Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Stylish advertising makes a return

February 14, 2013

I am only human and to deny David Beckham is an attractive man would only be two signatures away from a committal!

And so it was with glee that I saw the new H&M advert. I think it’s fabulous. It’s beautifully shot, it makes you want to buy the product and David Beckham pulling his kecks out of his bottom at the end adds just the right amount of humour.

A superb job the like of which I haven’t seen in a while. I know Sony Bravia did all the great stunt work with paint and coloured balls but I don’t recall fashion TV adverts having been so stylish for a long time.

I loved the Levi’s ones from Brad Pitt….

to Nick Kamen….

to being mad about the boy with Dinah Washington….is the new H&M a slight nod in its direction?

to Flat Eric…

Few adverts actually make me want to buy anything at all, I credit myself, along with countless others for NOT falling for the hype but as soon as I saw the GAP Khakis Swing advert I immediately went out and bought a pair and loved them all the more for thinking I was that cool!

And maybe that’s it…..finally being told something was cool that I felt really was…..and now I was too! Wish they still fit….sighs.

Away from fashion, many years ago, to my joy, there was a Take The Pepsi Challenge tand on Preston market place. At the ripe old age of about 35 and always having wanted to take it, I took it. I knew #fact that I would choose Coca Cola…..there is no other.

But I chose Pepsi. I was mortified. The tall, impossibly attractive blonde promo girl stated very matter of factly “So you’ll be buying Pepsi from now on then?”

“Er no,” I replied.

“But you just chose it over two others? Why not?”

“Yes I know but I like to have a Coke and a Smile, I’d like to Teach the World to Sing….SANTA CLAUS IS COMING!!!!!!”

She knew she’d lost the argument but really…..why would I?

I could go on…..who could forget the Nestle advert of the woman in the VW making a cup of coffee in her car? I wanted a Beetle and a portable element for years after that one.

It’s really good to see some chic in our adverts at this time of austerity…and while I know DB abounds, he is everywhere, we forgive him because, well, he seems such a bloody nice chap!

I applaud those making 2012’s Christmas ads who didn’t go all out on huge celebrity casts to flog us stuff that we were always going to buy regardless of who was flogging it, but seeing David Beckham in his trollies brightened my day!

Here’s one for the fans…..oh…and thanks Guy Ritchie too!



When design goes wrong? XL jewellery!

February 8, 2013

As many others, I am a huge fan of the Domestic Sluttery blog.

By and large I love everything they choose to blog about, their foodie items being sumptuous, their fashion irresistible.

But then yesterday, this cropped up in my Facebook newsfeed and I was a more than a little shocked.

anne morgan contemporary jewellery handmade in wales UK Cardiff 2013-02-07 10-58-11


Accompanied by the question, isn’t this nautical necklace lovely, my heart went out to them….given mine and others’ responses.

Far from winning votes and hearing that cash register sound, of the 94 comments left, it seemed almost everyone did not share the love, many stating that it looked more like a noose, proffering lots of jolly un-nautical statements about hangmen or suicide! For me I could see nothing more than the Emperor’s New Clothes and questioning in my own mind “OMG have they lost it?”

What is a shame is that the rest of Anne Morgan‘s collection is stunning. I’ve seen her work before and love it. Added to which there seem to be fewer and fewer galleries, certainly around our way, stocking what I would describe as craft jewellery.

I’m nervous of describing it thus as the word craft, for many, implies old women making lace covers for toilet rolls, or people thinking their Fimo jewellery is the next big thing when really you wouldn’t give it house space! I mean craft as the height of craftsmanship.

Some noted that it was the first thing Domestic Sluttery had ever featured which didn’t get a unanimous LIKE! and a thumbs up.

For me the most astute observation came from Lucilla Dale who noted that it looks like something you would design for the catwalk. I couldn’t agree more. A one off maybe, that was never meant to adorn women everywhere but a statement piece for one specific occasion, from which more conservative designs would be derived?

If nothing else, it got us all talking, and did take me to Anne Morgan’s page, which is utterly delightful. I do urge you to take a look. Her designs are contemporary, having a really clean cut, fresh edge to them.

and in case we all thought they HAD lost it at Domestic Sluttery…….oh no, today’s shoe collection is to DIE FOR!


Lighting design…. ceci n’est pas une lumiere!

February 4, 2013

I was skimming through twitter the other day and came across this highlighted by Retro To Go – a light which seems to have gone round the block so frequently of late, that I am wont to ask – are people just not buying into it?

jeeves wall lamp


It’s the Jeeves wall lamp from Innermost by Jake Phipps, featured on Retro To Go’s site via Minimal Home.

What surprises me is that I am a fan of both Innermost and Retro To Go, having shopped with the former for my past home….yet this really does not grab me at all…..I find it really quite naff but I can’t explain why. Possibly because it seems a gimmick and nothing more to my layman’s design eyes.

I’m glad they used a Magritte to exemplify it…as it is exactly what I thought of as soon as I saw it… opposed to Jeeves!

Lighting seems to be such a niche thing these days.

Taste is always subjective but this just reminds me of the conversation I had with Jacqui Jones at Design Conscious a few years back when the Philippe Starck gun lamp came out….the most attractive part of it for me being inside the shade! I almost choked at the design….what was Starck thinking? And who is his market? BMW driving drug dealers? I know that’s all too sweeping a statement and doubtless shows me up for the naive fool I obviously am but…?



I can’t appreciate this no matter how I look at it.

It’s up there with the Mooi Rabbit Lamp……what’s going on? Is lighting becoming the emperor’s new cloths of interior design?

Before I moved into my new house all I wanted was this…the Glo Ball!


Perfect, elegant, dreamy….or maybe this too, love these caboche wall sconces.


I have to say I am also madly in love with this….O Space


Sadly for me, however divine our new abode is….the ceilings are too low as to allow for suspension lights.

Still…it leaves me more time to research emulsion!


Winter Warmers – Laura Crosby

December 13, 2012

With the warm weather officially behind us, there is nothing better than getting cosy in front of the fire with a blanket and a cup of warm, whipped cream topped with hot hot chocolate!

I love nothing more than doing just that, especially as Manchester weather isn’t the best!

Here are my top five favourite mugs from the newroomsonline collection to enjoy my hot chocolate in.

Keith Brymer Jones Chocolate Mug

Keith Brymer Jones’ chocolate mug.

Obviously with chocolate on the mug this is one of my favourites. Does what it says on the tin!

RR Dog mug

Repeat Repeat Dachshund mug.

Sausage dogs are definitely my favourite, but I cannot have a pet, so seeing one on a mug is close enough!


Little Miss Chatterbox Mug

This mug sums up what every girl does when they get together, gossip over hot drinks!


The retro design on this mug by Mary Fellows is girly and so cute, absolutely love this one.

Herdy Sheep Mugs

Have sheep ever been cuter?

Find all these mugs on newroomsonline before all the hot chocolate addicts (or just me) snap them up!

Italian versus Spanish versus Lancastrian style!

September 14, 2012

We went out for dinner last weekend to the latest Tiggis restaurant in the area, on the A59 at Samlesbury in the Ribble Valley.

Tiggis is something of a rite of passage, I think, in every young person’s lifetime around our neck of the woods. Historically it seemed always to be the first place you ever went out for dinner with your mates without parents, probably the first place you got a job waiting on (I lasted one night!) and consequently the place you go back to throughout your lifetime.

Growing up in Preston and school in Lytham I enjoyed the best of both worlds…..Tiggis Preston and Tiggis StAnnes. One of my best friends had her hen night in St Annes and I had mine in Preston – so you can see, a mainstay of celebrations. So we were all gutted to think that they’d gone out of business a few years back….but no!

The one in Preston survived and now there is the new outlet in Samlesbury, and it is beautiful. A seriously gorgeous makeover to what was formerly a fairly ugly place!

The restaurant was rammed, I’m sure we only got a table as our birthday girl for the evening had supplied most of the exquisite lighting….from the the range at Design Conscious. Both indoor and outdoor lighting was stunning…as one might expect.

My attention was drawn, however, to this..


I couldn’t help but think it was a Jordi Labanda wallpaper, it could so easily be. It filled me with as much delight as so many of his illustrations in Hey Day.

It transpires it’s not, but a paper called Claudine designed by Odette at Opus Muras Wallpapers. It is one of six designs from their Courtesan Collection and utterly divine, here in sumptuous copper and bitter chocolate flock. It’s also available in red or ebony but, for me, this has to be the best of the three, though their Nemesis paper runs a close second.

The Courtesan Collection is now up there with the Sanderson Fifties range…..both rich and dripping in style but from opposite ends of the design spectrum. We just put this in our den…Mad Men eat your hearts out!

And best of all? OPUS MURAS ARE LOCAL!

Yes, based in Blackburn, I am bowled over to see such luxury pouring out of our neighbours!

Tiggis have placed Claudine largely in their bar area where it really complements the other factors, but lest we forget, once you’ve drunk in all the fab design, the food is great too, of course!


Art versus design – the last laugh, and our gutless press

May 28, 2012

I pondered over the title of this post – Artistic Licence? Art for Art’s Sake? The Emperor’s New Clothes?

Any one of which suits, all of them typically something I’d read in The Sun or The Daily Mail. I don’t read either paper but I suspect on this occasion I would side with their point of view rather than my favoured ‘quality’ press….so I swatted up.

What depresses me is that my whole life I have felt intellectually inferior to peers because I have ultimately reached a point at which I have to concede, “I just don’t get it!”, where others do. For example, as I have said before, I like the Traviata as an opera. From stuff I’ve read in the past, opera goers would find this appalling….evidently some feel it’s the Now That’s What I Call music of the opera world. In contrast Tosca, lauded by so many, I sat through and found largely to be a load of dischordant warbling.

And now this.

I saw it on Have I Got News For You and instantly wanted to read up on it – Invisible: Art about the Unseen 1957 – 2012 at the Hayward Gallery.

Invisible art – yes.

Or as we like to say – taking the mick.

And though some have joked about handing over an invisible £8 entry fee, I would argue my fee to the death at the Hayward Gallery, where the event is being held.

I am fascinated by art but maybe the blunt Northerner within has finally reached the end of her own appreciative tether.

I am depressed by the lack of guts shown by the press. Even the afore mentioned Sun and Daily Mail only touch on slight disapproval.

From The Independent to The Telegraph to The Guardian, without exception everyone has taken the safe, cautious standpoint of merely describing what the Hayward’s obvious press release has stated…what the gallery aims to achieve, ‘amusing’ anecdotes related to one piece and the history of invisible art.

So on the basis of such a lack of outcry I assume once more that I don’t get it because my intellect is lacking.

It’s interesting, yes, that you can convince so many people of something that isn’t there, that there is something to ponder but isn’t that meditation in another world?

I have to bring this back to a time of recession – I find it quite vulgar (albeit it incredibly clever!) to charge people for something which isn’t there.

Visiting trade fairs where the focus, as a buyer, is, for me, design-led giftware, I am painfully aware of cost versus function versus creative versus fashion. As a long tail outfit I am also acutely aware of shelf life; how sustainable are some designs, how many have a life beyond this season’s flash in the pan wanna-have. I meet folk whose designs are literally achingly beautiful, the joy being the touch, the feel, the visual feast of colour and form and clever functionality. There’s wit, there’s appeal, there’s turning a mug which could be so bland into something you need to drink from. There are colours that make you want to give your whole house a make-over. OK it’s giftware, it’s not art I realise that, of course, but it’s real and it’s been through a design process not entirely removed from that of pure art. It’s probably been equally self indulgent at some point in that process but I’d rather spend my £8 on surprising little luxury with the added benefit of being able to see where my money has gone.

The exhibition starts on the 12th June, runs till the 5th August and stars works by Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Yves Klein and Tom Friedman, among others.

2012 – where anything goes!

January 18, 2012

I attended my first trade fair of the year yesterday and am truly non the wiser. On the one hand we can expect the ongoing retro vibe that is 1950’s and 60’s design to continue for the foreseeable….so all you Orla Kiely fans can be content with your on fashion purchases.

Orla Kiely Notebooks


Anyone with a penchant for Pintuck will also be right on target for looking ahead of the game as slogans continue to abound – especially those with a vintage feel.

An Apple a Day tea towel

Pintuck linen tea towels - MADE IN ENGLAND


And possibly more so in the latter case as anything whatsoever with a Union Jack or uber Englishness design is bang on. If you thought last year’s Kate and Wills fest was over, dream on. Anything featuring our very own Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly dreamboat Royals is still popular but more than anything Queenie is tops!

Wish I had a photo to paste but not yet – watch this space. The memorabilia relating to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee ranges from hyper formal gold lustre edged china to caricatures on mugs and linens, in very good taste, of which I’m sure HRH would be highly approving. I avoid anything which instantly dates like the plague but have to say I fell in love many times over with what I saw. Never been a collector of Royal memorabilia but I could have started with a passion. I wanted it all.

What did surprise me was a lack of anything Olympic to any large degree…and what there was was, once again, slightly retro in feel, so I shall not be buying in potential obsolescence in that area when this beauty will do!


Mexican Olympics Flightbag


Other trends are minimalist Scandinavian design….which is just divine. The beauty of lines and simplicity is truly delightful. There were many different designers present and it would be hard to highlight just one, the choice of standard was equally high….but watch out….you could bankrupt yourself overnight.

At the other end of the design spectrum is what I’d call Asian flavour kitsch. Made in India the enameled steel and tin available is really funky. Florals, abstracts and nature based designs in bright colours on ultra light media make for mail order heaven!

Colours seem to be muted mustards, yellows and greys while Pantone have cited their colour of the year as Tangerine! Other hues are a lovely 1950’s duck egg blue yet a real true blue too, while lipstick pinks, bright greens and exotic warm oranges abound. There will be a precise science to all this, doubtless linked to the world of fashion but I’d say go for it – eclecticism is the way forward!

More as and when but for now….my feet ache!


Putting on the Ritz(enhoff) at newroomsonline

November 15, 2010

I’m seriously stacked out for Christmas this year.

We’re currently moving newroomsonline to a newer platform which will give the customers a much better buying experience.

I’d really hoped I’d be able to bring you the new website before Christmas but am now beginning to doubt it. The more I refine my departments and look at designers and work out what goes where, naturally the longer before we can go live – but it’ll be worth it…..and I’m really not a fan of going live until things are how I want them to be…yes, that’s how much of a control freak I really am!

There’s always an amount of pain before the pleasure can set in and the best part of the new site is how many new products I’ll be able to bring you. I’m currently limited to 500 but with the help of shopcreator will be going into the realms of virtually limitless capacity! Yayyyy!

The newest range is from Germany’s Ritzenhoff. You’ll find their products under the new designers tab, and they feature piggy banks, milk glasses, water glasses and champagne glasses.

Ritzenhoff have been around for a long time and their work is the sort that you want to collect. They commission designs from internationally renowned designers, artists, cartoonists, architects and illustrators.

We’re featuring a handful of designers for starters including Luca Casini, Nils Kunath, Stephanie Roehe, Nicole Winter, Nicolas de Wael, Petra Mohr and many more.

All Ritzenhoff’s glasses come in absolutely stunning giftboxes, the milk cartons probably being the most fun, then the more formal water, or Aqua, boxes, while their Champus boxes are just perfect for wedding presents or for marking extra special occasions.

Water glass by Michaela Koch

Water glass by Nicolas de Wael

Water glass by Tim Davies

Each of the water glasses is screen printed around the outside of the glass to mimic etched glass, while the base of the glass carries a full colour image too.

The milk glasses, on the other hand, come in a delightful milk carton, carry information about the designer plus a leaflet about their latest designs. It’s important to note that runs can be quite limited and a number of designs are deleted annually.

Milk glass by Siegmar Munk

Milk Glass by Kathrin Stockebrand

Milk glass by Gernot Gunga

The champagne glasses – Champus – come in fabulous gold and black giftboxes, complete with designer info and a serviette. Ritzy and Glitzy but oh so affordable.

Champus glass by Monika Keller

Champus Glass by Nicole Winter

Champus glass by Stephanie Roehe

And if you’re having trouble saving for any occasion then you need the perfect piggy bank to kick start that habit!

Piggy bank designed by Auge

Petra Mohr's World Cup piggy!

Zwischenraum's sun bathing piggy!

What I love most about Ritzenhoff is that you get the whole package, well thought through. Their designs are divine, funny, elegant, whacky, you name it, they have a designer to fit your own personal taste. Their packaging is second to none. Not only does it match the item within but it’s been tastefully executed, they’ve not invested any less in the design of the boxes. And then there’s the price – it’s all very reasonably priced making it possible to buy something really special without having to take out a bank loan!

Signs of the times

January 15, 2010

OK so for some reason I’ve started looking at street signs. Whether it’s because someone smashed into the street sign of the road I grew up on over Christmas and having looked at it for 43 years, to see it no longer there makes me reflective, or whether it’s because I’ve finally got into Flickr and have been uploading to my stream, I don’t know but what it has highlighted is how dreadfully dull our sign designs are in the UK.

The first two are in Tarifa in Southern Spain…even the words are a bit dreamy Hope and Independence…there’s a sense of instant history, implied drama….and the fact that they’re set into the walls, a real genuine part of the fabric of the town.

Again the French offering…there’s no need to upgrade this street sign in Honfleur because there’s some sense of inherent heritage there. And a piece of screen printed or maybe handpainted metal has a certain cache too.

So to the UK……I love the first one……solid, concrete, wood, metal….character, true character but the second is the upgrade….vulgar no sense of staying power, no style and worst of all Preston is currently bowing to the weight of these new street signs….simply dire. They seem to be made from press moulded durable plastic but also seem to have a pop-in/pop-out-ness about the main cross bracey bit – gak! Even the signs which require no upgrade are being replaced…another senseless waste of money, but hey what business is it of mine?

If I get two mins this week I’ll take a photo of the Aqueduct Street sign in Preston – it MUST be on a listed list somewhere as it’s never been replaced by any of the modern abominations and has a proper, elegant font – it’s really quite beautiful.

Designs on sledging – top results for ingenuity.

January 11, 2010

I for one think that the snowy weather has been wonderful, I’ve woken up every day wanting a snow ball fight, itching to build a snowman and dying for a sledge – which is why Saturday was such a frustrating but fabulous day – I insisted we went for a walk to the local fell – Beacon Fell…….and it never occurred to me to take a sledge – D’OH!!!

We walked up the main road as all the access roads were closed and a group of about 50 people was sledging, skiing and snowboarding down the fell – FANTASTIC!

David and I remarked that this had to be blogged simply down to the countless styles of vehicle! No two were alike – but had very different results.

Top prize for speed, ingenuity and all round good laughs – the four lads riding an HGV mud flap!

Second prize for speed and timeless elegance – the classic sledge with metal running edges and the all wood retro version.

The poorer modes of travel were bivvy bags, recycle bin lids and those awful flat plastic dish seats sold as sledges. It’s not that they didn’t work, it’s that others were just better!

Naturally the sledges currently on sale were in evidence but no good for getting more than one person at a time – for that you need a giant inflatable donut!

Other forms included body boards, wake boards and tea trays!

Hats off – it was such a fab afternoon watching everyone. Health & safety flew out of the window with countless saying how great it was to stick two fingers up to the nanny state and have some fun. Bruises – de rigeur, biting cold and hunger – a must, laughs, screeches and giggles – obligatory. Total strangers all stood round chatting – no nervousness or suspicion just bloody good fun and an instant friendship!

If we could be guarenteed weather like this every year newroomsonline would definitely be stocking sledges as a priority – think of the fun researching suppliers!