fancy footwork

feet

“And what do you lecture on?” I asked. “Feet” came the prompt reply. Surrounded by duchesses and diamonds at the FTM we were peering at some fabulously intricate beaded embroidery. My temporary companion-in-awe and I exchanged thoughts on these glamorous Bellville Sassoon embellishments and then somehow she was slipping off her neat navy shoes and showing her extremely elegant long slim feet “A top foot model in my time” and I’m not surprised. My pair just stood there – rather down-to-earth!

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But they’ve been put to good use recently tramping all the design halls at Maison&Objet and a few more here at The London Design Festival. Bumping into old friends is one of the perks, and meeting new ones too. More than once I’ve been referred to as a ‘designer legend’ – privately I look down at my feet and thank them for being such reliable designer’s leg-ends!

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DSC04295Part of the legend, if it is one, is held in the CCArchive, which received such a lovely reference in Print & Pattern recently. Within the archive are some modest collections of ‘bought-in’ fabrics – old, vintage I guess, frocks, quilts, antique embroideries, weaves, prints from all sorts of places and times. Some we used as design reference, some we wore, some we just loved, and some just seem to have hung around through thick and thin. ImageLooking through some of these collections recently I was struck again by the enduring power of fabric. The smallest embroidered scrap, however worn and torn, reminds me of the maker’s hands, the spirit of its moment, our human ingenuity. I know I am not alone: textiles and cloth for all their apparent frailty contain layers of reminiscence – and not just about our own lives.

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Pounding along in the Paris Fair it was great to see Donna Wilson again – we shared a landlord and a landing  a few years ago – and to see how well she’s doing. Funnily her lively new catalogue – dog and foxalogue too – uses one of our former shop counters. I’m pleased that she’s proved the point that new and inventive design really can work, however unlikely – who could have forecast that a six-foot knitted fox would have become such a trend-setter?!

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IMG_0019Throughout the shows the international currents echo each other with (rather tedious) predictability. Seeing something truly original gives a lungful of fresh air. One of the great pieces from the ’50s – Bernard Schottlander’s Mantis light – has been re-visiited and with his daughter’s blessing is now being produced again by dcw editions – expertise, elegance and engineering.

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I love weelin’s folding bike that opens with a shake and comes with its own hall stand for all accessories. In contrast to that ruggedness, yet surprisingly robust, is the glassware from Lobmeyr – the tumblers in their Alpha range are so fine their existence is almost just a shimmer; rather a shock to see that too was designed in ’52.

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 In London the collaborative collection Graphic Africaat Habitat’s Platform space gives us many vibrant beautiful pieces brought together through CKU and Source. It’s good to see such a bold and exciting venture with artists and makers from many African countries, especially in the light of the recent horrible events in Kenya, though ‘politics’ makes travel risky for some.

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The grand oversized cushions of Boubacar Doumbia sit next to a magnificent recycled tin table by Hamed Outtara – and I’m happy to see the deep black Kpando pottery pieces from Ghana. Here are some pots I’ve had for years at home, filled with Peter Niczewski’s witty and colourful paper tulips.

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podThe shows were bustling and one of the new love affairs of the season was between furniture makers and the insect world – I’ve never seen so many and varied cocoons – winged, high-backed wool, felted, suspended – all with the genus chair..

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Our  local free magazine – the excellent Transmitter – has given me cause to smile: double-takes in shops and friendly waves really do cheer up the day – so thank you Annette and all. Should I add the new skill of Cover Girl to my rather neglected Linked-in profile?

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Outside my window an exhilarating assembly of red dots in this morning’s mist says autumn is coming; masses of windfalls gave us the fun of making some jars of lip-licking spicey apple chutney. This is not quite as exacting as jam-making with its precise setting point moment: chutney requires what we call the Red Sea test – does the mixture stay separated when divided by a wooden spoon?  We’re looking forward to making the pickled pears for Christmas next, and perhaps even a fruit cake or two…

Through a gateway I saw a mass of little flower faces.

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And at a funeral recently I found myself joining the congregation in belting out Psalm 23 to the tune of The Happy Wanderer – quite a surprising idea. It was an extraordinarily jaunty experience and lifted the spirits at a sombre event – try it, tap your feet, march about a bit – here’s the accompaniment!

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New shop coming soon!

Thanks to Alan, Molly and Charlotte.

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7 thoughts on “fancy footwork

  1. Pingback: Newspaper Article | Lorna's Blog

  2. Sarah,
    Discovering your blog is one of the highlights of my year. It’s such a pleasure to read and devour all the beautiful words and imagery. Thanks to print & pattern for the feature and thank you for sharing so much!
    Frankie x

  3. I have lost count of the number of people who have told me how much they enjoyed the latest issue of the Transmitter, so thanks again for being part of it and for providing us with such a lovely (and fabulously colourful) cover. Thanks also for adding a Vintagehart link: we’re so lucky to have so many indie retailers in Crystal Palace – it wouldn’t be the same place or have the same feel without them – but we do all need to spread the word to encourage visitors from further afield. Any & all support is always welcome!

    One more thing, Cover Girl, i keep forgetting to ask you this: is the Alphabet Tree available in poster form? I can think of several friends with little ones who’d love to have such an unusual A-Z on their walls.

    Annette x

  4. Come clean, Sarah: where did you get those fabulous checkerboard shoes? I must buy a pair; they are unforgettable. Thanks for this lovely post – I feel that I wandered the floor of the design show with you, right by your side – all so vivid and lively, made more so by your delightful commentary. And I did listen to The Happy Wanderer all the way through – next time I’ll have the the words to Psalm 23 with me to sing along. What a lark! With love from Wendy . . .

    • Hi Wendy and thanks – the shoes are regular classic Vans – known as Gran’s Vans in this family! Aren’t they great? There’s a knack to the Psalm 23/Happy Wanderer conflation – the yodelling bit’s replaced with a chorus…xx

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