I have hunted high and low to put together the Smartstyle Interiors Christmas Gift Guide. Not only did I want to show you beautiful things that would be as delightful to give as they are to receive, I also wanted to show you how your Christmas gift purchases can really help small companies grow. I want to encourage you to buy from these inspirational designers who put their heart and passion into what they do, some of which are also working in a socially conscious way to bring stunning products to our lives while also helping others.
The gift guide will be split into two gifting stories, both of which will be shared this week. Today I’m sharing all things bright and beautiful for a colourful Christmas! Stay tuned for part two later in the week.
The tale behind Montes and Clark is truly inspiring! The company was created by two friends, Lucy Montes de Oca and Kate Clark, who wanted to bring beautiful Mexican embroidery to the European interiors market. Not only did they see an opening in the market for this beautiful craft, but they also wanted to make sure their company gave back to the skilled craftspeople making the work in Mexico. To do this, they work directly with women-led Mexican cooperatives or buy directly from individuals at fair trade prices. By working this way, the craftspeople are able to make a good income whiling keeping a dying trade alive. Though the art form is steeped in tradition, the Montes and Clark sometimes sneak modern imagery into their designs, like embroidered images of women on their mobiles.
If the story behind Montes and Clark isn’t compelling enough to make your want to buy from them, then the fact that their products are eye-poppingly stunning should seal the deal. This big bolster cushion (above, left) is wonderful and would truly be the star of any home.
Beauty and Blight is the amazingly cool concept rom Alexandra Storey where she takes photographs of gritty urban areas (the blight) and turns them into stunning textile pieces (the beauty). This luxurious silk scarf (above, right) is derived from a architectural photograph from Barcelona Airport's Terminal 2B, which was built in the late 60s. The pinks, yellows, and greens that Alexandra has added to the image make the scarf a vibrant stunner.
I also urge you to check out the range Alex created for the charity Coppafeel! that raises funds for Breast Cancer Awareness.
Talk about getting the early scoop on an emerging local designer! I first came across Lewes-based designer Anna Hayman when her work popped up on my Instagram feed, and each time I scrolled past one of her photos I just had to press the love heart. Anna’s linocut print designs are bright and cheerful and can currently be found on her collection of textiles, stationery and ceramics. Anna’s official launch isn’t until January 2017, so you can count on seeing her range grow over the coming years.
Anna’s silk kimono robe, which I asked to be included in this gift round-up, is my favourite. The silk is so fluid to the touch and I feel like wearing it would be a heavenly slice of summer on Christmas morning.
It was love at first sight when I spotted Camilla Lee’s artwork through the crowd at a design show. In actual fact, I think Camilla may have thought I was stalking her as I kept circling back to take yet another look at her colourful spirals of delight. When I asked her about the works, I realised that they were truly something beyond special. Camilla uses a process called Chromesthesia to relate colours to music and makes each of her pieces individually by painting it in time to a particular piece of music. It is a fluid and organic process which makes each piece truly unique. Even better, it is all commissioned so you can ask Camilla to turn any song into a beautiful piece of displayable art. In my mind, this is one of the most unique gifts ever and is a great way to show someone you really understand them by capturing their favourite song in art.
Camilla's musical paintings (above left) are available in two sizes: small frame pieces measure 42cm high by 32cm wide and large framed pieces are 52cm high by 42cm wide.
Now, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Tunbridge Wells’ own Love Inc and it was only last month that I talked about their gorgeous proprietor, Hanna Gee, on the blog. If you read my previous post, you’ll know that Love Inc is full of fantastic designs for the home, but their Good Times Neon Sign (above right) is irresistibly cool. As with all their neon designs, these signs are flying out the door! They have lots of off-the-peg neon pieces designed exclusively for Love Inc, including rainbows, unicorns and witty phrases for the wall, but if you’re looking for something a little more personal, you can put your name in lights (literally) with one of their custom neon names. Their signs will really light up someone’s Christmas, plus Love Inc donates 10% of their profits to our local Hospice in the Weald charity which will mean a lot to them this Christmas, too.
Thanks Goes To….
This post came together thanks to a number of people so I'd like extend some extra-special thanks. First, I'd like to give a big thank you to Rebecca Johnson, Alex Jones, and Ross Johnson at The Bull in Tunbridge Wells for inviting us to use their amazing pub for this photoshoot and for taking such amazing care of us while there. If you're looking for a warm and friendly place to go in Tunbridge Wells, I highly recommend you pay them a visit! I'd also like to give a shout-out to every single one of these companies who has so kindly loaned us their beautiful products to show off in the Christmas gift round-up– it's really is a privilege to be able to shout about these brands! And finally to the lovely Kate Sims who photographed everything so beautifully!