Made in Britain

How important is it to you to buy products which have been grown or manufactured in your own country? Surely it’s a good way to get people back to work, instil some national pride and cut down on our carbon foot print?

Earlier this year I decided to produce a range of home wares and I was determined to design and manufacture them here in Great Britain. The first designs are a set of kitchen textiles which I think have architectural overtones. I am well aware that the market is awash with decorative kitchen textiles but I was keen to produce something for the contemporary kitchen – my designs can’t be described as pretty, and a friend actually thought they were quite masculine but I was pleased with that, it’s what I intended!

The designs are all screen printed – a long process but the best process for obtaining vibrant colours and colours that stay truer for longer. Digital printing is fine for some things but as it’s strong flat colour that interests me, screen printing was the answer (all the inks are water based causing minimal environmental impact). I decided to print onto linen union because the texture and slubs you find on linen gives the product more character.

So, they are designed and printed in Great Britain (including the brand label which has been woven) but I have paid the cost of taking this route. I hope it works out (I could have had them printed abroad for a fraction of the cost) but it gives me immense satisfaction having them produced here in Great Britain – I hope it is important to buyers too. I thought it was interesting to see that a new Made in UK  logo is set to appear in our shops next year.

My retailers would prefer me not to display the textiles until they have the stock (by the end of the month) which is why I have only inserted a tiny image of my proofs above.

Below are some of the reasons why I like living and working in Scotland. Where do you live and why?

Choosing External Paint Colours

It struck me that the majority of my posts have been concerned with colours for interiors but of course external colour selection is something I spend a lot of time considering.

I really enjoy selecting colours for commercial shop fronts as studies have shown that certain colours can actually drive more customers through a door. Being able to evaluate the effect of a colour with statistics is a really different way of looking at colour choice and obviously an important one for a business owner.

Position of colour on a building also plays a pivotal role. It is usually more pleasing to have “heavier”(darker) colours closer to the ground and lighter colours above as it helps to “ground” a building and in turn feels easier on the eye. This is normally referred to as “architectural order”. Reverse this and you have “typographical order” – like newspapers which use heavier colours at the top of a page in order to create a banner.

However, you will see some shops displaying typographical order as they may want to create a brand “banner” above the entrance.

And then of course you must look at colour association. It’s no coincidence that many fine wine shop fronts are painted red,

red wine colour

travel agents azure blue,

sea and sky blue

organic food shops green,

environmentally aware green

 spas violet,

purple, regal and spiritual

and this delicate bridal shop,

shell pink oozing femininity

However, a recent client, a farmer, commissioned Shepherd Huts to be hand built by Plankbridge ,a wonderful artisan company based in Dorset. The idea is that she will disperse the huts throughout a forested piece of land on her farm and will rent them out to holiday makers. She was really keen to choose colours for her shepherd huts that would meld into the natural environment – not to be camouflaged as the huts are beautiful but they had to related to the natural colours in the trees around them. On occasions like this, the best way to start is to analyse the existing colours in the immediate surroundings. I am always amazed how often violet grey pops up – a fantastically useful subtle and delicate colour in decoration and one which pairs so well with many other colours.

silver birch bark - Scotland

palm tree bark - Lisbon

plane tree bark - France

So next time you find yourself out shopping or taking a holiday in a Shepherds Hut (!) take a moment to look at the colours – there is often an interesting process behind the selection.

Working with Pink

The psychological benefits of having a little pink around the house are well documented and include stimulating creativity to boosting ones confidence but keeping it grown up and not candy shop sweet is probably your main objective.

It’s often seen as a frivolous colour so keep it under control by using small amounts or try some irony and use it in areas that would normally command a serious colour. It works surprisingly well in an office space as it contrasts well with industrial looking hard edged furniture.

Contrasting its “artificialness” with a natural material such as a timber floor will keep it from running wild. By the same token, the introduction of a cobalt blue tint (a refreshing reminder of a blue summer sky)  may not be your natural choice but the combination could surprise you.

Finally, there is a plethora of furniture and accessories ready to slot right into this palette in the new Look Book from Heals but don’t blame me if you blow the budget….

 

Think Pink

Flicking through various art books to find the perfect pink and noticing how any times Matisse used pink next to its complimentary lime green for maximum impact. Hopeful shell pinks wash across Agnes Martin’s Happy Holiday canvas while Ben Nicholson’s work from 1953, Contrapuntal allows us to really enjoy the pink slice interacting with a host of other hues. And of course a choice of pinks appear in Hirst’s Controlled Substances so fully armed and inspired I am off to mix my own perfect pink.