Meet the Maker: Skratch Ceramics

Inspired by Britain’s rugged mountains, rocky shores and folk history Kate Russell’s handmade ceramics, created in her studio in rural Wales, depict wild landscapes, escapist wildernesses and blustery harbours, with a folky twist.

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Over the last few years especially, ceramics have become swoon-worthy must-haves for the home. And for good reason too; is there anything better than being able to hold a precious piece of art that has been created mainly with just a pair of hands and the earth? Perhaps it’s this idea of going back to basics (although no-one - especially if you’ve ever tried your hand at pottery yourself - could ever call making ceramics a simple or easy process!), that’s calling so many of us to give it a try.

Just a few years ago, busy mum of two, Kate Russell signed up for a pottery course at her local college, wanting to find a creative outlet. Within twelve months, the history of art graduate began selling her beautiful British inspired wares, mixing her love of folk history and the great outdoors.

“I came to ceramics fairly late,” Kate explains. “I studied history of art at university and worked in arts-related jobs until I had my first child. I spent the next five years as a stay at home parent, but once my daughter started school and her younger brother was 2 years old, I was keen to find a new interest for myself. I had in the back of my mind that I would ideally like to start a creative business down the line, but I wasn't sure in which field or if I was capable. I signed up for classes at the local community college and pottery was the one that stuck. After a year I started posting images of some of my pots on Instagram and the interest they received gave me to confidence to start selling my ceramic work.”

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Kate now creates her hand-built ceramics from her home studio in the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales. Growing up in between the picturesque peaks of the Lake District and the Pennines, and then living in cities such as London and Amsterdam, Kate’s return to her rural roots continues to inspire her work and has seen her adding welcome traditional touches. “I love wild landscapes - mountainsides and rocky shores,” the ceramicist continues. “It seems to be something in-built, perhaps because I grew up sandwiched between the Lake District and the Pennines. I absolutely love the Highlands of Scotland and, closer to home, Snowdonia. Our location in Wales prompted me to think about including Welsh ladies in my work. It just started on a whim, when I was decorating a piece in college, but they have since become a key design motif in my work.” This Welsh lady whim has paid off, as they’re among some of Kate’s bestsellers - each piece is currently sold on the Skratch Ceramics website, until the next shop update takes place on 24th June. “I like to take those long-standing trans-national folk traditions of pattern-making and colour, but give them my own contemporary twist,” she adds.

Skratch Ceramics - Meet the Maker

As well as Britain’s landscape and Welsh history, Kate’s pieces also feature sgraffito - decoration created by scratching away at a surface, to reveal a hidden colour - a talent she also rediscovered at one of those inspiring ceramics classes: “I made a couple of sgraffito decorated panels at secondary school, which my parents had kept all these years, and I remembered I'd really enjoyed it,” Kate smiles. “When I went along to ceramics classes at the community college, it was top of my list of things I wanted to try again. I was also following Vicky Lindo, a fantastic sgraffito ceramicist on Facebook. I was really inspired by her modern take on traditional slipware, using bright colours. As soon as I tried it again, I was absolutely hooked. There's something about carving through leather-hard clay, that I find both therapeutic and thoroughly addictive. I really felt like after years of searching for 'my thing' I'd finally found it.” Sgraffito plays a big part in Kate’s work - appearing in almost every piece - hence the name Skratch (which also incorporates Kate’s initial too).  

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Not only did social media start Skratch Ceramics, but it continues to provide inspiration and connects Kate with other ceramicists as well as potential clients. “I have found it so inspiring on Instagram to see so many women with creative businesses, making it work on their terms,” she says. “That's been a really positive influence on me - to just to go for it and do things my way. I follow a lot of ceramicists on Instagram, but more out of interest to see their daily working practices and relish in the sheer variety out there.” As Instagram has been such a “valuable resource” for her, Kate recommends other makers starting out to “make the most of social media as a free marketing resource. I haven't spent any money on advertising, all my custom comes from Instagram and Facebook.”

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“Share your making process and don't be afraid to bring your own personality to your brand - it's what sets you apart from the big guys and people really like to know where products come from,” she advises. As well as a scroll through Instagram, Kate’s also a fan of podcasts, gaining “businesses tips, reassurance and inspiration from those who've been there and done that,” including Hashtag Authentic, Raw Milk and Creative Biz Rebellion.

During her daily practice - although she tells us there’s not really a ‘typical’ working day, instead favouring a monthly making cycle (one week of making the clay blanks, a week or two of sgraffito decorating the leather-hard pieces, a week to bisque fire, glaze and fire again and finally a week of product photography, product website listings and posting orders) - is when Kate listens to podcasts while she works: “I find it's a great way of picking up some useful small business and marketing tips while my hands are busy.”

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Kate’s light and airy studio, just a few steps away from her home, is where she designs, creates and sends out her ceramics. Her favourite product so far? “My favourite changes depending on what I'm working on at the time,” she says “but I find that my pinch pots always fly out. I get enquiries about them after every sale, especially those with Welsh ladies. I think there's something about a pinch pot, with it's handmade organic form, nestling in the hand, that's hard to resist.”

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As anyone who’s ever enjoyed ceramics knows, it’s not a quick procedure. Instead, it’s all about taking time and enjoying the process. This is something that Kate takes pleasure from, as it allows her to go with the flow - constantly tweaking designs and making changes, when creating each of her unique pinch pots, platters, dishes and bowls. “The best thing about being a maker is the satisfaction of an actual physical product to show for your work at the end of the day,” Kate adds.

It’s been a busy twelve months for Kate, exhibiting at The Good Life Experience last September and selling out during each online shop update - so what’s next for Skratch Ceramics? “I'm finding it hard to keep up with demand at the moment, so I'm looking for ways to increase my productivity,” Kate says. “Next month I'm going to learn to slip-cast, which I'm hoping will prove a useful way to speed up the making process a little. I also want to learn how to digitise my designs so that they can be applied to other products and I'd like to do some more lino printing too! So many ideas and never enough time! My son starts full-time school in September, so I'll have a bit more studio time and I'm so excited to see what the next few months bring!”

QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS

Describe your work in three words: 

Tactile, bold, folksy. 

What are your making rituals? 

 Lots of half-drunk cups of tea and a good podcast playlist. 

Tea or Coffee? 

Tea - Yorkshire Gold in the morning and Earl Grey in the afternoon. I love the smell and idea of coffee, but I hate the taste. 

Mountains or Sea? 

That’s a tough one! I love both, but if I really had to choose one to live in/by, it would be mountains. 

Night Owl or Early Bird? 

Most definitely night owl! Even though I have young kids who wake me early, I can’t get out of the habit of going to bed late. I often get some of my best work done in the evening. I’m looking forward to the days when my kids’ body clocks are more aligned with mine! 

I wish someone had told me... 

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. During my art foundation course in the 90s, there was a push towards towards conceptualism. I felt I had to be the next Hirst or Emin, or there wasn’t worth in what I was doing. That knocked my confidence and put me off taking up my place on a practical art degree. I wish I’d understood at the time that there was equal value in traditional, decorative arts and crafts, so that I might have found my way to this sooner. 

Visit Kate’s website at www.skratchceramics.com

Recipe: Fennel, Blackberries and Orange Salad

Fresh, tangy and super easy to make, this salad is perfect for a light lunch in the sun. Food photographer Karolina Wiercigroch shares this dish with us and suggests serving either on its own with crunchy rustic bread or as a side with grilled fish.

Fennel, Blackberry and Orange salad

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 large orange
  • 100 g rocket
  • 150 g blackberries

Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of ½ orange
  • ½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • a pinch of pink Himalayan salt
Fennel, Blackberry and Orange salad

METHOD: 

In a bowl, whisk all the ingredients of the dressing together. Trim the base of the fennel and thinly slice the bulb.

Peel and thinly slice the orange. Cut blackberries in halves.

Scatter rocket leaves, orange, blackberries and fennel on a large plate or platter.

Drizzle the dressing over salad.

Fennel, Blackberries and Orange Salad

Check out more of Karolina's gorgeous recipe on her blog Dine and Dash

Fennel, Blackberries & Orange salad - 91 Magazine

WIN a monthly flower delivery from The Real Flower Company

It's no secret we love flowers here at 91! To be honest who doesn't?! Whether it's a simple single stem in a bud vase, a huge extravagant bouquet or a summer garden of wildflowers they never fail to raise a smile.

WIN a monthly flower delivery - The Real Flower Co

Our current issue of 91 (buy here) and the latest free e-zine (register to receive here) both celebrate beautiful blooms in their various forms.  Stylist/photographer Catherine Frawley created a stunning feature for the magazine sharing ideas of how to craft and decorate with flowers in slightly unusual ways - from table settings to wreaths. We worked together on this with The Real Flower Company - who promote provenance and sustainability by growing their range of cut flowers in either their UK-based and fairtrade farms. We are thrilled to share that we have one three-month flower delivery package to give away to one lucky reader! What could be better that receiving a stunning bouquet of flowers every month?! Or you could treat a special someone perhaps... You can enter at the bottom of this post, but first, do have a read of our chat with founder Rosebie Morton.... 

Rosebie Morton - The Real Flower Co founder

91: At The Real Flower Company you grow your flowers at your own English and Fairtrade sustainable farms. I'm sure a lot of people would not even consider sustainability when it comes to flowers, but can you explain why this is so important? 

Rosebie: As flower farmers, we take our responsibility to our environment and to wildlife very seriously. Our goal is to improve and enhance our natural surroundings rather than to deplete them. Our aim is to improve the soil, to encourage beneficial insects and to grow flowers as nature intended. We are members of the Farm Wildlife Advisory Group, part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and we are certified under the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme. Through the way we farm and grow our flowers, we want to leave our world a better place than we found it.

91: Many people probably also don't realise that most commercially grown flowers have their scent gene removed! Your passion is to ensure this gene is kept intact. Is there anything gardeners can do at home to improve the scent intensity of their own blooms? 

Rosebie: What is important is the species and varieties you choose to grow rather than how you grow them. For instance, I love the wonderful clove-like scent of Dianthus – my favourites include Doris, which has a nostalgic romanticism, and the pretty frills of Mrs Sinkins, Dianthus Cathusianorum which has a bright pink pretty flower and is great for cutting and Dianthus Arenarius, pure white with delicate flowers and an incredible scent. Then for me, no English garden is complete without scented roses and sweet peas. My mother and grandmother were both keen gardeners and it was the fragrant roses of my childhood that inspired me to start The Real Flower Company. In terms of scented roses, I love Chandos Beauty, Margaret Merril and Romantic Antike. 

WIN a monthly delivery of flowers from the Real Flower Company

91: People always want their cut flowers to last as long as possible – what tips can you share with our readers for getting lasting enjoyment from your flowers? 

Rosebie: Start by trimming the stems at a 45-degree angle with a sharp pair of scissors or secateurs. Then place them straight into water, either with some cut-flower food or add a teaspoon of sugar, two to three drops of bleach and a dessertspoonful of vinegar to prolong their life. Change the water regularly and keep your flowers in a shady spot.

91: Flowers definitely seem subject to fashion. What are your predictions for floral trends in the year ahead? 

Rosebie: I think the big shift will happen next year when there will be a move to more bright and vibrant shades. This year it’s very understated and soft, calm and muted tones have been popular. We’ve always championed a natural, ‘just-picked-from-the-garden’ look so it’s great to see this increasing in popularity. I also think Meghan and Harry’s wedding flowers will have an impact for the rest of this year. 

91: Finally, what would you have in your absolute ultimate bouquet? 

Rosebie: For me, it’s whatever is in season and scented – so right now I have a beautiful bunch of Lily of the Valley from our farm close by. Soon our English rose season will start and then Margaret Merril – the quintessential English rose with a scent like no other – hand-tied in a natural arrangement with wild flowers from our farm’s wildflower meadow will be taking pride of place on my table and filling my home with its exquisite scent.

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Thank you Rosebie! What a lovely insight into what sounds like an absolute dream career! The images that Catherine Frawley shot for us highlight how simply stunning The Real Flower Company's flowers are don't you think?! Now, to be in with a chance of winning that 3-month floral subscription worth £165 - a gorgeous seasonal bouquet delivered to your door each month (or the door of someone you want to treat!) - all you have to do is enter your details below. A winner will be drawn at random after the closing date which is 15th June 2018. This giveaway is only open to UK entrants due to the nature of the prize (see UK delivery exclusions below), and please do read the full terms and conditions below before entering.

Name *
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I give my consent for my email address to be added to the mailing lists of:
By ticking either or both of the below boxes, you are giving permission for these brands to send you marketing emails regarding special offers, product news, events and other updates. Further details can be found via the Privacy Policy on each brand's respective websites.

Terms and Conditions

1. Only entries made before the closing date – 15 / 06 / 2018 will be valid. 

2. The winner will be selected at random and will be notified via the email address they provided shortly after the closing date. 

3. The winner will have five working days to respond with the delivery details they wish the flowers to go to. If a reply is not received by this date, they will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be chosen. 

4. No cash alternative. 

5. The giveaway is open to UK only.

The Real Flower Co can deliver to most UK postcodes but there are exceptions in the highlands and islands as it can take two days to reach by van and sadly the flowers don't suit that environment.

Unfortunately they are unable to deliver to:-
AB37-38, AB41-56, IV1-20, IV25, IV30-37, IV63, KW1-3, KW6-10, KW14,PH15-26, PA21-35, PA37-39, PH33,49, IV21-24, IV26-28, IV40, KW5,KW11-13, FK18-21,PA36, PA40, PH30-32, PH34-41,PH50, HS1-9, IV41-56, KA27-28, KW15-17, PA20, PA41-49, PA62-76, PH42-44, ZE1-3 Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Scilly Isles.

6. By providing your email address & ticking the check boxes in the above form you are giving permission to be added to the mailing lists of 91 Magazine and/or The Real Flower Co. Your details will not be shared with any further third parties. 

7. One entry per person.

This post was sponsored by The Real Flower Company. Images by Catherine Frawley for 91 Magazine.  

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Zabiela Store

Kat Booth’s concept store combines local makers with Scandi minimalism and Moroccan textures to create a unique destination in Sheffield’s Kelham Island.

With a background in visual merchandising it’s no surprise that Kat Booth’s own shop is a visual delight. A gallery-like flow to the shop is provided by small plaques that tell the stories of the carefully-curated products, and the warmth and brightness of Zabiela Store is incredibly inviting. ‘I spent years working with companies like The White Company, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters, and always wanted to be able to work for myself,’ explains Kat. ‘Here I can change the aesthetics as often as I’d like, and this gives me the freedom to promote sustainable brands and makers I like as I come across them.’ Independent makers of jewellery, ceramics and handmade clothing all receive their own space in Zabiela Store, alongside Moroccan textiles chosen by Kat herself, and gifts and art made within the local community.  

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Zabiela opened in December 2017, after Kat and her husband had spent more than 18 months travelling the world and had then settled in her husband’s home town of Sheffield. Kelham Island, where the shop and the couple's home is located, is an area of Sheffield that has seen huge redevelopment over the past few years. ‘Kelham Island was traditionally a manufacturing area and is kind of its own pocket within the city centre,’ Kat reminisces. ‘It once even had a reputation as a red-light district but has undergone a massive redevelopment in recent years, with sustainable housing and independent coffee shops, a monthly food market event, pop-up shops, a steelworks museum- it’s now a vibrant, indie area.’ Crucially, the area is still affordable, allowing Kat to open her small business in what is a somewhat weekend destination; ‘I only open Fridays to Sundays as Sheffield still isn’t known as a big shopping destination,’ adds Kat.  

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The weekend hours suit Kat, who’s just welcomed her first child to the family, and she loves to see members of the community come back again and again for special ceramics or a unique card. ‘Because I come from a retail background, I was expecting a faster pace of stock rotation,’ Kat admits, ‘but the opposite has happened- I’ve maintained a slower pace.’ Like many indie shopkeepers, Kat has embraced the slow living movement and has selected her stock from around her local area to encourage customers to choose carefully when shopping. ‘When I’m buying and picking products I ask myself “would I choose this?”’, continues Kat. ‘I’m keen on promoting sustainable brands, ethical products and local makers.’ Her inspiration came from her travels, where Kat and her husband fell in love with boutiques in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Bali, but it’s the heady souks of Morocco that keeps Zabiela Store’s stock interesting. ‘I spent a lot of time talking to souk owners and building relationships with their stockists, and last year we visited the manufacturers of beautiful Moroccan rugs,’ remembers Kat, ‘We’re now firm family friends with one seller, and we visit him to choose the stock ourselves regularly.’ Although the Moroccan textiles aren’t from a UK maker, they tell a story and aren’t incongruous with the Scandi minimalism elsewhere in the store.  

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Many of the makers who sell their beautiful wares at Zabiela are close friends of Kat, and local to the area. ‘Beth Pegler, who makes striking rope jewellery lives in the most creative and beautiful home and I’m so glad I accidentally found her!’ Kat enthuses. The Kelham Candle Co handmade candles sell out instantly, thanks to their ultra-local vibe, and Kim from Alchemy and Aura makes her natural beauty products in the city, too. The striped baby jumpers are expertly hand-knitted by Kat’s grandmother, after whom the shop is named (‘she’s the neatest knitter ever!’) and most of the art is produced either locally in Yorkshire- such as Kat’s close friend, printmaker Ali Nazari- within the UK. ‘Another sustainable edge to the shop that I’ve introduced recently is carefully selected second-hand clothing,’ says Kat. ‘It was an experiment at first, but I’ve found I’m struggling to keep up with demand!’ she laughs. Kat finds good-quality clothing in a limited palette from favourite quality brands and makes sure they’re in excellent condition and fully cleaned before selling them on to ‘offer the opportunity for people to own their favourite brands without having to trawl the throwaway high street or eBay.’  

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With a relaxed stock changeover and small, community feel, Zabiela has established itself as a creative boutique in an independent area. Kat’s eye for local design and enthusiasm for products with providence has created a gallery of beautiful things, suitable for any home- or wardrobe.  

Zabiela Store, 20-22 Burton Road, Sheffield; see Instagram @zabiela_store for opening hours. 

Photos: Helena Dolby 

Instagrammer's guide to: Mexico City

Back in March, 91 travelled to Mexico City as media partners for Caravana Americana. (You can read more about our favourite Mexican designers at the event in this post.) While we were there, we got to spend a few days exploring this richly diverse city. Steeped in history and culture, but with its finger firmly on the modern design scene pulse, we were wowed by its super stylish shops, beautiful eateries, photogenic streets and cultural venues. Here we highlight a few of the locations we discovered that are a must for your Mexico City itinerary.

Hotel Carlota Mexico City
Taxonomia, Mexico City
Taxonomia, Mexico City
Taxonomia, Mexico City

Hotel Carlota & Taxonomia - While we sadly didn’t stay at Hotel Carlota, it was a perfect breakfast spot – set amongst the hotel’s striking concrete and glass surroundings, overlooking the centrally-located swimming pool. The urban-chic rooms mix concrete, wood and textiles with subtle pops of colour. The hotel also houses design store Taxonomia, which stocks a mix of clothing, accessories, homeware and cosmetics – with many of the designers we met at Caravana Americana on display.

IG: @hotelcarlotamx / @taxonomiamx

Barrio Alameda, Mexico City
Casa Salt, Mexico City
La Azotea, Mexico City
Decoreria La Suculenta, Mexico City
view from Barrio Alameda

Barrio Alameda - Barrio Alameda is located within a restored Art Deco building and is a collection of independent shops and food and drink establishments, each within its own unit off the balconies surrounding a central concourse. Greenery was in abundance, indoor planting clearly as popular here as it is in the UK. Not every store was open during our visit, but we enjoyed a browse around Casa Salt, which stocks quirky lifestyle products from Mexican designers. We had fun eating whole grasshoppers (!) on the rooftop at laid-back bar /restaurant La Azotea, and while sadly closed, we peered in through the glasshouse of Decoreria La Suculenta, which we found tucked away in a corner of the rooftop. There is also a spectacular view across the historical centre area, and the Central Alameda Park – the city’s oldest public park.

IG: @barrioalameda

Chaya B&B, Mexico City
Chaya B&B, Mexico City
Chaya B&B, Mexico City
Chaya B&B, Mexico City
Chaya B&B, Mexico City

Chaya B&B - Also situated within Barrio Alameda is a beautiful plant-filled retreat – Chaya B&B. Featured on the 91 blog back in 2016, this place was already on our radar, and it was a pleasure to spend a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the oasis they have created. It is a photographer’s dream with a mix of leafy tropical plants, cacti and succulents set against bright yellow walls; the city’s historical architecture rising up behind. For a more detailed review and a peek inside the rooms, head to this previous post.

IG: @chayabnb

Utilitario Mexicano, Mexico City
Utilitario Mexicano, Mexico City
Utilitario Mexicano, Mexico City
Utilitario Mexicano, Mexico City

Utilitario Mexicano - A few streets away from one of the city’s main thoroughfares, Insurgentes Sur, is Utilitario Mexicano. Mexico City’s answer to East London’s Labour and Wait. It’s one of those shops where you have to purposefully visit, as its unassuming location means you are unlikely to stumble upon it. The large store stocks a wide range of utilitarian home goods, all 100% Mexican in design – from enamelware to feather dusters to kitchen utensils. All displayed with pleasing symmetry on floor to ceiling peg boards or simple metal shelving. It was impossible to leave without a bag of goodies from this functional yet stylish store.

IG: @utilitariomexicano

Querencia, Mexico City
Querencia, Mexico City
Querencia, Mexico City
Querencia, Mexico City

Querencia - Just around the corner is Querencia, a relatively new lifestyle store, filled with plants, ceramics, jewellery, homewares and a small selection of clothing. With a strong emphasis on the botanical trend, this delightful little shop again proudly stocked designs from Mexican makers, all beautifully merchandised, making you wish you’d brought that extra suitcase! We certainly did not leave empty handed!

IG: @querenciamexico

Loose Blues, Mexico City
Loose Blues, Mexico City
Loose Blues, Mexico City

Loose Blues - While in the area, it’s worth popping into Loose Blues, a few doors down from Querencia. Vintage clothing and vinyl downstairs, furniture and homewares upstairs with an industrial café sandwiched in between. Both the store upstairs and the restaurant appeared to be a fusion of Mexican and Japanese culture, which you would never has suspected from the outside! A favourite spot for the city’s hipster set.

IG: @loose_blues

Cicatrix, Mexico City
Cicatrix, Mexico City

Cicatriz - Right next door is laid back café/bar Cicatriz, a perfect pitstop for coffee and cake or an early evening glass of wine. Décor is simple with bare plaster walls, concrete floors and exposed beams, with the addition of those ever popular pot plants! We didn’t eat here, but apparently they serve a mean fried chicken sandwich in the evenings!

IG: @cicatrizcafe

Casa Gilardi - Luis Barragan, Mexico City
Casa Gilardi, Luis Barragan, Mexico City
Casa Gilardi, Luis Barragan, Mexico City
Casa Gilardi, Luis Barragan, Mexico City

Casa Gilardi - Celebrated modernist Mexican architect Luis Barragan is well known for his bold use of colour and no trip to Mexico City is complete without viewing at least one of his works. Casa Gilardi was the last house that Barragan designed before his death in 1988. Still occupied by the original owner, you need to arrange a tour to see inside this residence, but it is well worth it for the striking use of colour and modernist design. If you want to take photos in here you need to pay extra to the owner for a photography permit. Without it, you will be kicking yourself as there are photo opportunities around every corner.

Frida Kahlo museum, Mexico City
Frida Kahlo museum, Mexico City
Frida Kahlo museum, Mexico City

Frida Kahlo museum - You can’t talk of Mexico City without mentioning it’s most iconic female: Frida Kahlo. We all recognise her image, but mono-brow and floral headdresses aside, this was one woman who faced adversity head on. Only knowing snippets of her story myself, the museum, which was also Frida’s home, filled in all the blanks and being so close to so much of her personal belongings and the space she inhabited made it a truly moving experience, despite the hustle and bustle of fellow tourists around you. The colourful walls and greenery of the courtyard garden is a more peaceful area to reflect on the story of her life. Be sure to arrive early as there can be long queues for entry.

IG: @museofridakahlo

Casa Bosques, Mexico City
Casa Bosques, Mexico City

Casa Bosques - This light and airy store is another one you need to know where to find it. Ringing the buzzer at Cordoba 25, situated in the Roma Norte neighbourhood, will gain you entry. Stairs lead up to this book and magazine store, filled with a range of art, architecture, photography and fashion tomes. They also stock their own range of chocolate, which includes unusual combinations such as ‘Dark chocolate covered cashews spiced with curry.’

IG: @casabosques

Happening Store, Mexico City
Happening Store, Mexico City
Happening Store, Mexico City

Happening Store

A stroll through the quiet neighbourhood of Roma Norte will take you to another of my personal favourites – Happening Store. A lifestyle shop again championing the talents of Mexican designers, stocking a range of clothing and accessories as well as ceramics, jewellery, cosmetics and kids toys. We spent a small fortune in here, although could easily have spent a large fortune! I should mention that in every shop we visited we were met with the warmest of welcomes from the friendly shopkeepers. They were clearly passionate about showcasing great design from their countries creative community which was truly heart-warming.

IG: @happeningstore

El Moro, Mexico City
El Moro, Mexico City
El Moro, Mexico City

El Moro

A final stop for us before dashing to the airport was El Moro. There are a number of these around the city - we visited the Condesa branch and it did not disappoint both in terms of ‘Instagramability’ and the amazing chocolate churros!  Their famous blue and white tiles and pale wood furniture are a dream to photograph, and there truly was no better way to round off our trip than with a bag of churros in the sun.

IG: @churreriaelmoro

I highly recommend a trip to Mexico City - there is SO much to see and do, our five night trip only scratched the surface of this sprawling city. If you are visiting soon or have been recently I would LOVE to hear what you thought! I do hope I will have the chance to return some day. Thanks again to Caravana Americana for inviting us. 

TOP TRAVEL TIP: The best way to travel around Mexico City is by Uber. They are super cheap – a 20 minute car ride costs about £2.50. The traffic can be horrendous though, so give plenty of time for your journey.  

Photography: Jemma Watts and Caroline Rowland

The new wave of interiors books

Since I published my own interiors book The Shopkeepers Home back in 2015, I have noticed a gradual shift in interiors book publishing. What I've noticed is the books being published in 2017/2018 are less focused on purely providing inspiration and a nosy inside the homes of others but rather are honing in on the practicality of living. By this I mean: how to simplify your home, how to declutter, be more organised, how to live sustainably or more mindfully. I guess this is a response to a few factors - firstly, the internet and how easy is it to find visual inspiration online and secondly, the growing trend for mindfulness and living less frivolously. 

the new wave of interiors books

These books, rather than encouraging us to go out and spend, spend, spend on new things for our homes to replicate a style or aesthetic, they are instead teaching readers to streamline their belongings, to work with what you've got and, when you need to, how to shop consciously. We've looked at four books, published within the last year, which offer this kind of advice and guidance, to see what they are all about. 

This is Home - The Art of Simple Living by Natalie Walton

This is Home: the art of simple living - by Natalie Walton

The opening lines of Natalie Walton's This is Home almost exemplifies this new movement in interiors: 'This is a love story about the home. It celebrates what we have. And reminds us to nurture the space that helps make our lives possible.' Natalie has travelled far and wide to gather a selection of homes that have a strong sense of identity and authenticity; where the homeowners have created spaces that reflect them as people and nurture the family within. The book is split into three sections - Create, Live and Nurture - allowing the viewer to delve into the process of creating the space and how they live and enjoy it on a daily basis. It is not about big budgets, fancy furniture or flashy design, but about a simple approach to crafting a home with consideration and simplicity. 

{ Published by Hardie Grant - Order here }

Mad about the House by Kate Watson-Smyth

Mad About the House: How to decorate your home with style - by Kate Watson-Smyth

Kate's latest book, named after her award-winning blog, is a practical guide to understanding and implementing good interior design. Surprisingly, there are a very limited number of photographs of interiors within the pages, opting for a series of stylistic illustrations instead. Again, this highlights the change in how interiors books are structured and presented, with the emphasis being on useful knowledge and advice that readers can put into practice. The book starts off addressing how to find your style and examining the importance of colour, before going into detail about each room in the house, and how to execute things like getting lighting right and planning the perfect bathroom. Kate's fun and humourous style of writing and personal anecdotes keep the book light-hearted and engaging, making it less of an educational guide and more like learning from old friend who happens to hold all the style tips! 

{Published by Pavilion - Order here }

New Minimalism by Cary Telander Fortin + Kyle Louise Quilici

New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable Intentional Living - by Cary Telander Fortin & Kyle Louise Quilici

With a website of the same name, professional 'declutterers' Cary and Kyle's book shares their experience and knowledge in how to achieve that elusive minimal home with soul. They offer practical advice on how to change your mindset on the topic of decluttering and material goods, how to tackle it effectively and then how to put it back together beautifully. They promote the need for function and style and inform on how to shop with intention. It is very much a practical guide to making a change in how you live and includes recipes for natural cleaning products and 'take action' sections with tips on how to follow through on their advice. 

{Published by Sasquatch Books - Order here }

Remodelista: The Organized Home

Remodelista - The Organized Home: Simple, stylish storage ideas for all over the house - by Julie Carlson & Margot Guralnick

A small format book, Remodelista's latest tome again demonstrates the clear demand for interiors books that help us live more simply. Tips and tricks are delivered in bite-sized segments, making this an easy book to dip in and out of. Packed with storage solutions for anything from your hairdryer to your kitchen roll, as well as how to implement a plastic free pantry and an all-in-one laundry cupboard. The images alone are enough to have me itching to tidy and sort! It'll have your home impeccably organised in no time! 

{ Published by Artisan Books - Order here }

the new wave of interiors books

What do you think of this new angle on interiors books? Is this what you want from a home decor book these days or do you prefer pure interior eye candy? I'd would personally love to publish more books in the future, and would love to know what it is that readers are keen to gain when they purchase a book about interiors. Or perhaps you don't even bother buying these kinds of books anymore?! I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Making terrazzo coasters with Olivia Aspinall & Pelican Story

We are always looking out for the most exciting and on-trend events that are happening across the country, and anything that combines shopping, making and great interiors has definitely got us intrigued! We sent 91 contributors Nancy Straughan and Jemma Watts along to a recent event at Kreativ House in London, to shop the pelican story pop-up and make terrazzo coasters with Olivia Aspinall...  

Terrazzo coaster making with Olivia Aspinall

Terrazzo burst onto the interior scene a few years ago and since I first discovered it via Pinterest I have been dying to know more about it and how it's made. Like me, you’ve probably noticed it being used recently by some of the coolest interiors and homeware brands and in modern kitchen design, but in fact terrazzo dates back as far as the 15th century, and traditionally utilised chips of marble or granite. I spied a lot of terrazzo flooring while in Greece recently, thanks to the country's history in producing beautiful marble. 

These days, contemporary terrazzo features bold colours and shapes and is being used in lots of unusual ways. I would never have considered being able to craft something from it myself, so I was thrilled to be invited to workshop recently to learn how to make terrazzo coasters.

Kreativ House Hackney, London
Kreativ House, Hackney, London
Kreativ House, Hackney, London
Pelican Story pop up at Kreativ House London

The class was a collaboration between three creative businesses, Olivia Aspinall, pelican story and Kreativ House. The workshop was run by Olivia Aspinall alongside pelican story who were running a special pop-up shop on the ground floor of Kreativ House. Kreativ House is a beautiful private workspace that helps support small businesses in East London, the perfect place for both the pop up and workshops.

Pelican Story pop up at Kreativ House London
Pelican Story pop up at Kreativ House London
Pelican Story pop up at Kreativ House London
Pelican Story pop up at Kreativ House London

Before beginning the workshop, I had a browse of the beautiful pelican story pop up. This relatively new brand stocks a great selection of contemporary and hard to find homeware, furniture and gifts, many which are mid-century and Scandinavian inspired. Some are also locally made and the range felt a little bit different from your average homeware collection.

Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop
Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop

Moving on to the workshop, our host and teacher Olivia was exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable and she carefully explained each stage of the making process before we got started. The main material for our home-made terrazzo was jesmonite. This is a composite material that combines plaster, cement and a water-based plastic resin. Bright pots of saturated pigment were laid out, which we would use to colour our jesmonite chips as well as the base of our coasters.

Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop
Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop
Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop

The first stage was to carefully mix two batches of coloured jesmonite to make our chips for the coasters. I opted for a pale peach and a navy blue to match my living room at home. Measuring out the ingredients, we all made two separate batches of jesmonite resin, which would then be spread thinly onto sheets of plastic and left to dry. A quick cup of tea later and our coloured jesmonite was dry and ready to be broken up into chips.

Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop
Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop

After placing these pieces into cups, it was time to decide on the base colour for our coasters. My living space is relatively neutral and features hints of peach, blue and green, so I decided an off-white colour would work best. I added a touch of white and a little bit of mustard to the base to create a very pale cream colour. 

Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop

Next, we weighed out our jesmonite chips and Olivia provided us with some complimentary colours for us to add to our existing mix. Along with my peach and navy blue chips I added some mustard, pale pink and beige. These were then added into the base mixture of jesmonite and the entire lot was poured into two coaster moulds. The last stage was to tap the silicone moulds to ensure that all air bubbles would escape, then they were left to dry out completely.

Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop
Olivia Aspinall terrazzo coaster workshop

Olivia explained to us that she would take our coasters to her studio where she would sand and polish them to reveal the layers of our coloured chips. A few days later my coasters arrived in the post from Olivia and I absolutely love them - they complement my living room perfectly!

My expectations of making terrazzo was that it would be extremely complicated, but in reality it's simply a bit of colour theory, measuring and stirring! The trickiest part was choosing colours, but thankfully Olivia’s guidance was really helpful. Not only was it amazing to create something that seems so complicated by hand, but I so enjoyed learning about a new and exciting material – I’m positive that jesmonite will be making a firm impression on the interiors market very soon!

Check out pelican story online - their mailing list or Instagram will keep you posted on future events - the next one is happening in June (15th, 16th & 17th).  Olivia Aspinall will also list more workshops dates on her website and Instagram

Words: Nancy Straughan

Photography: Jemma Watts

91 visits... Hay-On-Wye

Our editor Caroline explores the book-loving town of Hay on Wye and shares top tips on where to stay, shop and eat... 

We were recently invited to stay at Westbrook Court, an architect-designed B&B which overlooks the Wye Valley in Wales. The B&B is a short drive away from Hay-on-Wye, the quaint market town, which lies on the border of Wales and England, and is well known for it's literary credentials and Hay festival which takes place every year around May-June time. 

Westbrook Court B&B, Hay on Wye
Westbrook Court B&B, Hay on Wye
Westbrook Court B&B, Hay on Wye
Westbrook Court B&B, Hay on Wye

There are five suites at Westbrook, separate from the main house occupied by owner Kari and her family, and each one is decorated differently. Ours had a nod to the local town's love of reading with the fun wallpaper and small selection of vintage books on display. The room had a mezzanine area, meaning it felt more substantial than a regular B&B, as it wasn't just a bedroom, it had a living space with a small sofa and TV. The bathroom was luxurious with a roll top bath and large shower, with some deliciously scented local toiletries to try (& even buy!) 

Westbrook Court B&B, Hay on Wye
Westbrook Court B&B, Hay on Wye
Westbrook Court B&B, Hay on Wye

We were able to spend some time on our little deck, enjoying the early evening sun and the stunning views of the valley and the of the farmhouse, where breakfast was served the next morning. Kari prides herself in using local produce and suppliers and it was truly delicious. 

Days Household Goods, Hay on Wye
Days Household Goods, Hay on Wye
Days Household Goods, Hay on Wye
Days Household Goods, Hay on Wye

A short drive from Westbrook Court, will deliver you into the town of Hay, which is a haven for independent shop fans. Our first stop was Days Household Goods. A large store filled with utilitarian style goods for the home, reminiscent of London's Labour and Wait. It was styled beautifully, with old wooden pigeon-hole style shelving and tongue and groove panelling, a must for kitchenalia fans. 

Flow, Hay on Wye
Flow, Hay on Wye
Flow, Hay on Wye

A quick stop off in Flow, which appeared to be a shop of two halves. One half stocked outdoor wear and accessories, while the other side was filled with stationery, gifts and accessories. As a shop it seemed a little unsure of it's identity, but still worth popping your head in if you are passing by. 

book shop, Hay on Wye

Of course you can't spend a day in Hay without browsing at least one bookshop. The ones we popped into were total bibliophile treasure troves. Both old and new books sat side by side, in shelves as well as stacked on the floor. The vintage books fed my photo-prop-hunting addiction with their beautifully illustrated covers, well-worn exteriors and gently yellowed pages.  We even ate in a bookshop! At the back of Booths bookshop is a large cafe, perfect for stopping off for lunch or tea and cake. 

The Old Electric Shop, Hay on Wye
The Old Electric shop, Hay on Wye
The Old Electric shop, Hay on Wye
The Old Electric shop, Hay on Wye
The Old Electric shop, Hay on Wye
The Old Electric shop, Hay on Wye

Our final stop was the dreamy Old Electric Shop which can be found on Broad Street. Another large shop, it feels almost like an indoor flea market as there are various partners who sell their wares within the store. The focus is mainly furniture, homeware and lighting, but there was a little bit of vintage fashion thrown in for good measure. The shop also have a cafe where they serve seasonal organic dishes. It is also licensed and occasionally they host cocktail evenings! 

A few other shops to visit while in Hay include: Eighteen Rabbit - a store selling ethical and fair trade goods, and who also stock 91 Magazine amongst other indie titles. Llewelyn and Company is the place to go for French antique furniture and decorative items. For eating, while we didn't get to try either out, we heard great things about both St John's Place and Tomatitos Tapas Bar. Hay on Wye is a small town, so probably a day is enough to explore it, but if you are staying longer there is of course lots of stunning scenery to see with the Brecon Beacons on your doorstep, and lots of outdoor activities to try. Westbrook Court have great listings on their website for things to see and do

Thanks goes to Westbrook Court for putting us up for the night and allowing us to explore this beautiful part of the UK. 

All photos: Caroline Rowland

An Instagrammer's guide to: Bristol

We are big fans of the city of Bristol here at 91 and have in fact featured many of it's trendiest hangouts here on the blog and in the magazine. We thought it was about time we did a round up of our top spots for shopping, eating and shooting for Instagram! We sent photographer Jemma Watts up to experience the many beauties that Bristol has to offer. 

Papersmiths, Bristol
Papersmiths, Bristol

Papersmiths - Situated on Boyce’s Avenue in trendy Clifton Village, Papersmiths is a magazine and stationery shop stocking numerous independent titles, including 91 Magazine (hurrah!). The bright and airy space is a stationery obsessive’s dream, with shelves displaying an array of unusual, colour-coordinated paper goods and desk accessories – look out for their fab oversized staplers! The aesthetic of the interior is artfully curated, yet fun and colourful. It’s hard to leave without a bag full of pretty pens and paper goodies! (Read our interview with owner Sidoine here.) 

IG: @paper_smiths

Two Palms, Bristol
Two Palms, Bristol

Two Palms - Right above Papersmiths, you’ll find Two Palms. Owned by Papersmith’s founder Sidonie Warren, Two Palms was initially a pop-up, but is now a permanent homewares store selling ceramics, textiles, jewellery, crystals and candles. The ambiance of the store is a total contrast to Papersmiths downstairs; the interior and product offering is calming, muted and more bohemian and equally as covetable. 

IG: @two.palms

Anna Cake Couture, Bristol
Anna Cake Couture, Bristol

Anna Cake Couture - Head across the street to Anna Cake Couture where their bright interior and industrial touches will have you snapping away. And that’s before you’ve even laid eyes on their delicious delights! Primarily this is the go-to shop for wedding cakes, having won awards for their contemporary designs, but they will just as happily serve you up some delicate macarons or indulgent pastries, baked freshly on site every day. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a baker, you can also pop along to one of their cake decorating courses.

IG: @annacakecouture

East Village Cafe, Bristol
East Village Cafe, Bristol

East Village Café - This newly-opened café is just a few doors down from Papersmiths and Anna Cake Couture on Boyce’s Avenue. Indoor plants and colourful artwork contrast against the light interior, which along with super high ceilings, offers an airy and relaxed spot to stop off for a quick coffee or a leisurely lunch. All their food is 100% vegetarian, with vegan and gluten free options available too. 

IG: @eastvillagebristol

Mockingbird cafe, Bristol
Mockingbird cafe, Bristol

Mockingbird Café - The area of Clifton extends beyond the cool Clifton Village area, and about a 20 minute walk from Boyce’s Avenue, you will find Mockingbird Café on Alma Vale Road. This cute little eatery is tucked away on a sleepy street amongst a small selection of shops and is a quiet spot for working or to enjoy a peaceful coffee with friends. The décor is minimal yet eclectic, with potted plants scattered throughout.

Pinkmans, Bristol
Pinkmans, Bristol

Pinkmans - Park Street is one of Bristol’s most iconic shopping streets, and it is here that you will find this bustling café. As you enter, you are greeted by a long, copper-fronted food counter, displaying a huge range of breads, cakes, sandwiches and biscuits. You also can’t miss the neon pink ‘P’ sign on your right as you enter, surrounded by a growing wall of plants. Their menu covers all your daily meals – as well as snacks – offering breakfast, coffee, salads, sandwiches, through to afternoon tea, pizza, tagines, cocktails and wine. What more could you ask for?

IG: @pinkmansbakery

The Florist, Bristol
The Florist, Bristol

The Florist - As stated on their website, ‘The Florist believes in the fundamental principles of floristry, to charm each of the senses’, which it certainly does. This bar and restaurant is Park Street’s newest foodie establishment, opening just two months ago, and it is sure to become a favourite Instagrammer’s destination. Greeted by an abundance of flowers, your tastebuds are then satisfied by delicious food and creative cocktails, which are inspired by three key floristry styles: English Summer Garden, Ikebana (Japanese art of flower arranging) and Modern. While savouring the food, drinks and atmosphere, you are also treated to their daily soundtrack, produced by their musicians and DJ’s. This really is a sensory experience!

IG: @thefloristuk

Dig Haushizzle, Bristol
Dig Haushizzle, Bristol

Dig Haushizzle - This decorative antique and interior shop is ideally situated on Colston Street, in the independent creative area of the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter. The owners of this wonderfully eccentric homeware shop, Cass and Ed, describe their style as ‘Victorian, Gothic but Bohemian’. It is a treasure trove of unusual items for your home, including some taxidermy, with pieces sourced from around the UK where possible.

IG: @dighaushizzle

Osmology, Bristol
Osmology, Bristol

Osmology - Originally this business started out as a men’s personal care shop, but the candles sold so well that it’s owner decided to focus solely on scented candles and home fragrances. Located on the Christmas Steps, a quaint small street of independent shops (on a long flight of steps!), you can discover new or established brands from around the world, including Skandinavisk, The Nomad Society, Laboratory Perfumes and Earl of East London. The store is beautifully laid out in a monochrome scheme, with dashes of colour provided by plants and a bright neon sign, asking you to treat yourself – and so you should.

IG: @osmologyco

Mon Pote, Bristol
Mon Pote, Bristol

Mon Pote - Mon Pote is a lifestyle store found in the quieter district of Bedminster, on the south side of the River Avon. This area feels like it moves at a slower pace than the other districts of the city, with North Street being the main street to visit. Here, small cafes and independent shops are opening, bringing in an arty crowd. The store itself is stocked to the brim with home decor products and gifts, for both adults and kids, all carefully curated and beautifully displayed. (read our Shopkeeper Spotlight interview with owner Anna here

IG: @monpotehome

Albatross Cafe, Bristol
Albatross cafe, Bristol

Albatross Café - If you like to sip your morning coffee surrounded by succulents and hanging plants, then this is the place to be! Currently featured in the latest edition of 91 Magazine, Albatross Café, also on North Street, is unpretentious with an incredibly relaxed atmosphere. The coffee and cakes are locally supplied, and they also provide a small, seasonal menu. Find out more about this cute café when you buy the S/S 18 edition of 91 Magazine!

IG: @albatrosscafebristol

91 Magazine's instagrammer's guide to Bristol, UK

Words and Photography by Jemma Watts

Six indie shops hosting creative workshops

We love indie shops here at 91, and often wish we could spend more time in them. Luckily for us, the trend for indie store owners collaborating with creatives to host workshops means we can do exactly that. It really is a match made in heaven. Michelle Evans talks to six shopkeepers to find out more about why they do it and how it benefits both their shop and the creatives they work with. 

 Image courtesy of Botany

Image courtesy of Botany

We all like to feel like we are part of something meaningful. We look towards things that speak about the kind of life we want to lead and hold values that resonate with us. That counts for the purchases we make too, and unlike the consumerism of the late 20th century, the modern shopper is much more mindful, ethical and considered about the choices they make in the things they buy.

Independent shopkeepers with a bricks and mortar residence, know that they offer one golden thing that no online store can replicate: a real life store experience. It's the chance to connect with customers in a more meaningful way, giving them a more personalised and memorable experience. With this, retailers are finding ways to bring their shop to life by inviting creatives to join them with workshop experiences. It gives a unique way for a customer to participate with the shop, where they can feel part of the brand and learn something, or even make friends. For shopkeepers, it's also the opportunity to collaborate with like minded creatives, inviting them to set up a mini studio in store, and help show customers what the shop is all about.

 Life Story, Edinburgh, Scotland / Photo courtesy of  @wearetrouva

Life Story, Edinburgh, Scotland / Photo courtesy of @wearetrouva

 Squid Ink workshop at Life Story

Squid Ink workshop at Life Story

At Life Story in Edinburgh, owner Susan Doherty works with artists or makers who are associated with her business. ‘For example, when Squid Ink hosts workshops, they are using Sarah's (the creative behind Squid Ink) branded mini looms, that we also sell in the store. Participants often come back to buy one for a friend having fully understood themselves how they work and what the benefits of the product are, having attending a workshop.’

Not only does this enhance the story of the product and maker, it also shows that the shop has a love for craftsmanship, and encourages the customer to try craft themselves. The workshops create a buzz, make people curious and want to come in and find out more. This helps to raise awareness of the shop and collaborators alike.

Future workshops include macrame and leather purse making. Life Story @lifestoryedin

 Caro, Bruton, Somerset

Caro, Bruton, Somerset

 workshops at Caro

workshops at Caro

Having workshops in store is also a great way to build community. Natalie Jones has created an events calendar at Caro in Somerset to encourage collaboration. ‘Caro is situated in a very creative and convivial town. We are surrounded by a pool of people with a hugely varied arm of interests which I wanted to embrace at Caro. Having a space to encourage people to get together and learn a new skill or spend a few hours sharing ideas is a lovely thing to be a part of.’

The shop becomes a place of destination and discovery, where people not only build a more personal connection with the store, but also with each other. At Caro, Natalie has collaborated with creatives from jewellery designers to calligraphers to oscar winning photographers and says, ‘It has brought a fascinating mix of people to Caro which is fantastic.’

Upcoming workshop: Branding, Trends, Social Media & Blogging Workshop. Details here.

Caro / @carosomerset

 Sarah and Bendrix, Cheam, Surrey

Sarah and Bendrix, Cheam, Surrey

 Floral workshop hosted by Inspired Collective at Sarah and Bendrix

Floral workshop hosted by Inspired Collective at Sarah and Bendrix

Veronika Pollard and Petrica Harmsworth had a similar philosophy when they began running creative workshops at Sarah & Bendrix in Cheam, Surrey. ‘We started running the creative workshops (called Inspired Collective) because we wanted to give something a little different to the local community than just a gift store. Our aim was to create a space where people can come together to learn new skills, explore their creativity and make new friends at the same time.’

Workshops are a way for Veronika and Petrica to know their customers more, and develop their relationship with the creative community. 'We’re really keen on collaborating with local small businesses that focus on handmade, small-scale production, whether that’s through running workshops, stocking their product, and hopefully longer term, helping them to develop their business expertise.'

Fundamentally, the workshops have allowed us to be creative in different ways, brought new ideas and a closer connection to the local community. ‘Quite unexpectedly, we’re now working with a local creative crafting business, in hosting an event for a mental health charity, something we would never have envisaged a year ago!’

Find upcoming workshops here. Look out for a 91 Magazine workshop coming soon! Inspired Collective / @inspired.collective

 Home byKirsty, Roath, Wales

Home byKirsty, Roath, Wales

 floral workshops with Forbesfield flower school

floral workshops with Forbesfield flower school

Building on shared interests is a very natural way for shops to collaborate with creatives. Kirsty Patrick runs floristry workshops via her shop Home ByKirsty, along with Beth at Forbesfield flower school. Their story began as shop neighbours in Cardiff, and after a few successful classes together at Kirsty's new shop location in Roath, they decided to make the classes a regular event. With a combination of business savvy and floral artistry they have built a series of workshops across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

‘We work so well together, not only in our creative style, but we also balance each out - Beth teaching with her incredible knowledge of all things green, while I do the hidden organising and businessy bits. Having a business partner that virtually reads your mind is priceless, as running a business is tough.’ Their work together has become a partnership, where unique qualities of one business and owner, helps the other. Kirsty's bricks and mortar shop is the business base, while the workshops are in varied locations, helping to find new creative, engaged customers and spread the word about Home ByKirsty.

New workshops will be posted here. Home byKirsty / @homebykirsty

 Botany, Hackney, London

Botany, Hackney, London

 wildflower workshops at Botany / Photo:   Anna Jacobsen

wildflower workshops at Botany / Photo: Anna Jacobsen

Hosting workshops or classes can build a closer connection between shops and their customers. It also helps show a deeper message or ethos behind the shop, that people can connect with. At Botany in East London, Angela Maynard has curated a series of events that encourage people to step away from the digital world and make something with their hands.

‘So many of us are stuck behind a computer during the working day or using social media instead of pursuing hobbies like we may have done in the past. So to be able to take a few hours to explore our individuality – either through a wildflower walk used to inspire bouquet making, pinch pot making with a mediative approach, botanical drawing using the shops plant life as the subject matter, or learning about essential oils and how to make your own natural skincare, helps us (I think) to explore aspects of our personality, using our brains in a slower, more relaxed and focused way, that we may have forgotten about or not used for a long time.’ There is something very grounding about doing simple things with our hands, and focussing in a gentle way. The workshops become a form of relaxation, the chance to slow down, learn and be creative.

Workshop listings are here. Botany / @botanyshope5

 Bears Ice Cream Co, West London

Bears Ice Cream Co, West London

 Watercolour workshop at Bears Ice Cream

Watercolour workshop at Bears Ice Cream

At Bears Ice Cream company, imagination is their raison d'être: ‘Our mission has always been to give our customers the chance to experience creativity in some way. This is reflected in our unusual Signature Cone menu, the “make it yourself” Glacier or when they sit down and get drawing on our chalk table. Therefore it was a very natural step for us to start collaborating with Michelle Evans of Roxwell Press, on our watercolour x ice cream experience. For us food and art are two different mediums of expressing your passion.’

The class creates a unique atmosphere, and lets people 'live the brand', by learning to paint ice creams in watercolour, then creating a real one to eat. ‘Michelle brings her wonderful mix of bright colours into our shop and her relaxed way of teaching is a great start to our Saturday mornings. Collaborating with an artist brings in a great energy and seeing people leave after a painting class with a relaxed smile on their face and ice cream in hand makes our day.’ It has also opened up new avenues of collaboration, with gift and greeting cards designed by Michelle for the shop.

Michelle concludes: 'As an artist and designer, collaborating with shops on workshops has been a fantastic way to' step out of the studio and meet a new audience. It's inspiring to be creative with a group of people, in unusual places, and for all of us it feels like a fresh, liberating experience. We all learn from one another, I get to know a group of people who frequent a shop I feel akin to, and they learn some new watercolour techniques. Everyone comes away with something that helps them develop, something meaningful.'

Workshops at Bears can be found here, or for other watercolour workshops by Michelle, head here. Bears Ice Cream / @bearsicecream

Home tour - Hannah Nunn

Artist, designer, maker and author Hannah Nunn’s home in Hebden Bridge is a lesson in balance and harmony for small-space living.

home tour with designer Hannah Nunn

Sitting at her kitchen table, it is obvious that creating pools of light is something that comes naturally to Hannah Nunn. Her flat in Hebden Bridge is carefully laid out into distinct areas, each illuminated creatively in Hannah’s own inimitable way. Family life brought Hannah and her two children to the Yorkshire Pennines, but her creative homemaking began as far back as her student days in Wales, where she lived in a crumbling Georgian house in the grounds of an abandoned castle. Here she experimented with building a home filled with art and music, which continues into her living space even now.

home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn
home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn
home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn

Hannah’s small flat feels anything but cramped, as its natural flow gives the illusion of space. In the living room Hannah has created distinct zones - a neat cloakroom area sits at the front door and serves to shed the outside world and stresses it may bring. Moving throughout the flat there is an instant feeling of calm, aided by the beautifully diffused light created by the window film Hannah designed herself. A piano is nestled in the corner with an area for kith and kin to create and enjoy music and a huge sofa sits across from the fireplace where the mantle is filled with tiny treasures that Hannah has collected on her travels to draw attention to the open space. These pieces are not only treasured memories- they serve as inspiration, too; a framed piece of wrapping paper that was found in Japan inspired Hannah to create her own range of wallpaper, fabric and window film.

home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn
home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn
home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn

Light and its myriad forms has provided a rich medium for Hannah to explore in her work. Her art has evolved significantly from her original studio space in Hebden Bridge, where she began her business creating paper cuts and cards based her on botanically-inspired sketches. Other artists in the studio building encouraged Hannah to turn her artistic practice into something that could support her and her two children, and in a literal light bulb moment, Hannah started designing and making lighting. As she began selling lamps, Hannah met other independent light makers and a together they recognised the need for a shop that was entirely dedicated to showcasing their work. Radiance has now grown into a lighting concept store with lights, gifts and quirky homeware, now run by Hannah’s daughter, Ffion. Leaving the running of the shop to her means Hannah now focuses her time on her surface pattern designs which can now be found on a wide range of household products.

home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn
home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn
home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn
home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn

The opening of Radiance had an impact on their home life, too, as Hannah moved into a large rented home above the store. However, she eventually moved back into the cosy flat and instantly felt at home, “it was where I was always supposed to be. Even the cat was happier,” she adds. Of course, home is where Hannah’s love affair with light began, and her creativity with both natural and electrical light continues in the flat. Having no windows of its own, the kitchen relies upon light flooding in from the bi-fold doors and the huge Victorian window in the bedroom, but in the evenings the open plan kitchen diner is illuminated with pools of light created by the various lamps and light fixtures that Hannah has created herself.

home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn
home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn
home tour with british designer Hannah Nunn

At home, the muted tones she has decorated with provide a calming environment – the perfect space to practice yoga, write songs on the ukulele and people watch. Ultimately, nature’s own radiance continues to bring Hannah inspiration, and a huge window that frames a tree brings her joy every season, and with it a sense of continuity, cohesion and inspiration.

GET THE LOOK

  Green+Pink 'Twig' leaves , Radiance £9.95;  Kitchen chairs , Loaf, £230 per pair

Green+Pink 'Twig' leaves, Radiance £9.95; Kitchen chairs, Loaf, £230 per pair

  Cocktail chair , Radiance, £480;  Peg rail , Garden Trading, £38

Cocktail chair, Radiance, £480; Peg rail, Garden Trading, £38

  Faux succulent bowl , £24, Sweetpea and Willow;  Mid century armchair , Rose & Grey, £750

Faux succulent bowl, £24, Sweetpea and Willow; Mid century armchair, Rose & Grey, £750

  Wooden hand decoration , £25, Maggie Magoo Designs;  Tiny Treasures Wallpaper , £69 per roll, Radiance

Wooden hand decoration, £25, Maggie Magoo Designs; Tiny Treasures Wallpaper, £69 per roll, Radiance

Check out Hannah's range of lighting, window film, fabric and wallpaper on her website and visit her shop Radiance, either in Hebden Bridge or online

Photography: Kathryn Taylor / Words: Nicolette Lafonseca

Meet the Maker: Kathryn Davey

Nature’s palette is beautifully harnessed by textile designer Kathryn Davey with her naturally-dyed linen products, all hand-made in Ireland.

 Photo credit: Jo Murphy

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

‘Sustainability’ and ‘provenance’ are both popular concepts in modern consumerism nowadays, and for the conscious shopper they’ll always be at the forefront of their mind. However, there are few designers and makers that offer truly eco-conscious products with a local history - Kathryn Davey is one of them. Her textiles are grown, produced and hand-dyed in the Republic of Ireland, making the best of nature’s rich bounty.

‘I discovered natural dyes when I was living the Bay area of California, as I was somewhat involved with the west coast’s creative community,’ explains Kathryn. ‘The Dharma Trading Co. was nearby, and I was amazed by the selection of raw materials, organic fabrics and dye supplies - everything you could possibly need.’ With all the supplies at her fingertips and good drying weather year-round, Kathryn began experimenting with indigo dye in her own home, and quickly grasped the technique. ‘A friend of mine opened a studio and workshop, and invited me to teach indigo dyeing techniques, and I soon moved on to other natural dyes,’ she adds.

Difficult personal circumstances encouraged Kathryn to move back to her native Ireland, and she set up home in Dublin. ‘At first, I found the move difficult for my work,’ admits Kathryn. ‘It wasn’t so easy to source wholesale supplies, but in other ways my life had improved immeasurably,’ she continues. ‘My life had simplified, giving me the physical and mental space to grow my business - my perspective had shifted, giving me a renewed drive.’ The past year has proved a learning curve for Kathryn, as her work load increased, and she found suppliers for her bags, table and kitchen linen in Ireland, the UK and USA.

 Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

 Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

‘My work definitely connects me to a sense of place,’ explains Kathryn. ‘When I was living in the USA it was important to use what was local to me as much as possible - although very little fabric was actually produced locally, I used whatever I could.’ Now, Kathryn uses world-famous Irish linen, which is grown and woven in the South of Ireland and dyed by Kathryn in Dublin. ‘To be able to come home and have Irish linen that’s been woven here is something special and I feel like I have no other choice!’ she laughs. The linen is first sewn into bags, aprons and napkins by a local sewing studio before Kathryn commits them to the dye vats that live at her city studio. The range also features organic cotton gauze scarves, and socks knitted from Jacob wool, and Kathryn is introducing a looser, more rustic weave linen this summer. 

 Photo credit: Jo Murphy

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

‘All my products are completely ethical; it’s important that they include no chemical dyes- natural is what feels right to me,’ Kathryn adds. The subtle variations in finish and colour are all part of this philosophy, and Kathryn’s recent workshops in Edinburgh and London (at Kristin Perers’ Flower Factory studio) teaching shibori dyeing prove exactly that. ‘There are so many ways of using natural dyes- shibori produces more abstract and linear designs but the magic is that you never know what something will look like when it comes out of the dye pot,’ she enthuses. ‘The possibilities really are limitless, and one has to surrender to the unpredictability.’

 Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

 Photo credit: Jo Murphy

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

One area of predictability, however, is Kathryn’s daily routine. With three children and her own business, balancing life can often be tricky. ‘I’m trying to bring more balance to life, as I have found I’m always putting myself last,’ Kathryn admits. ‘Since I launched the linens last year I’ve found I’m working every day, so taking some time for myself and doing some exercise is important.’ Kathryn cycles to her city studio every day, once her daughter is at school. ‘My studio is based in an old school building- however it’s rather cold and far from romantic!’ she says. ‘Renting in Dublin is expensive, but I use my studio space for everything,’ adds Kathryn. ‘Once I’ve arrived at the studio, my routine is much the same every day- I check emails, deal with admin and orders and collect the sewn products before getting the dye pots going,’ she adds. Kathryn dyes for the rest of the day, each day producing her products for stores in Dublin, California and London as well her website.

QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS

Describe your work in three words: Inspiring, Challenging, Addictive

What are your making rituals? I clean the space and organise the workflow, make a cup of tea, get my dyeing clothes on and get to it!

Tea or Coffee? Always and forever, tea.

Mountains or Sea? Both! But if I had to choose one: Sea, water’s good for my soul.

Night Owl or Early Bird? Early Bird (only because I have to get my daughter to school, otherwise I'd probably be a Night Owl)

I wish someone had told me… The story of Benjamin Button when I was a teenager!

Visit Kathryn's website: www.kathryndavey.com