Category: interiors

Conscious design

Aspiring a minimalistic life, where we only buy what we really need, where we choose the most ethically, locally produced and sustainable products available, has become a status symbol. Through this we express how mindful we are about the choices we make, a way to show our values and personalities. With the best of intentions it is still limited to those that have the luxury to spend money or time cultivating appreciation for sustainability.

Could we stop feeling guilty about our desire to look good, buy something nice for our home? Designer Anneka Hall decided to allow for these human wants and instead break the conventions by influencing how things are made.

Anneka threads her designs with the love and appreciation for the material, making the most out of what we have and yet with a close understanding of consumer mind-set and our reality. With her down to earth and small scale approach she’s taking on the big and scary challenges we’re facing in sustainability and the textile industry. There is a lot to be inspired by from Anneka who take a full circularity approach for her designs and products.

The combination of Anneka’s creative and crafty side with a grandmother who taught her how to knit, led her to pursue a design career in textile design and more specifically men’s knitwear.

– I always loved the structure and the mathematical, logical thinking that the craft has and for me this comes through in a graphical aesthetic.

After working in the fashion industry for a few years she started feeling frustrated by the disposability she saw and how hard it was for the industry to change.

– As much as you want to say that everyone should stop buying – it’s not reality. I also go to the shops and buy, I know I buy stuff I don’t need and I work in research centre for sustainability! I like to treat myself and look good rather than feel guilty about this we need to find solutions for this.

This inspired Anneka to take a masters in Textile design with a heavy emphasis on designing for sustainability at Chelsea College of Arts and to start her own business to create the change she wanted to see.

The interest in homewares was always there but the reason why Anneka chose to create an interior collection was more of a practical one. Whilst developing her own up cycled yarn, she realised that the material was much better suited for home wares rather than clothing.

– I wanted to play to its strengths rather than forcing something to fit which it wasn’t made for. In home wares you can see some knitted throws and cushions but there is not the same variety as for other techniques. There are a lot of students making bold and exciting products out of yarn but these products usually never reach the shops.

When Anneka started looking at the textile recycling systems as a part of her masters programme she found that though reuse of material was common, the whole lifetime of a material wasn’t being considered. Working with all types of material, she found that the knitwear she used to design is being sold to be turned into “shoddy” materials. Meaning that a knitted jumper bought from the high street that costs around £40, maybe used a couple of times, immediately was turned into something of almost no value.

To change things around Anneka stood side by side the workers in the textile recycling plant and was able to see what knitwear is being thrown away. This led her to find the colour combinations that would be most realistic to have access to and saw the beauty in these materials that nobody else wanted. The grey and navy threads unpicked from the bestselling jumpers on the shop floors became the starting point to develop her yarn and felt fabrics which inspired the design of the collection.

To fulfil true circularity she encourages customers to return the used product so she can put this back into the system and once again make better use of the material.

With the material bit sorted, next design challenge was to make products, such as a pouf with a simple domestic knitting machine and by working with sturdy, thick yarn by hand.

Everything Anneka talks about in her words and actions are about material and conscious design. So what does conscious design mean to you?

 – To me it’s about thinking things through. Thinking about how I design the product and how they can come back to me. It’s about the full circle, questioning my process, supply chain and understanding how the customer will use what I create.

Designers like Anneka inspire me and more than anything they give me hope that the future of design is a better one. The combination of material focus, true craftsmanship and the mind set that we can change structure and systems of how things are made is brave and inspirational. With a common sense approach the ideals could become reality. Not only for the ones who made it this far reading but also to any one shopping a knitted jumper on the high street.

 

Anneka works in the new Centre for Circular Design formally Ted research and is about to start her PhD researching how the fashion industry can effectively recycle textiles. She is now looking at the next steps moving into manufacturing her products and being able to design for a bigger scale. Get in touch with Anneka for orders or collaborations/partnerships with brands.

Habits in our homes

A little while ago I wrote about habits and why they work harder for us than resolutions. Let’s not forget there is something positive in the intention that is driving us forward. This is such an important life force, but it’s also about how we help ourselves along the way and subtly arrange details around us to support the formation of a new habit. Look at the items in your home; everything has a certain feeling or a character and can help you create the atmosphere you want for a new, fresh start.

In our home, cooking is very important to us and therefore I focus on the details in the kitchen. I’ve always had a dream of a kitchen with a long, rustic wooden table, where we could gather friends and family. However as our kitchen is small, without the space for a large table, I’ve managed to find a smaller table that fits in our home. Smaller scale but same kind of feeling.

What we focus on grows
One of the habits I will practice going forward, not limited to just 2017, is to be more mindfully present in my body and mind so I can see things more clearly, but also enjoy life more. I realise it’s more than a habit, routine or ritual, it’s more of a way of living.

The connection to all senses is something that I’ve learned, and got a taste for, from yoga and meditation. We tend to be very reliant on our sight and everything is extremely visual nowadays, but there’s something very exciting about plugging in and using your other senses too. Scents that lure your imagination or freshen the air you breath into your lungs, materials you use in your home and keep close to your body, colourful food that inspires the eye as well as stills the hunger, or a sound absorbing bedroom for a good night sleep. All these things can improve our well-being and help us focus on what we’re doing in that present moment.

Here are a couple of very simple ideas, a flavour to a home that helps you create healthy habits. How we organise and prioritise the things that we do every day or wish we did more of.

Making your bed in the morning, to ensure that it’s enjoyable to go to bed at night (and it doesn’t have to be perfect).

A selection of the books you’re reading with a notebook next to them for writing down thoughts and ideas that the books give life to.

Water carafe with a glass next to your bedside table so you remember to drink if enough.

What have you found works for you when forming new habits? What small adjustments did you make to allow for them to move into your life?

How to create hygge at home

Last week I wrote a post about Hygge, a Danish word for describing the joy of everyday moments. It might be described as something uniquely Danish but all of these things can be found in other Scandinavian countries, as well as German, Dutch and in some way British traditions too. The sense of hygge seems to be an instinctive feeling that we all encompass. To continue on the same theme I thought I’d give you my five tips on how to introduce more of that warmth and cosiness as we approach autumn and winter.

weather

Don’t mind the weather
You’re not really able to change it and it’s just putting you in negative frame of mind. Instead think about how you can make something really nice and special out of a rainy day. It might give you a perfectly good excuse to binge watch an episode of your favourite series, stay in and cook a stew or read the new book you just bought.

How to create Hygge

Invest in your home/your sanctuary
Even if you’re just renting a furnished room, you can still get your own little Hygge kit that’s a treat for all your senses.

Sense: Pick your favourite blanket for your proper Hygge moments. It could be an old one from your childhood or just one that’s in natural materials that gives the comfort like from a hug.

Scent: Buy a scented candle or an incentive stick with your favourite smell, it’s incredible how this adds atmosphere to your surroundings.

Sight: One, or many, natural candles, the best way to feel shielded and create warmth around you.

Taste: Buy a nice chocolate for your treat or whatever your indulgence weak point is. I have a box of chocolates at home that I bring out after dinner sometimes or with my espresso in the weekend. It feels like a nice treat and my friends quite enjoy when I share it with them too.

Sound: Listen to your favourite podcast or listen to your favourite music at home. I love playing vinyl records at home, it accompanies my mood and elevates the feelings I’m having. Don’t censure yourself, listen to some melancholic tunes if that’s your mood at the moment, music just creates a funnel for our emotions to come through.

how to create hygge

Hospitality
Make your friends feel outmost welcome when coming for a visit, by lighting a lantern outside your door, keeping some extra slippers for them to wear inside the house or invite them spontaneously over to share a meal on a Monday night, instead of cooking just for yourself. Hygge is best when it’s shared with a few of your closest friends and family.

everyday moments

Make the everyday life special
Don’t rush straight away to work in the morning. Make time to enjoying the everyday moments. Lit up a candle in the dark morning while you’re having your morning coffe, use your favourite cup and be more present in the daily moments. Think about how your coffee tastes and feels. Does it taste the way it smells? Does it taste bitter like dark chocolate or tangy?

kanel bullar

Be kind to yourself
I never believed in diets (never been on one) and have never cared much for that, so in that sense the Hygge approach suits me well. You can allow yourself to eat something nice like a pastry or hot chocolate and not deny yourself anything. For me this works well, because if I know I can have everything, I’ll only have just enough, or ‘lagom’ which we would say in Swedish.

What’s hygge to you?
Now I’d love to hear how do you create Hygge in your home? What are your favourite moments? Do you share them with anyone and can you enjoy the moment when you are by yourself? How does it make you feel?

Decluttering our homes

Everything is competing for your attention and distracting you from your focus. My husband and I have practised the art of letting go in our two latest moves. We had a spacious two-bedroom apartment, but after a while we didn’t see the need of having a box room that just turned into a dreaded space filled with bad conscious and guilt. We felt that the money could be much better spent on one more holiday a year or savings, that’s why we decided to move to a much smaller apartment. We could only take the most functional furniture, which meant that we sold some really nice objects.

We tried to be unsentimental about it and envisioning a simpler life. I can still regret that we didn’t keep a few of the items, however most of it I don’t even remember that we had. In the end I believe this is the right thing to do, I guess I found a slightly more balanced way of looking at what has true meaning and what is a commodity.

713890AC-6B02-488C-BC8F-309B31910BB3

I’m reading a book by Erin Boyle, Simply matters, where she writes about her simple lifestyle and how to keep our space decluttered. Who doesn’t want that? However it can become quite overwhelming from time to time as we often have an emotional connection to material things. This doesn’t have to mean that you put your own self-worth in what you buy. Perhaps you just cherish the items you saved a long time to buy, the incredible flea market find you grabbed the moment you saw it or your grandmother’s kitchen table that you inherited and all the memories you have from sitting at the same table with her as a child?

In the end, isn’t the purpose of decluttering and organising about removing the items without functional, beautiful or emotional meaning to us? That would leave us with more space to see the things we care about and what has deeper meaning to us.

 

The essentials

In general there is so much focus on style or function and I don’t think that we always focus enough on the tactile feeling of a home. In this series I’ll write about materials I love, and why they are important to choose with heart. To create the right feeling in a home, every single details matter. Not in a perfectionist way, more in a natural and personal way.

Creating a beautiful and personal home is to me about being kind to yourself, using materials you love and only surrounding you with things that have a function and are beautiful to you. It’s also about allowing for life to happen and realising that a home isn’t completed without the people in it. I believe it’s about being mindful about all our senses, and how they come together in creating a comfortable space, not only for the eyes but also for your soul.