Tuesday, 21 October 2014


Choosing to show passementerie in Old Street Station was a bit of a gamble. Why on earth would you put a bespoke extremely niche top end product in  the last place on earth you'd expect to find it? Well the answer is in the question and did it pay off? It was certainly the most extraordinary experience exhibiting in such a public domain.

Tube stations are tidal. They ebb and flow. Twice a day the tunnels flood with human tsunamis. All life's jetsam and flotsam drifted past my window, from the well heeled to the down trodden. Then there were the nutters. Gawd bless London's loonies- that deep-rooted English eccentricity that from time to time still prevails.
The Angel of the Northern Line who looked out from our window.
Below, a detail showing some of our new collection using Straw, banana fibre and silk.

Bob's guardian angel. Which Bob? See the dedication below.

So how was passementerie received by the public at large? Well generally with intense bemusement. But bemusement is good. It arouses curiosity, questions and at times amazement. So apart from the purposeful visitors we had so many people coming in who just wanting to know what it was all about? The responses ranged from 'Why?','What?','How?', to 'I've never seen anything like this before' and my favourite 'What's going on here then? You a fortune teller?'. 
Funny thing is I do have a certain gift for the other-worldly and am quite partial to a bit of hocus-pocus. All my major decisions are made with the help of a bit of card reading. Maybe that's the next show- Tassels and Tarot- although having now shown in a tube station I'm thinking of what the next design destination could be. Gatwick Airport? Passementerie On A Plane?
When large swathes of the design community want to bathe in familiarity and repetition and the word 'version' seems to be an acceptable replacement for the word 'copy', it's well to remember that old adage that familiarity breeds contempt. Whatever people think about what I do and it is a bit like Marmite- you either love it or just don't get it- at least I'm trying to push some boundaries within my field, and I'd rather have bemusement than patronising dismissal. Not everything has to be 'got', have a reason or even liked. Life would be a very boring place if everything was explained, comfortable and quiet. I'd like to see a bit more belligerent bemusement brought back into design.

Above and below,
Our new Temple Gardens collection featuring elastic, brass and mono-filament.

It was the last day that Old Street's malingerers really surpassed themselves. One passed, stopped, poked his head through the door then trotted unsteadily to the tunnel entrance to where one of his compatriots was slumped asking passers by for spare change.
Do you know what's in that f*****g shop? Tassels!
F*****g Tassels!
There then ensued a loud shouty unsober chorus of 'Tassels, tassels, tassels' from both men. I looked at the red London Design Festival sign outside my unit and felt it rather redundant with this heralding of such magnitude.
Then the first man staggered back and came in.
'I just wanted to tell you that that' pointing to The Angel Of The Northern Line 'is f*****g beautiful. It's given me a few moments of joy and I don't get much joy in my life due to this affliction' waving his can of Special Brew in my face.
Then he noticed the box of London Design Festival guides.
'Those free? Can I have one?'
'Of course you can'
There was a poignancy to this exchange. I started thinking about all the pompous hot air that exudes from the endless talks, lectures and debates about how design is there to enrich our lives, because, let's face it, 3D printing isn't going to make one iota of difference to this man's life.
When I was breaking down the show I popped out to buy some water and I saw the man again at the top of the underpass trying to sell dodgy travel cards. Hanging out of his pocket was the rolled up Festival guide. Perhaps he managed to sell it to some un-suspecting tourist for a tenner so maybe for a brief moment design would enrich his life.

The Tassily chair waiting to depart

Showing this year meant I didn't get to see much of the rest of the London Design Festival. Luckily A Place Called Home in Trafalgar Square was still on and what a treat it was, especially the house by Raw Edges, a solution to small space living that had panache, wit and an refreshing irreverence. The simple concept was moving walls within one space to continually create different dimensions.
Dividing space is nothing new. The Japanese have been doing it for centuries with Shoji screens made of paper stretched over wooden frames, but sliding walls that change the size of the space you're occupying is a way of moving this idea on. If the the house had floated it would be the perfect architectural solution to future living issues.

All images above,
Raw Edges changeable house.

One final thought on this years Festival. As we showed on the underground it seemed only fitting that All Change be dedicated to the man below.

BIG Thank you to
House and Garden, Crafts Council, Design Week, Sally Davis, and Tricia Guild for their support.
Neil from Artvans for amazing service 
Meriel from Precious McBane for coffee and other breaks.
and to everyone who visited All Change