I seem to have made quite a habit of waking up at 5am this week. All for adventures that had nothing to do with one another. Wednesday’s reason was a huge departure from my daily life but an all-in-all fabulous change of scenery from styling, meetings, and events: I was invited to spend the day in Stoke-on-Trent and visit the factory of Emma Bridgewater!
Emma Bridgewater – as a businesswoman alone – is something to celebrate. Her fifteen-year-old eponymous ceramics company is British through and through: completely dedicated to making their products and sourcing their materials in the city they were launched in. While many companies would view that as a financial and logistical strain, Emma holds the proof in her pudding-holding products: turnover has grown from £30,000 in the first year to over £8 million today.
As inspirational as the story is, the factory tour only magnified my appreciation. The fettlers, platemakers, and decorators ran their individual areas like clockwork. Everyone was weaving through the Victorian factory in a way that felt sweetly Northern…all proud, all warm, all very hardworking. It was only until I went to decorate my own mug later in the day that I truly appreciated the difficulty in hand-painting precision! (A line of cupcakes had to unintentionally become flying cupcakes.)
In between the tour, lunch, and general meandering we stopped in the Kitchen Café (coffee, victoria sponge, and WiFi – need I say more?) and factory shops. One of the shops features all of their latest and greatest while the other is a discount outlet that features discontinued patterns and an Aladdin’s cave of samples. From an Emma Bridgewater personalised teapot to her personalised mugs and tongue-in-cheek Oyster card holders (see below!), there is definitely something for everyone in the Bridgewater brand.
The tour costs a whopping £2.50 (my morning latte was more expensive), which is redeemable against anything that you purchase in the shops. You can’t get any better than that.
I’ve recently been doing some ‘future planning’ with the wonderful Manfriend and one of the things that most excites me about it is the chance to build our dream home together. Naturally, thinking about it sends me on a complete interior design binge where I scour the internetwebs for hours on end and fill my ‘baskets’ with more retro furniture than I could actually put in a house.
Hipsters of all kinds have been pioneering this retro as a contemporary style for quite some time. For whatever reason, most people enjoy keeping a little piece from a different around them. Be it the tie dye of the 60s, the psychedelic prints of the 70s or the glamour overdose of the 80’s, the fashion and design industries frequently pay beautiful homage to decades past. Personally, vintage furniture works on two levels; 1) there is something very warm and magical about curating a living space from hundreds of years of archived styles 2) there is no need to ‘keep up’ with the Jones’.
I’ve found that Fashion For Home offer one of the best varieties of ‘vintage feel’ furnishings online, but I also love the idea of finding beautiful and unique pieces in thrift stores. Standout pieces like a moon armchair can add a strong Sixties vibe whilst still holding a certain amount of minimalist contemporary design. That contrast is something that I love as a design aesthetic and something that will quickly dictate a key piece in a room. This chair in particular was designed by Mike To – as a designer, he always seems to create impeccable Asian-influenced designs that work in a variety of spaces: pop-art parlours, minimalist bedrooms…the fibre glass composition even makes this particular piece outdoor friendly.
Be it a moon chair or a chaise lounge, I guarantee the next couple of years will see an influx of retro pieces find their way into our home.
Was MTV’s Cribs the best show of the past 100 years of television? No. Probably not. But it was up there.
The sweet memories of (insert any celebrity here) opening their door as though they weren’t expecting a film crew to rile through their intimate home life. The awe-inspiring voiceovers of Su-chin Pak letting me know how many bathrooms and basketball courts one house can hold. The time Robbie Williams conned/showcased Jane Seymour’s house as his own. The number of times a celebrity would pat their egyptian cotton while saying “this is where the magic happens”.
We have an innate knack of loving a peep into someone else’s life (no wonder reality TV has taken over) and viewing a millionaire’s home was the perfect marriage of voyeurism and creative aspiration. While Cribs may not be what in once was, I still get a thrill from inspirational interior design.
Currently, my favourite rooms in some of my favourite celebrity houses include…
The Queen: Christina Aguilera‘s Closet and Bedroom. (Above)
Christina Aguilera remodelled the old $11 million-plus home of The Osbournes. There is a lot going on, but her closet and bedroom – ahem, boudoir – are completely dreamlike.
Reese Witherspoon‘s Living Room
With19th-century leather chairs and an apple tree stump all in the same living room, Reese has a gorgeous and timeless living room space. The Rogers & Goffigon velvet and jute rug (from Pottery Barn, of all places) bring everything together.
Does anyone remember, last year, when Aerin Lauder left her position as the senior vice president and creative director of Estée Lauder (her grandmother’s company)? I remember thinking the woman was insane.
In actuality, little Lauder seems to be making some incredible progression already! As she continues to work on her home furnishings and fashion business, Aerin, she has let Architectural Digest get a peek inside her Jacques Grange-designed office on 57th Street and Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan. I’m not sure I could be any green-er with envy. (That Baguès chandelier! UGH!) I think my home office has a way to go…
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The Best of Street Style from Milan Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012.