Monday, 22 December 2014


…the Tassel Queen's that is.
Well it's been another lively year in the Urban Croft. The order book was full, we showed our tassels down in the tube station at Old Street for the London Design Festival, talked at The British Museum, judged the Textile Art section for the Koestler  Trust and chewed over the next big colour stories for 2016 on the Mix trends panel. Phew!
And 2015 is already shaping up to be another stellar year. It's also going to be a bit of a landmark one too as it's my 25th year of working in the creative industries. It's been quite a roller coster and to be quite honest I'm amazed that I've lasted this long. So over the next twelve months I'll be picking my personal 25 favourite products, designs and projects. To get the ball rolling and in no particular order…

The Tonkin, from one of our first collections, Formosa, launched in 2008, is my favourite tassel. I loved it from the minute I made it. It's quirky, colourful and happy. The collection was inspired by Chinese frogging, Central Asian ikats and the traveller Hippie Trail of the 60's. This tassel is also one of our best sellers and to mark our silver jubilee we will be producing a special limited edition colour way of the Tonkin that will be available from Jessica Light Shop in March. There will only be 25 ever made and each one will be numbered.

Above, the Tonkin Tassel
Below, a whole tribe of Tonkins

 from the

Monday, 1 December 2014


The bay at Peniche.

After spending a week in Peniche with SupXscape doing the ASI level 1 [and attempting Level 2] stand up paddle board courses I decided to spend a day in Lisbon on my way home.
I woke up to blue sky and 24 degrees which were wonderful conditions to discover this delightful city. Late November was transformed into a summers day and off I wandered to lose myself in Portugal's capital[the only way to really explore a city]
Lisbon is not a city for modernists. It's lively rickety Baroque streets ooze a crumbling decorative charm and faded glamorous grandeur. Tiny shops have interiors that wouldn't look out of place at the turn of the century- the 20th century that is, not the 21st. Old trams trundle on their tracks with the drivers having to get out to manually change the points in the road. The steep streets[ Lisbon is built on seven hills] offer vibrant views over the city often ending at the Atlantic.
The most Westerly city in Europe embraces you with it's fascinating, rich and often turbulent history. From it's many occupations by foreign powers; the North African Moors in 714 until 1147 when Crusaders captured the city after a four month siege, the Spanish in 1580, and later by Napoleon in 1807 to the wealth and power brought by it's famous sons, like explorer Vasco Da Gama, in the 15th and 16th centuries. Then there was the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 1755 and later massive political unrest and dictatorship in the 20th century. Even one of our past queens, Catherine of Braganza, came from Portuguese royalty  and on meeting his bride, because of her hairstyle, Charles II is alleged to have said- They have sent me a bat-

One of Lisbon's streets.

Top, a church facade,
Below, it's disintegrating interior

Above and below,
A tram and it's interior

Above, Belem monastery
Below, the 16th century fortified Tower of Belem looking out to sea.

Above and below, a tiny bar serving Ginjinha, a sour cherry liqueur [bit like sloe gin] drunk from small glasses as a shot and very popular with Lisbonites judging from how crowded it is and that this was only 11am

 Lisbon's lovely shops.
Above, a hat shop and below,
a glove shop.

Above, the bakery at Belem.

The ubiquitous pasteis de nata.  
In my book if you don't love custard you don't love life.

I stayed in what was described as a luxury hostel, The Independante. Conceived by four travelling brothers as a place where locals and guests could feel at home, this unique hostelry combines a backpackers haven, hotel, funky bar and restaurant. The style is an eclectic quirky mix of grand high pargeted ceilinged rooms, mid-century vintage and antiques. The dorms have three tier bunks constructed from chipboard with crisp white linen. There is a large guest-only lounge with a kitchen off it if you wish to prepare your own food or you can eat with the staff in their dining room for €5. On the top floors are suites- private rooms with en-suites and balconies where I will stay next time I go. Staying in the dorms would be terrific fun if under 35 but were very noisy and if you are a women of a certain age who really needs her beauty sleep this isn't the place to get it.

Above, The Independante.
Below, it's grand staircase.

Above, the bar lounge,
Below, looking through to the restaurant.

Above and below,
the guest-only lounge.

Above, the chipboard bunks in one of the dorms.