Friday, 25 July 2008

The Art of Scribble

We have just launched a new collection of scarves by designer Hilary Laing. The designs are based on the freedom of children's drawings - full of vibrant crayola colours and energy.

They reminded us of an exhibition a few years ago called Primary Vision which was held at The Tate Liverpool which brought together significant bodies of work by early-mid 20th century artists MirĂ³, Dubuffet, Jorn, Klee and artists of the CoBrA group.

These disparate artists sought to revive and celebrate the fresh innocence and intensity of a child's vision -Artists in the CoBrA group for example, drew influence from the bold use of shape and colour to be found in children's drawings and Klee used a childhood vision to create fantastical and enchanting mini-worlds. A new way of producing art and design was influenced by these artists and still has an effect on (particularly) textile design to this day.

Hilary Laing graduated in Scotland after which she worked for Elspeth Gibson in London. She then returned to her studio in Glasgow where she produces stunning hand printed scarves. She says of her designs;

"My work is very much a personal response to children and their outlook on life through their use of colour and mark making techniques. I want people to enjoy wearing my colourful quirky pieces and the main aim is to make people smile inside"

The collection can be found in the Scarf Department and is also in the new Shop Floor Project window display - check it out!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Pockets Full of Detailing

Jessica Maxcy's Bags at The Shop Floor Project

Up until the early 1800's a bag as an external garment as we use today was non-existent. Instead both men and women wore 'pockets'. Essentially a pocket was a single or a pair of flat bags tied onto a ribbon which was worn around the waist amongst many intricate undergarments.

Although only ever seen by the wearer the pockets(see examples in the Victoria and Albert Museum), are beautifully detailed and exquisitely made. By the early 19th century pockets started to appear as 'pouches' carried in the hand and known as 'indispensables'. They were used to carry such necessities for a woman as her purse, smelling salts and handkerchief.

Over two-hundred years later we are still carrying bags and there are many to choose from, but I feel few are as indispensable as Jessica Maxcy's collection for her company KNOX NY.

Made in Jessica's studio in Brooklyn, New York, each piece is hand cut, sewn and finished. The wonderful detailing such as the brass D-rings on the Carriage Bag are a product of a collaboration between Jessica and her father who owns a traditional ironmongery factory in the city. The shapes are reminiscent of those very early bags, simple, but very elegant and made out of the finest materials, each one taking up to two weeks to make.

Although I like the idea of a secret bag, for my eyes only, I don't think I could hide my KNOX NY bag under my dress because a)they are far too big and b)more importantly they are just too beautiful not to share with the world!

The collection is available in the Bag Department at

If you are interested in the history of textiles we cannot recommend enough Selvedge magazine.

It has just launched it's new DIY craft section and if you visit their website, you can watch a lovely little film about Indian block printing called, Building Blocks: The foundations of the Anokhi Museum

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Nostalgia in a Bag

Remember filling a stripey paper bag to the brim with sweets for a penny or even two for 1p? That dusty powder covering pastel pink bonbons or the vintage graphics on toffee wrappers?

These are the things that inspire, celebrated designer, Natalie Thakur. Interested in how objects convey memories, her Re-Usable Collection consists of beautiful leather bags and purses that intricately replicate everyday objects from the penny sweet bags, with their serrated edges, those thin plastic stripey carriers from the local corner shop to piggy banks and paper carriers with the twisted paper handles.

(Leather Stripey Carrier £140)

After studying at the renowned Cordawainers College in London (alumni include footwear designers Emma Hope and Olivia Morris) Natalie went on to work on commissions for Ghost, Mulberry and Comme Des Garscon. Following this she set up her own studio in East London in 2004 and has since been recognised as a leading designer of her generation with companies such as Aquascutum snapping her up as a freelance designer.

The Re-Usable Collection is often hailed for it's eco-credentials, although true - better to use a long lasting leather bag than a thousand plastic ones - I think her true talent lies in creating objects which demand a second take. In the spectrum of design that has been influenced by early Twentieth century artists such as Marcel Duchamp with his 'Ready-mades', Natalie's collection asks us to look at mundane objects as something worth celebrating.
The Re-Usable Collection is available in the Bag Department.
And if you want to fill that Penny Sweet Bag with an array of vintage confectionery why not visit the faded sea-side town of Morecambe Bay and pop into The Old Sweet Shop for a 100g of Chocolate Limes?

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

British Summer Time Is Here

Although it was officially British Summer time on the 30th March, I feel it only really gets going around the 1st July. This delay might be because we are up here in Cumbria, or perhaps it's more to do with that time when children start wearing their crisp cotton summer uniforms and begin planning the long summer holidays at the beach.

In celebration of this we have curated an exhibition looking at the British seaside in all it's splendor and we are excited to learn that Vogue have featured it in the current issue!

The exhibitions includes wonderful ceramics from, Brighton based artist, Anne Barrell, depicting decaying piers and paddling feet to Megan Prices' collection inspired by fading graphics and cafe signs from her travels around the UK coastline.

The exhibition is open, online, until 30th August.

With all the concern regarding reducing our carbon footprints, spending the summer in Britain is becoming more and more popular. I hope this will lead to a boom in beautiful places to stay like The Manor House in Flamborough Head on the east Yorkshire coast.

Flamborough would be the first choice destination if The Shop Floor Project were to instigate a staff holiday (hint, hint)! It is a secret quiet, little cove, which neighbours the kitsch Victorian seaside town of Scarborough, and has wonderful clifftop walks, a quaint little village and the best fish and chip shop we have ever found.

We hope you enjoy your summer holiday, but if you can't make it to the seaside this year, why not have a walk along the promenade in the exhibition.