Kindred-+-Wild-band

Makers Of London: Mugdha Sapte Of Kindred + Wild

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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.

 

God's-Own-Junkyard-band

Head To God’s Own Junkyard For A Lit Weekend

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 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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Alijoe-Designs-band

Makers Of London: Debbie Carne Of Alijoe Designs

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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.

 

Tooting-band

12 Hours In And Around Tooting

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tooting
 

12 HOURS IN AND AROUND TOOTING

WORDS BY JAMES BLOODWORTH

South London gets a bit of a bad rep when compared to the northern half of the capital. Some of this distain is justified (South London’s transportation system leaves a lot to be desired), but it is largely down to ignorance: it is impossible for a person to visit a place like Tooting and come away complaining about the paucity of things on offer in South London. In Tooting, at least, there are a ton of things to do.

9:00 a.m.

Presumably it’s coffee you’re after at this hour, in which case you could do worse than head on down to Brickwood Coffee & Bread, situated inside Tooting Market near Tooting Broadway tube station. It isn’t just coffee that’s on offer at Brickwood; a tasty brunch and salad menu caters to those feeling peckish. Brickwood offers a pleasant setting to imbibe some much-needed fuel before taking on the day ahead. On Friday and Saturday nights, Brickwood transforms into a venue that sells cocktails, beer, and other alcoholic drinks, so if you like it that much you can always head back again later when night falls.

 

For those who just want straight up coffee or tea (though you can usually get a toastie at these places too) try Walker Wyatt Coffee, Mud, or JOE’s.

Brickwood Coffee & Bread, Tooting Market, 21-23 Tooting High St, London SW17 0SN. Phone: 020 8672 2668

Walker Wyatt Coffee, 3 Upper Tooting Rd, London SW17 7TS. Phone: 020 8767 8687.

JOE’s, 217A Tooting High Street, London SW17 0SZ. Phone: 020 3581 9642.

11:00 a.m.

Now you’ve refuelled, so to speak, it’s time to explore Tooting a little. Despite playing host to Europe’s largest Chicken Cottage, there’s more to this part of South London than just food. For one thing, there’s shopping. Whether it’s searching for bargains in the charity shops along the high street or exploring the eclectic offerings on display in Tooting Market, there is something to suit a variety of tastes. And hey, if you get bored you can always stop and eat again, because why the hell not? The market stays open until 10:30 p.m., so by all means take your time.

Tooting Market, 21-23 Tooting High St, London SW17 0SN. Phone: 020 8672 4760.

12:15 p.m.

With a bag stuffed full of bargains and a stomach full of carbohydrates, head over to Tooting Bec Common. For the more active, the common is an ideal place to burn off some of what you’ve consumed. If that’s not your thing, it’s still an extremely pleasant setting and the closest you’re going to get to countryside in this part of the world. There’s even a lake with ducks, swans, and other sentient creatures. Another underappreciated way to pass the time on Tooting Bec Common is to simply walk around, gazing up at the many magnificent oak trees scattered around the place. It’s much more interesting than I make it sound.

Tooting Bec Common, Doctor Johnson Avenue, Tooting, London SW17 8JU.

tooting

2:00 p.m.

After you’re done exploring the green you may want to cool off. What better way to do that than to take a swim? If you’re up for that, pay a visit to Tooting Bec Lido, an open-air fresh water swimming pool situated just off Tooting Bec road next to the common. An adult swim costs £7.50.

Tooting Bec Lido, Tooting Bec Rd, London SW16 1RU. Phone: 020 8871 7198.

tooting bec lido

4:00 p.m.

Four o’clock is pub time. It doesn’t have to be, but it’s a good time to relax a little and reflect on the day that’s just gone as well as prepare yourself for the forthcoming evening. You don’t have to drink alcohol by any means, but this is the time to administer an aperitif for those that like such things. Directly opposite Tooting Bec Station stands The Wheatsheaf, an independent boozer that also serves food. The Wheatsheaf feels modern without shedding all the charm of an old-fashioned boozer. It tends to get busy in the evening, but 4 o’clock is the ideal time to drop in for a quiet pint.

the castle pub tooting

The Castle offers something slightly different. A Young’s pub that dates back to 1832, the Castle has a contemporary “gastro pub” feel to it. This may not be to everybody’s taste, but if you like that sort of thing then pop in for a drink in this huge and airy pub.

The Wheatsheaf, 2 Upper Tooting Rd, London SW17 7PG. Phone: 020 8672 2805.

The Castle, 38 Tooting High Street, London, SW17 0RG. Phone: 020 8672 7018.

7:30 p.m.

Early evening marks the highlight of a day spent in Tooting – for me at any rate. It’s at this hour that you perhaps want to think about getting something to eat, and in Tooting you are genuinely spoilt for choice, especially if you like spicy food. Even if you don’t, there is so much on offer that you are bound to find something to suite your own palate.

Some of the best South Asian cuisine can be found at Dawat. The restaurant operates a no alcohol policy, but it does offer takeaway if you’d rather drink with your meal. The food is highly rated, so it’s worth eschewing the booze and simply appreciating what’s on offer. On a Friday or Saturday evening, it’s wise to book a table as it can get very busy. That in itself reveals a lot about the place.

Tooting_005

Lahore Karahi Express is another top-quality South Asian restaurant in Tooting, as is Mirch Masala. For those who want to cast their net more widely, it’s worth heading back to Tooting Market, where a wide variety of food outlets dish up cuisine from around the world. There is literally something here for everybody.

Dawat, 256-258 Upper Tooting Rd, London SW17 0DN. Phone: 020 8682 9777.

Lahore Karahi Express, 1 Tooting High St, London SW17 0SN. Phone: 020 8767 2477.

Mirch Masala, 213 Upper Tooting Rd, London SW17 7TG. Phone: 020 8767 8638.

9:00 p.m.

Tooting Tram and Social hosts a wide selection of bands and DJs, meaning you can dance the night away or prop up the bar looking cool. Either way, who can seriously say that South London has little to offer after all of this? Tuesday is open mic night at the social, and on Fridays and Saturdays it stays open until 2:00 a.m. And what you going to do at the end of the night? Head to the massive Chicken Cottage, obviously; though you better leave the Tram and Social before closing time as Chicken Cottage also stops serving at 2:00 a.m.

Tooting Tram and Social, 46-48 Mitcham Road, London, SW17 9NA. Phone: 020 8767 0278.

Chicken Cottage, 38-42, Upper Tooting Road, London SW17 7PD. Phone: 020 8767 9229.

 
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The-London-Silver-Vaults-band

The London Silver Vaults Are A Sparkling Underground Secret

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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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Eel-Pie-Island-band

The Birth of British Rhythm and Blues At Eel Pie Island

SPACE EXPERIENCE PEOPLE FOOD + DRINK VIDEO 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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Another-Studio-band

Makers Of London: Aimee Furnival Of Another Studio

SPACE EXPERIENCE PEOPLE FOOD + DRINK VIDEO 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.

 

Hello-Grimes-band

Makers Of London: Amy Grimes of Hello Grimes

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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.

hello grimes

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.

Hello Grimes_006

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.

hello grimes

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.

 

Mess-Cafe-band

Milkshakes and Multiculturalism At Mess Cafe

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MILKSHAKES AND MULTICULTURALISM AT MESS CAFE

Mess Cafe in Hackney is a local institution. Open six days a week (closed on Mondays), it serves an excellent breakfast and is always filled with locals from Hackney’s diverse communities.

Mess Cafe, 38 Amhurst Road, London E8 1JN. Phone: 020 8985 3194

READ KIT CALESS’S STORY

I’m not usually one for giving away London’s best-kept secrets, but for Mess Cafe, I’m prepared to make an exception. Slap bang in the middle of the stretch of Amhurst Road that runs from the Pembury to Mare Street, Mess is a local institution. It serves one of the greatest breakfasts in the borough, no arguments. You can even build your own breakfast from scratch. It serves incredible malt milkshakes. The coffee and tea are excellent. It’s cheap. They do great hash browns. There are booths to sit in with six mates or tables to share with just one. There’s some bad artwork. Out of date gig posters. Quietly played acoustic covers of hit records on the stereo. There’s a baby chair.

This cafe has everything.

But the best thing about Mess is the people. Walk into Mess any day of the week, and it’s like the street has walked in with you. Mess is such a locals’ favourite that it is always filled with all the locals from all the communities Hackney houses. Mess reflects Hackney’s multiculturalism to a tee; all ages, all races, all cultures come into Mess for food and drinks. My favourite type of customer is the Dad taking his daughter/son out for breakfast and a catch-up. There is always at least one Dad-offspring couple in Mess at any one time. It’s a unique phenomenon for a unique cafe.

You want to see how we can all just get along? Go to Mess. Mess should give presentations at the UN on building a cosmopolitan space. Mess should by consulted by sociologists and urban planners on how to make everyone feel at home. But instead, Mess just does a banging breakfast or lovely lunch and lets you get on with your life.
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