on this book for some time now and last month I was lucky enough to be given it as a present by one of my best friends in the whole world. He knows me too well, sometimes it is scary.

I have known Thomas since uni and we have remained firm friends ever since. Thomas recently started work as a flight attendant for a major European airline and is now leading an action-packed life flying all over the world from his base in Germany. In a recent trip to New York, he stopped off at the Museum of Modern Art where he picked up this beautiful book for me and I can’t thank him enough!

The book is a one-stop guide to the design industry, providing an insight into the essential framework of design from 1870 to 2004 when it was published. There are approximately 3,500 entries listed in alphabetical order making it extremely easy to find what you are looking for. The entries include designers, studios, consortia, partnerships and manufacturers as well as significant historical periods, styles and materials.

Each entry that is focused on a particular designer includes a biography, details of their education, major works, exhibitions and any awards they have won. Areas covered in the book include furniture, lighting, ceramics, fabrics, glassware, metalwork and electronic product design.

Whilst the book is an extremely comprehensive publication, and quite text heavy, there are also over 700 colour illustrations that have been incorporated mainly from the Museum of Modern Art’s extensive collection.

When I picked it up, the first thing I did was search through to find the names of all the designers that I have had the pleasure of interviewing over the past few years. Most of them were indeed there of course except for a few who were not included, but I suspect there will be a place for them if a second edition is ever published.

Tom on the Bund in Shanghai

So thanks once again Thomas for such a great present! It will be invaluable for my research from now on!

29 ways to stay creative

I was browsing Moleskinerie, the official blog for Moleskin notepads,  in the early hours of the morning (as one does when one can’t sleep) and I saw this little video created by TO-FU Design showing 29 ways to stay creative. Some pretty good advice there I’d say.



As you all read my blog I’ll take a wild guess and assume that you are a pretty creative bunch of folks. So what are your tips for staying creative? Please share them with us in the comments, we’d love to hear from you. Or alternatively just tell us which of the tips here work for you or which you think you need to pay more attention to.

I personally write loads of lists, and I write down ideas as soon as I have them, particularly ideas for blog posts and feature ideas for the various publications and sites I write for. In fact, I currently have 40 ideas for blog posts written on my to-write list. Just need to find the time to write them now.

One tip I desperately need to try is stepping away from the computer (I am writing this post at 03:25am a clear indication that I spend far too many hours sat at this pc).

So what about you?

Copy/Culture Symposium: Aric Chen

Copy/Culture Symposium: Aric Chen from Premsela, The Netherlands Inst. on Vimeo.

Copy/Culture Symposium: Aric Chen from robertanderson on Vimeo.

On Saturday  4th June,  DMY and Premsela, the Netherlands institute for design and fashion, teamed up to present The Copy/Culture Symposium. At the symposium, international curators, scientists and designers discussed the rise of a sharing and copy culture and its implications, especially for the design profession.

DMY will broadcasting all the individual lectures in upcoming series of video captures for all of us who were unable to attend the symposium in Berlin.

In the first lecture Aric Chen, independent curator, publicist and creative director of Beijing Design week, spoke about the association of China with a certain copy culture.

Charity begins at home

Jean-Christophe Novelli

Celebrity Chef Jean-Christophe Novelli

Last Tuesday I received an email from Cancer Research UK asking for my support in their latest campaign. This email immediately struck a chord with me as I have been personally affected by cancer and I know first-hand what this destructive disease can do to the people who are unfortunate enough to fall victim to it and how it affects those close to them.

It was a warm Summer day in August 2009 when I received a phone call from my mum informing me that the results of her lumpectomy confirmed what we had all feared…breast cancer.

The months that followed were extremely difficult for my whole family, and amazingly my mum seemed to cope better than the rest of us. She took a very matter-of-fact approach to her treatment and put all her confidence in the doctors who were helping her to fight against this aggressive affliction.

During this time I was so proud of my mum and it made me see her in a completely different way. I never knew that she was so strong and to this day I have no idea from where she managed to summon this immense inner strength to fight so hard.

But unfortunately inner strength alone is not enough to help people beat cancer. Without the work of organisations like Cancer Research UK many of our loved ones may not have been able to overcome cancer and that is why it is so important that we support them in their dedication to saving lives through research. And we can all support the new campaign.

Fronted by celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, the new campaign aims to encourage everyone to have a Michelin star clearout this spring, and donate unwanted, high-quality homeware to their local Cancer Research UK shop.

Cancer Research UK is looking for all sorts of homeware, not just kitchen items but also good quality soft furnishings such as cushions, ornaments, picture frames and vases. The campaign will run throughout April 2011, but homeware can be donated throughout the year.

Simon Ledsham, Cancer Research UK’s trading director, said: “Cancer survival rates have doubled in the past 40 years and Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of that progress.  Our work is entirely funded by the public, we receive no government funding for our research, and without items to sell, our shops can’t raise any money.  So please – spring clean your home this April and donate to your local Cancer Research UK shop.”

As readers of my blog, I know that you all love interiors and homewares as much as I do. So that means that you probably have some lovely things at home that you don’t need and that you could actually do without. That’s why I’m asking you to have a look at home and find something that you could take to your local Cancer Research shop and donate. If you make homewares for a living, why not make an extra product and donate that.

It’s important that together we do as much as we can to fight cancer. Afterall, every year nearly 46,000 people receive the devastating news that they have breast cancer. In 2009, it was my mum, but it could equally be your mum, your aunty, your sister, your wife or even you. And that’s just breast cancer, but there are 200 different kinds of cancer and I don’t even want to think about how many people they affect.

The  groundbreaking work that Cancer Research UK has done into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives. One day you might need it to save your life or the life of someone you love. So think carefully…and give generously!

For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 3469 6699 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org

Mid-Week Pinspiration : Stylish Stairs

This week on Pinterest I have mostly been pinning gorgeous images of stairs and boy have I found some creative ones. For most people, stairs are just a practical way of reaching the upper levels of their house, but why shouldn’t you have some fun with them and make them more interesting? So here are just a few examples of what can really be achieved with a little inspiration, creativity, time and some stencil equipment in some cases. It’s just a shame I don’t have any stairs in my ground floor flat!

Black and White stencilled stairs by SixxDesign via Design Public

Patterned Stairs via imgspark

Patterned Stairs via imgspark

Orla Kiely patterned stairs

Orla Kiely patterned stairs. Photo Jake Curtis for Living Etc via French by Design

Book inspired staircase

Book inspired staircase via We Heart It

Yellow Moroccan Stencil staircase via Style Files

Yellow Moroccan Stencil staircase via The Style Files

Pantone Stairs

Pantone Stairs featured in Dutch interior magazine ELLE Wonen via The Style Files

Moroccan Stencil Staircase via The Style Files

Moroccan Stencil Staircase via The Style Files

painted stair with numbers via nest egg

Painted stairs featuring numbers via Nest Egg

Black and White Patterned stairs

Black and White Patterned stairs via Design Amour

Stairs via Kate Spade New York

Stairs via Kate Spade New York

Numbered Stairs by designer Sarah Richardson

Numbered Stairs by designer Sarah Richardson via The Inspired Room

For Japan With Love

As Japan struggles to come to terms with the destruction and devastation that has been left in the wake of the earth quake and Tsunami, my heart goes out to all those currently fighting to overcome this immense human tragedy.

In order to show my respect for all those who have been affected I will be joining others bloggers tomorrow on March 18th in a day of silence. I will not be posting anything here in order to help raise awareness of the devastating events taking place in Japan.

This initiative was organised by the bloggers behind Ever Ours and Utterly Engaged in order to help us show our support at this very difficult time. They have set up a fundraising page called For Japan With Love that is specifically geared to helping with the relief efforts. Shelterbox is the organisation that the bloggers are supporting and you can donate here. Please be generous, the people of Japan need our help.

Follow me on bloglovin’

Follow me on Bloglovin' widget

I have just registered my blog on Bloglovin’ so anybody who wants to follow me can now do so.

Instead of checking my blog to see if I have posted anything new, Bloglovin’ will always inform you when there is a new post.

Just click on the image above to go straight to my Bloglovin’ profile and click on follow…Simples!

Mid-Week Pinspiration – Stairway Storage

So, I’ve decided to start a new series for my blog entitled ‘Mid-Week Pinspiration’. In recent weeks I was lucky enough to discover Pinterest and I have been using it religiously ever since. It is a great tool for saving and organizing all the inspirational images that I come across on the net – kind of like a digital moodboard, if you like.

So to kick off the new series I decided to post up a few ‘Pinspirational’ images I have come across recently.

Source: Traditional Home via Kelly G Design

And the topic for today is Understair Storage. Now in my ground floor flat I obviously can’t have understair storage. Not because I don’t have stairs but because the space under the stairs is in fact my home office nook. Otherwise I would love to have something  like this. So handy for storing..well, anything that needs storing.

Source: Small Furnish

Whether it’s drawers or cupboards, understair storage is a very handy thing to have. Why waste that space when it can be used so cleverly and creatively?

Source: Living Etc via Keltainen Talo Rannalla

Do you have understair storage? And if so, what do you store in there?

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