Thursday, 26 November 2015


Our latest exciting collaboration is with Scottish textile and home wares company, Bluebellgrey. We have produced an exclusive capsule collection of key tassels and tiebacks in Bluebellgrey's signature fresh and vibrant colour palate.

Above, the key tassels.
Below, the tiebacks.

Above and below,
images from Bluebellgray's recent Lets Do Lunch event in New York
Images ©Bluebellgray

I was introduced to Bluebellgrey by a mutual customer who told them my tassels would really compliment Fi Douglas's vibrant water-colour-esque abstract floral prints. They started by using our key tassels on cushions and their stand at Maison Objects, Paris. I then went on to make a bespoke tieback for the last Bluebellgrey catalogue. Sometimes good old fashioned word-of-mouth can work more magic than social media.

Above, our bespoke tieback,
Below, hanging very happily next to Bluebellgrey's Tetbury linen.
Image ©Bluebellgrey 

Key tassels and tiebacks available only from 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


There are times when amongst all the newsletters and enquires from Chinese companies asking me if I want to mass buy LED lights that something really exciting drops into my inbox and the invition from Dulux to be part of their Colour Futures 16 exhibition at Tent London was one such hurrah moment.
The premise was that four creatives would each be given one of the Colour Future trends and a small shed, and by means of an instillation interpret this trend in their own inimitable style.
I must say I was in amazing company as the other three artists/designers were Mark McClure, Anthony Roussel, and Zoe Murphy as well as the hudgly talented surface designer, Kit Miles, who was representing the colour of the year pallette by installing a dynamic vinal floor that streaked across the whole exhibition.
Above, Kit Miles' fabolous floor
Below, the space and Anthony Rousou's shed.
Below, a close up of Rouseau's  instillation.

Above, 'The Grid And Letting Go' trend by Mark McClure
Below, detail from McClures shed.

Above, Zoe Murphy's calming 'Words And Pictures' trend.
Below, a detail

Above, 'Dark And Light' by yours truly.
Below, our tassel peeking out from the dark.

I wanted to create a nightscape that used light to highlight the tones of colour darkening, and to illustrate the way dark and light affects our perception of colour and mood. I love the way the dark mutates light’s bright blaring colours into hundreds of muted dusky hues that get lit intermittently by the silvery shine of the moon and stars.

Even as a child I loved the dark. I’ve always found it a place of safety where the spaces amongst the shadows allowed one to hide and bide one’s thoughts or slumber peacefully. A warm place to hibernate from daylight’s perils.  As an adult the psychological and spiritual connotations that go with these two states fascinate me. We talk about light and dark representing good and evil, black magic, white magic, the dark arts even the dark recesses of our minds; AS Jung said ‘ To know your own darkness of your mind is to understand the darknesses of others’ but in an ever-increasing lighter world where the city’s light dims the stars and the sky never deepens past a murky violet haze the idea of the benefits of darkness are being re-addressed.

Above, my concept sketch.

Above and below, the making of our instillation.

We also gave a sell-out presentation for Tent Supertalks about our the inspirations behind our pieces with Rebecca from Dulux explaining each trend first and process of trend forecasting.

Massive Thanks to;
Rebecca Williamson , Marianne Shillingford and everyone from Dulux,
Holly Smith and Jennifer Barnes from Mischief PR
Jimmy Macdondald and the Tent team,
My amazing co-exhibitors Zoe, Mark, kit, and Anthony.
and everyone who came to both the exhibition and talk

Monday, 7 September 2015


This year, for the first time, we'll be swishing our tassels and tasselating our trims at Decorex.
Decorex is the show aimed at the luxury top end interior sector and this years theme is Future Luxury. 
We'll be launching Ceylon, a brand new passementerie collection, and Botany Bay, a new concept of outsize room trims that incorporate walnut and coconut elements, speciffically designed to decorate interior spaces. Didn't you know just trimming a cushion or having curtain ties is just so last year darling!
We will also be showcasing a tri-collacboration with Elle Decoration Design Award 15 winner, Liam Treanor and chair caner, Rachael South. This will be an ash bench with a hand-woven braid Box Weave seat which is not to be missed!

Above, braids and rosettes from our new Ceylon collection.
Stand C46,
Syon Park,
20-23 September

It seems very fitting in my jubilee year of making that I'm returning to the show where I launched my first paasementerie collections under my own name in 2008, Tent London.
I'm delighted to be involved with the Dulux Colour Futures exhibition at Tent where I, with four other creatives, Kit Miles, that Miss Margate Zoe Murphy, Anthony Roussel and Mark McClure will be interpreting with an instilation and talk, the four major trend stories and the 2016 colour of the year.
Old Truman Brewery,
Brick Lane,
24-27 September 

Talking of jubilees here are my next picks from the last 25 years…
This started as a play with some passementerie techniques to create rigid forms and went on to be the staring point for other projects. One such project was with jewellery designer Lesley Vik Waddell on a colection that incorporated elements of this type of passementerie as well as Dorset Button style covered rings in subtle dusky pinks, whites and a hint of magenta . Unfortuately I have no images of this collection as it was fabulous and went on to be one of Lesley's best selling collections.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Tools of our trades

A sum of three unique specialised skill sets combine to produce Thales’ Bench, a seat to sit and contemplate. Named after the first Ancient Greek philosopher to accentuate the importance and growing luxury of quiet thought and the amount of rumination taken to bring this project to fuition. This tri-collarboration unites the talents of contemporary furniture designer and maker Liam Treanor, upholsterer and third generation chair caner Rachael South, and one of the countries last passementerie weavers Jessica light.
The result is a beautiful design-led ash bench with a hand-woven grosgrain linen braid Danish Box weave seat which will be launched at Decorex 20-23 September 2015, Syon Park, stand C46. 

Above, braid being woven.
Below, 120m braid in waiting.

Above, detail of bench.

One of the reasons I wanted to do this project, apart from working with two very talented creatives, was to show how versatile passementerie, with a bit of vision, can be. It's not just about curtain ties and trimming cushions but can be used for many applications, the construction of furniture being just one.

You can't move for macrame at the moment, but back in the dark days of 2007-8 just the mention of the M word would bring anyone who thought they had taste out in 70's plant hanger hives. But there were whisperings of revival and, after a neighbour had given me an old book on the subject, I had begun to play with the techniques.
Above, some linen macrame samples 2007

Then, as if the planets had aligned, I got a call out of the blue from Laurent Rivaud, Vivienne Westwood's accesorary designer, asking if I made macrame as they were wanting to do belts and bracelets for their up-coming SS08 menswear collection.
I had meet Rivaud through jewellery designer Lesley Vik Waddell, who I had been making tassels and passmenterie for her own label collections in 2005-6. She had sent him to pick up one of her orders from the Urban Croft and he was very interested in my work.
I went on to make a collection of brightly coloured macrame accessories for the catwalk show. I loved this project for two main reasons. 1. Laurent was a pleasure to work with. He was very courteous and always knew exactly what he wanted and the best way to utilise my skills; and 2. I had become very disheartened and bored with the direction my work was going and this project brought back my spark. It led onto other things and was the twinkle in my eye to set up under my own name.

 Westwood samples [unfortuately I have no catwark images]
Below, a textile sample incorporating marame for Johanne Mills shown at Indigo 2008.

 Above, our Tashkent macrame tieback from the Formosa Collection 2008
Below, our Taiwan tieback from our Formosa Diffusion range 2012.

I did other work for Westwood, most notably the jewellery and belts for Westwood Red Label SS10

 Above, beaded and feather necklaces and belts.
Below, Westwood Red Label SS09 catwalk show.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015


Apart from the very rare foray into retail, I've worked to commission most of my career. I now know most of the pitfalls but also the joys of what it is like to produce original work with every job. I've been incredibly blessed to have worked on some extraordinary projects and with some amazing clients, but this isn't always the case. 
A few years ago I had the client from Hades. I knew she was trouble the minute she and her Hermes Birkin waltzed into the Urban Croft and, although I did everything in my power to try and accommodate her wishes, nothing I did was ever right or good enough. There were three main problems. Firstly she came to me because I can make, not for the style of my work, and wanted me to to emulate other people's products which for me is unethical. Secondly she saw me as HER employee and expected me to drop everything for her including my other clients. On one occasion I had to tell her I had some samples to make for a high end designer before I could make her order to which she hissed icily
-Well, we mustn't keep Oscar De La Renta waiting!-
To which I thought- No, of course not, I'm not going to keep Oscar De La Renta, one of the biggest, most respected designers in the world, waiting.
Thirdly she actually said I should work for her for free because it would be good exposure for my business. What did she think I lived off? Dust?
The last straw was her screaming down the phone at me because she'd been away when her order had arrived and it had allegedly been sent back never to be seen again because obviously I'm responsible for the Post Office's offences as well!
So when I recently found myself in the position of becoming a commissioner rather than a commissionee I used my experiences and drew up a number of criteria which I think useful to anyone thinking of going down this path.
1. Find The Right Person For The Job.
We have an incredible wealth of designer/makers in this country of every ilk and style to suit every taste. Research thoroughly until you find someone who's work you not only love but that will compliment the space/person you are thinking of putting the commission into/onto. There's no point going to someone who's work has a minimal aesthetic and asking for guilded Rococo  Even though they may take the commission [us small creative businesses sometimes have to tart our selves out- we have a living to make and do have to eat on occasion] it won't be a pleasant experience for both parties and you will end up with something with no soul and many curses.
2. Know What you Want.
It's important to have a fairly good idea of what you want and to be able to communicate that. You should be able to tell from your first meeting or the working drawings if your wishes have been understood and noted, but be open minded to suggestions and new ideas. 
3. Let Them be Creative.
This is what we do for a living. Part of design is about solutions and if you give the commissionee freedom of creativity within your brief you will end up with an excitingly original piece made with love and care.
4. Cost.
There sometimes seems to be a misconception that having something made bespoke should be cheaper than if you bought it retail. Many a time I've heard - Ooh I could get something cheaper in Debenhams- Well yes if you want a mass-produced rip-off, but the whole point of bespoke is that you get a tailor made one-off that's unique to you.
Bespoke may seem expensive but when you consider all the time-not just the actual making but the meetings, the sourcing of materials, the designing which often includes working drawings- the costs of running a work shop and the cost of materials, you're actually getting a bargain.
So think about your budget, what you can afford and how much you want to spend. Ask for a quote at your first meeting. It may not be exact. It's sometimes hard to give a precise price with commissions as they are an unknown quantity but you can usually get a ball park figure.
5. Lead-time.
You are having something MADE for you. This can take time, especially if it's hand-made. Don't expect your order to be ready the next day. Making is a physical, labour intensive and sometimes very complex process, so be patient. If you have a dead-line for when you want your commission to ready make sure you go to the maker in plenty of time.
6. Go Directly To The Maker.
This way they will benefit from receiving all the money for what they do rather than them having to give a hefty cut to some fancy showroom up West.
 Above, a working drawing for a tassel hat for Gabby Deeming, House and Garden Decoration Editor.
Below, the tassel hat made.

I recently acquired a new flat which had two alcoves that, rather just be filled with shelves, were crying out for something beautiful and a creative use of the their space. As I'm always harping on that one should support our designer/makers I decided to put my money where my mouth is and go down the bespoke commission route.
I chose furniture designer/maker Liam Treanor because I'd loved his most recent Santiago collection and the more I looked at his work more I felt it's timeless simplicity would harmonise perfectly in the space aesthetically.
At our initial meeting we discussed ideas- what I was looking for visually as well as practically [I was wanting a desk and some kind of cabinet/shelving unit] I had a file filled with reference images which gave an idea of the colours/themes/visuals, a mood board if you like, I was planning to put into the interior. 
Our next meeting was at the property so Liam could measure up, and get a feeling for the space. It was during this meeting that we also discussed a shelf for above the desk which came from me looking at old-fashioned luggage racks, using a woven leather panel to tie in with a leather insert that was going on the desk.  I also decided on which wood I wanted from the samples Liam gave me.
From a file full of working drawings/designs, which incorporated all the ideas we had pawed over, that Liam sent through I made a choice on the furniture combining the different elements I liked the best. The rest, as they say, is history and I came home one evening to find nestled in their new nooks the most beautiful pieces of ash furniture that far exceeded my expectations and that fitted visually in the space perfectly.
I love them more each day and they give me a great deal of joy. I will admit that when I embarked on this project I also had at the back of my mind that these could also be investment pieces, but would I ever sell them? Hell no- I'm going to be buried with them [at which point I can hear a collective groan from my friends who already think my request of being laid out in a vintage couture Channel suit while Randy Crawford's 'One Day I'll Fly Away' plays on a loop in the background with the Muppets as my main mourners is an ask too far].

Above, the cabinet in situ.
Below, cabinet shelves showing off my studio pottery collection.

Above, the cabinet cupboard with it's stained black doors.

Above, the desk and rack shelf in situ.

Above, hand-woven leather panel.
Below, shelf.

Above, desk top with beautiful curved back.
Below, leather insert.

Which brings me neatly onto this months favourite projects from the last 25 years…
So these are the most recent on this list but as they fall into this year I thought they could count. 
I'm always being asked if my home drips with passementerie and the answer is no, mainly because I don't have the time for extra curricular trimmage,  but I wanted to add a touch of tassel to my new kennel. When Liam and I came to the question of handles for my furniture I wanted some kind of tassel pull. Liam suggested drilling holes to thread the tassel loops through. Being finicky about finishes I didn't want to use a knot to anchor them from the inside [I know you wouldn't see it much but it's just not couture enough for me] so Liam came up with the genius idea of making a wooden toggle that sits snuggly in a small bay.
Making for myself meant indulgence by using my favourite materials horsehair and leather and using a complex mix of techniques because budget wasn't an issue here. Not only did I have fun producing these but they compliment the furniture so well.

Above, cupboard handles
Below, in situ

Above, desk handles
Below, in situ

Above, inside of cupboard door showing toggle attachment.

Horsehair is one of my favourite materials. In fact I can't get enough of it. I love it's mix of shiny spikiness and bristling wildness. Docked from a horses tail this material is one of the most expensive I use [coming in more expensive than silk]. It arrives in neatly tied bundles which explode when unshackled.

So whenever a client whispers horsehair in my ear I give a happy neigh. One of my favourite and regular clients Precious McBane are also partial to a lock or two of hair and we have done several projects staring this most theatrical of swishing tresses. My favourite being four statement tiebacks for a Parisian apartment. The hand-spun cords were a mix of natural linen/rayon with a tiny touch of bronze metallic and the tassels were dip-dyed natural horsehair trimmed roundly to look like beautiful paintbrushes.

Above, horsehair tiebacks.
Below, in situ.