Monthly Archives: May 2013

HERMÈS-ING! Saatchi Gallery hosts Hermès- Festival des Métiers

Last week, for one week only, Hermès took up two galleries in the Saatchi Gallery showcasing the processes the designer pieces go through from screen printing to diamond setting.  I went down to see it on Sunday and it was complete craziness!  Masses of designer clothing clad, ‘it’ bag toting people all eagerly trying to get to the front for the demos, trying to get the best shot, listening intently to the translators and craftspeople.  Here are some of my (not that great) photos of the experience…

Apart from the masses of people, the other things you first noticed were the overhead orange and grey arches, and the digitally printed carpet showing a repeat pattern of the tools used in the production processes.  This level of detail bringing it back to the Hermès brand, is evident throughout the exhibition, even down to the branded tweezers, constantly emphasising the pride in the process and the name.

hermes exhibition entrance

Overhead arches and detailed carpet

The first two workstations we came to were showing the art of stitching the bag from how they stitch the bag together, to finishing off the edges.  We were told that the bags on display take on average 25-30 hours each to hand make.

hermes exhibition bag stitching 1

The craftsman stitching, threading two needles through the same hole from opposite directions.

hermes exhibition bag stitching 2

Stitching, hammering the edges to compress the stitching, cleaning off the edges (loving the matching nail varnish to the bag!)

The diamond setter was at the next station.  A photograph of a cuff embellished with diamond set pyramids was on display as the craftsperson demonstrated the lengthy task of setting the 999 diamonds per pyramid (yes that’s 999 diamonds PER pyramid!).  The process involves drilling the hole to set the diamond into, collecting the metal fragments which have been drilled from the hole, punching a diamond into that hole and securing it in place by pressing the recovered drilled out metal fragment back around the diamond!  All of this done whilst looking through a microscope.  If I’ve remembered this right*, each pyramid takes 3 days to complete, and the cuff takes 4 weeks to complete from start to end process- that is a long time!

hermes exhibition- diamond setting

A pyramid being worked at under a microscope, and a finished pyramid and picture of the cuff.

The following tables showcased; how their watches are put together, the many processes their ceramic artist goes through to decorate the china taking into consideration the different firing temperatures of the different glazes/colours, a sewing process creating a T-shirt from different fabrics and the finishing involved, and in the next room, how they make their ties.

The most interesting workstations in the second gallery however, were the silk scarf station, and the pre-silkscreen station.  Loads of people were huddled around this one lady who was displaying how she meticulously picks away at the screen printed silk scarves creating accent details where the silk feels and looks raised like velvet, but the printed pattern still visible.  She went onto explain how this process is so specialised that a few years ago, only one gentleman knew how to do it.  The fashion house realised they needed to train more people in the skill, but out of the 3 people that were trained, only the lady at the exhibition is still with Hermès.  She now manages three trainees on top of her scarf workload!  On average, it takes her 8 hours to finish the red and black scarf seen in the photos- that’s only a 5 a week supply for a global brand!

hermes exhibition- silk scarf picking

The craftswoman picking at the silk scarf creating raised velvet textured areas.

The pre-silkscreening station described how the screens for the printing process are produced.  The craftsperson would be given a picture of what needed to be screenprinted- in this case, it was a Red Indian woman.  She would then dissect that image, identifying how many different colours made up the picture.  In the Red Indian picture, she picked out 46 different colours all of which would require their own screen, making sure that each colour aligned perfectly with the surrounding colours.  That is so skilled…I know my head would be fried trying to attempt that!

hemres exhibition- pre-silkscreening station

The chosen illustration and the key outline screen template.

From that station, the obvious next process to showcase was the screen printing.  The man describing this process also gave an overview of the brand itself explaining how Hermès like to keep everything close to them, in the family, so they are always in control of the quality and the look.

hermes exhibition- silkscreen printing

The silkscreen station, and a selection of printed scarves.

Even though I come from a design and build background, and am familiar with various manufacturing processes, I was completely in awe of the lengthy, painstaking process each one of the pieces go through.  Now I understand the hefty price tag that comes with every item- you’re not buying a machine manufactured, mass produced item of disposable fashion, you’re buying a fashion houses skill, patience, attention to detail, and pride.  I was so impressed by this exhibition.   Also, what a clever location for the showcase- it would be interesting to see if the Hermès store on Sloane Street has had a sudden increase in sales!

*As far as I’m aware, all these facts are correct but are remembered from memory so there may be some errors.  Please let me know if so, and I will amend the post.  Thanks!

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I’ve found Titus!

Last night I met up with my good friend Sophia Barton, Senior Designer at Bene Furniture, and we checked out some of the showrooms on the last night of Clerkenwell Design Week.  First stop was the Camira Fabrics and Ege Carpets joint showroom, where we saw Camira’s stunning collaboration with textile designer, Emma J Shipley.  They have taken her gorgeous intricate pencil line drawing of a silverback gorilla called Titus (named after the gorilla in Dian Fossey’s book) and developed a beautiful coordinate and standalone fabric printed onto 100% traceable wool Blazer fabric.  It looked great on the chairs they had upholstered- very cool statement piece!  The collaboration also supports The Gorilla Organisation– bonus!

titus and tangle emma shipley camira

The illustration, the chair, my tweeted entry pic to try to win a Titus scarf!

Ege Carpets showcased the 4 finalists of their carpet design competition.  The winner was Ben Webb , interior designer at funky interior design studio Black Sheep– his carpet design ‘shows how the urban grid entangles nature creating a unique interplay between man-made and the untouched’.  I was pleased to see that Grace Foster, a soon to be graduate of Leeds College of Art was a finalist.  I did my Interior Design degree at the College and I think the course setup there is so good, really thorough.

ege carpet design competition ben webb

Ege Carpet Design Competition Finalists

From there we headed to Order of St Johns- I loved Tracy Kendall’s Black Swan wall covering which is bands of thick black feathers.  It’s very striking but I’m not sure how practical it is for long term use.

tracey kendall wall coverings

Tracy Kendall’s Black Swan wall covering

Boca do Lobo exhibited a few stunning furniture pieces, and I picked up a brochure for Delightfull Graphic lamp collection– they have the entire alphabet in different illuminated font styles- great if you want to create your own Christian Laboutin style display.  Loving the ‘M’ especially!

delightfull graphic lamp collection mdzn_Christian-Louboutin-Mount-Street-Window-by-Studio-XAG-2

Last stop was the Fritz Hansen showroom where they showcased the Ro armchair by Jaime Hayon.  The bronze legs looked amazing and being able to see the design process from initial sketches to prototyping was really interesting.

ro armchair design process

Design process for the chair

ro armchair finished fritz hansen

Sophia in the Ro Armchair

First (short!) experience of Clerkenwell Design Week was great- next year I‘m definitely going get more involved in the action!

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Eau de Ballet

Hey Everyone!  Apologies this weeks post is a day later than the norm- this week has been so incredibly manic, not enough hours in the day!  There are so many interesting things going on in London this week…Clerkenwell Design Week finishes today (I’ll hopefully have time to pop down this evening!), and around Sloane Square you can check out Chelsea in Bloom.  Chelsea in Bloom is a fun event that happens alongside the Chelsea Flower Show in which local retailers take part to produce floral window displays following a certain theme which happened to be ‘Decades’ this year.  I haven’t had time to go down and check them out in person but I’ve had a look at the official photographs and placed my vote for People’s Champion- go Mary Quant! It’s always interesting seeing how the different retailers respond to the brief, whether they follow more traditional flower arrangements or go completely crazy!  With the current Great Gatsby hype, I did think there would be a few nods to the 1920s, and this came through in The White Company, and Brilliant schemes.  There has also been a few surprises as well- I thought somebody would have gone with the David Bowie mania, but couldn’t see any glam rock references.  I was also a little surprised that Ted Baker didn’t take part- they won 2nd place last year with their oversized corgi and normally have quite witty window schemes.  You can vote for your favourite online until May25th at– check them out!

Last night however, I headed to Soho Gallery for the launch of Penhaligon’s new perfume, Iris Prima.  The perfume has been ‘created in unique partnership with the English National Ballet’ and the launch was dressed to reflect this.  Interviews and footage of the dancers were played in the first floor gallery creating an appropriate soundscape for the collection of English National Ballet photos and costumes around the room.  A temporary mirrored wall with a wooden dancing bar had been placed behind the costumes to create more context, but the centre piece of the room was the elegant sculpture of ballet shoes, built up to create a plinth for a giant Iris Prima Factice.

Moving on up to the second floor, people were chatting in groups drinking Hendricks gin cocktails from vintage tea cups, and eating salmon sandwiches and finger cakes.  The collection of photos continued and a grand sensory cabinet stood in one corner, showcasing the inspiration behind the scent.

penhaligons iris prima launch 2nd floor

The styling of the event was simple, classic and perfectly communicated the link with the English National Ballet.  The perfume went down well with me and my friends also….it’s sweet but not sickly, and is light but noticeable (very technical description!)  I’d definitely recommend it!

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Here are some of my favourite cushions currently available online and on the high street.


Black and white cushions look great against a bold single coloured chair.


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1-  Stallion, Habitat     2-  Ohh Deer Huipil Cushion, Urban Outfitters     3-  La Cerise Sur Le Gateau Alice Cushion, John Lewis     4-  Lucky Cloud Cushion, Emily Bucknell     5-  White Bear Black Bear, Howkapow     6-  Studio Grey Cotton Cushion, Fashion For Home


Pastels are currently being combined with metallic finishes, strong patterns and heavier fabrics, giving them a contemporary twist.

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1)  Metallic Silk Cushion, Zara Home     2)  Multree Cushion, Silk Cafe     3)  Geo Pastel Web, Beneath The Sun     4)  Embankment Print, Penny Seume     5)  Plain Cushion, Zara Home  6)  Jacquard Dogtooth Cushion, Matalan


Put these on your sofa with one or two other single colour cushions that pick out small flashes of colour within the abstract print.

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1)  Abstract Print Cushion, Sara C     2)  Orange Silk Beakbeak Cushion, Liberty     3)  Upholstery Cushion, Howkapow     4)  Circles, Kangan Arora     5)  Portrait Cushion by Chad Wys- Lady Peacock, Rockett St George    6)  Embroidered Optical Cushion with Pom Poms, Rockett St George

Tweet me @designdevotweet with any of your fave cushion picks!

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This is an unintentional post about cats

Hello everyone!  Today’s post is going to be more images than words, highlighting some of my favourite findings from my (too brief!) tour of some of Brighton’s Artists Open Houses.  Due to dodgy sat nav entry, my friend and I headed in completely the wrong direction, but came across these lovely bits at the Albert Mews Studio…

Martha Mitchell Design fires digitally printed illustrations (soon to move onto screen printing) onto ceramics including tableware and tiles, as well as printing her illustrations on tea towels and aprons.  I like the style of the illustrations and for those who are not fans of Brighton (as if you could not be!) there are non-Brighton themed collections.


I couldn’t resist buying this helter skelter tile brooch…..ok and maybe a jammy dodger illustrated brooch also.  Two for £6- bargain!

Also at 11, Albert Mews, Hove, BN3 2PP were the gorgeous cushions by Sara C, and striking jewellery from Fawn & Rose.

Sara C Cushion

Sara C Cushion

Fawn and Rose Jewellery

Fawn and Rose Jewellery

In the next road along and up a bit, Eve Poland was displaying her screen prints at 26, The Drive, Hove, BN3 1JJ.  Her simple and witty cat prints were definitely a fave of mine.

Eve Poland

Eve Poland

So with a correct sat nav entry (The Drove not Drive silly!), we headed to The Gloohbaah House.  Greeted with a glass of Pimms, this house got my vote for friendliness- the atmosphere was so relaxed I could have sat there all day chatting to randoms and stroking the house cat.  We loved the ceramic pieces by Sian Jones.

Sian Jones

Sian Jones

Just down the road from The Gloohbaah House, we visited the The Dog House, 15 Hampstead Road.  Helen Cann’s ‘Map Of Brighton from the Latest Discoveries’ amused my friend and I for a while with her personal and factual descriptions of Brighton used to create a map of the town.  ‘Roller skaters, joggers, illicit bikers, gigs, clubs, tourists from Croydon’ all found along the seafront of course.

Helen Cann

Helen Cann- image from

I also liked the surreal feline cushions and lampshade by Ann Vincent’s Empire Collection – random but quite funky.  What really caught my eye though was The Dog House’s dado height accent wall paper and tiling- it just comes together really nicely.

Ann Vincent

Ann Vincent

Dado detailing at The Dog House

Dado detailing at The Dog House

That was all I could fit in before a Sunday Roast fest but I would definitely recommend checking the Artists Open Houses- they’re open for the four weekends of May all around Brighton so if you want to stay more in the city centre, there’s still lots to see.  You could always head down to the seafront after and mingle with the joggers, illicit bikers and Croydon tourists.

For more info on Brighton’s Artists Open Houses head to or pick up the free brochures around Brighton- both great ways of planning your visit.

If you’ve already checked out some of the houses, feel free to post a comment below about your favourites and recommendations.

RIBA Regent Street Windows Project, 2013

So this is my first ever blog, not just design blog, blog in general!

I’ve been thinking about blogging for about 6 months now so this is me biting the bullet.  The first post is going to be about an aspect of design I feel relatively comfortable with- window displays.  Before starting my current job, I was a designer and project manager for Prop Studios who have designed and manufactured window displays for over 35 years, so I know what it’s like being on the supplier side of designing and realising a window scheme.

The designers of the window displays in this post however aren’t the core set of bespoke design and build companies who normally produce the majority of high street windows- they are instead 6 different architecture practices who have taken part in the RIBA Regent Street Windows Project.  Quite a different brief from their normal projects I suspect!

I went down on Sunday with my architect friend, Burghy, to check them out.  Here are a few pics and our opinions….

TOPSHOP with Neon


More often than not, the supporting structure behind window displays is hidden behind its decorative façade so, in my opinion, the thought and engineering behind window schemes is often underrated.  I really like how this window is the complete opposite of this, and the strong, sturdy structure IS the window prop.  There is no getting away from this hefty piece of kit as its supporting angled legs span the whole window, emphasised further with the bright acid yellow finish.

           Topshop neon back     topshop neon side

If I was to change one thing about the window, it would be to speed up the rotation of the mannequin wheel.  Topshop has such a high turnover of fashion, I think a faster movement would echo this, and more people would see it to appreciate the function of the structure.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see the wheel rotate during the time I was there.

On a side note, I think the Topshop visual merchandising team have done a great job creating the gradient colour palette across the mannequins using the Spring collection.

Karen Millen with Mamou-Mani

karen millen mamou mani left     karen millen mamou mani centre

karen millen mamou mani back

This, alongside Espirit’s display, was Burghy’s fave- her architectural projects are often linear and works in grids, so she liked the organic forms.

I do like the way they have sculpted the polyamide mesh fabric- they’ve taken a fabric which personally I wouldn’t normally associate with Karen Millen clothing, and created a sculptural piece which does suit my perception of the Karen Millen brand.  The display runs from the front window, creates an archway as you come in the door, then runs along the long side windows so from either way you approach the store, your eye naturally follows the sculpture, taking in the SS13 dressed mannequins en route.

Ferrari Store with Gensler

ferrari gensler brain

 ferrari gensler heart

Gensler have taken a completely different approach to the other architecture studios, focusing on the emotions people feel about Ferrari rather than creating a space to showcase a physical aspect/product of the brand.  My favourite part of this design was the sound of the beating heart.  The digital animations behind the heart and brain did catch your eye, but both Burghy and I thought the finish of the heart and brain models let the display down for such a high spec store.  Overall, I was a little underwhelmed by it- maybe it would have more impact at night time.

Espirit with naganJohnson

espirit nagan detail     espirit nagan overall

Technically not a window display, but an atrium sculpture.  I had seen the Dezeen film about the RIBA Regent Street Window Project, and didn’t like the look of it from the film, but I actually really liked it in person.  The use of chestnut paling fencing to create the waves enhances the beach references, and the wave forms really draw your attention up into the double height space making you aware of the merchandise upstairs.  It did randomly make me think of queuing for the rollercoaster ride Nemesis (!)- probably because of the huge scale and form…and maybe the horizontal palings.  I hope Espirit keep this in-store for a while- it’s a really nice feature entering the store.

Jack Spade (on Brewer Street) with Carl Turner Architects

     jack spade carl turner front     jack spade carl turner interior

jack spade carl turner detail

Instant likeability points for this scheme for the Gordon Matta Clarke references- love his work!  Out of all of them, this approach is the most architectural rather than retail, and as a result, rather than creating a seasonal window, they have actually created a scheme which wouldn’t look out of place if it was permanent feature in the Jack Spade store, especially the blackboard New York landscapes inside the store.  I love how they have displayed all their inspiration on an entry table- you can see the design processes of taking New York references and translating them into the Brewer Street store.  I also loved how the store staff were so enthusiastic and excited about the project.  As someone who used to design window schemes, it was always nice to receive positive feedback from the store staff because you knew that you were contributing to their working environment in a positive way.  Big thumbs up for Carl Turner Architects!

Moss Bros with AY Architects

moss bros ay architects front

moss bros ay architects connectors

Unlike the Espirit project, I was looking forward to seeing this display after watching the Dezeen video, but in reality I wasn’t that taken with it.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very logical, simple, sensible approach to a window display, but I just felt it was lacking something.  It felt like this window was part of a big SS13 window rollout to all Moss Bros stores, and not a one-off exciting project.  The black and yellow light edge acrylic connectors worked well as accent details, but maybe if the edges of the ply had an accent colour, it might make the scheme pop a little more?

Round Up…

Overall I think all the projects suited each store’s clientele and ethos.  I really enjoyed the whole tour- it’s a great way of breaking up your shopping trip, exploring Regent Street, and makes you want to look more closely at other window schemes.  The windows will be in until at least 6th May so I’d recommend getting down there and checking them out.  You might even see a Regent Street roller disco train to finish off your day….bonus!

regent street roller train

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