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Vintage Delights at Mid Century Modern, Dulwich

Mid Century Modern Header

Last Sunday saw me and the boyf take a rather drizzly yet still lovely pootle over to the Midcentury Modern show, held in the leafy splendour of Dulwich College (well, it would be leafy, if the weather had actually bothered to become Spring yet, gripe, moan…) With several shows a year at locations throughout London, the show is a mecca for lovers of all things Skandi, mid-century and Eames-ey.

Reluctantly, despite stroking many an Eames, the boot of Serge the Corsa remained furniture-free as we travelled home (once you’ve scored bedside tables for £5 the pair off of eBay, everything else just seems kinda pricey). But if I had dusted out my credit card for a bit of Mid Century wonderment, here’s who I would have been brandishing it at:

Mid Century Modern Show round-up 1 March 2013 by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

1. Some classic vintage plus a rather classy lighting collection from The Modern Warehouse, straight outta trendy Hackney, east London – join their mailing list for an invite to their quarterly open evenings.

2. Mainly drawn over by the quirky name (who doesn’t love both elephants AND monkeys?!) plus this rather charming little chair, mid-century specialists Elephant & Monkey stock a pretty keenly-priced range of mid-century furniture pieces as well as a vast selection of artwork and travel prints.

3. With a magpie’s eye not dissimilar to my own, Winter’s Moon are clearly drawn to highly saturated, folksy-retro style vintagewares (love these tins!) They also do a mean line in upcycled pieces, including some rather clever vintage fabric fused trays which *may* be appearing in a Woman’s Weekly feature I’m working on for a May release…

4. Many south-east Londoner’s I know are always banging on about the virtues of vintage shopping in the Crystal Palace area – and the slick offering from Designs of Modernity, who are based at Crystal Palace Antiques and Modern, might just have convinced me to get out my compass and head down that way.

Although I loves my vintage, I must confess my favourite part of the show is seeing their wonderfully curated selection of new (and new-to-me) designers and makers. Here’s a few of my favourites from the day.

Mid Century Modern Show round-up 2 March 2013 by Joanna

5. A little too cute to leave out are these rather simplistically charming prints by Ruth Green Design – all limited edition and printed on high quality Fabriano cotton rag paper

6. Despite looking like it’s been upcycled from an old bit of a WW2 warship, this striking desk is actually a brand-spanking-new piece of design, named Archie and produced by London-based design collective The Source. He’d look resplendent in my exposed brick loft extension studio that I’ll be converting in 2045, sigh…

7. Headed by Belma Kapetanovic (who sent me a very nice email afterwards about my styling work – thanks, Belma!) Element Interiors plays on Ms Kapetanovic’s graphic design background, resulting in pared-back, retro-style illustrations inspired by natural forms, which are applied to wallpaper, rugs and cushions.

Mid Century Modern Show round-up 3 March 2013 by Joanna

8. Sometimes the simple ideas are the best – and by Kirsty’s laser cut birch ply lampshades, sold in two different sizes and sent as flat pack, are ticking all the Skandi-chic boxes (and they actually come from Wales)

9. A sort of crazed Aztec-meets-Hoxton (in a very good way) offering from newly-launched Jane Oliver, these animal heads caught my eye – step aside, antler trend – I think you have a fight on your hands…

10. Sourced from beautiful Essouira in Morocco, Beldi rugs come direct from traditional makers in a vibrant array of pattern and colour, from hardy rag-rug style boucherouite to delicate, fine-woven Azilal.

11. Hand finished in British pottery epicentre Stoke on Trent, these delightful ceramics by Louise Wilkinson are reminiscent of classic blue and white china, but are given a modern twist with quirky animal motifs and flashes of on-trend fluoro.

Crush Cube Cushion from Mid Century Modern Show round-up March 2013 by Joanna

And most excitingly, after popping my name on a list to win a cushion from Crush Cube – whose lovely vintage fabric-covered cushions and cubes were on display at the show – I only had an email to say I’d bally well won it! So I get to have a little slice of mid-century loveliness after all *cue excitement and running round the house deciding where to put it*

{Images: Top image, courtesy of Augustus Greaves and taken from the Modern Shows website. All other images taken from each designer/retailers’ respective websites, as per the numbered credits}


Store Tour: B&Q’ing It

As I have spent most weekends (and several late-night evening dashes) at DIY monolith B&Q since purchasing Le House, it seemed only apt that their lovely PR team should invite me to the opening of their newest store, set to become a flagship for the brand. Tucked just off the north circular in Friern Barnet, north London, it showcased several new display concepts which will eventually be rolled out nationwide.


On entering, there is a far more trend-focussed display of their current homeware grouped into themes, showcasing how to pull each look together with fabrics, paints, wallpaper and accessories – think John Lewis, with a touch of warehouse racking thrown in for good measure. Wallpapers, too, have their own dedicated super-long aisle which is helpfully grouped into colours, and is much easier to browse than the papered panels of yore (each paper has a dedicated lifestyle shot previewing the pattern in situ, as well as an open roll to tear samples from). Keep an eye out for their monochrome papers in particular, featuring an oh-so-2012 bus roller destination print (which would work well on a flat-panelled door for added interest) plus newsprint and even Manga cartoon creations.

Christmas has its own little dedicated grotto and a vast array of decs, showcasing the main Crimbo trends for this year – kitsch brights, woodland, monochrome city slicker and soft pastels.


Lighting is particularly strong this season with a mixture of unexpected metals (think beaten copper and soft sheen slate) along with budget-friendly versions of classics like the Anglepoise, and a great range of neutral-hued ceiling shades.

Sample boards throughout have been more carefully curated, with chunky paint swatch panels and large display boards showcasing all-new ranges of wooden and laminate flooring plus a redesigned range of wall tiles, which are now also available to buy as individual tiles and boards to try out at home – a supremely useful service which has been woefully lacking in most DIY sheds. The laminates in particular deserves a mention – as I recently spent about 7,000 man-hours restoring my Victorian floorboards this isn’t something I’ll be buying for my own home anytime soon, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a distinct lack of fake-tan-toned flooring and a rather sophisticated palette of both pale, raw and natural dark woods in its place, many with a slightly rough, sawn-wood texture which is both practical as well as visually pleasing.

Also worth a shout-out is their fab new range of ‘You Can Do It’ DIY classes – on offer at 14 stores nationwide, classes range from basic workshops on best practice for painting your walls and woodwork to tiling floors, patch plastering and replumbing a tap, and cost from £10 each. I recently attended a ‘Raised Beds and Planters’ workshop where I learnt to make this rather natty square planter, which I plan to revisit in the spring and adapt to make longer raised beds for my concrete jungle back garden.

So thanks for the tour, guys – and I’ll see you this weekend in the bits-for-fixing-a-dodgy-radiator section…

{Images} All copyright Joanna Thornhill.


It’s been at least five minutes since there’s been a major interiors event in London Town, so luckily one sidled up just in time to fill the gaping void. Superdesign, billing itself as a Design Art exhibition, featured specially commissioned studio pieces by both well known and emerging designers which managed to straddle the gap between form and function. This show was all about statement pieces, and showcased a pleasing mix of technology and craftsmanship, which both managed to metaphorically lie together in one super-stylish bed: think simplistic chairs embossed in intricate ethnic patterns, lights formed from flat sheets of plastic and slabs of wood and marble meticulously configured into tactile, perfect, defy-you-not-to-stroke-it shapes.

My favourite pieces (all below) included the Cinderella table by Demakersvan – the most interesting, whimsical use of marble I think I’ve ever seen, the Samurai chandelier, which beautifully combined ancient craft techniques to provide an extremely modern end product, and the vibrant Blooming Spark light, one of the few technicoloured pieces on show and constructed from neoprene, acrylics and UV paint to produce what its makers describe as “a bouquet of alien botany”. I also found the use of ‘light transform flats’ (aka light-up glowing sheeting) extremely interesting – a concept I was first introduced to earlier this year by Show & Tell Design, with their prototype Lampada flat lamp which featured on BBC2’s Britain’s Next Big Thing and went on to be stocked at Liberty’s. I suspect we’ll be seeing rather a lot more from this stock.

Ethno Eames chair, Paolo Giordano

Manta chair, Giuseppe Arbore

Samurai chandelier, Phillip Baldwin & Monica Guggisberg in collaboration with Best & Lloyd

Digit Linear by Emmanuel Babled

Floor light by Michael Anastassiades

Blooming Spark by Hsiao-Chi Tsai & Kimiya Yoshikawa

Plug light, Marcus Tremonto

Cinderella table, Demakersvan

T36 stool, Paolo Giordano

{Image credits: All copyright Joanna Thornhill}

Happy Birthday, Sir Terence!

As part of the recent London Design Festival activities, I was lucky enough to attend an evening launch at Conran’s flagship Chelsea store, to launch their new Play Zone (i.e. tech area geeky enough to please gadget-loving boyfriends yet beautiful enough to appease design-favouring ladies. Yes, I’m kinda talking about myself here – the fella’s beloved fugly black box speakers circa 1992 are WAY overdue for a style upgrade). Plus, the evening gave an opportunity to take in a sneak preview of some of the highlights of the forthcoming Superdesign exhibition, taking place later this month in London. News aside though, I have to say the store was looking stunning, in particular the new dining area downstairs – love, love, love these painted little vignettes on display, plus the inspirationally clever chalkboard dining table, designed specifically to allow customers to lay out their potential new dinner service purchases in situ before making a purchase.

Here’s a few of my favourite bits available instore now:

Leather lampshade vertical black, £595; Hornbill jug large, £225; Moshi Moshi pop phone handset, £24.99; Large cable knit thrown in orange, £145; Home Desk by Vitra, £3,515

To commemorate his 80 years, a new exhibition, Terence Conran: The Way We Live Now, opens on 16th November at the Design Museum London, looking at the impact this inspirational man has had on British interiors throughout his lifetime thus far.

{Images: in-store shots copyright Joanna Thornhill. Product shots all taken from the Conran Shop website}

LDF2011: Tom Dixon at the Dock

Following on from the success of last year’s London Design Festival event, Tom Dixon threw open his doors again last week to welcome us design-loving folk into his sanctuary, tucked away in a stunning little spot up the less salubrious end of Ladbroke Grove.

As well as giving late-night access to his shop and award-winning kitchen, the space was also opened up to some pop-up enterprises, including Print Club London (who were giving live screen printing demo’s with free, still-wet screenprints for all at the end) and the Design Museum‘s pop-up ShopShed

The Tom Dixon shop itself featured an inspired mix of pieces both large and small, showcasing the work of Mr Dixon himself plus many talented others, including scrapwood masters Piet Hein Eek (who I’ve featured before here).

Next, a pop next door into the wonderland that is Moooi HQ. Restyled as part of the LDF festivities, designer Marcel Wanders created an opulent underwater paradise, ideal to showcase his very particular design aesthetic. A long-time fan of his fantastically quirky Delft Blue vase collection, I was lucky enough to feature a couple of them in a magazine shoot last year, and have been pretty much obsessed with the brand since then. Personal favourites on show here were the 5 O’Clock floral table and chairs and Crochet footstool – each giving a nod to classic English heritage and craft, reworked in an utterly modern way. I’ll take them all, please

{Image credits: all copyright Joanna Thornhill}

LDF2011: Designer’s Block

Well, what a week it’s been: first appearing in Heart Home magazine, the UK’s first digital interiors publication (more on that later – but I’m on p78!) then a wonderful week of London Design Festival madness. My brain is overloaded to bursting point and my flat is overflowing with complementary canvas tote bags, but I shall endeavour to bring you my highlights of all the shows I’ve visited this last week.

First up, Designer’s Block. Set in Clerkenwell’s amazing Farmiloe Building (a former Victorian iron and glass merchants now used as a location space and recently featured in Batman Begins) the space was something of a macabre playground of never-ending spaces, providing a perfect foil for some of the more experimental pieces from show week. Also tucked away in a room up top was design authority Barbara Chandler. An interiors journalist and long-time photographer, she launched her first photobook, Love London, earlier this month, and has even collaborated with ceramics lovelies The New English to emblazon some of her most iconic images onto an array of plates and pots. Unfortunately all my photos of that were way too blurry to post so do click through the links, but here’s my less-fuzzy highlights of everything else:

Top three pics: student work from recent graduates of Sangmyung University, Seoul. Neon “lashed” chairs, Ornella Stocco. Bottom, “Mom’s” Bowl by Gayeun Kim / Jaewoo Kim / Boram Choi

Knit stools, Claire Anne O’Brien. Are You Sitting Comfortably? cushions, Imogen Luddy. Neon light, Charlie Sekers.  Incandescent Yolk bulbs, Chris Stoneman. Ceramic creatures and flowers, Malene Hartmann Rasmussen.

Cross Stitch table and tableware, Imogen Luddy (complete with my co-incidentally co-ordinating shoe peeking in). Salt and pepper shaker (bottom), Munire Kirmaci for Munirek.

Printed chair, Fernando Mialski. Tables, Samuel Sheard. Light frames, Donna Walker Design.

Amazing chandelier by Nottingham Trent graduate Nadine Spencer 

Upcycled chairs, Jo Gibbs. Mama light by Moon-Jung Kim. “Show-off” cabinet/coat tree and “Wedgehog” door wedge, Taylored by Edward Taylor.

{All images copyright Joanna Thornhill}

Hel Yes!

And so it begins… fashion may have already had its week, but now it’s my turn (mwah hah hah) as the interiors porn-fest that is the London Design Festival kicks off. I’m cramming most of my visits in over the weekend due to work commitments, but managed to pay a sneaky visit to Hel Yes, Finland’s offering to the London design community in the form of pop-up restaurant, exhibition and General Trendy Hangout.

Part earthy upcycle-fest, part whimsical fairy wonderland, the industrial depot setting provided the perfect foil for their simple Finnish dishes, served on mismatched vintage Iittala crockery specially donated for the event, on tables and stools ethically produced from the excess wood cleared during forest thinning.

Nomadic chill-out zones, if you will, edge the venue, draped with fabric illustrated by the wonderful Klaus Haapaniemi, whose work is inspired by nature and fairytales. I bow down to this outstanding tapestry – awesome. Klaus is imminently opening an online shop – fingers crossed this design makes its way onto a cushion cover, which can in turn make its way onto my sofa (OK, so we may already have borderline too many cushions to actually sit down on it, but needs must and all that).

So if foraged herb salad and salvaged Finnish tree trunks are your kinda thing, get thee to the Londonewcastle Depot in Islington before the end of the month!

[image credits: Hel Yes and Klaus Haapaniemi]