Marimekko: Finland’s Finest

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Myself and Kath are off on a Finnish trip together (more specifically Lapland) – in fact when this post goes live I think we’ll actually be there, hopefully drinking glögi and eating smoked salmon… But as well as gorging ourselves on the local delicacies and hanging out with Rudolph I’m also hoping to learn a little more about the Finnish design scene.

I’m a huge fan of Scandinavian design, there’s a whole section on this site dedicated to my obsession, but I’m not as familiar with the Nordic offering.  However there is one store that immediately springs to mind when thinking about our northerly Nordic neighbours and that’s Marimekko.

Marimekko is a Finnish institution and has been since the 1950’s.  It was the brainchild of Armi Ratia’s (pictured) whose vision of a bold, graphic future for textiles was fulfilled through her collaboration with various young artists and fashion designers. Fast forward 60 years and the company is now internationally successful, and the same ethos and desire to collaborate and create bold and beautiful patterns remains. Many of the original designs are still in production today, and the range includes homeware, clothing and accessories. So if you really wanted you could co-odinate your trousers to your teapot or your socks to your serving dishes…

Lucky for us our Finnish destination, Romeneivi, has a Marimekko store so we’ll be sure to pop in for a nosey. But for all those based in the UK the online store has some fantastic offerings, i’ve shortlisted some of my favourites below…

 

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1. Oiva/Sääpäiväkirja plate, 32.00GBP 2. Round Fokus tray, 62.00GBP 3. Oiva/Siirtolapuutarha plate, 26.00GBP 4. Hattarakukka tray, 62.00GBP 5. Oiva/ Siirtolapuutarha pitcher, 53.00GBP 6. Sukat makkaralla stemware, 32.00GBP 7. Hauki plywood tray, 44.50GBP 8. Oiva/Unikko tea cup, 17.00GBP 9. Hauki oven mitten, 22.00GBP 10. Hauki tea towel, 29.50GBP

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Rowen and Wren: Elegant and Distinctive Homewares

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Rowen and Wren have one of the most beautifully photographed homeware collections of any online shop.  The covetable vintage accessories; the backdrops of deep slate blue paint and whitewashed walls; I would happily move in to their online world if it existed.

As you’d expect from such a carefully crafted visual style, the collection itself is exquisitely tasteful, and it’s one of those shops where you can’t really go wrong if you’re looking for a gift.  Anyone with any sense would be happy to welcome something from Rowan and wren into their home.

Their collections do span a range price-wise, and some items are outside my personal budget, but there are also some really affordable gems, and it’s also a great place to look for well crafted antique-style hardware (think burnished brass, copper and nickel).

Liz has picked some of her favourite bits and pieces below….

Rowen and Wren homewares mason cocktail shaker recipe book

The Mason Shaker Cocktail book £18.

My other half bought me a Mason Shaker for last years Birthday but I fear my bottom of the bottle, back of the cupboard concoctions may not pass muster. I am buying this. If I remember I will let you know how I get on…

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Rad Studio: Funky Homeware & Gifts In Saltaire, Yorkshire

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Liz and I are longtime fans of the village of Saltaire in West Yorkshire.  Not only is the UNESCO World Heritage Site home to Salts Mill and host to our beloved Bradford Beer Festival, but it’s also boasts a great range of independent shops, making it a hotspot for design and vintage lovers.

Rad Studio on the Saltaire main street is a riot of colour and fantastic spot for picking up design-friendly homewares and gifts that suit a range of budgets.

I stop in every time I’m in the village and find it very difficult to leave empty handed – I’ve picked up cards, jewellery, an iphone case, gifts and some pretty little copper and ceramic bowls which I use to house my earrings and bracelets.

earrings in small green and copper bowls

It’s got a great laid-back vibe, which I love, as my pet hate is high-design concept shops that make you feel intimidated or under pressure to buy. It’s lovely owner Ali is on twitter over at @radstudiouk, so you can follow her there for updates on special offers and new items in store.

I’ve selected some of my favourites below (under the cut), from their website, but if you’re in the area it’s definitely worth stopping in for a mooch around as they have an even bigger range in store…

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Fig and Sparrow: I Challenge You to Resist

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I have a problem with the Fig and Sparrow. I  simply can’t stop spending money there. I’m made to pass it everyday on my way into the office, so it would be rude not to pop in to see what new stock they’ve got in. Based on Oldham Street in Manchester it’s fifty percent lifestyle shop and fifty percent café-bar. So even when i’ve innocently nipped in for a quick coffee and a slice of their pecan pie there always something on the shelf that catches my eye. Just like the sweets at the checkout point in supermarkets, it’s almost like they’ve thought about it…

I need to be more grateful though, this shop is my go-to for panic present buys. They’ve also introduced me to some great homeware stores like nkuku and local designers/illustrators such as  Nicola Rowlands and Emma Lonsdale. They don’t have an online shop but if you’re in the area I’d recommend you pay a visit, and I challenge you to come out empty handed. Past purchases for me include this  dog walking cushion  and my charming chai tea set (which i’ve previously raved about).

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Future and Found: Bold & Bright Home Stylings

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Future and Found is a relatively recent discovery, but you may have spotted their stuff appearing on recent round up posts, and their beautifully shot collection always stand out on our Pinterest boards.

They stock an eye-catching range of household bits, specialising in bold, clean, simple pieces with bolts of colour here and there (these guys love their neon).  They are particularly good for kitchenware, storage and tidy bits, and unusual gift ideas.   Their website has enviable style, and I’m pretty sure that their buying habits are influenced by what will co-ordinate best with their colour palette – you’ll notice a lot of orange and grey.  Hats off to their web design and photography people.

I have replaced some of our old plastic cups with their enamel tumblers.  I’m also very fond of the Donna Wilson knitted badger cushion - it’s on my splurge wish list  (though I suspect that Liz would be tempted to pinch it).

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Utility: No Nonsense useful stuff

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Based in Brighton and shipping nationwide, utilitygreatbritain.co.uk pride themselves on stocking useful household items. They have everything you need and everything you weren’t aware you needed but now do. Basic and beautiful is how i’d describe their wares and it’s all packaged together with a great sense of humour, the own brand ‘la-la-la lahverly Lav brush holdahhh’ and spout doily (‘no teapot would be seen dead without one’) are typical of the super simple, super cool items you can expect to be delighted with. My new bathroom is soon to be modelling the bath mat pictured, and I reckon some enamel accessories wouldn’t go amiss either…

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Baileys Home: Reclaimed & Rustic Treasures

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I stumbled across the website of Baileys Home 8 years ago when I was searching for a globe for my very first flat*.  It’s run by a husband and wife team who live in Bridstow, Herefordshire.

Though I’ve never had the opportunity to visit their bricks and mortar store and tea room, I love to browse their website to find gems in their hand-picked selection of household items which blend genuine vintage finds in with goods from reclaimed / re-used sources, as well as contemporary products which fit with their simple, rustic country-cottage style.

Their range spans from home  basics like kitchenware and hardware , to larger items like lighting and occasional furniture and storage, by way of some interesting curios for kids. They also sell traditional butler’s sinks and have recently expanded into curtain poles and sofas (though these are at the higher end price range wise).

Postage wise it’s worthwhile bundling a few items together. Currently I’ve got my eye on: this recycled glass carafe, this fig handwash (love the bottle), and this cute cotton monkey to put away as a kid’s present.

 

* In hindsight I’m not quite sure why a globe was up high on my list of first flat purchases – probably to inspire holiday planning to satisfy my itchy feet. They no longer sell the version I bought, but you they do stock these twirly hanging globes.


 

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Objects of Use: Utilitarian Chic In Oxford

montage of products from objects of use

Have you ever found one of those shops where you walk in and decide within about 60 seconds that you basically want to buy 80% of the shop and just ship it back to your house? Well, for me, Objects of Use is one of those shops. In fact, I could probably just move into their beautiful little shop in Oxford and live there fairly happily.

It stocks traditional household items made of natural materials. There is real beauty in the simplicity of the design of these objects, and displayed collectively they really create an impact and make you want to reach for your purse….

Luckily for your bank account, there’s a great range price-wise; from the higher end cast iron cookware, to the cleaning and stationery bits and pieces that you can pick up for a few pounds or less.

If you’re not local, you can also shop the full range of products on their (equally stylish) website.

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French Affair Antiques: Gallic Flair in Sheffield

Montage of products from French Affair Antiques

I have a love / hate relationship with antique shopping; I love the idea of it (and the gems that other people seem to uncover), but after a couple of hours of trawling through dusty trinkets I start to lose the will to live.

I’m essentially a lazy antiques buyer, who prefers someone to have done the junk sifting beforehand, and for the shop to not be attempting to break some kind of world record for the most items you can stuff into a room.

I might lose out on a bargain or two with this approach, but I can’t help but feel that the time / frustration saving is worth it.

My favourite shops are those that not only junk-sift on your behalf, but also actively curate the products, and work at presenting a specific style. Typically these shops are much more accessible; literally as well as figuratively. You can browse without being overwhelmed, and if their style chimes with yours, then you’ve found your perfect shop-match.

One such lovely store is in the fair city of Sheffield. It as a bustling antiques quarter, and even an antiques trail, but French Affair Antiques is a stand out. It sells simple French furniture and decorative items such as baskets, linens and glassware.  All wares are tastefully selected and well presented, both in their shop and online (which means I can check out new purchases without having to nip down the M1).

On our last visit we bought this little armchair for our study, reupholstered in a heather/grey linen:

grey armchair

I also bought a vintage wicker basket for my recipe files:

wicker basket

And this wooden trug, which we repurposed as a magazine holder for our living room:

wooden trug with magazines in

I’m currently coveting the French Shop Steps to help me reach the top shelves in the study, so it probably won’t be long until I drag the long-suffering husband back down for another visit…

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