Thursday, 4 August 2016

Stay at Fig1

The kitchen of our new Airbnb with some colourful finds from the shop
My sister recently had a baby boy - a big, bouncing and boisterous baby boy who was so keen to come into the world he was born, as if auditioning for an episode of call the midwife, on a bathroom floor in a terraced house in Totterdown. A true Totterdowner. 9 years ago we decided to start a bright and colourful business in this bright and colourful corner of Bristol - we always loved our area and wanted to bring new facilities to it, but like many in Totterdown we moved here, we weren't born here. However our business was, and like my nephew, it grew and changed. Each time I see him he's a little grown. You can still see the changes but, like the changes to our shop, you really realise when you stop and look back at the first photos just how significant those changes are.

I made this origami shirt from some double
sided paper by Rosehip mounted in a Nkuku
So after 9 years of our little shop in Totterdown growing, doing well on line and becoming a stockist of many different Danish and British brands, we realised we needed to make a few changes to the property we were based in. We've redone our shop layout to allow a much bigger storage and packing area, and this, in turn, has freed up the space above the shop. Excitingly we're now renting this out on as short term lets on Airbnb. It's a self contained flat with a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom which can sleep up to 4.

It was a great chance to decorate up the space with some of our favourite finds from Nkuku, Rice, House Doctor and other great stockists. We've had real fun making an eclectic space full of small works of art, finds and trinkets from the shop. We've used simple postcards and graphic art in Nkuku frames, together with some home made art to decorate the place. The kitchen is full of colourful Rice kitchen items, and of course we've used a mix of lighting from House Doctor, Rice and Nkuku to really set the flat off.

Now we've finally finished decorating and the first few guests have stayed with us we'd love you to look at what we've done. Our very first guests were my brother inlaw's family, come to see the baby, already setting down memories so in years time we can all sit down and marvel at how he's grown. It seemed fitting.

Find our Airbnb listing here.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Tissue Paper Flowers - Great for Gift Wrapping or For Easter Gardens.

When was the last time something a stranger said to you changed you? Conversations with strangers are forged of pleasantries about the weather and “excuse me but do you have the time”, not memorable things. But one year when I was exhibiting some of my glass work at the Totterdown art trail, a stranger replied to my “it’s just a hobby” with “But hobbies are when some of the best things are made - they’re when people make things because they want to, not because they have to.” It’s an easy thing to forget when working creatively - that feeling of the freedom to take your time playing and to do things because you want to do them.

I think of that conversation when I’m busy trying to get the best photo of something, make something for a shop display or create graphics for use online - if you make and do things with the freedom and joy of doing them for the sake of it, it will be better.

In the early days of Fig1 my sister and I used to make these paper flowers for shop displays - they’re relatively easy to do. Although we have some artificial flowers in stock it seemed good to spend a little time making some from some of the funky Rice tissue paper.

  1. Layer up three or more sheets of tissue paper roughly 13cm x 50cm (50cm is the overall width of the sheet I was using - this size doesn't have to be exact).
  2. Fold the paper into a concertina along the longer edge. I made the strips of the concertina roughly 2cm wide
  3. Your now left with a 13cm strip of paper 2 cm wide. In the centre, twist round a pipe cleaner, some copper wire or tie with string. If using wire I used a piece 80 cm long in order to leave a long "stem" on the flower for gift wrapping. I used pliers to twist the wire so that it forms a nice tight grip around the paper.
  4. Optional - you can shape the ends of your paper so that the tips are semi circles or triangles - this does make the paper more likely to tear in the later stages.
  5. Open out one side of the paper into a semicircle then start to pull down the innermost piece of tissue into the centre of the flower starting at one side of the semi circle. Work your way round to the other side.
  6. Repeat step 5 with the piece of tissue below the first and with each piece of tissue until this half of the flower is formed.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the other half of the flower.

The tissue can tear a little but then nature isn’t perfect either. These flowers can be great for gift wrapping or for making for your Easter garden.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Rice DK Autumn 2015 Preview

Rice - Denmark's brightest and most colourful design house - likes to be noticed. You can instantly
tell you've arrived at Rice HQ when you turn the corner on the small industrial estate in which they are situated and spot the wall painted bright pink. Rice have been a big part of our business since we started our small shop in 2007 and we've seen their collection grow and develop over the years, but never has it been anything other than bright, bold and colourful. Rice are now such an important part of our business that we have come to Odense in Denmark to preview Autumn / Winter 2015 as early as possible, and we're pleased to be here, not least of all because Rice share our ethical business principals.

Sometimes a place feels instantly like home - rarely does an office achieve that. Our visit is a chance to catch up with old friends - various colleagues at Rice we have worked with over the years greet us. Rice, however, has an ethic built around home comfort, family life, entertaining and friendship so maybe it should be little of a surprise that this is one office which manages to be comfortable and welcoming. Decorated typical Rice-style with a combination of old and new pieces of furniture, all set off by a huge amount of colour, the Rice office is a place to relax and play as well as work. The whole office is open plan so everyone is accessible. Even the staff canteen is a riot of beautiful colours. It quickly becomes obvious that design, colour and a happy environment inform everything Rice does.
But work is what we've come all this way to do so before long it is down to previewing the new collection for Autumn 2015. This year, Rice have nailed their Autumn colour range with a combination of rich purples and blues together with muted pinks. The new designs on the melamine are beautiful and quirky. Thrown into the Autumn colours are splashes of gold and rich blues. Quirky characters also feature in the collection as usual - playfulness is a key part of Rice's style and this season's striking illustrations by Andrea Letterie feature scarf clad polar bears and cups of whipped cream topped hot chocolate. It's almost enough to help you forget the beautiful summer weather and make you hanker for longer autumn nights in. 
Because a busy day always requires a hearty lunch, Helene and Maria take us to the Riceteria - Rice's new venture into cafe culture. It's a great new project in the centre of Odense - the perfect place to hang out with a cold drink on a hot day, full of young mothers and other lunchers eating and drinking Rice style. The Riceteria is a great showcase for Rice products with all the food served on them together with a shop area attached. Helene tells us that Rice are now franchising the Riceteria to several locations in Germany. 


There are some great new designs coming to the new collection at Rice. We love these big candle lanterns and some of the quirky new illustrations from Andrea Letterie. It almost makes you hanker after the colder winter nights.

New Rice Autumn stock will be arriving soon at 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Mother's Brewing

Mothers know best. This can be an annoying fact when it comes to Mother's Day. They already bake
Spring flowers by our local florist, Vera. Jug by Rice.
better, find better presents and wrap them more beautifully than any other member of the family. But then it isn't really about one-upmanship, more "feet up, woman!"ship: trying to get them to sit down, take a break and stop looking after everyone else for five minutes. My Mum spends her life cooking for and running around after the family.

Well here's a recipe which I like for being tasty, showy and actually quite easy, and which is also good for any time of the day. I harbour a suspicion that the phrase "breakfast muffin" was actually designed to market cakes at a whole new time slot, but these ones aren't too sweet and they do have fruit in. As an occasional treat they're pretty good with a morning cuppa, or they go down equally nicely with an afternoon brew. Pick your time.

But before I publish this I have a guilty confession to make. I've stolen this recipe from the woman herself. My Mum tends to make these for our birthdays, even once going so far as to turn up at my brother's office with a basket of them for him and his colleagues. So they may impress your Mum but they will be no use at all in one-upping my mother. Although I'm guessing she has never dusted her nose with icing sugar trying to get unusual photographs of them.

Lemon Curd and Blueberry Muffins
Muffin cases by Rice DK


335g self raising
220g caster
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
100g melted butter
250ml milk
The zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
200g blueberries
10tsp lemon curd

Preheat oven to 200 degrees centigrade
Makes 10 muffins

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, mix together. Make a well in the middle and add all the other ingredients except the berries into it. Whisk together, bringing in the flour from around the edges until combined, without overworking. You should end up with a stiff batter. Stir through the blueberries.

A third fill the muffin cases. Add a teaspoon of lemon curd into the centre of each, then cover over with more muffin batter. Remember the mix will expand so don't overfill them.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Finally, drench with icing sugar. And try not to get overcome with the urge to take ridiculous photos while you do that: a trap I unfortunately fell into.
Photographing muffins - got a little carried away.