2011 Review For Pirouette

Being invited to write a review of 2011 for Pirouette Blog was a fun and thought provoking way to end the year.

Here are some of my thoughts and answers:-

The iconic brands/names to remember from 2011?

In fashion & Design :  My highlight of 2011 was being invited to Marimekko’s HQ in Helsinki earlier this year.  To experience their approach to living and to breathe in their environment was an honour and an inspiration.  Faithful to their own vision for the past 60 years, Marimekko’s integrity and passion always thrills me.

The authenticity and gentle spirit of the British knitwear label Waddler and the humour and charm of Danish label Lucky Boy Sunday gave me and my customers a lot of joy this year. Both brands share a nurturing approach to production by fairly supporting Bolivian Women and embracing skilled craftsmanship by choosing traditional techniques and superior raw materials resulting in beautifully made quality products that have ‘hand me down’  potential.

The show of the year for me was Tent, the multifaceted interior design show held during London Design Week.  It was positively buzzing with creativity, energy, inspiration and talent.

A Girl For All Time, the new brand behind a range of beautifully made historical dolls and novels sparked an interesting and on-going discussion between co-creator Frances Cain and myself.  It wasn’t an instant hit with me but the more I discovered about the concept I saw it as a refreshing and valuable perspective in a market that has become focused on gender neutral design.  Created to be educational and empowering, A Girl For All Time celebrates girls with contemporary, non-clichéd sensibilities. http://blog.olivelovesalfie.co.uk/2011/11/meet-matilda/

Box Park, the world’s first pop up shopping mall in Shoreditch, is a visionary and dynamic concept.  Not quite the affordable independent retailer’s dream it set out to be, there is still much to celebrate.  I think that it will literally encourage people to think outside of the box inspiring a new breed of renegade pop up shopping spaces bringing regeneration to urban areas and new retail opportunities for independent retailers and young designers. www.boxpark.co.uk

Something in the world actuality that you want to comment on?

I was shocked when we arrived back in London during the August riots.  Watching the destructive series of events unfold highlighted not just the mindless violence but the rise in consumerism and the unrest of a generation growing up in a ‘must have’ culture that is perpetuated by big brand advertising.

The cultural hits of 2011?   My standing ovation this year was at Hofesh Shechter’s production of ‘Political Mother –The Director’s Cut’.  Shechter, choreographer, composer and musician, fused music and contemporary dance in a dynamic and revolutionary form.  Exploring the plight of oppressed peoples and cultures The Directors Cut is raw and gritty and full of thought provoking emotional complexity.  I am looking forward to the premier of his new work Survivor in collaboration with Antony Gormley in London Spring 2012.

My idyllic wonderland weekend with Olive this year was at The Wilderness Festival.  Wilderness took popular festival culture to new heights mixing it up with added hipster glamour.  I loved the Moro banquet, midnight masked ball, wild deer, woodland spa and lake swimming.

A trend to remember ?

In the home, anaglypta wallpapers, citrus shades, bare plaster ceilings, blackboard walls, giant typography, accents of fluorescents and mirror balls that evoke a crafted bohemian feel with the faded glamour of the vintage circus.

For girls, redefined and empowered femininity mixing vintage glamour with utilitarian style, Dr Martens and boyish haircuts.

For our enjoyment after the kids have gone to bed, there has been a contemporary revival of the classic Gin & Tonic  focusing on small batch, artisanal production.  The Botanist from Bruichladdich in Scotland (voted the no 1 Monaco 2011 Diamond Award) is my personal favourite and a great grown up present fix!

A new canvas for illustrators has emerged influenced by Sophie Herxheimer’s recent exhibition at London Printworks where she revived the humble hanky.  Hundreds of submissions were made from around the world answering her plea to “imagine it is your town square to shout about what you like”.  I think we will see more of the hanky as an affordable blank canvas for creative expression.   Cuts in arts funding have instigated a wave of  clever and commercially savvy creative projects from organisations under renewed pressure  to generate their own income. I think that we will see more of these, giving creative charities a brighter future with more control over their own development.   The funding project of the year for me was Counter Feat,  when threatened London printmakers began printing their own money. Art notes created by a distinguished list of designers and artists including Eley Kishimoto, Jonathan Saunders, Bill Woodrow are being sold to raise urgently needed funds for The London Printworks Trust.

Goodbye 2011 I will be sad to see you go.





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