Makers of London: Samantha Warren

MAKERS OF LONDON: SAMANTHA WARREN

Professional textile designer Samantha Warren launched her eponymous brand of stylish accessories and gifts in 2013. Heavily influenced by her love of nature and travel, her products combine vibrant aesthetics with practical functionality.

WORDS BY ADITI DHARMADHIKARI

The City Story: Tell us a little bit about how the concept of your accessories and gifts line came about.

Samantha Warren: I've always been quite entrepreneurial and had experimented with a couple of business ideas before setting up my own brand. After years of designing for high street fashion brands, I saw an opportunity to combine my commercial experience with an experimental approach to print design to create statement and wearable accessories. Central to this approach is a constant push to be playful while still producing wearable and elegant objects.

TCS: How does your love of nature and travel influence your work?

SW: Nature relaxes me, and I feel so inspired when I’m in these environments.

I've always had a love for landscapes and open spaces, maybe due to the fact that I grew up in south London. My love of travel is perhaps an extension of this love of nature, and the desire to see new and inspiring places and people. One of my most popular collections was inspired by Iceland, where I was completely blown away by the beauty and scale of the landscape. The theme of nature has naturally continued as I've designed new collections and played with new techniques and products. The energy, smells, and my emotions in these surroundings all help to inspire my work and I love honing in on interesting colour palettes, unexpected pops of colour, textures, and organic shapes.

Samantha Warren_004

TCS: What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced along the way?

SW: Prior to launching my own brand, I worked primarily as a print designer. Moving from this specialised role into taking on the design, prototyping, development, and distribution of my own products was, and still is, a huge learning curve. Besides that there is the day-to-day balancing act of design, marketing, sales and dealing with an increasingly challenging retail environment. Being a small company means that it can be difficult to balance all these functions, but it also means I can adapt quickly to changing markets and design and develop new products with agility.

TCS: How does London inspire your work?

SW: I've lived in London my whole life, so I think that the city has shaped much of who I am as a person and a designer. London is such an inspiring, energetic and eclectic place, which comes through in my use of colour and print techniques. It also informs a more practical side of my work. Urban living requires stylish but also functional products, which is a nice synergy of requirements to work with.

Samantha Warren_003

TCS: Are there any interesting clients you've met through the sale of your products?

SW: All of my clients are interesting, really. I love hearing what they think of my work, especially those in the art and design fields who really respect my unique style. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a happy customer wear my products with pride and joy.

TCS: What are your short-term and long-term goals, going forward?

SW: I like to think big. My overarching ambition is to make Samantha Warren a household name. This really defines much of my short- and long-term goals. I am hopeful that continuing to fuse my experimental approach to print techniques with beautifully practical accessories will be the secret to my success.

We discovered Samantha Warren through Shopping With Soul.

Fuel Up With Filter Coffee At Allpress Espresso

allpress espresso coffee and roastery hackney

FUEL UP WITH FILTER COFFEE AT ALLPRESS ESPRESSO

Allpress Espresso is a roastery and café in Hackney that attributes its delicious coffee to the Hot Air Roasting Method it uses. In London, it started out being on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch, where it still sits as an espresso bar.

You can also find Allpress Espresso in Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.

Allpress Espresso, 55 Dalston Lane, Dalston, London, E8 2NG. Phone: 020 7749 1780

READ JUHI PANDE'S STORY

There are more coffee shops in Hackney than there are corner shops. Maybe this is hyperbole; maybe this is fact – either way, you are never too far away from a decent café serving average-to-excellent coffee. I’ve gone from cortados (my first brush with coffee only four years ago) to doppios and dabbled with a few soy/oat/coconut lattes along the way.

For the past six months, though, I have been obsessed with filter coffee, and I fuel my habit by front rolling to Allpress Espresso near my apartment several times a day. Allpress does excellent single-origin filter brews (as well as other permutations and combinations of the drink), but their coffee is just one aspect that keeps this particular café busy all day. Allpress in Dalston Lane is housed in an erstwhile joiner’s factory – meaning it has ample space to sit both inside and al fresco. Through the glass partition that divides the café and the roastery, you can see their massive hot air roaster (which is powered by solar panels on their roof!), and the few items on the food menu never disappoint. There isn’t any WiFi, so you will occasionally end up sitting next to someone drinking coffee, reading a book, and not much else – which is both terrifying and refreshing in our digital age.

I’ve spent sunny, rainy, hail-y, dreary, and cheery mornings at Allpress, and I always walk out feeling better.

 

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A Guide To The Royal Air Force Museum

raf museum london

A GUIDE TO THE ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM

If you have a love for aircraft and want to experience the thrills of piloting a jet fighter or experience what it’s like being a Red Arrow pilot, you cannot miss a visit to the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum in north London. You can see up close aircraft from the World Wars such as the massive Lancaster bomber, the only Beaufighter (also known as the Whispering Death) in the UK, and the German Messerschmitt to more recent supersonic aircraft like the Phantom, the Tornado, and the Lightning. In addition to displaying over 100 magnificent aircraft, the museum also tells the story of the people behind the aircraft.

RAF Museum, Grahame Park Way, London NW9 5LL

WORDS BY MAHRUKH MCDONALD

Aviation History Timeline Wall & Support Vehicles

Located in Hangar 1, the wall is about 50 metres long and illustrates key events in world aviation from before World War I, when the Wright brothers completed the first ever flight in a powered aircraft, up to the modern age of flight.

In addition to aircraft, Hangar 1 also displays support vehicles such as ambulances and helicopters used in the World Wars. Don’t miss the Enigma machine that was invented by a German and used by British codebreakers to decipher German code during World War II. It is said to have curtailed the war by two years!

RAF During World War I

The exhibit is located in Hangar 2 and brings moving and inspiring stories to life. It includes many personal artefacts including medals, letters, and uniforms, as well as the finest collection of First World War aircraft.

World War II Aircraft

The collection of aircraft used during World War II is so enormous it needs not one but three hangars to contain it – Hangars 3, 4, and 5 are home to British, American, French, and German aircraft. This is where you will find the Messerschmitt, the Spitfire, Hurricane, Beaufighter, and many more.

Flight Simulators

raf museum

Hangar 1 offers a range of unique hands-on experiences, including interactive displays. You can design your own laser guiding bombing mission and even have a go at designing your own airplane and then seeing if it would actually fly. Very popular with kids!

The Gnat flight simulator is in Hangar 1, and you can also try on an RAF uniform. Take the pilot’s seat in the state of the art, full motion aircraft cockpit. A huge, 200-degree spherical screen provides you with an authentic experience. You are in full control of take-off and landing. The simulator experience will cost you £6.

There are also various rides in Hangars 3, 4, and 5. Enjoy a breath-taking flight with the Red Arrows; fly in the Eurofighter Typhoon, Europe's most advanced aircraft; or take part in in a Barnstorming to experience daredevil stunts and tricks in the pioneering days of aviation from the 1920s and ’30s. Cost is £3 for a four-minute ride.

4D Theatre

The newest addition to the museum, the 4D theatre offers exciting experiences of the greatest advances of navigational technology. Fly with the Red Arrows or participate in a World War I dogfight with the Red Barons; race through death defying ravines at supersonic speeds or enjoy a film of a World War II bombing mission in the B7. The rides open at 10.30 a.m. with the last ride at 4.30pm and cost £5 each or £16 for a family of four.

Spitfire MkXVI

raf museum spitfire

Take the pilot’s seat in a real Spitfire Mk XVI to discover what it is like to fly this iconic plane. You can take photos inside the cockpit, but be aware that the Spitfire’s cockpit is very small so a small camera with a wrist strap or a camera zipped into your pocket would be ideal. Only flat shoes allowed in the cockpit. It opens at 11 a.m., and the last session is at 4.30 p.m. Make your way to the Historic Hangars to book your time slot. There is a charge of £10.

Relax

Stop off for a hot drink and pastries in The Sunderland Café in Hangar 1, sitting under the wings of the enormous Short Sunderland Flying Boat. Or you can enjoy hot and cold food and drinks at the Claude’s Café in the 1931 heritage building. The third café, The Wessex Café, is located opposite the Royal Wessex Helicopter in Hangar 3.

If the weather is good, borrow a parachute rug or bean bag and enjoy a picnic outside on the lawn next to the themed playground or indoors in Hangar 3. There is a great shop too where you can pick up some interesting memorabilia of your visit to this museum.

raf museum

If you think your kids may be bored, think again. Kids love this museum. They may even describe it as the coolest museum they have been to! In how many museums do you hear children saying, “This is amazing”, and “Can we come here again”? It has fun things for kids of all ages, including miniature planes for under 5s: DH9A, Spitfire, Gnat and Sea King. Allow a minimum of three to four hours to enjoy your visit to this incredible museum. It really is a fun and educational day out for the whole family.

All photographs by Mahrukh McDonald except feature photograph by Steve Cadman [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

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Makers Of London: Mugdha Sapte Of Kindred + Wild

kindred + wild

MAKERS OF LONDON: MUGHDA SAPTE OF KINDRED + WILD

Mugdha Sapte is the one-woman team behind the organic skincare apothecary Kindred + Wild. Combining her passion for natural products and plants with her desire to work independently, her line of products is inspired by herbal remedies and handcrafted in small batches in London.

kindred + wild

WORDS BY ADITI DHARMADHIKARI

The City Story: Tell us a little about the name Kindred + Wild and what it signifies to you.

Mugdha Sapte: Kindred is for connectedness, not just with each other, but because deep down we all understand the need and importance of connecting with nature. And because I genuinely believe everything is interconnected. Wild is to remind me to be outdoors more, to forage, interact with nature, to bring a bit of wilderness back into our lives. Wild are the things we don’t understand but need to learn or revive. Like so much lost wisdom about plants especially, but also of life. Wild is for a need to protect those places which are just that, wild.

TCS: Could you share with us a few experiences that led you to shift into a more holistic approach towards health and life?

MS: When I was at University, I used to have terrible bouts of cold sores, and for almost a year a few years ago had a persistent rash, which one doctor said was dermatitis and another said eczema. It doesn’t help that any imbalance in my body always manifests on my face and not some hidden patch behind my elbow. My cold sores I managed to be rid of with a recipe of a lip balm by James Wong from his Grow Your Own Drugs series on BBC. That’s how it all started, I suppose. Ever the DIY person, I thought, “I can make that!” So over the years I made many batches of lip balm got better at it along the way. And experimental!

But this idea that an everyday thing generally considered a cosmetic like a lip balm could be medicinal and natural is, I think, what stuck with me. My dermatitis/eczema needed much deeper attention for which I sought help from an Ayurvedic practitioner. That really helped shape my holistic approach to health since that’s what Ayurveda is all about.

TCS: How did the idea of starting your own organic skincare apothecary come about?

MS: I had just quit a job which was extremely draining and found myself doing a lot of soul-searching. Through that difficult, confusing, and frustrating process I discovered I had two major want-needs: that I had to work with plants and had to work for myself. Almost six months after that and a lot more thinking, Kindred + Wild was conceived. It turned out to be a perfect combination of my little life’s history, of that underlying passion for nature, which was a silent dark horse throughout, and encompasses my future aspirations for a lifestyle in harmony with nature and plantwork.

kindred + wild

TCS: As a one-woman team, what are some of the challenges you face along the way?

MS: Working by yourself can be very isolating and challenging. I also struggle with those aspects that I am really not good at or find terrible boring. Like admin. Or marketing.

TCS: How would you say the city has influenced your work?

MS: My love for nature was rekindled in city. After a few years focused on university I stumbled upon a book for natural dyeing which got me so excited and exhilarated. I started to teach myself to identify plants, would go foraging in the local parks for new plants I could dye with. I feel incredibly grateful and lucky that London has allowed that. That there is a green haven just around the corner no matter which part of the city you are in.

TCS: Tell us more about your process of creating your unique products.

MS: My process is rather fluid. It could be stumbling upon a new plant or herb which throws me full fledge into research mode and then finding and experimenting with its uses. I get such a kick out of that sort of stuff. Or it could be a new symptom of a friend or myself, which gets me thinking, “I wonder what plant could be useful for that”, and then again into research mode. I basically follow my curiosity and when I find something exciting or a special fascination with a plant I go into experimenting mode.

TCS: After a long day of admin and experimentation in the kitchen, where in London do you head to relax and connect with like-minded people?

MS: Actually, I am a total introvert, so my idea of relaxing is with a good book, soothing music, cooking delicious healthy food, and generally chilling out.

We discovered Kindred + Wild through Shopping With Soul.

Head To God’s Own Junkyard For A Lit Weekend

god's own junkyard

HEAD TO GOD'S OWN JUNKYARD FOR A LIT WEEKEND

Located in Walthamstow is God’s Own Junkyard, a salvage yard containing the personal works of late neon artist Chris Bracey. You can find props, backdrops, and signage Bracey made for movies like Blade Runner alongside vintage signs and disco balls. It’s a neon paradise you can’t miss.

God’s Own Junkyard, Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, London, E17 9HQ. Phone: 020 8521 8066. It is open on weekends: Friday & Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Rolling Scones Café is open for food and drinks all weekend.

READ DIVYA SEHGAL'S STORY

It’s almost bizarre to think there is a wonderland of neon lights, vintage signs, and old movie props in a decrepit industrial estate on the edges of Walthamstow and Wood Street. A few years ago, Ravenswood Industrial Estate was a bit of a dump with no reason to go there unless you got lost looking for a garage. Today, it has been transformed into “the” place to be on a weekend. You have two breweries, a gin bar, a regular pizza stall, and the jewel in its crown: God’s Own Junkyard.

The late world-famous neon-artist Chris Bracey’s God’s Own Junkyard was the first shop to set up there, and it’s a psychedelic world of its own. He created signs for a number of movies, including Blade Runner and four Batman films and, sure enough, the props, backdrops, and signage used in those movies are displayed in God’s Own Junkyard.

Instantly Intsagrammable from the threshold of this weird and wonderful place, you’ll find at the most popular spot a Jesus statue holding neon guns under a sign saying, “Madonna’s Erotic Show”. It’s indeed reminiscent of the Jesus statue in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. And while you’re there, you can give your neck and eyes a bit of a break by stopping for some cream tea, cakes, sandwiches, or coffee. God’s Own Junkyard houses a café, The Rolling Scones. But of course, it’s just a side act to the wondrous colourful, trippy, lit up world of disco balls and wacky signs.

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Makers Of London: Debbie Carne Of Alijoe Designs

alijoe designs

MAKERS OF LONDON: DEBBIE CARNE OF ALIJOE DESIGNS

Debbie Carne is the owner and creator behind Alijoe Designs, a one-woman studio that breathes new life into vintage ceramic plates. We talk to Debbie about her creations and what it means to be a maker in London.

alijoe designs

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

The City Story: When did you kickstart Alijoe Designs?
Debbie Carne:
I officially launched in May 2014 but was working with vintage plates for a few months before that.

TCS: How did you came upon the idea of ceramic decals?
DC:
I went on a short course at Morley College about applying decals to ceramics. I loved it and was sufficiently inspired to try out some concepts at home. The lightbulb moment came when I saw the fabulous impact of juxtaposing collage and quirky imagery onto pretty vintage plates – by making my own decals, I was reinventing the decorative plate.

TCS: Do you do all the work yourself or do you have a team?
DC:
Absolutely – it is just me!

TCS: Where is your studio located? What do you like most about that neighbourhood?
DC:
I work from home in Highgate, North London. I have lived much of my life in the area and love it – it is a village and feels very countrified yet it is really quick to get in to the Centre.

TCS: How do you choose your designs?
DC:
They tend to come to me any time and anywhere – often in the middle of the night! I work with concepts, and sometimes, the original plate design will spark an idea or I will think of something that could work well on a plate.

alijoe designs

TCS: Do you have a favourite among all the decals you’ve worked on?

DC: That's a tricky one but I think I would choose my Twisted Leg Collection and the various ideas “On Tap”.

TCS: What’s the best part about being a maker in London?
DC:
I can’t imagine living or working anywhere else, and being so close to so many places to visit and explore means that inspiration is potentially on tap whenever required.

alijoe designs

TCS: Let us in on a London insight.
DC:
I walk as much as I can in London. It's the best way to experience the myriad of architectures and cultures from one street to the next – however well you think you know London, you never quite know what will be around the corner.

We discovered Alijoe Designs through Shopping With Soul.

The London Silver Vaults Are A Sparkling Underground Secret

london silver vaults chancery lane

THE LONDON SILVER VAULTS ARE A SPARKLING UNDERGROUND SECRET

The London Silver Vaults is an underground silver market that opened in 1876 as the Chancery Lane Safe Deposit. The building it is located in, on Chancery Lane, was damaged during World War II. It was rebuilt and opened in its present format in 1953.  The Vaults houses 30 shops selling everything from jewellery to pocket watches to cutlery.

The London Silver Vaults, 53-64 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1QS. Phone: 020 7242 3844

READ MAHRUKH MCDONALD'S STORY

Deep down in the very depths of central London lies a secret even many locals are unaware of. The address is 53-64 Chancery Lane. Enter through the unassuming doorway with “The London Silver Vaults” inscribed over it, go down two flights of stairs, and you will be in the catacombs that were built in 1876 as strong rooms for London’s rich and famous. It now houses the world’s largest collection of fine silver ranging from small items (cuff links, spoons, card holders, or even a champagne swizzle stick) to grander pieces such as bowls, pots, and urns to even larger items like a full-sized silver armchair! It has been suggested you put on your sunglasses when entering this sparkling underground world!

You will find items dating from the 16th Century to contemporary pieces. Prices range from around £25 to over £100,000. But you don’t have to buy anything – many visitors just go to have a look at this amazing underground silver market.

Most of the 30 shops here are family run and have been handed down through generations, many in their third generation. And they aren’t all silver shops. Anthony Green specialises in antique pocket watches. The shop has a clock that was built not far away in Clerkenwell 300 years ago that still works perfectly. There is even a pocket watch with a loud chime for each quarter hour!

There are jewellery shops selling bespoke silver jewellery quite unlike the standard pieces you find in high street shops.

You can spend as much time as you like but allow at least an hour, especially if you want to chat to the friendly shopkeepers. They’re happy to share stories of famous customers and tell you what they bought too.

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The Birth of British Rhythm and Blues At Eel Pie Island

eel pie island twickenham

THE BIRTH OF BRITISH RHYTHM AND BLUES AT EEL PIE ISLAND

Eel Pie Island is a small island on the River Thames in Twickenham, Middlesex, 20 minutes from the centre of London. It is a residential island today, but in the 1960s, a dilapidated hotel on the Island was part of a music revolution that would change popular music forever.

Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, UK.

READ MAHRUKH MCDONALD'S STORY

Eel Pie Island – the name itself draws you to it! In the 1830s, it was known by the mundane name of Twickenham Ait and was renowned as a resort for visitors and boat parties, some brought by pleasure steamers in the days when there wasn’t a bridge. Tea gardens lined the front of the island, and the eel pies served here were famous. It led to the renaming of the island – and of the pub located on it from Island Hotel to Eel Pie Island Hotel.

It’s not just the name or its fame for serving great eel pies that have made this tiny island famous. It is music! Just as The Cavern Club in Liverpool is renowned for The Beatles music scene, the Eel Pie Island Hotel is famous for The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Bowie (then David Wood), Pink Floyd, The Who, and many, many more who, between 1962 and ’67, fused the gritty sound of R&B with the electric sound of Rock ‘n’ Roll to define the shape of popular music.

But Eel Pie Island has been used as a music venue well before the 1960s. In Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens mentioned the hotel as a place where one could "dance to the music of a locomotive band". In the 1920s, it was a local tea dance venue. In 1956, it was a popular jazz venue. Arthur Chisnall set up the Eel Pie Club at the Island Hotel in the late ’50s, and in the early ’60s, it rapidly became “the” place to hear rhythm and blues bands. Youngsters flocked to the island every weekend. They paid the toll (around 2d) to cross the bridge, bought tickets (about 3 shillings 6d), and had their wrists stamped. The ink colour was varied from week to week to stop people from gaining entry again by not washing their wrist for a week.

The hotel was already in a dilapidated condition when it became a jazz hangout in the early 1900s. Part of the dance floor in front of the stage had actually rotted away in the R&B music years. The dilapidated condition of the stage added to the excitement of the venue, as did the highly sprung dance floor. You could not stand still even if you wanted to!

eel pie island twickenham

Before the first bridge was built in 1957, bands had to haul their equipment over the river on a chain barge. There was an instance when the barge sank, and with it, all the music equipment was lost, and the main band had to borrow the music equipment of their support band.

Eel Pie Island was a popular venue for youngsters from West London, but people travelled from all over London to this vibrant venue. Many parents banned their teenagers from the island. Many of them would have preferred their kids enjoy The Beatles’ music instead of the bands playing at The Eel Pie Island Hotel. After all, The Beatles wore suits!

The Eel Pie Club was forced to close down for safety reasons by the council in 1967. For a couple of years, it was used as a venue for well-known bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, but by the end of the ’60s it completely closed down. It went into rapid decline with communes making it their home, and even the Hell’s Angels moved in. In 1971, the hotel burned to the ground.

eel pie island twickenham

Now, the island is home to residents. There are artist studios and boatyards. Phil Collins is the President of the Richmond Yacht Club on the island. This is where he, as a boy, learnt to play the drums. At a very young age, he played in a band on a set of tin drums bought from Woolworths.

You walk across the narrow bridge to Eel Pie Island, and you are in a different world, far removed from the hustle and bustle of London. The main road on the island is a pathway, no cars allowed – there is no way for them to come over and there is no road to drive on. The undergrowth is dense, and cottages line the road, some visible from the path, others tucked away. The most striking of these is called the Love Shack, a weatherboard cottage, bright blue with a white picket fence. Half a mannequin, her legs sticking out from the ground, adorns the entrance. On another cottage, a sign, “Any person omitting to shut and fasten this gate after using it is liable to a penalty of forty shillings”. The island retains some of its quirkiness.

All photographs by Mahrukh McDonald except feature photography by Iridescenti [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5 ], from Wikimedia Commons

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Makers Of London: Aimee Furnival Of Another Studio

another studio aimee furnival

MAKERS OF LONDON: AIMEE FURNIVAL OF ANOTHER STUDIO

Another Studio focuses on creating original products for the desk, home, and workplace. Whether it’s tiny animals for your plants or 3D models of famous landmarks or even bookmarks, they’ve got it covered. We caught up with Aimee Furnival to know more about her craft and practice.

another studio aimee furnival

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

The City Studio: How long has Another Studio been around?

Aimee Furnival: I launched the first design in 2010, can’t believe where the time has gone!

TCS: Can you tell us a little about your journey – how did you decide on starting such a distinctive design studio, and what inspired the idea behind it?

AF: I was at a stage where I wanted to have a more creative career, but there were very few jobs for product design. I felt the only option was to create my own role where I could develop my own ideas and learn new skills. At the time, there were few well-designed, thoughtful gifts that retailed for £10 that I really liked. At the heart of the studio is a love for creative, considered, and inventive products that are fun to use or make you smile. I have a slight obsession with miniature objects, so playing with scale has always been very important. The most important criteria for all our designs are “would I buy this”. I have to feel like I’d walk into a shop and be swooned by it.

TCS: Does the city influence your work in any way?

AF: Absolutely. How could this amazing city not! I grew up on a small island, so London’s always felt monumental. I love how diverse it is, be it the architecture, people, or the number of events and exhibitions. The skyline is ever-changing, and I find this so inspiring; the city keeps pushing forward, and that inspires how we work, always developing new ideas.

TCS: Can you name a few designers whose work you admire?

AF: Italian designer Matteo Cibic, I absolutely love the Domsai desk terrariums, they are such playful and beautiful objects; I really enjoy following Sabine Timm on Instagram as her creations always bring a smile;  Ruth Martin is my go to for greeting cards and little gifts, they are so much fun and so different from other stationery. I also really admire the “mellow collection” of vases by South Korean designers Hattern.

 

another studio aimee furnival

TCS: Do you have a favourite borough in London?

AF: Not sure I can choose! I’ve lived and worked all over London in the last 20 years so am attached to how different the boroughs are. I always enjoy visiting Southwark for a walk along the river, Camden for the busy city life of Soho and the quiet retreat of Hampstead Heath. I really love living in Lewisham on the top of the hill as it has incredible views of the city which I never tire of.

TCS: It’s mentioned that Another Studio is inspired by origami – what is your favourite origami figure to make?

AF: Ha, well actually I couldn’t make anything without instructions! I’m inspired by how origami is really ingenious and systematic, simply creating an amazing three dimensional figure from a single flat sheet.

TCS: How easy or difficult is it to sustain a unique design business such as yours?

AF: Of course it has its challenges. Finding great people to work with is key, be that my brilliant staff (Hannah and Lahla), the amazing retailers who stock our products, working with freelance creatives (stylists and photographers), or having excellent relationships with the factories that produce our designs.

another studio aimee furnival

TCS: What according to you is a perfect desk?

AF: Probably Hannah’s desk, who is Studio Manager! My desk is an explosion of samples, sketchbooks, and paperwork. Hannah’s is clear, tidy and calm – I’m constantly in awe.

TCS: Where do you see Another Studio in the next five years?

AF: We’re doing a lot more consultancy and bespoke work for retailers, so I see this becoming a bigger side of the business alongside creating our own products. I want the company to grow, but the most important thing is to create a nice, happy work environment for my small team and staff to enjoy. Work should be fun, and that’s how I want to keep the studio!

We discovered Another Studio through Shopping With Soul.

Makers Of London: Amy Grimes of Hello Grimes

hello grimes

MAKERS OF LONDON: AMY GRIMES OF HELLO GRIMES

An independent online brand that retails illustrated prints, stationery, pins, and textiles, Hello Grimes was founded in 2017. We catch up with its founder, Amy Grimes, to know more about her work and her relationship with the city.

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

The City Story: Hello Grimes is a year old. How long did you think about setting up shop before actually doing it?

Amy Grimes: I studied illustration at university, and so I've been creating work for a lot longer than I started selling it under the name Hello Grimes. In 2017, I started to post my work online and considered setting up shop when friends and family discovered what I was drawing (mainly through Instagram) and kept asking to buy them as prints. Since then it's sort of snowballed into selling them in person, through a website, at craft markets, and then eventually through wholesale to retailers; it was definitely an organic progression and not planned at all but really happy with where it's led!

TCS: Your illustrations have a very clear nature theme – do your surroundings/neighbourhood inspire you? 

AG: Definitely! Some of the prints are inspired by places I've been (Rockpools was inspired after a trip to Cornwall), but a lot of them are also imagined or inspired by books. As you can tell, it's pretty much all landscapes and plant illustrations, so sometimes it's just somewhere I'd rather be when London feels too urban.

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TCS: Can you name a few illustrators whose work you admire?

AG: Right now, I absolutely love the work of Rachael Dean and also Heikala – they both use paints and more traditional techniques rather than digital illustration, which is probably why I admire their work, because it's different to how I create images. Their works also have beautiful tones and colours, which I find really appealing.

TCS: Name a favourite place for a weekend getaway.

AG: I recently went to Rye in Sussex for a weekend, which was great as it's near the sea but the inland countryside is also beautiful. It was also one of the hottest weekends of the year, which helped – I love anywhere near the sea and think there are so many beautiful places in Britain that I still need to discover.

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TCS: Would you say London is an easy place to be an independent maker?

AG: I would say that it's a great place to be to meet loads of other makers and designers; the community of designer-makers here is really great, and everyone has always been friendly and open. I've met so many interesting people through various craft fairs and markets, and it's always nice to see such a variety of makers, all with completely different styles and products. There are also plenty of different markets and fairs to choose from, which is great as you can keep yourself really busy. For anyone that hasn't done a fair or market before I'd say go for it, the community of people involved are so supportive and in a city as big as London, you will always be able to find people that are interested in what you do.

TCS: Could you tell us your favourite borough in the city? Why do you like it?

AG: I live in Brockley, Lewisham, which I love – it's got loads of green space and doesn't feel like London sometimes. There's also a really good community atmosphere here, especially in the summer when there are loads of street parties and open studios to visit. In general, I love it south of the river as there's loads going on and it feels more creative.

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TCS: Is Hello Grimes going to expand to apparel or other products any time soon?

AG: I'm actually launching some new textile products this week at One Year In, which is part of New Designers – I've designed some botanical and leafy fabrics that are hand made in the UK into pencil cases, makeup bags, and A5 notebooks – they will be available on my website next weekend; really excited to see if people like them! I would love to create a whole range of homeware/interior products in the future, but right now I'd like to focus on creating a small but considered range and see how they go.

We discovered Hello Grimes through Shopping With Soul.