Monday, 17 November 2014

Ideal Home Show, Manchester Christmas Event 2014

You may recall that last year I went to the Ideal Home Christmas Show down in London and while I admit to not being terribly impressed at that show, when I was invited to attend the Ideal Home Show in Manchester this year by sponsors Go Compare, I figured the 10 minute drive to Event City wasn't too much of a stretch so worth a bit of a wander around.

I roped in the lovely Ashley of Live Like the Boy to accompany me to fight off the crowds that were gathered and to get a few shots for the blog. This is us testing out a 'Selfie Stick' that was clearly rubbish (note, we aren't even in focus - still funny though).

I think the issue I had last year and still have is that Ideal Home don't seem terribly particular about who exhibits at their shows - I mean, you have everything from waterbed mattresses to shoes to cheap pound-shop like gifts, to teeth whitening. When I think of a 'Home' show, I think interiors, I think food perhaps but I don't really think about signing up for Paintball.

The crowds were insane though and it was difficult to get too many shots of the nicer exhibitors merely because the crowds were 5 people thick at those ones. Nevermind.

This stand... WTF?

What do you mean you wouldn't spend £275 on a felt ball covered black gloss poodle?

Ok, there were more tasteful displays. Like the rooms they'd set up which were very cosy English style. Although I did hear one event goer say, 'This looks very American to me.' - I'm not entirely sure what she meant.

Greg Wallace's restaurant was a nice touch, however, and he was there greeting people and taking selfies with them. The menu looked good as well.

There were a few nice stands like Think Gadgets who had all manner of pretty fairy lights. I was pretty tempted to purchase a strand or two for Christmas.

And I thought that Ginger Ray had some really cute things for a Christmas party.

I think the shame is that you really need to look hard for the nicer stands and they are just buried by all the rubbish stands selling tat. Would I go again? Probably not - I ended up (like last year) buying food instead (some flavoured olive oil, a couple of Mediterranean salads as well as A1 Steak Sauce from an American food stand!). But if you are looking for exciting ideas in interiors, this wouldn't be what I would consider inspirational design.

I did, however, have a nice time simply because of the company (thanks Ash!) so if you are going, be sure to bring a friend with a good sense of humour ;)

Did you go to the Ideal Home show? What did you think?

Don't miss a thing!

Friday, 14 November 2014

What do you think of replicated design classics?

I think when you talk about mid-century designer 'replicas', people generally fall into two camps: Those that say it's intellectual property theft and a designer's products should remain their own, complete with the price tags associated with designer items and if we want a piece of that, then we should save our money and buy the real deal; and those that say that good design should be the property of the people, most would not have the cash - maybe EVER - to own beautiful design and recreating those designs means people can have the looks they want without the steep pricetags, still endorse the original's design and therefore, their brand, and there really isn't income 'lost' per se as they wouldn't have been able to afford an original regardless.

For me, I can see the strengths of both arguments but I tend to fall into the latter group. Badly designed 'knockoffs' to me seem pretentious and in bad taste but beautifully created replicas can mean that a person can capture the spirit of an original, enjoy the beauty of great design and still gain the enjoyment of having something originally dreamed up by a master without having to remortgage their home to do it.

This is where my new sponsor, VOGA, comes in. And the reason I wanted to work with them is because their ethos is exactly the kind of thinking that I support - that good design and a beautiful home should be available to everyone, no matter what their budget. This is what they have to say:

"In the 50s and 60s, Arne Jacobsen chairs graced every stylish lounge you walked into, while Eero Saarinen designs brought functionality and panache to the mass-market like no-one ever had before. By the middle of the 1970s, the typical high-end lounge looked more like an art gallery or design studio than a living room: filled with cutting-edge pieces and timeless classics.

But as time rolled on, things changed. Prices increased, elitism took over and the quality furniture from our childhoods disappeared from homes across Europe. In their place came mass-produced flat-pack pieces that looked boring, broke easily and were impossible to build if the instructions got lost under the sofa, something which caused countless marital arguments and millions of wasted Sundays.

So one day, furious with the way that once accessible high-quality designs had become out-of-reach to so many, we decided that enough was enough. So in 2008; VOGA was born.

We scoured the globe to find the finest materials at the lowest possible prices, bringing these iconic designs back to the people they were intended for. Great design, available to all.

We sought-out the finest Italian aniline leather, the softest cashmere wool and the sleekest steel and oak, and after months of research and investigation, we discovered something incredible. We could re-create the most beautiful furnishings of the 20th Century, from the most opulent armchair to the most intricate clock design, as perfectly as anyone.

From Charles Eames’s DSW Chair to Poul Henningsen’s Artichoke Lamp, we could craft products that were as stunning and as tactile as the originals, and by responsibly and expertly sourcing materials, we could offer them at prices that brought exclusivity to everyone."

I truly believe that beautiful design and design classics should not be just the possession of the elite or the rich. If you really do love the design of one of these classics, then why shouldn't you be able to create a unique look using one or two items in your own home if that is your choice?

So I thought I'd open the discussion to you all. What do you think of designer replicas? While I probably won't be seen wearing a cheap Chanel knockoff bag personally, I don't see anything wrong with designer replicated furniture as long as it's done in a considered way. You may feel differently (and that's fine)! So please do weigh in - what do you think?

Don't miss a thing!

Image credits: 1 & 4 / 2 & 6 - unknown / 3 / 5 - unknown (if you know the original sources, please do let me know!)
Products: Arnie Jacobson Egg Chair / Serge Mouille Wall Light / Eames 670 Lounge Chair / Eames Lounge Chair Stool / Grant Featherston Contour Chair /  Noguchi Coffee Table / Poul Henningson Artichoke Lamp / Hans J Wegner Y Chair

This post is in association with my sponsor Voga but all opinions and words (aside from the quote of course) are entirely my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that allow me to create original content on here Swoon Worthy.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Shop in the Spotlight: A visit to Abigail Ahern, London

So if you've been reading Swoon Worthy for a while, you may already know that I'm a big fan of British Interior Designer Abigail Ahern. Her love of dark paint colours and her fearless jumble of eclectic accessories and stand out pieces is forever inspiring me to take more chances, to go darker, to go more bold and to basically not give a shit if things 'match'.  She's got a lot of sass and she's a hell of an entrepreneur. I like that in a person, what can I say.

Anyway, one thing that I hadn't been able to do until very recently is pay a visit to her shop in London (Abigail, please open a shop in Manchester! We need you!). Well, last week, deciding to stay in London for an extra full day after the Amara Awards, I decided to finally make the trip. Armed only with my camera phone (which of course, now I regret), I had to document my visit.

And holy crap, is it good.

The strangest thing is that it's painted in Abigail's signature dark and moody colours. Well, okay, that's not strange - I mean, she's just put out a paint collection, of course it would be painted in her colours. What's strange is that it isn't a massive sprawling space so you would think this would make things feel crowded and oppressive, right? But it doesn't at all. It's just a really cool vibe with really cool things that make you want to explore every last inch of the place. Of course, I mean, this is Abigail Ahern's store - it's gonna be cool.

The other thing I noticed is how many flowers there are. All faux, all exceptionally gorgeous. I mean, they aren't cheap but the quality is just stunning. They genuinely look real and they are covering every spare inch of the place which just gives it life.

Amist the faux flowers are a myriad of hidden treasures. Eclectic furniture, lots of animals, quirky pieces - every bit of which I wanted shove in my tiny suitcase and bring home with me on the train. Alas, my sole purchase was the little faux succulent you saw in my latest post. But I had to have something, no matter how small.

I was told by the really friendly woman at the till (and I didn't catch her name but she was really sweet) that Abigail had only been in the day before to do a little styling. It was a shame I had missed her but I'm definitely going back.

This time with my DSLR as well as a big empty suitcase.

Abigail Ahern is open Monday through Saturday 10:30am - 6pm and Sundays 12pm - 5pm.

Have you paid a visit? Is this someplace you'd like to shop?

Don't miss a thing!

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