SIMPLE SHAPE'S 14-DAY HOLIDAY GUIDE / day 04

DAY FOUR: Wrap It ('it' being you...or someone near to you who might share)

Day four of our guide to the season: Wool. Draw the curtains, light a fire, wrap up in a blanket and eat mashed potato. I mean, in my book, that's a near perfect scenario on a day like today, surely? And as arctic storms are forecast to hit the UK today it seems like the right moment to talk about blankets (and cushions).

Super Soft; Denim Blue Herringbone Blanket, 100% lambswool.

Super Soft; Denim Blue Herringbone Blanket, 100% lambswool.

Thank you sheep. Wool is a wonderful material and I'm very proud of the blankets and cushions we have on Simple Shape. Most of blankets come from Foxfords, a mill in Ireland that has been in operation since 1892. Founded by nuns to give employment locally, it values traditional skills, embraces modern technology and marries these with a contemporary design aesthetic.

Up Close (& personal...that's your choice); Denim Blue Herringbone Blanket, £75

Up Close (& personal...that's your choice); Denim Blue Herringbone Blanket, £75

Traditional turn out; Storm Grey Herringbone Blanket, £80

Traditional turn out; Storm Grey Herringbone Blanket, £80

These blankets and cushions make gifts that settle into any environment, they'll be equally happy in a fiercely modern or comfortingly cottagey home. Choose carefully and these pieces won't be ditched at the next redecoration, they will last for a few rounds of interiors fashion, hopefully until they become heirlooms.

The future is bright; Tangerine Orange Herringbone Cushion, £65

The future is bright; Tangerine Orange Herringbone Cushion, £65

Stacked; Sky Blue, Tangerine Orange, Sage Green & Storm Grey Herringbone cushions, £65

Stacked; Sky Blue, Tangerine Orange, Sage Green & Storm Grey Herringbone cushions, £65

Draped; looking good even when lazily left on the chair

Draped; looking good even when lazily left on the chair

Thick, heavy and incredibly warm, the beautiful Quail's Egg throw by Eleanor Pritchard is a mighty work. The subtlety of the design and the muted colours make you feel like you've know this blanket all your life. This is a keep-forever piece.

Quail's Egg Blanket, £320

Quail's Egg Blanket, £320

South East Makers Club

The South East Makers Club is a trail through the creative streets and studios of South East London, beginning in Deptford, heading up to Brockley, taking in New Cross and ending in Peckham. It is a brand new trail for London Design Festival 2016, and Simple Shape are part of it. This is the story of how it all began....

Luke Eastop, potter. Showing new work at Simple Shape's Gradient: Experiments in Clay exhibition

Luke Eastop, potter. Showing new work at Simple Shape's Gradient: Experiments in Clay exhibition

The LDF iconic logo

The LDF iconic logo

Sebastian Cox, furniture maker. Exhibiting alongside photographer Yeshen Venema at Deptford Market Yard

Sebastian Cox, furniture maker. Exhibiting alongside photographer Yeshen Venema at Deptford Market Yard

A bit of background:
I have lived in South East London for what is now alarmingly close to 20 years and have always loved it, the space, the people, the sense of community, and the creativity, but it was when I started Simple Shape, a little over a year ago, that I really began to appreciate the scale and more importantly the calibre of the local designer/maker community.

The intention for Simple Shape had always been to research, source and stock the very best of British and Irish handmade and crafted homewares, what I realised when I launched with a tiny collection from a handful of makers was that without intention a number of those makers were based less than a mile from home.  

The London Design Festival:
The London Design Festival's aim is to "promote London as the design capital of the world and as the gateway to the international creative community". I have been to so many wonderful LDF shows and exhibitions and watched the festival grow over the years and it has always seemed a shame that South East London didn’t get a look in on the Design map. Clearly I'm biased but the South East pocket of London is a wonderful incubator of design talent, with exceptional people living and working here but the real story is how much work is actually made here. Great studio spaces that remain just about the right side of affordable make this possible.

I decide that I would hold a Simple Shape exhibition Gradient: Experiments in Clay during the London Design Festival, not in the centre of town, but at home. In Brockley, South East London. The London Design Festival were supportive and when I talked to them about an idea for a path, a route, a trail, a showcase, something that demonstrated South East London’s design talent they suggested I talk to Cockpit Arts.

The Dream-Team = South East Makers Club:
In mid-May I met Jodi Moss, then Cockpit Arts PR and Marketing manager. Jodi is passionate about design and was immediately enthusiastic about the idea.  Days later we were having lunch with Forest Hill resident Lucy James, her design knowledge and communication skills are second to none. Lucy added Benji Roebuck’s design skill to the team. The most organised person I know, Claire Stevens, came onboard to help us out. From seemingly nowhere this astonishing group of people had volunteered their time driven by the same desire: to put South East London on the design map for LDF 2016. The South East Makers Club is the result. It is an ambitious trail through the creative streets and studios of the South East and includes, talks, exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops, films, a market, a pub quiz and a disco (even designers have to dance sometimes). Now, go to the South East Makers Club website and sign up for newsletter updates. Immediately!


Thank you:
The sheer level of commitment from everyone, not just the SEMC team, but the designers, the local exhibition spaces, the venues, the contributors, to make this work is testament to the areas pride. The South East of London deserves its place on the design map and the local people have put it there. Thank you. South East London. You rock!