The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market

If you are in Edinburgh this weekend it would be great to see you at The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market which will be running from Friday 10th, (Preview 5-9pm) Saturday 11th, 10am-6pm & Sunday 12th, 10am-5pm. Around 40 independent makers and designers will be showing and selling their work.

silk scarf

‘Love You’ Silk Scarf

 

I’ve been experimenting with some new prints and will be assessing which designs to take forward to the Craft Scotland Summer Show during the  Edinburgh Fringe Festival so I will have several promotions on over the weekend to hopefully encourage feedback.

silk scarf

‘Eden’ Silk Scarf

Most designers bring out a cohesive ‘collection’ each season but because of the way I work, my prints are fairly discordant – you have been warned!

The way it works for me, perhaps you are the same (please let me know, I’m really interested) is that when I am least expecting it (usually when I am about to drop off to sleep), a fully formed image falls into my mind. The next day I go about recreating this image – an image that seemed to appear from nowhere. The ‘mysterious’ image however, can easily be traced back directly to an experience. So as we all have many experiences in life, the ‘pot’ to draw from is pretty extensive (hence the diverse prints). So that’s why, for me anyway, it’s imperative to get out as much as possible and explore because every time I do, my mind is busy in the background drawing from the experience and creating the next print.

So that’s the process or perhaps an explanation.

silk scarf

‘Breton Signal’ Silk Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford

 

The prints are unisex (can a pattern be gender specific anyway?!) so you will see prints on both silk scarves and on linen neck ties.

linen tie

‘Eden’ Linen Tie

I will also be bringing a new product – long wool and cashmere open weave scarves – only a few – so if you would like one, please be quick.

wool scarf

‘Fennel Tangle’ Wool & Cashmere Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford.

Another new product is the wool ‘Charger Pouch’. Ok, yes, I know, that’s a bit specific and they can be used for other purposes too – coins, lens caps, lipstick, jewellery bag – but I find them especially useful while travelling. Having a brightly coloured soft wool pouch to pack my phone charger in (I can’t be the only one who fuddles about in my bag searching for said charger, can I?) is of great comfort. They are designed for the minimalist at heart who craves a block of tactile colour and has a very guilty secret pleasure (sssh, I won’t spill the beans on you but they have a patterned lining – linen off cuts from the ties to be precise, we don’t like to waste at unifiedspace).

wool and linen pouches

Wool (and linen) Charger Pouches

So new prints, new products and many other designers all housed in the Fruitmarket Gallery which of course is also home to Milk Cafe . It would be great to see you this weekend! (10th – 12th June 2016)

If you have a sec, can you tell me what your favourite colour to wear is please?

 

 

 

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London Design Festival 2015

London Design Festival is such a big event and everyone who visits is bound to come away with their own highlights – here are some impressions I gathered and some pieces that caught my eye as I whizzed round 100% DesignDesign JunctionDesigners BlockTentShoreditch Design Triangle and of course the LDF at the V&A and Somerset House.

Faye Toogood's Cloakroom installation at the V&A

Faye Toogood’s Cloakroom installation at the V&A

One advantage of covering so many shows at top speed is that you get a sense of emerging trends and this year there seemed to be many crafted elements to the shows, for example metal elements were hammered and beaten (copper and brass still being prominent), there were plenty of hand woven textiles (some designers even had their looms with them) and timber was often hand turned. Digitally printed textiles also had a crafted vibe as many were hand painted designs which had been scanned and printed. The ceramics too felt really organic and I particularly enjoyed the pots at the Geffrye Museum where the potters were on hand to speak about their work. I came away thinking of individual designers and their processes rather than bigger manufactures. The festival really captured our desires of wanting authentic ethical artistic pieces rather than anonymous mass manufactured work.

Textiles by Jonna Saarinen

Textiles by Jonna Saarinen

Loom Demo at Tent London

Loom Demo at Tent

Tactile soft surfaces at 100% Design

Tactile soft surfaces at 100% Design

For me, the highlight was an exhibition at Designers Block called The Secret Life of the Pencil‘ a collaborative project by industrial designer Alex Hammond, and photographer Mike Tinney. They photographed pencils belonging to successful designers, writers, and architects such as Philippe Starck, Lord Norman Foster, Anish Kapoor, John Pawson, Dame Zandra Rhodes and closely photographed their humble pencils which actually told a lot amount about their owners. It was staggering how easy it was to guess which pencil belonged to whom. It certainly made me look at my own pencil in a new light.. normally a coloured one.

Tom Dixon's pencil

Tom Dixon’s pencil

Anish Kapoor's pencil

Anish Kapoor’s pencil

John Pawson's pencil

John Pawson’s pencil

James Dyson's pencil

James Dyson’s pencil

But the exhibit that I continue to think about is Connected by Pattern at Somerset House. A room filled with 3D monochromatic patterns which you were invited to immerse yourself in after putting on a patterned poncho hanging by the entrance of the room. Every house should have a room like this! You become instantly lost in a creative world of pattern, it was liberating, extremely fun and seemed to take you back into the fantastical mind set of a child. Brilliant.

Connected by Pattern

Connected by Pattern

It was also refreshing seeing the introduction of Asian design this year. China had a big stand at 100% Design and their accessories in particular were eye catching in their simplicity. The Korean displays at Tent were also stunning, ‘simple, calm, subtle‘ was their mantra and based on traditional Korean craft, Kim Soo Young + Cho Ki Sang’s, brass tableware was dreamy and current.

Kim Soo Young + Cho Ki Sang, Brass Tableware

Kim Soo Young + Cho Ki Sang, Brass Tableware

There is so much more I could tell you about, not least the sublime Pip McCormac chocolate brownies laced with turkish delight and edible flowers that he made for Lee Broom’s The Flower Shop Installation in Shoreditch or being turfed out of the The Shard on the 32nd floor for wearing trainers (a blessing actually as the cacao cocktails in Borough Market were a much better choice 😉

Lee Broom Store

Lee Broom Store

Lee Broom's The Flower Shop' Installation

Lee Broom’s The Flower Shop’ Installation

Pip McCormac's , The Herb and Flower Cook Book

Pip McCormac’s , The Herb and Flower Cook Book

However, this post is long enough but if you would like to see more snaps, I’ve posted some on instagram.

Thank you London Design Festival , that was the best one I’ve attended and I’m already looking forward to 2016!

Now Stocked by Wear Eponymous

Just a quick post today to announce the great news that the full collection of linen ties are now being stocked by Wear Eponymous .

Wear Eponymous

Wear Eponymous brings,

“the cream of current design talent UK wide and beyond. This isn’t the place for fast fashion or disposable purchases, this is the destination for investment pieces, stand-out accessories and unique treats”

Take a look through their site if you are looking for ethically produced independent brands and if you are quick they are currently running a great competition to win a beautiful leather VVA handbag designed by Sarah Haran.

Next post on recent travels to Norway and the London Design Festival coming shortly…

The Journey of a Linen Tie

The Slow Food Movement has been an inspiration to many and knowing that we have superb textile mills in Scotland I was very keen to produce a product with similar credentials. Scroll down and see the faces behind the various stages of production of my new range of linen ties.

Twenty nine miles from Edinburgh lies a bespoke weavers, Peter Greig, which has been weaving from the same site since 1825. 

Stacking the Flax.

Stacking the Flax. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Flax which is used in the production of linen used to be grown in Scotland and Ireland but as Angus Nicoll, Managing Director of Peter Greig explains, our climate is not as well suited as the Benelux countries.

“All the retting that used to happen in Scotland and Ireland was Water retted rather than the standard Dew Retting that is now the norm in the Benelux Countries. The problem with the Scottish and Irish climate is that through July and August we cannot rely on clear skies and warm weather. The climate in Holland, Belgium and France is far more reliable and so the flax straw can be turned daily in the fields and the Dew rets (rots) the straw off the outside of the plant as it is damp in the morning then dried during the day. With our inclement weather the rain comes solidly through all of July and August and the whole plant never dries in the field and as a result the whole plant goes black and rots”

So, the flax is now grown and spun into yarn in the drier European countries before being prepared and woven at Peter Greigs.

Linseed Pods. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Linseed Pods.
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

 

Warping the Yarn Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Warping the Yarn
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving in Progress. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving in Progress.
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving the Flax

Weaving the Flax

Inspecting the Cloth Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Inspecting the Cloth
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

And meanwhile, I design the patterns for printing onto the linen from my studio in Edinburgh

Dreaming up my next textile design

Dreaming up my next textile design

Then the plain linen is delivered to sisters Solii and Zoe at BeFabBeCreative, a printing bureau in Edinburgh where they print my designs onto the Fife linen.

Solii Brodie at BeFabBeCreative

Solii Brodie at BeFabBeCreative

From here, I take the printed cloth to Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective, Edinburgh who stitches the cloth into ties. Kalopsia search for industrial equipment that is no longer being used and save the pieces from being scrapped. They refurbish them and the machines are used in their micro manufacturing facility at Ocean Terminal. Zero Waste Scotland are supporting this venture as it is a great example of the merits of a circular economy.

Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective

Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective

Once the ties are stitched, I package them with the story behind the inspiration for each design and Edinburgh photographer, Abi Radford, photographs them.

Photographer Abi Radford and model Jo Radford.

Photographer Abi Radford and model Jo Radford.

The passionate Gordon Millar of Scot Street Style launched my collection of  ties during Tartan Week in Brooklyn, New York earlier this year and their Edinburgh launch was at Design Weekend at the The Fruitmarket Gallery in May.

I have been working on the concept of linen ties since January so having worked for the last seven months with the wonderful creative people I have introduced you to in this post, it gives me a huge amount of satisfaction seeing the finished product and importantly selling this locally produced tie to people who are searching for ethically produced textiles from Scotland. The ties have a distinct character and attitude (I like to refer to them as my bad boy ties!) and I’ve been told offer some good chic-geek vibes around the office (!) so mix up your wardrobe and add some Scottish linen or if you are fed up with ‘double denim’ go the full hog and start a movement for ‘triple linen’ 😉

Thank you everyone who have helped make and launch the ties and thank you to all those buying them too.

And there is a new design coming out at the end of this week, it’s a special summer tie called ‘Prufrock’, one to be worn with white flannel trousers to walk along the beach…any guesses where the inspiration for this ones lies?

New Designs and Their Subliminal Roots

I’ve just finished some new designs and was asked ‘why pears?’ The answer is easy, the simple organic shape of a pear is beautiful and a perfect form to celebrate a simple line of colour. No fuss, no interference, just a very pleasing shape. I hope you agree.

Red Pear Mug

Pear Mug in Red designed by Niki Fulton.

 

But it has just dawned on me that I was heavily influenced. I’ve been living underneath an enormous pear tree for the last twenty years. It produces clouds of white blossom in Spring which literally stops people in their tracks.

 

pear blossom

By September hundreds of small green pears fall from a great height (thirty metres or so) smashing into pulp on impact with the tarmac below attracting rabbles (had to look that collective noun up) of butterflies. The pears are small and hard and gather such a speed that it actually becomes quite treacherous reaching my front door!

Pear Mug Green

Pear Mug in Green. Design by Niki Fulton

 

So walking underneath a pear tree every day seems to have seeped into my psyche and appeared in my designs. So that’s where it came from.

The pears have also made their way onto Fife Linen which can be ordered by the metre from Printed & Co , an exciting new venture which fully launches on the thirteenth of February at the Kalopsia Collective Gallery with a taster on show this Friday at the launch of The Facility .

Pear Drops, tan

‘Pear Drops, Tan’ on Fife Linen. Design by Niki Fulton. Available from Printed & Co.

Pear Drops

Pear Drops on Fife Linen. Design by Niki Fulton. Available from Printed & Co.

 

So realising quite how influenced by our surroundings we obviously are, I had a closer look at a design I’m currently working on called ‘Vaki Rocks‘.

This was a purely spontaneous random design… or so I thought.

I have a stunning piece of Lewisian Gneiss in my bathroom. In my eyes it’s one of the most beautiful things I have and the fact that the rock is over three billion years old and has therefore been around for longer than any animal, it’s pretty mind blowing. I look at my ‘random’ design and there I spot my beloved rock. I certainly didn’t set out to paint a rock, I just went with the flow.

Gneiss & linen

Chair & rock

Vaki Rock Collage

‘Vaki Rocks’ print on Fife Linen design by Niki Fulton

This revelation also backs up my theory that children’s toys should be beautiful/interesting objects because between the ages of 0-5 our brains are even more receptive and children often handle toys for hours and hours, turning them over in their hands, feeling them, and viewing them from every possible angle. I doubt great lumps of mass produced plastic are ever going to have such long term positive influences on us as a beautifully carved timber toy or a piece of nature found on a walk. Timber toys last for generations and need not be an expensive option as they can be small, beautiful, robust and more importantly, kept. Surely if our surroundings are having such a big impact on us we should pay attention to what we use, even if it’s an every day object. This is one reason why good design is so important. But over to you,

Can you spot any subliminal influences in your creations?

 

 

A Fresh Year and I’m Thinking Circles

I look forward to January – the opportunity to start afresh, clear the desk and create some new designs is enticing, and this year, I’m finding geometry, strong shapes and most of all circles of particular interest.

Surely the circle must be the worlds most perfect shape? It’s inclusive, timeless and whole, with an infinite perimeter which also suggests movement – it may simply roll away. I looked around my house and discovered I have inadvertantly been collecting circles for a long time – and I still can’t walk past my Yves Klein poster, Blue Disk bought from the wonderful (and sadly no longer) Habitat store in Edinburgh’s West end, without pausing at the possibilities it extends to anyone who cares to look.

Green Blob

But its obvious isn’t it. We are all drawn towards the circle because it’s one of the first things we see in the sky each day or night.  We are imprinted to love the circle, just as we are with blue, the world’s favourite and most abundant colour. So, I’m thinking, surely the best logo would be a blue circle?! But then I don’t suppose we could all have that…

niki logo

 

Ok, enough about me and my love of blue circles. Do you have a favourite shape and why? 

 

New Homes for Vintage Designs

We chuck more, we buy more, and we keep making more, me (unifiedspace) included. The planet is literally awash with homewares. This poses a real dilemma for someone like me who loves designing and producing new ranges, so, in an attempt to rebalance my own input into this mass overindulgence, can I introduce you to, Vintage Nik’s

Having recently been searching for a 1960’s,  Norwegian coffee cup to add to a depleted collection I had inherited I was blown over when I came across a brilliant vintage site called Danish Mood. The knowledgable art historian running the site had the cup I was searching for. I duly bought it and completed my set. Easy as that. The ‘orphaned’ cup in Denmark now has a new home and future here in Edinburgh. Satisfying is not a powerful enough word to describe how enriching the experience was and it set me thinking. I wanted to find homes for more unwanted beautiful designs. Perhaps this is how ’empty nest syndrome’ is going to manifest itself with me (eldest leaving home later this summer) but whatever the reason, I can assure you it’s soothing my guilt about producing new ranges and feeding my desire to nurture.

I am specifically looking out for mid century British and Scandinavian homewares, both utilitarian and decorative, purely because that’s what I like. I’ve found some great treasures already including a prized Stig Lindberg saucier, a 1942 Royal Copenhagen vase, some Phoenix glass, and several stunning pieces of ceramics from Britains finest potteries. I’m only looking for pieces in near perfect condition that I would be happy to find space for in my own house. And it’s staggering looking at the quality of the pieces, especially the bone china  produced in Stoke on Trent in the 1950’s. Really wonderful.

So I look forward to producing more of my own work (lots of textiles on the way) and finding homes for unwanted, thoughtfully designed objects from the past. A good balance I think.

Do you collect vintage designs and if so what is your favourite era or style?

Norway’s Porsgrund Meets Finland’s Marimekko

I’m treading carefully here and may sound overly laconic but I’m coaxing my brain into defrost mode (doesn’t help having a broken boiler, mind you…)

Terracotta man by Lawrence Epps

Terracotta man by Lawrence Epps

Where do designs come from? The conscious and unconscious routes a designer takes are of great interest to me. Perhaps we constantly collect design inspiration throughout life, storing it in our brains until a spark unearths it? Personally I would go even further and say that design blueprints from centuries ago are stored in our DNA. I’m sure that’s why a strong and recognisable design ‘style’ can be be attributed to succinct geographic locations. If you’ve read my blog before, you will know I am drawn to Scandinavian design and the Northern colour palette.

I’ve recently been searching for some new dinnerware and while sifting through hundreds of images on line, I came across Marimekko’s siirtolapuutarha plates. I knew within a split second that I had found what I was looking for.

Marimekko plate

marimekko close up

Then, one evening last week I was enjoying an evening meal on my new plates (colourful food looks fantastic on them by the way, which is a relief as I’ve previously erred for trusty plain white dinnerware) my eyes drifted onto my all time favourite possession, a porcelain coffee set made by the Norwegian company porsgrund which my parents bought for themselves from a design shop in Edinburgh in 1962 and have since given to me. It is fine white porcelain with a shiny gold design on it. It’s delicate, slightly naive and utterly beautiful and even after many years of feasting my eyes on it, I still get butterflies in my stomach whenever I look at the set. What I hadn’t realise when I bought the Marimekko plates was that I was buying a piece of Finnish design in 2014 that looked like the ‘grandchild’ of the Norwegian Porsgrund coffee set my parents bought fifty years earlier. Do you see a passing resemblance or is it just me?

coffee cup coffee cup cream jug

Unfortunately I don’t know the Norwegian designers name (I must contact the porcelain factory to see if they have any information in their archive) and I think my Marimekko plates are designed by Maija Louekari and I doubt there is any connection (other than both being Scandinavian) between them but I think the essence is definitely there.

I am working on some new designs at the moment, something a little different from my other pieces and already I am wondering why I have come up with each particular design and indeed do I have any conscious decision in the end result at all or is it predetermined from some primal calling deep within or has it stemmed from a previous visual experience which is surfacing in the design work I do today? Who knows. However, in order to delve a bit deeper into neurological pathways and how I use them, I have enrolled on a meditation course which starts this week and my plan is to work on designs immediately after each class – I can’t wait to see what it unlocks.

Do you meditate and if so, do you feel more creative as a result?

+ I am delighted to report that since writing this post, the Norwegian porcelain factory, Porsgrund have been in touch and my beautiful coffee set is ‘Regent’ model and the design is called ‘Corona Gull’. It was designed by Tias Eckhoff who trained in Oslo and Denmark and his pioneering porcelain work for Porsgrund and flatware for Georg Jensen in the 1950’s earned him many awards and was seen as a pioneer in the Scandinavian design movement. I am absolutely delighted to have this precious information, thank you Marte at Porsgrund.+

The Clothes Our Parents Wore

Having recently embarked upon designing my own textiles, I asked Mum and Dad to look through their photo albums and send me any snaps they had of Mum’s dresses in the late 1950’s. Well I wasn’t disappointed. Mum and Dad appeared looking out of the vintage, slightly crushed photos looking massively stylish…and look at the printed textiles.

These photos were all taken before I was born but I clearly remember the colours, designs and even textures of the cloth Mum and Dad both wore while I was growing up. It made me think how we all subliminally influence our children. The designs Mum and Dad chose are imprinted in my mind and have certainly affected my own taste as an adult (interestingly my eldest teenage son has just bought spectacles which are exactly the same as the ones my Dad, his Grand Father, wore in the late 1950’s).

How clearly I remember interior textiles that surrounded me too. The curtains that hung in our houses tended to be flat blocks of colour in varying but simplistic shapes, something I still crave and indeed base my own designs around. They favoured Danish furniture, something I do too. And then I started thinking a bit harder about my childhood interior and I remember a cylindrical copper suspension lamp shade that Dad (who is a scientist, not a designer) made for the dining room – all before Tom Dixon was even born!

The 1950’s and 1960’s were of course extremely creative decades where people had the confidence to experiment, customise and have fun with clothes and interiors. A time before the dominant big huge brands  that many seem to crave now. However, a wave of bespoke and individual designers which have global platforms like etsy and t.v programmes such as The Great British Sewing Bee have shown the public a glimpse of how much talent is out their and believe me, if you have any spare time, surf through etsy and be prepared to be amazed.

Do you remember the textiles your parents wore? If so, do you think they have influenced your choices as an adult?