From cutlery drawer to sewing cupboard

Vintage revisited: journey of a sideboard

One of the great things about buying and selling vintage is knowing where it came from and seeing it off to a new home. Often I buy from older people who need to downsize and it is lovely to hear the history of the dining table they had so many Christmas dinners at, the china cabinet that always took pride in their living room or the sixties sideboard they bought for their wedding. Some people are happy to get rid of things, but more often than not you spot a bit of sentiment in the seller’s face as you lift the piece into the back of the car and drive off. Knowing that their beloved piece will be given a new home makes things easier, for sure. I thought it would be nice to share some of these stories and see the old pieces in their new setting. In this new blog series I am revisiting the vintage pieces that left my shop over the years and find out where they ended up.

First up is a sleek mid-century sideboard, now living in a converted steading in rural Aberdeenshire. I found her in a beautiful artist’s home, surrounded by other vintage pieces, colourful rugs, ceramics, books and artworks.

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New owner Kate bought the sideboard from Nina’s Apartment three years ago after spotting it on the facebook page. She was looking for plenty of storage for her craft supplies and in particular her sewing stash. The sideboard was the perfect low shape for the location she had in mind: the upstairs landing which doubles up as office, library and cosy TV nook.

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“The beauty of these vintage pieces is that the functionality of them can change with the years” says Kate. “The top drawer of a sideboard was normally used for cutlery back in the days, but it actually makes a great drawer for sewing supplies like thread, scissors and haberdashery. The cupboards have plenty of space for fabrics too.”

Kate and her husband are clearly big fans of the mid-century and Scandinavian style which is visible throughout the house. Downstairs a vintage blond wood Ercol suite and matching tables take pride of place in the wonderfully bright sitting room looking out onto the garden. The chair, footstool and day bed were reupholstered in the mustard yellow velvet curtains from Kate’s family home, providing just enough fabric to cover all the seats. Artworks, old rugs and house plants add to the eclectic, colourful mix.

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Mid century ceramics can also be found dotted around the house as well as glassware. “Some of the things I have had for years”, Kate says,”Some were inherited and other things I picked up from shops over the years. If it has a great shape and design it doesn’t matter where it is from, I just add it to the collection.”

The sideboard has certainly landed itself in the perfect environment. To imagine so many of its contemporaries ended up on bonfires is incredible. This one is definitely enjoying a fantastic second life.

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Discover art on your doorstep during NEOS open studios

I don’t know about you but I love art. I have run out of wall space a long time ago but I still can’t help myself when I see an artwork I really like and that would look amazing in my house. More than once I raided my bank account for a painting or print that really wasn’t something I could or should spend money on that day…but oops, I did it again! I have never regretted any of those purchases however, not like I regretted buying those shoes in the sale or another plastic toy for my kids that they only played with once. Art does not seem to go out of fashion. And if anything gives your home personality, it is those unique pieces of art that you love and nobody else owns.

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Each year in September, now for the 14th year running, there is NEOS, or North East Open Studios, where over 200 artists across Aberdeen city and shire open their doors to the public, showing off their work and technical skills. It is amazing. Not only do you get to see a wide variety of art in all shapes and forms, you also get to speak to the artists, ask them questions and – this is what I like most – you discover places in your local area you never even knew existed. It’s like a treasure hunt, a discovery trail, an off the beaten track adventure, finding those yellow numbered signs dotted all over the North East for eight days. Oh there’s one! Keep going!

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People exhibit their work in the most unusual places. An old train carriage in someone’s back garden? It’s there. Whisky distilleries, village halls, sheds and of course people’s own front rooms and workshops are transformed into temporary exhibition spaces where you are invited to see arts and craft. Informal, welcoming and you often even get a cup of tea. All for free. Try that for an average day out.

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Upper Loop Studio

You don’t know anything about art you say? It’s not something that really interests you ? Nah – you’re just saying that. If you like beautiful things and getting inspired, then just give it a go. A number of artists are professionals and are doing it for a living, but most participants are people like you and me who make art in their spare time. Many of them are real talents. Flicking through the thick NEOS directory you’ll be able to select the artists you might like to visit, whose work is anything from cool abstract paintings to water colours of our local ‘mountain’ Bennachie (oh yes, loads…), wood sculptures, ceramics, photography, jewellery and contemporary printmaking. A lot of artists also give demonstrations and workshops for you to have a go yourself.

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Pick up one of the directories and go visit a few places. Pile some friends in the car and make an afternoon of it. Download a trail if you fancy ‘doing an area’. You’ll be amazed how many artists you have living on your doorstep. You may even find yourself coming home with an original piece of art or commission someone to make you one. If you still tell me you didn’t enjoy any of it after all that, then – oh well. But I bet you have a blast.

NEOS starts on Saturday 10th of September and runs until the following Sunday 18th of September.

www.northeastopenstudios.co.uk

NEOS on Facebook
NEOS on Twitter @NEOS_uk

Online Directory Flip book

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Oriental rug roundup. From fab to faded

Choosing a rug can be quite tricky. There are so many nice ones in a million different colours and styles. Plus, when they are large they have a big influence on the style and feel of your room, so it is important to think about the look you ultimately want to achieve. I am currently very much in love with the vintage oriental, or Persian, ones and I was lucky enough to find a giant red one for little pennies on Gumtree last year, including the worn patches for added ‘character’! I have gathered some great images for you below of fabulous oriental rugs and how to use them in your interior. Enjoy!

A beautiful rich oriental rug is looking great in a bright bedroom. Wonderful blue ombre curtains too.

The nice thing about traditional rugs is that they go quite well in a contemporary setting, combined with other vintage pieces but also in front of a modern sofa on your living room floor. Very versatile and timeless, making it a good investment.

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image: my Domaine

Don’t forget your hallway! A colourful runner can make a great statement. This should also be not too expensive as they are a lot smaller. A good place to find vintage rugs is your local auction house. Just browse their online catalogue and see what is coming up.

A way to add a pop of colour to a bright room with lots of whites is to add a vintage red rug. Goes very well with the Eames chairs too.

A vintage rug and a velvet sofa. You don’t need much more to create a beautiful, cosy room.

I also love faded blues and indigo patterns right now. If you are not really into the traditional reds, try and find an ‘overdyed’ rug in a blue or green shade. Great if you combine it with natural wood, greys and whites for a calmer look.

Kilim rugs are another traditional type of wool rug from the middle east, usually with geometrical patterns or stripes, but instead of the Persian rugs shown above kilims are flat woven. They come in fabulous colours and can really give your room a stylish boost if your looking to brighten up the space. A lot of high street shops now sell kilims in both traditional patterns and contemporary styles, including John Lewis, West elm and Ikea.
You can also try sourcing gorgeous vintage kilims on Etsy or other online stores such as kilim.com

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A modern style kilim by John Lewis

Shop vintage in Aberdeen: Old Togs New Tricks Vintage Fayre

The season of vintage fairs is starting to kick off again now the school holidays are finished and I am super pleased to be taking part in my first fair since a big fire ruined the Nina’s Apartment shop back in April this year. On Sunday 4th of September you can find me selling my quirky collection of wares at the Old Togs New Tricks Vintage Fayre in Aberdeen, in industrial cool club Underdog down in the basement of the Brewdog Castlegate pub on Union Street. It is held on Sunday the 4th of September, 12noon to 5pm. Admission free.

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I am proud to be sitting amongst some of the best vintage traders in the area, all of whom dedicate their time sourcing high quality authentic vintage, which is not that easy nowadays. Coming to a fair like this will therefore be a great opportunity to pick up that original retro lamp shade, sixties coffee set, crazy psychedelic seventies dress or just something beautiful that has no other function than to sit on a shelf and gather dust. There will be furniture, home decor, records, clothing, jewellery, ceramics and collectables. Plenty to rummage through and fill your house with, that’s for sure. And if you like your beers better than your handbags, then you can always join in with the beer tasting.

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The first Old Togs New Tricks Fayre held in May 2016 – photo: Underdog

Here’s the impressive line-up of traders:

V1 Vinyl
Nina’s Apartment
Peapod
Quinneys Antique Jewelery
Very Vintage
Curtis & Clementine
Kelly & her collection
Milly & Lucy
Grab Ur Coat UK
Re-Store
The Closet – Vintage
Louis Little Haven
Beard Oils ….

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Photo: Underdog

I have been told there will also be music, food and drinks – a welcome change from the usual pink cupcakes and tea in floral teacups served at many a vintage fair. There! I said it! Please don’t shoot me! I am looking forward to it anyway, I hope you do too.

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Photo: Underdog


Old Togs New Tricks – Vintage Fayre

Sunday 4th of September 12noon-5pm
Underdog, Brewdog Castlegate – Union Street Aberdeen
Entry free

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House tour: a small converted farmhouse in the Netherlands

On my travels through the Netherlands this month I popped into my friend Frederiek’s house in the tiny village of Huizinge, north Groningen, who lives there with her partner Wimer and their three-year old son Teun. Huizinge is a beautiful characterful village surrounded by endless flat green fields and far horizons. Frederiek and Wimer recently bought one of the old houses and brought it right up to date with a gorgeous interior full of vintage finds, contemporary art, minimalist touches and plenty of house plants. 

Although the house inside doesn’t look anything like it originally was, Frederiek and Wimer didn’t have to do a lot of structural work to the building themselves when they bought it. “We bought the house casco (Dutch for a ‘shell’ building ed.), so it was mainly the inside that still needed to be finished. That way we were able to make the interior just the way we wanted which was great because we were looking for a blank canvas to work with”, Frederiek says. As a result the house is now much more suitable for modern living. The small rooms in the front of the house were originally living room and storage but are now the two bedrooms and the old animal barn got converted into a spacious and very bright kitchen-dining room.

Frederiek (here pictured with my husband)

The couple, who both work in the creative sector, have a keen eye for finding design on a shoestring budget and were lucky enough to salvage the large globe lights from a building in Groningen that was about to be demolished. Other vintage finds are the mid century dining chairs, sofa and armchair and the beautiful old tall glazed cabinet that came out of a cafe. Teun’s nursery is an eclectic collection of heirloom furniture from Frederiek’s family. 



Despite the huge transformation there are still many original features which give the house a lot of character, such as the old barn windows, wooden doors and beams, now all painted in a fresh duck egg blue and warm greys. The seamless minimalist grey Egaline floor was poured throughout the house and forms a nice contrast. This type of floor is normally only used as under flooring but when mixed slightly different and coated it works well as a finished product too. Oh, and it is highly practical – what else would you expect from the Dutch?

A glass fronted extension looking out onto the garden and adjoining fields forms their bright ‘sitting room with a view’ including a wood burning stove, wall to wall book shelves and plenty of space for little Teun to play. 

Their drive to make the house their own doesn’t stop here though. Having only moved in last December the energetic couple is already working on their next design project: the garden studio / guestroom. No doubt this will look just as stunning as the rest. I can’t wait to see it!

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Vintage trader of the month: Louis Little Haven

Every month we let you discover a different vintage trader in the North east of Scotland. This month we are putting the spotlight on yet another vintage shop that not everyone might have heard of: Louis Little Haven in the small village of Durno, a few miles outside Inverurie. When I think of the true meaning of ‘vintage’, I feel this shop embodies it perfectly with its pretty romantic florals, pastel colours, dainty tea sets, quirky collectables and solid old wooden furniture. This gem, tucked away in rural Aberdeenshire, is owned by Melanie Wilson who not only has an obsession with old china but is also a great lover of dogs. It was opened in 2013 and named after her beloved labrador Louis, who sadly passed away last year. Her new buddy bassett hound Briony has since joined her on her treasure hunts and can usually be found sleeping in the corner of the shop. 


How did you end up having this shop, Mel? Where does the treasure hunting bug come from?

I’ve collected since the age of ten, starting off with handbags and hats and moving on to teacups where I became obsessed! My mum would often take us around Thainstone (carboot sale ed.) on a Sunday and in addition to that I come from a family who can’t throw anything out as “it could be useful”. Growing up across from my grandparents’ farm also had an influence. I loved having a “nosey” to see what treasures could be found. I still can’t help myself when I see a shed!

What makes your business special in the area?

I am breathing new life into the old village shop in Durno (we have found some great black and white photos of what it used to look like), so I feel I am bringing something to the local community here. Everyone is always welcome to pop in for a look around or just a chat.


What is the weirdest and most beautiful item you have ever had in your shop?

I have had a few strange itemd in stock as I like picking up unusual things but at the moment it is definitely a Victorian Scottish pottery spittoon in the shape of a shell. I have had lots of beautiful things as well and those are really hard to part with! I’d say two of the items that stick to mind are a gorgeous blue 1940s Paragon tea set and a stunning 19th century 8ft kitchen larder cupboard.

What is the best thing about doing this job?

I don’t consider it a job, rather a passion I have had for as long as I can remember and I feel lucky to do what I do. I love meeting new people, hearing their stories and finding out the history behind the items I’m buying. I’d like to think I am a curator of beautiful things who finds them their new home, their next chapter in life. 

What is the hardest part in running a vintage shop?

Finding good quality, beautiful pieces and trying to keep them at a reasonable price. 

Why should people buy vintage, in your opinion?

There is a charm to vintage items, they don’t make things anymore like they used to. Buying vintage also means buying a little piece of history. I always think that if the tea cups I sell could talk about all the stories and gossip they have heard, wouldn’t that be wonderful!

Louis Little Haven, Mel and Briony the dog can be found here:

Durno, north of Inverurie (off the A96). 

Open: Friday 10.30am-3pm, Saturday 10.30am-4pm, Monday 10.30am-3pm

Online:

Facebook

Etsy

And at some vintage fairs in the area.

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Treasure hunting in France: brocante!

I am just in my second week of a four-week long trip through France and boy, am I loving it! It was a long drive, but it’s great to have the car with us to go wherever we want. I am thoroughly enjoying the warm climate, the food, the old villages full of character and oh yes – the brocante. What’s brocante you say? Well, it’s basically French old junk with some real gems amongst it if you look for it. You can find rural barns, town shops and Sunday fleamarkets full of vintage, antiques or just second hand, usually advertised by a hand painted sign on the side of the road.

Brocante market near Auch,  Midi-Pyrenees

Brocante market near Auch, Midi-Pyrenees


You come across plenty ‘brocante’ signs while driving across the country, but if you really want to plan your treasure hunting while in France there is a useful website listing loads of local markets by area called www.brocabrac.fr

I have just downloaded the app that goes with it. An app? A brocante hunting app. Amazing. 

Wish I could bring home some more of the fabulous pieces I have spotted so far. Shame the car is packed full of camping gear, two kids and my husband’s racing bike in the roof box. Quelle dommage! Need to plan a future trip with a large van – on my own next time. 

Au revoir, I will keep you posted!

Vintage and retro brocante shop in Mirande, France

Brocante shop in Mirande, Midi-Pyrenees

Vintage trader of the month: Curtiss and Clementine

Every month we are putting the spotlight on one of the many vintage businesses around the North East of Scotland, often hidden away in corners or back alleys. This month we are showcasing a vintage trader up in the north of Aberdeenshire: Curtiss and Clementine, located inside the little treasure trove shop called HQ in the harbour of Banff. This business is owned by Rachel Kennedy, who specialises in vintage finds and collectables from sometimes as old as the 19th century. Being a historian, Rachel certainly knows her stuff and she is a star at finding unusual items with a past. If you are looking for quirky and wonderful vintage, visit Banff and make a day of it!

Rachel, where does the name Curtiss and Clementine come from?

The idea for my business grew out of a passion for history, so when it came to thinking of a name it felt right to look at my own family history and my mixed English and Scots parentage. I spent a lot of time with my paternal Scots grandmother as a child, whose maiden name was Clementine McGregor, before moving here from London ten years ago. Lawrence Curtiss was my maternal English grandfather. Sadly, I never knew him and since the Curtiss surname hasn’t carried on into the next generation, I thought it would be nice to use it as a way of remembering his side of the family.

How long have you been running the shop?

The shop where I am based is called HQ, we opened last July so we are coming up to a year. I share the space with another local business called Threadbear, who are based in Banff and make hand-made gifts and home furnishings.


What made you want to start selling vintage?

Being involved in vintage and antiques and having my own business has given me the chance to follow a dream. I’ve been a fan of vintage since the late 1980s during my art student days when I used to love visiting all the second-hand shops in Brighton, but I started collecting as a child (glass animals, then clay pipes after a bit of random digging in our front garden in London!) and ended up working in museums as a curator, so I’m probably programmed to seek out vintage objects, especially if they have a good design or are a bit unusual. I also love 20th century studio ceramics and glass and pretty much anything eighteenth century, which was my area of expertise, so selling enables me to indulge in all my interests and passions!

What makes your business special in the area? 

When I first started my business a few years ago initially from home, there were only a couple of vintage businesses that I was aware of and no vintage shops or fairs at all in or around Banff. Things have changed since then, which is great, but it has been exciting to be part of starting something new. Together with the vintage fairs that I run as well, I feel I am offering a unique shopping experience for the local community here in Banff and Macduff as well as visitors to the area. I also try and source items that have a local connection (like the vintage milk bottles from local dairies I have in HQ at the moment) which has been a nice way to offer more personal items to local customers.


What is the weirdest item you have ever had in your shop? 

Oh, that’s easy! I have in stock at the moment a miniature china figurine called a Frozen Charlotte or Charlie. It’s teensy. Made from glazed bisque porcelain with hand-painted black hair. These dolls were made in Germany from the mid 1800s to 1920s, originally as bath dolls I think, but became popular in the States after a poem called Young Charlotte, about a young woman who froze to death whilst driving in an open carriage with her beau on New Year’s Eve. These tiny dolls are now very collectable although many find them creepy – you can sometimes find them in mini metal coffins which is quite macabre.

What has been the most beautiful item you have ever had in the shop? 

I was lucky enough to find in France last year an absolutely beautiful lidded pot by Arabia Finland, in mint condition. It was hand-painted in a gorgeously rich, dark cobalt blue design onto a translucent fine white China. The design was very simple and was signed ET, for one of their most respected designers Esteri Tomula, who worked at the factory between 1947-84. From my research, it appeared to be a studio production from the 1950s which was unusual and so quite rare too. The combination of beauty, design, rarity and condition just made it a very striking thing and a lovely pot. The icing on the cake was that it was bought by an artist who really loved it.


What do you like about your job? 

Can I say everything? (Laughing) I love being independent, my own boss. I love hunting out the stock, researching it, displaying it and meeting customers. I really do learn something new every day and that keeps it all interesting and stimulating. It also gives me a chance to talk about the history of an item and to share what I have learned with customers which is very rewarding. It’s such a privilege too, to handle items that are 50, 100, sometimes even 150 years old, especially if I get to meet the current owners who know the history of these items. Hey, I’m even getting a bit fitter from all the heavy lifting of boxes that I do with my fairs..

What is the biggest challenge?

In today’s current economic climate, I would say being a sole trader in anything is really tough. You have got to work hard to keep motivated and be sensitive to market trends as well as stay true to your own ideas. Selling is probably the biggest challenge and I think most vintage businesses and antiques dealers feel that. I also think that although the idea of vintage is really growing in Scotland, the idea of buying second hand doesn’t appeal to many and it’s a challenge to try and change that.


Why should people buy vintage?
Actually, I wouldn’t say people should as its a personal taste but, I do believe that in today’s world of limited resources, it’s a much greener way to shop. I also think that buying vintage ensures a variety in your wardrobe or home and that has to be a good thing in my book. Buying vintage can also stimulate discussion between the generations which I love (eg where on earth did you find that? Or, I used to have one of those when I was young) and allows for self-expression too, which can be hugely creative.

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You can buy Vintage from Curtiss and  Clementine here:

Shop – HQ, 8b Quayside, Banff AB45 1HQ. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30-4pm

Vintage fairs:

Rachel organises several fairs a year at Banff Castle:

  • Saturday 9 July, 10am-4pm
  • Saturday 10 September, 10am – 4pm.

Rachel is also a regular exhibitor at the Aberdeen Antiques & Collectors Market, which takes place every month at the Hilton Tree Tops Hotel, Aberdeen.

Online:

Facebook

Etsy

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Spotlight on design: Anna Hayman

I love patterns, textiles and creative people who are making fabulous home accessories. I recently came across British designer maker Anna Hayman on Instagram (Instagram is great for discovering new artists!) and her posts always make me smile. Anyone who has followed Nina’s Apartment knows that I am a sucker for colour and bold Scandinavian-style patterns so it comes to no surprise that this creative lady’s work caught my eye. Such vibrant prints, beautiful florals and bold colours – her images just make me happy each time they come across on the timeline. I decided to get in touch with Anna and find out more about her work and what inspires her. With her collections appearing in more shops and exciting collaborations on the horizon it sounds like she really is one to watch! I hope you will agree with me that Anna’s designs are gorgeous and worth featuring on the blog today.

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Anna, can you tell us a bit about your background?

I’m from an artistic and musical background, with a bit of retail management and window dressing thrown in. Although I’ve been piano teaching most recently, I had a shoe brand for six years (2006-2012) before having children, so ANNA HAYMAN DESIGNS is my ‘round 2’ business-wise. I’m an unstoppable creative person and most of what I do is completely self-taught.

How long have you had the business for?

The business has been a gradual build up over the last year or so, I keep saying ‘I’m launching all the time’, as the brand, message and signature style of my designs takes shape, and the use of them changes and develops. I’m not one for beginnings and endings and things being pinned down, as then the work has freedom to evolve. As I do more and more designs they develop a look and feel which is exclusively mine, so I’m planning to keep the branding solid then the designs can vary from season to season. It helps if I use the same methods, i.e. lino-cutting to create them, then it makes a ‘family’ of work.

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When you travel, what kind of things do you photograph / take home that may inspire your work?

Flowers, flowers and more flowers! I’m on an Art Nouveau tip currently and completely obsessed with arts and crafts, and Art Deco patterns. It will always be florals for me, with some geometrics thrown in. Colours are important too, darker gemstones are my fling right now so I’m looking at Lapis Lazuli and Mystic Topaz. Mid tones are trending out so I’m looking more at dirty metals, dark greens and pastel shades.

What or who else inspires you in your work?

I re-read a lot of the same source books, Celia Birtwell, Biba, William Morris, Rennie Mackintosh, and Sixties patterns. Pinterest is a massive influence, the richness, variation and ease at which you can consume images, and feed your mind, is a daily essential for me. In terms of contemporaries, Iris Apfel, Cressida Bell, and Abigail Borg are people I look up to in terms of their colour use, style and finesse.

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How would you describe your home and interior style?

I’m on a knife edge this week as we are waiting to exchange on the most beautiful 1920’s house, with original windows and fireplace, in rural East Sussex. I’m planning to go to town on decking it out in vintage patterns, it’s going to be a serious print frenzy, I love the idea at the moment of matching wallpaper and upholstered furniture, with matching crockery. And clothes! It has a huge garden which I would like to set up a heavily glazed office in to work from so that I’m surrounded by nature. A massive hammock is on my shopping list.

What does an average workday look like for you?

Mid-week days are my work days, my children are small so it’s a juggling act, but I have a lovely studio in Lewes where I can work quietly from 9.30am-3pm. My husband and I are both work-mad, so we do a lot in the evenings and weekends where sociable! It’s never hard to be ‘disciplined’, I can’t wait to arrive at work in the morning and get creative. I do a bit of everything in a typical day; design work, discussing forthcoming projects with factories, sales, admin, website updates, marketing, making prototypes, finding new leads – there’s a lot to do. Having said that I’m taking the summer to produce a new body of work really in readiness for next year so it’s in a more creative phase right now, the bit I most enjoy.

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What are your plans for the next 12 months? Any exciting events/collaborations or other things lined up?

As well as selling my ceramics collections in shops, I am focusing on the prints, with collaborations in mind. I’m exhibiting at Top Drawer in January which is a huge trade event at Kensington Olympia. This will hopefully open more doors in terms of licensing work, (where a company buy and use my prints). I have some collaborations I’m working on at the moment but I’m afraid I’m sworn to secrecy! Watch my Instagram account (the hub of the business) for news on these. I have a lot of irons in the fire and am really intrigued to see what 2017 brings. I think it will be a really fantastic year.

You can currently buy ANNA HAYMAN DESIGNS ceramics and textiles online via her website.

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