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Between 5th and 8th December over 100 designers will congregate at the Truman Brewery to show and sell their wares at the East London Design Show. Complete with a Craft House hosting workshops for adults and children alike, and a Food Hall offering up artisan food from sushi to roast meats, speciality cheese to macaroons, all to be washed down with Boutique Beer, East London Wine or 'mocktails', ELDS is celebrating its twentieth anniversary in style. Artstar will be there, showcasing our first exclusive range of products, and officially launching the brand to the world. If you'd like to join us you can download a voucher so you can bring a friend along free.

Artstar Mugs collection

Seeing as we are looking excitedly ahead to our future we thought we'd find out a bit more about how ELDS had made it to twenty years old. Lucy Bannister asked founder Della Tinsley a few questions about this landmark show, kids and sausage sandwiches.

Did you ever think ELDS would be twenty years old?

No, not at the beginning. It all started kind of randomly, I was still designing and making glass so ELDS really started as a way to sell that work and the work of our peers in Shoreditch.

It started modestly in my studio with 32 designers on trestle tables and a café run by my partner Gideon, where you could only get a sausage sandwich. My brother did the electrics. You could definitely call it homegrown!

One of our visitors to that first show was from Shoreditch Town Hall so we changed venues the next year and slowly grew. We built ELDS out of the talent and support of the designers we were showing, by swapping skills for tables at the fair.

 In 2000 we had some help from Sue Withers to get everything up to speed and that was when we really plucked up the courage to up the ante and let the show take over our lives! 

There is a lot of competition now but when we first started it was really unique - there was no Etsy and no-one had transactional websites. This was the only way to sell your work directly to your customer and help boost your cash flow. 

But even in the age of online direct sales it is still essential to have ELDS - these are tough times so it is important to work together and support each other. Many of our designers have been with us a long time and I would now consider them to be very close friends. We've watched their businesses grow and get stronger, which is something I am really proud of.

I imagine you have met some amazing people and seen some great work along the way. Are there any designers or pieces that particularly stand out?

Yes absolutely. The designers that I most admire are the ones who realise it is not just about the products, this show is about the human touch and that opportunity for customers and designers to meet and establish a personal connection, which is something that can't be replicated online. 

I also have a great respect for mid-to late-career designers who have been doing this for a long time and still manage to design beautiful new collections. It can be really tough to be over 40 and practising for a long time because how do you get the press when all they are interested in is the bright new things?

But I see them excelling every year at the show and jewellers particularly do well because people value the longevity and appreciate expert guidance through the commissioning process. 

Are there any specific designers that stand out?

Ella Doran - she had her very first show with ELDS and now we stock her in our shop. Her business is a good model as she has a very good work ethic. She's a good employer and the way she approaches her designs and projects is very robust. She's local and we love working with her, she does what she says she'll do and then more, whilst remaining realistic about what to expect. 

Suck UK and Black + Blum have done the show for many years and now have their own stores and we stock them in the ELDS shop. 

I love Jo from HAM's illustrations. They are beautiful and simple, and I particularly like the way she applies them to the product range. She produces a high quality of product and provides an outstanding service in the way she interacts with her customers.

And I think Artstar is going to fit in really well, they have lovely designs and quality products.

You are very open to families and children attending the show. How is attending a show like ELDS important for children?

Well I can only talk about my own kids with any authority! Gideon and I are a self-employed husband and wife team with two kids and I want my kids to understand that there is more than one way to make a living. 

I want them to meet as many different people as possible. ELDS exposes them to all sorts of different people and products that they won't see on the high street - I want them to appreciate how things are made and to know if they are beautiful, and well designed. 

But this year you have the Craft House, can you tell me more about that?

Yes we are really excited about the Craft House area. Before, the show has always been a bit squashed so there was no room to expand. This year we can run several workshops at the same time.

For example, Walker Books are bringing their authors to do readings and workshops, and we love a good collaboration like this.We are going to be able to cater to different age groups. What's better than seeing someone's granny sat next to a toddler and a teenager, all working together?

This year you are moving into a bigger, better venue. Do you have any tips for first-time visitors? How can they find those hidden gems?

Sign up to our newsletter and you will get sent tips! 

But that aside I would say start by having a walk around the whole show, then go to the food hall, have some tea and cake (or maybe even a stiff drink!), and make a list of what stood out and then go back and look round again with a view to buying.

If you have got kids blatant bribery is best! Break down the show into treats (e.g. if you walk around these next two aisles you get cake/to make a hat/listen to a story) to keep them happy.

What can regulars to the show expect with the move to Truman's Brewery?

We have an awful lot more space to do the things we have been wanting to do for a while. Before the cafe was very mono syllabic (if you didn't like sausage sandwiches you were a bit screwed!) and we really wanted a food hall. Especially for the exhibitors who are in the hall a very long time - design appreciators also appreciate lovely well made and packaged food!

There will be a central seating area and food hall so you can pick and mix from sushi, chocolate, roasts, cheese, macaroons, sandwiches and cakes. The Boutique Beer Company will be there and the East London Wine Store. 

And there will be an extra 40 exhibitors in the show, so it should feel busy, fun and very lively.

The East London Design Show runs from 5 - 8 December. ELDS website:

Lucy Bannister is a writer, artist and yoga teacher based in London. Having trained as an artist in Glasgow and Dundee, she then spent a decade making, working and leading a variety of artist-led projects and teaching art and design in Yorkshire. Now, following recent stints as an editor at Axisweb and the National Gallery, she is running her own yoga business, Lucyoga, and specialises in running classes in unusual urban spaces.

Artstar will officially launch at the East London Design Show, which runs 5-8 Dec 2013.

We will present our first exclusive range of products at the show so if you're in London this is your chance to see them before we start distribution to the retail trade. If you're planning on coming to the show there's a voucher you can download via the link below and bring a friend FREE. Happy days :)

What the ELDS say:

The East London Design Show (ELDS) is an annual event that brings together the best of the UKs independent product, interior and jewellery designers all under one roof just before Christmas.

ELDS is ‘the’ event to discover tomorrow’s talent today, with over 38 brand new designers joining this year - many launching products, alongside superb design from established and respected designer makers – in glass, ceramics, jewellery, women’s and men’s fashion and accessories, children’s clothing and toys, stationery, homewares and furniture. So why not join them and take advantage of special show offers and make a day of it!

ELDS Voucher:

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Oct 17, 2013  |  0 comments

Make Your Autumn Shine!

As we fall gracefully into autumn the current metallics trend suggests it is time to indulge our homes with shiny things. It's going to be an exciting season if you love luscious, pristine contemporary design alongside gloriously aged vintage finds. 

Shiny sheets of metal

Tom Dixon has been leading the charge to metalics with his Copper Shades - beautiful, perfectly smooth golden orbs that reflect all that surrounds them, and H&M are also getting in on the act this season with their budget range of moody and metallic homewares.

Our fascination for shiny things is nothing new. Artists have worked with metallic surfaces for centuries. See for yourself by heading over to Duccio's breathtaking altarpiece The Virgin and Child with Saints Dominic and Aurea at the National Gallery in London. The surface of this work is liberally sheathed in a rich gold, contrasting with the deep mat black of Saint Dominic's robes and the flat cobalt blue of the Virgin Mary's, creating an object that still shines hundreds of years after it was first created.

The rough and the smooth

The beauty of shining metallics next to mat surfaces is not confined to grand galleries. Whether you're going for a superlative statement such as Hunting and Narud's Copper Mirror series, which set London Design Week buzzing, or simply for an affordable accent piece like this Metallic Vase, there is something very seductive in the way these ancient materials of metal and stone have been re-interpreted for the home.


British rising-star designer Max Lamb has taken this re-interpretation of the solid metal object into an unexpectedly organic outcome with his nano-crystalline furniture. After extensive experimentation he has developed a process that cleverly exploits electro-plating techniques to 'grow' copper onto hand-carved wax models. The wax is melted away and the copper remains; lightweight and super strong, yet enriched with the touch of the artist and the organic process of construction.

Artstar Blog | A collection of copper contemporary designer homewares

Bring it home

So how can you affordably reflect the smooth, opulent surfaces of Duccio and the organic textures of Lamb's grown copper in your home?

Take a look out of the window and replicate the falling amber leaves of autumn with these copper tea lights from the Artstar shop or dappled late afternoon sunlight with these chunky glass candle holders.

Whisked up your Yorkshire Puddings in a copper Kitchen Aid but need some additional table decor for Sunday lunch? Send the kids out to collect acorns, conkers, and pine cones to fill your copper framed storage boxes, or go for some 'copper service', with this cutlery from Anthropologie.

Perhaps you would like to note your Christmas present ideas in a geometric copper notebook or cook your allotment harvests in a vintage French copper saucepan?

Prefer a patina?

If vintage is more your bag then you're in luck as copper and brass abound at antiques centres and bric-a-brac yards. The beauty of these materials seems to be enhanced with age. Dig through the ornamental horseshoes for some curious lamps, teapots, piping and saucepans. Be prepared to whip out the elbow grease and a bit of Brasso to shine up your finds when you get them home.

You could even make a holiday out of it and head over to Villedieu-les-Poêles, the 'city' of copper, in Normandy, north west France. This small town is bestowed with the best shiny shopping known to man. The streets are almost hidden under hundreds of copper and brass pans, and you can even swot up on your copper history and production techniques whilst you are there.

Image guide

1. Copper Mirror Series by Hunting and Narud

2. Copper tea lights, £11.80, from Artstar

3. Nanocrystalline Copper Chair by Max Lamb

4. Storage Boxes, £59 for 3, from Artstar

5. Copper Notebook, £4, from Lovely Pigeon

6. Candle Holder – Brown Chunky, £6.50, from Artstar

7. Bronze Age Cutlery, £28, from Anthropologie

8. Vase – Metallic Gold, £11, from Artstar

9. Kitchenaid Satin Copper mixer, around $600 on

10. Copper Shade 45cm, £350, from Tom Dixon

Lucy Bannister is a writer, artist and yoga teacher based in London. Having trained as an artist in Glasgow and Dundee, she then spent a decade making, working and leading a variety of artist-led projects and teaching art and design in Yorkshire. Now, following recent stints as an editor at Axisweb and the National Gallery, she is running her own yoga business, Lucyoga, and specialises in running classes in unusual urban spaces.

In this first of a series of interviews with our favourite creative practitioners Lucy Bannister meets Artstar's very own Anna Ahmarova to discuss her background, tidiness and some of the design inspirations in her life. Meeting Anna ...

I met Anna in a coffee shop. She told me about growing up in Finland, short summers, forests, Moomin mugs, colour, making things and never ever being able to throw anything away.

How did you get into design - did you study art at university or just learn along the way?

In Finland I studied fashion with textile design and pattern cutting. It was a way to be creative but it soon became obvious to me that fashion was not my world – I would much rather go to a pottery or a cushion shop than a fashion house. This led me to working as a visual merchandiser at Marimekko for a while and then, when I moved to the UK, at Habitat.

I stopped working at Habitat when I became pregnant with my daughter and now I make things. Since being a small child I always wanted to make things with my hands. My dream job was to be a carpenter or wood carver.

What designers are you influenced by and why?

For me it is more about what catches my eye than a person being famous or renowned. I have eclectic taste and it's hard to single out people.

But I suppose John Clappison who designed for Hornsea would be a particular inspiration. I really like Scandinavian pottery but John is something from the more traditional English potteries and I am really happy to have found his work.

Image: Ceramic Owls designed by John Clappison

On a similar note I love Kenneth Townsend's graphic design and pottery. I collected all 12 of his months of the year Hornsea mugs but my partner Sean hates them because they are brown.

Image: Mugs designed by Kenneth Townsend. Photo Credit: Adelle and Justin, 'H is for Home'

In terms of Scandinavian pottery there are companies which I particularly admire. In Finnish pottery it has to be Arabia, the biggest pottery factory in Northern Europe. In Norway, Figgjo Flint and in Sweden Gustavsberg.

It is not surprising that I love pottery having grown up in Finland. The department store Stockmann once produced a special edition of Moomin Trolls cups, they were about 50 or 60 euros each, and people went mad for them - they sold out in an hour. The Finnish are big for their pottery!

What styles of design do you like the most?

It has to be mid-20th century design 40s, 50s and 60s. It has always been so, even when I was a teenager.

What is so fascinating about the forest and its creatures that made you design a collection around it?

Nature is very important to me because I am from Finland. There is an 'Everyman's Law' in Finland which means you can camp, walk, eat food from anywhere – you pick berries, swim in the lakes, you make the best of the summer because it is so short … it is so easy to take for granted until you are away from it.

On a Finnish scale I am not the most nature orientated person, but in the UK I feel the pull to the forest. The animals in my designs are all ones that you would find in the Finnish forest. The bear is the king of the forest in Finland but I think perhaps that the deer, a graceful animal, is the most British of the three – which is why the design features roses.

Nature, wherever it is, will always inspire me. Even the forms of the leaves and the flowers I see on the way to taking my daughter to nursery make me want to start sketching. There are so many interesting forms and colours in nature that it never really stops intriguing me.

What do you miss the most about Finland?

Nature. My mum. The way things function there – the tidiness and how everything just works! But it is easier for them as they are such a small country. When I think about London I am amazed how everything works as it is such a humongous system.

When did you come to the UK and what brought you here?

I came to the UK in 2008 to live with my partner. I met him in a nightclub in Helsinki. It cost me a lot to move to the UK because I have such a big collection of things!

You collect a wide range of different styles – how do you get the mix looking so great in the home?

I am a hopeless collector – I can’t throw any fabric away because I can always imagine a use for it. Our two bedroom house is stacked to the ceiling but it is very neat, all organised by colour.

My mum is the same and she loves collecting and organising things, and now I realise how much that has influenced me. I started by collecting egg cups as a kid. I don't collect egg cups anymore – they are hard to display.

But I do collect books. I like illustrations in books and on book covers; old Penguin books are beautiful. I use big Ikea shelves to display them.

Do you have any styling tips or tricks for us?

Well some people think I have OCD because even when I put my washing to dry I organise it by colour!

When you have a lot of things you need to make them more into surfaces and then pull certain ones out to make them into highlights. Because I am Scandinavian I think the best base colour for everything is white or light grey which means I am not afraid to add lots of colour to that.

But I don't think about being stylish, I just do what feels good. Our home is our home.

You love rummaging at car boot sales and in vintage shops - is there one thing that if you find it, you can never leave behind?

I love finding a bargain. I buy pottery, books and textiles mainly. I noticed how people don't care anymore about old handmade embroidered and cross-stiched items and they are often just 50p each in charity shops. I know how long these take and the effort taken to make them - I would never chuck these away! I now make these into things and sell them in my Etsy shop.

I see from your blog that you make a lot of items for your own home and your daughter, what's your current project?

I have the Etsy shop and I am trying to get more products there. I love handicrafts so I like to have little projects. And I must use all those pieces of fabric I fill the house with! And I am writing a blog – Anna's Cup of Tea.

So what is your favourite cup of tea?

Earl grey with no milk – I love the smell of Bergamot. In Finland it is totally normal to have Earl Grey as standard tea. But I do love Yorkshire tea, with milk, of course!

Wild Is The Wood is Anna's first collection for Artstar. You can see all the beautiful designs here.

Lucy Bannister is a writer, artist and yoga teacher based in London. Having trained as an artist in Glasgow and Dundee, she then spent a decade making working, leading on a variety of artist-led projects and teaching art and design in Yorkshire. Now, following recent stints as an editor at Axisweb and the National Gallery, she is running her own yoga business, Lucyoga, and specialises in running classes in unusual urban spaces.

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