alijoedesigns

What The Best Dressed Walls Are Wearing

The Trade Show

When I started on this very new adventure some three years ago, I would never have dreamt that I would be exhibiting at Top Drawer.
But there I was, these last three days, on my very own stand in Olympia, exhibiting my tableware. I had been been selected to be part of the curated category, ‘Spotted’, comprising 48 ‘new, exciting and contemporary brands’ (their words!).

So now just a little knackered but fresh from the experience, I thought I’d share some of the highs and lows. . .

The Highs

From the moment I knew that my stand at the show was for real (in January), I was thinking, planning, designing and plotting how it was going to look.
Designing and creating a stand was one of the most important things for me – if I was going to do this, it was going to be the best it could possibly be.
Enlisting the help of the calligrapher and stylist, Natalie Samuelson, we created something that we both absolutely loved and that I was incredibly proud to be fronting for 3 days.

Of course the whole point of these shows is to sell to retail and in my head, I was thinking that the smaller, more independent boutique type stores would be most interested. But there are independent stores and independent stores – the fact that there were a handful of quite special ones expressing some initial interest was incredibly flattering and exciting for me (even though nothing might come of it).

Some of the lovely feedback that I received from the numerous visitors at the show.

Some amusing anecdotes that I witnessed from visitors – never mind the plates, but questions about the colour of the paint, where they could buy the ladder and table that I was using for display and a women picking up one of the A5 specially printed cards and using itas a fan (it was warm in there. . .)

The middle day, Monday, because it was such a relief after the lows of Sunday (see below) . . .

The Lows

There was only one but it was BIG. . .

Natalie and I, with the help of my husband, spent much of Saturday creating the stand and were incredibly to see the fruits of our labour come together by afternoon. I was so excited when we left and could hardly sleep in anticipation of day one of the show the next morning.

I got up early and set off with a view to having a leisurely coffee before the show opened at 9.30.

Imagine my shock as I turned the corner and saw my stand looking like a bomb had hit it. It turned out that one of the signs above the plates had fallen and smashed some plates as it came down. I was mortified, close to tears and knew that I only had 45 minutes to rectify it. I was told to go to the organisers office to see if someone could help but of course there were a million and one other exhibitors in a queue with their own stand problems ranging from no lights to a panel having fallen.

Thankfully, my boys came to the rescue, painting over the marks, drilling the sign in and generally helping me to ‘recover’. As it happened, everyone was incredibly supportive – from the other exhibitors rallying around to see how they could help to the visitors who claimed not to even notice. But it threw me for much of the day and I felt quite drained by the end of the day.

And then of course I didn’t sleep that first night, worrying about what I might face the next morning  - thank fully, it was all fine and one of my sons had come with me to be ready to help should there be a repeat problem.

Phew.


Popping up at West Elm UK

So this probably bills as one of the most exciting things to have happened - I cant quite believe it, but I will be having a pop up shop at this gorgeous store on Tottenham Court Road over the weekend of 20th-22nd October.
It really be like playing shops and although not wising the time away, I cant wait. . .
There is more information here on my Events page.

Desserts are on me

Well, they can be!
Its been a while in the making, but I have finally launched this fabulous set of 6 dessert or tea plates.
Inspired by Fornasetti, each plate features a man or a woman (Lina Cavelieri as it happens), with various headgear styled from different desserts. In each case, an impending attack from the side highlights the likely fate of their headgear.
When the lovely Kate Watson-Smyth from Mad about the House bought a set, I knew I might be on to something - I hope you love them too!

New Year, New Walls

Thrilled, flattered and humbled to be on the walls at the fabulous shop, MoseyHome, in Stroud Green.
Full of gorgeous mid-century and vintage pieces, alongside some more contemporary designs, the shop is very close to Finsbury Park tube and well worth exploring. 
Thank you Mary for offering me some wall space.
And thank you Kate at Mad About The House for the intro!

I think that's me. . .

A few weeks ago, the lovely team at Rustoleum contacted me for an interview for their 'behind the brush' feature.
I couldn't understand why they were interested in little me who doesn't paint anything but they told me that their monthly feature was about people with 'inspiring stories'.

Apparently I have one of those.

But you can decide for yourselves by clicking here

Rustoleum.JPG

 

It takes a spider to catch a fly

Featuring in magazines is something that I would never have dreamed of happening to me when I started on this wonderful adventure in 2014. 
It has been happening though as I have reported here before and now this month, I found a pair of my plates in Reloved Magazine on a page about Halloween treats and gift ideas.
I hadn't really thought about this design as relevant to Halloween but I can see where they are coming from. . .
As it happens, this particular pair sold a while back at one of the Crafty Fox Markets I did but as with many of the more popular designs, I have done others and at the moment, there is one available on a very pretty pair of Royal Albert plates - shown below and that you can find right here.  


 

Fornasetti, Christian Lacroix. . .and me

Back in March, I received an email from a man called Jui - a journalist in Dubai, requesting specific images of my plates for an article he was writing.
Convinced it was a scam, I asked for more information and then heard nothing.
So it was a scam.
But no.
A couple of months later, out of the blue, a second email arrived from him, apologising for the radio silence but revealing more about his background and interest.
Jui was a writer for Architectural Digest in the Middle East and was doing a feature on decorative plates.
He had come across my website and chosen a few images that he liked.
We corresponded, I sent him the chosen images and again heard nothing.
Until this morning when I received an email with these two images attached.
Not only am I in this gorgeous magazine, but one of the other plates featured only happens to be a Fornasetti and another, by Christian Lacroix.
Little old me alongside such an illustrious crew.
How on earth did that happen?
 

 

Humbled by the randomness of loveliness on Instagram

I've been a Twitter fan for some time now but it has taken me a long time to really bother with Instagram. 
I still ask myself with every post on any form of social media, who on earth cares or is listening but I find it all alarmingly addictive now and so think 'what the Hell. . .' And just do it.
And as I've got my head around Instagram a little more, I have been rewarded with some lovely comments and more followers.
But the best thing that happened a few weeks ago seems to have taken me into a different Instagram league (well in my books anyway).
A lovely lady called Lou bought a pair of my plates and posted a picture with some fab comments on Instagram. 
Lou just happens to be into interior styling with 1,371 followers, many of whom appear to be into interior styling too.
My Instagram following suddenly shot up and my posts received much support.
One of Lou's followers is another lovely lady called Lisa who is also an interior stylist with over 8,000 followers  and who writes a blog.
A couple of weeks ago, Lisa asked for a picture of me as she wanted to include me in a blog post.
And there I am featured in Lisa's blog post today as one of her six, specially selected artisan instagrammers.
My Instagram following has again, shot up.
Humbled, flattered and thrilled are just a few words that come to mind.
Thank you Lou.
Thank you Lisa.
 

 

Another best dressed wall joins the clan

I’ve been sitting on this little secret for a while now, bar just a few hints.

I always fear that I might be tempting fate if I share exciting projects before they have actually happened.

But THIS really has happened. . .

I installed a whole wall of my plates at The Cambridge Street Kitchen at the fabulous Artist Residence in London.

I was first introduced to this gorgeous hotel by Chris Billinghurst of Upcycled Homes who was running a workshop there.

I clocked it as somewhere quite quirky and then when I was taken for a birthday lunch last year by a local friend, I thought that it could just be somewhere for my plates.

It took me a year to pluck up the courage to approach them, but my instinct was right – the owner, Justin Salisbury, immediately got back to me saying that he loved my plates and to come and meet.

The rest, as they say, is history because here I am with a collection of my plates in a prime position on their café wall.

The pictures show images of the installation - assisted by my dear son Ollie who had the height to help reach the top!

What I didn't manage to capture was the lovely response of the staff, one of whom made my day when he said:

'I didn't really get decorative plates. But now I do'.

Wall art to eat off

People often ask me whether they can use the upcycled vintage plates to eat off. 
Although the decals are heat sealed, I have always been nervous about the impact of repeated washing.
But more importantly, I love the impact of the plates on the wall and so decided to focus on their decorative role.
But of course it made me think about creating a bespoke range of china that not only looks fantastic, but is fully functional too.
I deliberated for ages, shared some concepts and then a dear friend of mine asked if she could order some - and that was the impetus I needed to get going.
It was hard to select one of my designs - I wanted to use them all - but I decided to launch this first fine bone white china range with 'Catch of the Day'.
The four sets of bread and dinner plates tell a 'story' of an unsuccessful fly fisherman.
The bread plate remains the same but there are four different dinner plates - 'fish', 'boot, 'cup' and 'handbag'.
Part of the fun was finding a suitable pottery in Stoke, who could work with me, do things by hand and keep everything in house.
It took a few visits but finally I came across Heraldic Pottery who have been fantastic throughout this very special journey.
Yesterday we went to pick up the plates and saw the screen printing process as well as meeting Dawn who was hand applying the decals to a set of my plates. 
It is quite some process but I think all the more special for it - hope you will agree!
So why am I telling you all this when they are not yet for sale on my site? 
Well this is a soft launch - I'm slowly spreading the word and offering the plates at the pre launch price of £40 per pair (ie: one bread and one dinner plate - they will be £50 per pair when I launch properly in September).
You can find them here.

Please email me at alijoedesigns@gmail.com if you are interested to know more!
 

 

Hello Brighton 

Who would have known that a twitter forum on a Tuesday evening from 8-9 in the evening would become a live event in Brighton within 18 months of 'launching'?
Well that is what has happened, thanks to the wonderful Chris Billinghurst of Upcycledhour.
Week after week, the artisans of upcycling have been meeting to tweet about their latest creations, life as an upcycler etc.
And now this - the first ever LIVE event for artisan upcyclers - upcycledhourlive .
It is taking place in Brighton on Saturday 16th July 2016 at The Unitarian Church in New Road from 10.30-4.
Entry is free, I will be trading alongside a fabulous bunch of incredibly talented upcyclers and luxcyclers and there will be a courier on site to deliver the gorgeous range of furniture and home wares to be found.
See you there? Hope so!
 


The Gate Crasher

Well this is an incredibly exciting example of the rather lovely things that seem to come out of nowhere in this new life off mine.
An email with the heading 'you have been nominated for the Arts and Crafts Design Awards 2016' was enough to get my heart racing.
Now in it's third year, it is a prestigious International Award.
Take a look at their site or their facebook page 
It all happens in December but in the meantime I'm being showcased among some wonderful International designers.
I feel like a a gatecrasher in this extraordinary world - but wow I'm enjoying the party. . .
 


Feeling glossy this week

Just a little bit humbled and flattered by a rather fabulous double page spread in issue 3 of Reclaim Magazine.
Offering an alternative to the mass produced, RECLAIM magazine describe themselves as 'celebrating dealers, traders, interior designers and makers who choose to work with reclaimed materials, vintage and antiques; unusual items with backstory. From decorative salvage and vintage industrial furniture to mid-century design, upcycled lighting and intriguing antiques, Reclaim salutes not just an exciting interiors trend, but a way of life.'
And in this issue, they have included a whole feature about my decorative plates.

You can subscribe online or buy from selected Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons, WH Smith and independent newsagents.
It really is a great read AND is a bit of a looker on the coffee table  - particularly when laid open at pages 22 and 23. . .


I'll be (A)LIVE with my plates at the Crafty Fox Spring Markets

I first discovered the legendary Crafty Fox Markets in December 2014 when selected as one of their 'uncovered' designers for the Christmas Market in Brixton.
As it was my first year in business, market trading was a whole new ball game and I was gradually getting my head around the various markets available.
People had mentioned Crafty Fox as being the 'one' to go for so I was over the moon when I had email confirmation that I would be trading with them.
Unlike most other markets, Crafty Fox have an application process and a different guest curator each time to help select the 50 plus array of designer makers at each venue. This ensures that the markets stay fresh, whilst building a competitive element around the entry process. 

Sunday April 3rd will be my first time trading in Peckham and back to Brixton on Sunday 29th May.

Entry is free and the atmosphere is great - live DJ, music, drink and food as well as a fantastic selection of quirky, one off, hand made goods to buy.
Come along if you can - love to see you there!


Some of the best dressed walls are now in Bournemouth 

A wonderful serendipity moment occurred on a bank holiday Monday at a market in Highgate. 
It was quiet and I was beginning to wonder if I would make any sales that day.
A guy, who I came to know as Peter, was hovering and asked whether I did commissions.
I said I could do but it depended on what he was after.
He told me he was working as Ted Baker's Historian and was looking for some quirky ideas to help style a new hotel that Ted was involved with.
The rest, as they say, is history.
I was commissioned to make a series of plates for the walls of 'Schpoons and Forx' - Matt Tebbut's restaurant at the new Hilton hotel in Bournemouth.
The broad, simple brief was fantastic - to make a collection of plates with the themes 'sharing' and 'cutlery'.

Schpoons and Forx


In great company at the Jon Rafman exhibition at The Zabludowicz Gallery 

Well this was another chance happening - via email this time from the Zablodowicz Gallery in Kentish Town. 
I had never been to or heard of the gallery, despite having lived in the same Prince of Wales Road for some years!
So I was more than a little curious  when the invite came through to supply a collection of plates to accompany Canadian Artist, Jon Rafman's first major solo exhibition in the UK.
A visit was of course on the cards prior to committing and I discovered a little gem of a gallery virtually on our doorstep.
They have a policy of curating the little shop at the front of the gallery with some products from artists/designers that 'fit' the look and feel of the exhibition of the moment.
My quirky plates clearly fitted the bill, and so I supplied them with a collection that they sold through their store from October to December 2015 (the best news is that they came back for more as the plates sold so well)

By the way, the exhibition was extraordinary and amazing - much of it was 'live' given Rafman's penchant for immersing visitors into his creations.
If he comes to the UK again, I highly recommend going to see his work.

http://www.zabludowiczcollection.com/