1. Donna Wilson Use My Beehive Tea Towel 2. Rob Ryan Mug Set 3. Cath Kidston Mini Dotty Printed Ribbon, 3m 4. Cath Kidston Large Spot Towels, Pink 5. Orla Kiely Mini Scented Candles Gift Set, Set of 3 6. Donna Wilson House Cushion, White 7. Cath Kidston Royal Stan Tea Towel
This a sponsored guest post. All designer ranges stocked at John Lewis and handpicked by me.
The UK’s craft scene is thriving, writes my John Lewis guest blogger: just look at the creative love shared through magazines such as Mollie Makes, on Etsy and at the numerous local craft fairs that have been enjoying renewed popularity across the country.
Handmade is king. But that doesn’t have to mean small scale operations – as four of the UK retail scene’s new craft heroes have shown by making the leap over to high-street domination. From printed curtains through quirky cushions to contemporary lighting, these versatile designers have got it covered.
Cath Kidston opened her first shop on London’s Holland Park in 1993, selling colourful renovated furniture and hand embroidered tea towels as well as vintage fabrics and wallpapers. Her re-working of traditional English country house style, remembered from her childhood, was originally aimed at the ‘yummy mummy’ set and has grown to seduce hundreds of thousands of customers across British and Asian markets, making her vintage-inspired floral prints instantly recognisable.
“Cath Kidston is one of those brands that makes me feel warm inside. Her nostalgic prints hark back to a simpler time – a quality that in our modern, often hectic, lives appeals to many.” Ellie Loughran, lifestyle blogger at www.prettymuchpenniless.com.
Knitwear designer Donna Wilson specialised in mixed media textiles for her MA at the Royal College of Art, and during her time as a student started selling her “disturbing” knitted creatures to London shops. Since then she has grown her retail base to cover some of the biggest department stores in the UK, among dozens of independent boutiques that stock pieces from her range which now includes cushions, ceramics and stationary. In 2010, Wilson won the Designer of the Year title at the Elle Decoration Design Awards and plans to continue making “interesting, happy, exciting beautiful, cosy, friendly products for nice people”.
“Donna Wilson’s crafty aesthetic is quirky and playful and appeals to homespun lovers of every age, who are drawn to the engaging tactile quality and cheerily bright colour palette of her designs. I am a big fan of her adorable knitted creatures which are instantly recognisable, and capture a childlike sentiment for things that have been hand-crafted with love and care.” Kate Baxter, interiors blogger at www.fabricofmylife.co.uk.
Rob Ryan has achieved a feat of which many artists dream – combining personal ‘labour of love’ work with commercial success. Another graduate from the Royal College of Art, Ryan’s intricate, whimsical and often sentimental papercuts helped him find a niche which has proved a hit with everyone from magazine editors and high street retailer buyers to fashion designers. As well as creating original illustrations for magazines and books, the Rob Ryan product range now spans greeting cards, stationery and ceramics.
“The appeal of Rob Ryan’s work lies in both in its simplicity and its intricacy. With just one piece of paper and a knife, he creates beautiful, romantic stories with an incredible attention to detail. His work inspired me to start papercutting.” Lou Taylor, papercutter and prop designer.
Like Wilson and Ryan, Orla Kiely built on her previous training and work experience to complete a Masters at the Royal College of Art, with her exit show of hats snapped up by Harrods. After design work for M&S and Habitat, Kiely started to produce her own range of laminated cloth handbags in the late 1990s, showcasing the bold Mid-Century inspired stem prints that she has become renowned for. As well as her flourishing high-end fashion range, Kiely’s prints can now be found on kitchenware, stationery, wallpaper, lighting and even cars and radios, ensuring that everyone can buy into this modern-retro style phenomenon.
“The main reason I love Orla is because her prints are timeless, they have a retro quirky feel that is also modern and fresh. Her designs appeal to the girly side of every woman and indulge us in a little whimsy in our everyday life.” Vicki Harvey, fashion blogger at http://www.themagpiegirl.com.