Here’s another job I did for the Gentleman’s Club inspired meeting room at The Found Collective in Shoreditch. My aim was to create a comfortable and attractive area for FND to share visual media with their colleagues and clients. The bench style seating is 4 meters long. Visit http://www.thefoundcollective.com/ to view their breath-taking films, music videos, commercials and documentary collaborations.
I admit that I’ve been nervous about showing off my own work in the past, but here goes! I have the facilities to work with soft leathers so I jumped at the chance to upholster this beautiful chair by talented craftsman Frank Boggis-Rolfe. Visit http://www.boggisrolfedesign.co.uk/wp/ for Frank’s unique and contemporary designs.
'What ya gonna do with all that junk, all that junk inside your trunk?' You're going to upcycle it, that's what you're going to do.
As much as I love contemporary design, I rarely buy a brand new piece of furniture or product for my home. That may have a little to do with the great expense of a brand new product, but generally (and honestly), it’s more fun turning something you don’t want into something you do. You just need a good eye for potential and a little patience. I moved into my London flat 2 months ago and with a little budgeted creativity, turned it into a lovely home. However, there are still furnitureless spaces to be filled. I could go to Ikea and pick out a nice affordable coffee table, maybe a couple of bedside cabinets… but that would be lazy, and a little bit boring (although I’ll still happily go for the Swedish meatballs and jelly). Instead, (with a little bit of encouragement and a large cup of coffee) I got up at 4.30am to go to the country’s biggest bi-monthly antiques market. Fuelled with a cheese and tomato toasty I trolled the grounds of Kempton racecourse, hawk-eyed and ready, ready to wage a price war on an unsuspecting dealer for the perfect 1950’s pointy legged chest of drawers. After 4 hours I found… nothing. The market was rammed with chinsy shabby-chic cottage style furniture, but not a decent piece of classic 50’s carpentry in sight. I went home (drawerless) but not defeated, and I did pick up some beautiful textiles. Patience really is key to finding unique pieces that you can bring to life. Whether it’s restoring something old, and giving it a contemporary twist or starting from scratch with recycled junk and a few casters, it takes time to find the perfect base, but you’ll know it when you see it.
Really crate furniture design by Frank Ryan
Former surfer, Brazillian designer Carlos Motta creates furniture from reclaimed wood
British designer Karen Ryan reassembles objects and furniture found in thrift shops in the U.S.A
Italian company Marama constructs furniture by repurposing materials from shipping crates & old wood
This recycled light is made of 15 desk globes outfitted with lights and suspended from the ceiling’s firmament by French designer Benoît Vieubled
Australia-based modernist furniture restorers at Retro Modern source and restore worn mid-century sideboards, buffets and tables, and recreate them into stylish and functional pieces with a cool modern-day twist.
Recycle your plumbing - faucet lamp with LED lighting, designer unknown
Californian based design company Skate Study House recreate classic and popular furniture designs using old skateboard decks.
When it comes to furniture you’ll find it hard to beat 20th century classics. Practical, timeless elegance which suit any style of decor from a 1930’s boudoir, to a highly contemporary 21st Century urban condo.
Hail Brittania: Ercol vs Conran - Classic British design.
In 1920, Lucian Ercolani started his own business in High Wycombe, the chair making capital of England. He developed a technique of steam-bending wood in large quantities to form the famous Windsor Bow, and discovered how to ‘tame’ elm; a beautifully grained hardwood other furniture makers considered impossible to work with.
Terence Conran, the man responsible for some of Britain’s most iconic furniture design, also gave us the duvet, the wok, and the paper lightshade. Conran founded Habitat in 1964 which grew into a large chain selling contemporary homewares and furniture.
These iconic designs have left their mark, inspiring other contemporary British designers to use vintage and retro styling in modern design.
Below: The Isokon Furniture Company was founded in 1935 in Chiswick by Jack Pritchard, a great admirer of the Bauhaus. Pritchard hired the former Master Carpenter of the Bauhaus workshop, Marcel Breuer, as a designer and although Isokon produced furniture with many designers, it was Breuer who gave the firm its iconic fame. Today, designers such as Michael Sodeau continue to encapsulate the proud history of Brit furniture design.
I knew since my very first home economics class in school, that I wanted to spend the rest of my life sewing but it’s taken me 12 years to discover how to use my love of stitch to create something practical, and useful. After studying textile design in college I decided to continue into fashion and began my studies in clothing design and garment construction, soon after graduation I became a designer, and worked briefly with my favourite British surf brand. This should have been my dream job. But apparently, it was not. Being stuck behind a computer desk for 10 hours a day designing clothes with a mere click of a mouse was not quenching my thirst for creativity, and I realised that it wasn’t just my mind that wanted to be creative, it was my hands too. What use is a brilliant and beautiful idea if you don’t have the opportunity to bring it to life yourself, using your own two hands and some hardcore labour… that’s right, some good old fashioned love, sweat and tears.
Over the last few years I developed a love of homewares, and I started to think about how I could combine my love of sewing with home interiors. For me ethical production and sustainability have always been the most important aspects of design, and it’s my aim to show people that eco and ethical products can be sophisticated, and stylish. I started collecting interesting second hand materials, fabrics that looked as if they had a story, sad pieces of furniture that were aching to be loved once more, and slowly I have began to stitch, reupholster and paint life back into them, creating remarkable one-off pieces to treasure, thus The Corduroy Cat was born. It’s been a huge learning curve for me, but I have never been more content or at peace creatively than I am now. Currently I am blessed with a lovely little part-time job in a family run patisserie, and the rest of the time I’m busy working on The Corduroy Cat. I am moving to London this year, with the intention of furthering my experiences, developing new ideas and pushing boundaries… and to prepare for world domination. ;)
These beautiful floor tiles have been re-worked from vintage leather belts by TING, a London based design company devoted to making luxury products using sustainable materials and ethical production. This attractive and hard-wearing surface is also suitable for table and bar tops, walls and feature areas, as well as floors.
"Each belt is hand selected to ensure a high grade of leather and then the belts are stripped of their metals, hand cleaned with chemical free substances and prepared for use. The vintage belts for each tile are carefully designed in-house as the colour and patterning on the belts is sensitive to each tile. This means no two tiles will ever be the same.
Ting makes every effort to produce locally where possible. We have a highly skilled team in the UK for European distribution…” Ting
Converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.
Reusing a material or product in a fashion that does not downgrade it’s quality.
Reusing old products in a new way decreasing the environmental impact of manufacturing a brand new product.
I’ve been picking up old and tired bits of furniture from all sorts of places. Reclamation centres, front yards, the road side, the tip…etc, and breathing life back into them using brightly coloured paint, fabrics (recycled of course!) and a little bit of love. Sadly I haven’t been able to record much of this as I don’t own a camera, but with the help of a lovely friend lending me theirs, I’ve been able to take some snaps of a few finished (and almost finished) pieces.
Below: I revived a 1950’s dressing table I found in a junk shop for £15, turning it into this stylish set of drawers, perfect for a hallway or study. This was my first restoration project and the process was very simple. I removed the mirror and sanded down the original teak wood, taking off any varnish on the surface. I then selected the colours I wanted to use (I used basic wall emulsion as I couldn’t get hold of wood paint in my desired colours. Emulsion is fine as long as you’ve primed your surfaces before hand and then add a coat or two of varnish when the emulsion is dry). I painted the body of the dressing table in my favourite subtle putty shade of green/grey, and then painted the draws in white, red, and two shades of blue. When the paint had dried, I added a protective coat of varnish with a smooth satin finish. I found the hand painted draw knobs at a seaside shop in Swanage for £2.00 each.
A warm welcome to my new eco sister blog, The Felted Frog! Run by thrifty artist Lizzie Ault (soon to be Lizzie Long!) You can find her on Twitter @lizzieault, and to follow her gorgeous tips for stylish sustainability, visit http://feltedfrog.com/
I’ve been thinking a lot about practicality lately, product design which is both beautiful and highly functional. It’s something which is very important to me, to have in my home something aesthetically pleasing to the eye, which also helps my day to day living.
This month The Corduroy Cat admires…
The ‘Fatty Container’ - by Harri Koskinen for Schimidinger Mobelbau
The ultimate in practical storage! These birch containers are stack-able, and lined up they create the perfect seat to perch upon. £165 each - aplaceforeverything.co.uk
'Paperback' Bookshelf - by Eric Sloot and Paulien Berensden for Studio Paradise
I’m a book lover and very proud of my collection. I display them in order of colour around my living room, and love the idea of this minimalistic, modular unit to showcase all of my fabulous reads! From £280 at spectrumdesign.nl
Upcycled Strorage - by Rupert Blachard
For me, upcycled furniture is the creme de la creme! There are so many beautiful pieces out there waiting to be lovingly restored, or in this case pulled apart and reassembled in to something new and fresh. I found these particular pieces in vintage furniture shop Elemental, Spitalfields.
Have fun upcycling and get creative with wooden fruit crates, stack, wall mount, attach casters to wheel them around… You can usually salvage wooden fruit crates from outdoor food markets, health food shops, car boot sales and ebay.
Create your own stain-glass window with Purldeco’s stunning adhesive films. Choose from Art Deco, Art Nerveau, Victorian, and contemporary designs, all you need to do is add soapy water and apply them to glass. £45 per m http://www.purldeco.com/
'Lush Landscape Bedding' at Anthropologie. A riot of petals in a cacophony of colours grows wildly across the fluffy terrain of cloud-soft voile, nearly camouflaging the jungle wildlife who prowl and flap about. £28 - £128 http://www.anthropologie.eu/
'Karakoram Rug' at Anthropologie. Plush tufting and skillful flat weaving create exotic textural contrasts on this striped-and-diamond-scattered rug, whose hues recall outposts along the Silk Road. £398 http://www.anthropologie.eu/
The Corduroy Cat was originally created to promote a range of handmade textiles for the home, made from recycled and vintage materials whilst sharing with you some creative, stylish and innovative product design currently on the market. The first samples are currently in production and I’ve been very tempted to post up a sneaky peek, I’m refraining, so instead I’ll share with you a little visual inspiration behind the project.
I’m moved and excited by contrasting colours and textures, layers, and depth; I love the expressiveness of it. The thick and fierce brush strokes of an Expressionist fuelled by passion, peeling paint, corrugated iron, torn pages from an old book, spilt coffee or red wine, rusting boat sheds, wood worn by the sea, exotic feathers, weather worn leather, sea shells, old shoes, vibrant patterns, stripes, film noir, musty museums, wild flowers, etc…
They are simple things I have made a connection with, simple things I treasure, and simple things that comfort me, so what better inspiration for creating beautiful products for the home…?
Images and Artwork that are not my own have been sourced from Getty, Flickr, National Geographic, Wolfgang Bloch, Robert Raschenburg and Joseph Cornell - If you would like me to remove an image please contact me directly at email@example.com
Summer’s on its way! Time to blow away those winter blues and step outdoors.
This month, The Corduroy Cat loves…
'The Happy Campers' by Tess Car and Kat Heyes. A unique and inspiring guide to camping, crammed full of practical tips and brilliant ideas from finding the perfect camping spot and building a fire, to simple but delicious recipes, entertainment, games and activities including a star gazers guide! This book has been lovingly put together with a collection of beautiful photography and inspiring quotes. It's a spontaneous, relaxed and eco friendly approach to camping, and will be treasured by its readers. £10 at Amazon.
Roberts Digital Radio. Whether it’s Jazz you love, or 70’s Funk & Soul, listen on this iconic 1950’s inspired ’Revival’ DAB radio. With 120 hours of battery life, and portable design, it’s the perfect camping companion! For more information visit Roberts Radio
Soak up the sunshine and relax on these nautical recycled deckchairs by Reefer Sails, a Devon based company that rescue old boat and aircraft sails, windsurf sails and kites and ‘upcycle’ them into an innovative range of products for home, garden, beach and travel. Deckchairs range from £99, a rather expensive purchase, however each product is designed and manufactured in the UK. To download the Reefer Sails catalogue, click here.
Gorgeous machine washable wool blend rugs. The perfect camping accessory for cosy comfort! These hand woven rugs come in a huge selection of colours, from £39. The Braided Rug Company.
Check out these quirky limited-edition prints from Woop Studios. Now you can learn the collective nouns for some of nature’s most obscure creatures, and each of the delightful images are accompanied with 10 fascinating facts about the animal depicted. Visit the new online gallery at woopstudios.com
Ten Plan is a collaboration of 10 designers passionate about environmental sustainability. Each of them have designed an object accompanied by plans and instructions for you to download for free (or at a cost of a small donation), to make at home for yourself DIY style!
My personal favourites - For convenience, the Outdoor Kitchen by Nina Tolstrup, complete with a bucket sink, chopping board, gas hob and storage nook for crockery - For beautiful simplicity, the Floorboardcoatrackpicturerail by Tomoko Azumi, a coat rack/ picture rail made from an old floorboard and some fallen branches found in a forest - And for fun, Skapa by Sam Johnson, re-useable, recyclable children’s ride-on toy made from one IKEA storage box, one IKEA chopping board, and a set of IKEA castors.
The Outdoor Kitchen
To download the free plans for any of these projects visit ten-plan.com
Now for something a little more macabre than cherry pie.
A few months back I jumped on a train to London’s Brick Lane, to attend Tent London Design Festival held at the Old Truman Brewery. Over 200 designers, companies and brands presented an exciting showcase of contemporary, and in some cases unearthly design. I discovered some incredible and bizarre products but one designer in particular really captured my imagination. Alex Randall and her Bespoke Lighting. Be warned, her work is not for the faint hearted…
A mound of taxidermy rats, scuttling, and clawing over one another reaching up to a giant orb of light. A chandelier fashioned from rusting saw blades. In fact most of Randall’s work consists of dead animals or rusting agricultural parts, uncomfortable but strangely beautiful.
Above - This controversial piece was first unveiled at New York Design Week in May 2010, to critical acclaim and has been since causing a stir in London.
Below - On a thread consists of 26 antique saw blades hanging independently from meat hooks on a spiral frame. The largest saw is an antique pit saw and measures well over 2 meters long. The frame hangs from a hand forged metal rope that is fraying so the whole piece appears to be hanging dangerously from a single thread.
Welcome to The Corduroy Cat! What better way to say hello and make new friends than dishing up a big plate of something tasty. So here’s a recipe for delicious, good old fashioned cherry pie. Enjoy!
800g (1¾ lb) ripe cherries, stoned juice of 2 lemons 1 cinnamon stick 150g (5 oz) sugar 300g (10 oz) cherry jam 2 tablespoons kirsch 150g (5 oz) butter, plus extra for greasing 1 quantity of sweet pastry
Preheat the oven to 190ºc
Place the cherries in a bowl with the lemon juice, cinnamon stick and sugar; give the bowl a bit of a shake to combine the ingredients.
In a small saucepan, combine the jam, kirsch and butter. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, then set aside.
Butter a 30cm (12 in) loose-bottomed flan tin. Coarsely grate about ¾ of the pastry into the tin, then use your fingertips to press the grated pastry evenly across the base and up the sides.
Using a pastry brush, spread the jam mixture over the pastry base. Drain the cherries of excess water, and scatter across the tart.
Roll the remaining pastry between 2 pieces of plastic film. Cut the pastry into strips long enough and wide enough to form a lattice pattern across the cherries. Using a sharp knife, trim the strips to neaten the edges.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Serve hot or cold, with ice cream or cream.