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Makers of East London

We were so excited to receive this stunning book with text by our great friend Katie Treggiden & photographs by Charlotte Schreiber.  Published by Hoxton Mini Press (, this gorgeous tome, outlines the history of one of London’s greatest craft centres, from those on the ground.

hoxton mini press

The book opens with a comprehensive introduction of East London, highlighting its importance as a hub of creativity for hundreds of years “That ‘part’, to the east of the centre… now the creative powerhouse of the capital.”

Hoxton mini press

Bellerby and Co. – Globemakers

There’s something heartening and comforting knowing that someone, not far from where I sit now, is making a globe. A beautiful and bespoke globe; something I had no idea would possibly still be made by hand- let alone running a thriving business.

hoxton mini press

Freed of London pointe shoes

Then there’s the ballet shoes, the pointe shoes that were revolutionised by Frederick Freed in 1929 and have continued to be made by hand in the Well Street factory in Hackney, since.

Hoxton Mini Press

New North Press- Letterpressing

Letter pressing, an art that has been around for centuries, is time-consuming, but there is nothing quite like it for beauty. Graham Bignell established his studio New North press 30 years ago and is seeing to it that this art-form doesn’t die off.

hoxton mini press

Rob Court- Neon signs

Then there’s those crafts that you almost forget are crafts, like the making/ blowing of neon signs. Rob Court has been blowing bulbs for neon signs for nearly 30 years and names celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey amongst his clients.

hoxton mini press

Barn the Spoon- spoonmaker

Sitting on the number 48 or 55 bus, you can’t help but see Barnaby Carder in his glass-fronted studio on the Hackney Road, whittling away at wood, creating his wonderfully unique spoons. It’s this image of modern life looking in on the traditional, that perhaps highlights what’s especially important about this book and indeed what it does so well. More and more people are starting to crave the simple life; a time where you bought something well-made just once… and that was it. Makers of East London brings these important characters together in one book and in one part of the city.

It is possible to live simply and enjoy it.

Find out more about this book and many more here.

5 minutes with Gilda Bojardi

gilda1Despoke managed to grab 5 minutes with the Italian design influencer and Interni editor, Gilda Bojardi, during LDF and the successful Interni Aperitivo talks.

interniThe Interni website is beautiful as well as easy to navigate. Do you think the design world works better online than in print and if so why?

INTERNI was born 60 years ago as one of the first magazines of architecture and interior design. Over the years it has evolved and updated, living up to its ethos: to inform its readers of everything going on in the world of design. Obviously the website, since the magazine is a monthly publication, is the fast version. An interface that collects content day by day from the world of design and architecture. I think they are both important and complement each other: INTERNI is in fact ‘a system’ that comprises many forms of communication, that need the magazine as much as its online presence. I believe that it is up to our readers to choose which medium they want to read, depending on the need for topical or more detailed information.

interni, patricia urquiola

Photo by Alessandro Paderni/Eye Studio- Patricia Urquiola’s home studio


You have been at the helm of Interni for over 20 years. How has the general public’s attitude to design changed across those decades especially given the rise in online funding campaigns and the resurgence in craft? Does everyone now think they know what good design is and that they can be a designer?

Certainly being able to get online has helped spread a design culture that today is becoming more  widely followed. The return of craftsmanship in this industry is certainly a value, even if Italian design, especially furniture design, has always had an artisanal aspect, in the creation, finishes, choice of materials and quality of workmanship. This was always the added value of the ‘Made in Italy’ stamp. Nevertheless, I do not think that the concept of good design is so widespread. Personally, I do not think that just anyone can become a designer: it takes talent, a good education, and a lot of energy in defending their ideas. It’s not for everyone.


Last year you said that Italy’s design output wasn’t in decline and that ‘Milan is still the capital of design’ (dezeen 19/9/2014). Given that Milan is also considered the capital of fashion, what is it about this city that makes it such a force for creativity? Has it always been this way? 

Furniture design was born in Milan in the immediate post-war period. In those years, some companies were beginning to work with the architects who convinced them to abandon the traditional style of furniture production in favour of contemporary furniture and mass production

Then, Salone del Mobile and FuoriSalone together became a catalyst force for the international creative energies, transforming central Milan into the international capital of both project and design. It has certainly been FuoriSalone who has sanctioned the ‘Milan model': a format that has grown over the years that INTERNI created and nurtured, making Milan Design Week a unique experience. As for fashion, Milan became one of the international capitals of fashion in the sixties and seventies with the emergence of the ready-to-wear and the arrival in town of designers such as Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferré and Krizia. They invented the Milan fashion that is still appreciated around the world.

These two industries, that sometimes intersect, make the city a unique hotbed of creative proposals and ideas. Today, this focus has further expanded and established itself thanks to the Expo’ – Universal Exhibition in Milan (May 1 to October 31 2015). This extraordinary event, of which INTERNI is also a partner, which has already attracted over 15 million visitors, a tremendous opportunity to spread the culture of Milan around the world.

ron arad, big easy chair

Ron Arad, Big easy Chair, Moroso

London is also considered a creative capital, the world leader some might say. What does London do right and what does it do wrong for designers and creatives? 

London has certainly had and continues to have excellent creatives, and many factors contributes to maintain it like that, in particular the ‘ education factor ‘, stemming from the number and quality of schools in the city, and from an attitude to self-production typical of young professionals just out of school.

The ‘Brit Style’ is a phenomenon now known internationally. However, London doesn’t have the same level of manufacturers and industrial makers in design, and it is not able to provide the same industrial milieu that is present in Milan, and Italy. A great majority of British designers have become acclaimed designers, only after having been supported and launched by Italian companies who understood and appreciate British creativity: from Ron Arad, Ross Lovegrove, Jasper Morrison, to Tom Dixon and Michael Young, and many others. Now even the great architects like Zaha Hadid or David Chipperfield – and I quote just a few names – realise and produce their ideas in collaboration with Italian companies. Designer furniture is, above all, made in Italy.

gilda bojardi


If you could have had any other career- what would you have done? Why? 

I am very glad to have chosen my career because my education was of an entirely different nature- I am a lawyer! But I have ‘betrayed’ my education when I was still a university student, therefore I can say I chose this career really early on. If I were to do something else, I would say that I like decorating my houses, and giving advice to my friends. So I’m probably a failed architect!


Icon September Issue

Looking at all things sinful- from sex toys to greedy development, Icon Magazine’s September issue is now on sale. mirror icon

The issue also looks at Herzog and de Meuron, Vienna and the iconic VW Camper van.


Subscribe and read now

5 minutes only with Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby met in 1992 on the Architecture and Interiors Masters course at the Royal College of Art. They became friends, set up their practice Barber Osgerby and made a name for themselves running the studio whilst studying, which didn’t go down very well with the tutors. Continue Reading…

‘5 Minutes Only’ with Sebastian Wrong

Established & Sons, Milan 2008

‘Five Minutes Only’ is a series of quick fire rounds with industry influencers and leaders of disciplines in art and design. Today we welcome the design star Sebastian Wrong fresh from taking London Design Festival by storm with the collaboration Wrong for Hay.   Continue Reading…

‘5 minutes only’ with Michelle Alger Head of Home at Heal’s

Michelle Alger

‘Five Minutes Only’ is a series of quick fire rounds with industry influencers and leaders of disciplines in art and design. Today we welcome Michelle Alger Head of Home at Heal’s one of Britain’s most forward thinking retailers. Continue Reading…

5 minutes with Lubna Chowdhary

Lubna final

‘Five Minutes Only’ is the first in a series of quick fire rounds with influencers and leaders of disciplines in art and design. Today we welcome the ceramicist Lubna Chowdhary who creates tile-based artworks for interior and exterior spaces. Continue Reading…

Ali Wonderland: Interview with Ali Miller


I first met Ali Miller at Startup Showcase in March and fell in love with her quirky and whimsical ceramics, so when she invited me for a cup of tea at her home studio last week to discuss her designs, I found it hard to resist. Continue Reading…

Interview: The Sculpture House

TSH - Richard Davies - Alex Chinneck - David Murphy

Above: Richard Davies, Alex Chinneck and David Murphy

“Think again for your own sanity”, says Alex Chinneck to any designers who are thinking of copying The Sculpture House.

Last week for Despoke’s first post-relaunch interview, we went to talk to London based sculptors, Alex Chinneck and David Murphy about their newly launched artist-designed furniture company: The Sculpture House (TSH). Continue Reading…

Despoke picks #1






A quick round up of few exhibitors dotted around 100% Design
At the top we have rising star Arthur Analts with his Led Zepplin Ladder and Amid Room Divider Then we have the M Lamp from David Irwin design based on an old miners lamp and funded via Kickstarter. Finally on this page The Time Chair and Place bedside table from trett design D37.

Yves Behar In Conversation With Marcus Fairs






Industrial designer Yves Behar joined Dezeen Editor in Chief Marcus Fairs for a seminar in the 100% Design auditorium, focusing on his work, successes and advice to other designers. The swiss born designer is highly acclaimed within the field for his wide variety of innovative projects including the hugely successful JAMBOX speakers and socially sustainable project, the 100 dollar laptop.
Continue Reading…

Emilio Pimentel-Reid, the online editor of Dalani answers Despoke’s Questions

1.Hi can you tell us a bit about Dalani
Dalani is the leading online members only homewares and lifestyle e-tailer, bringing shoppers time limited sales of British and International designer homeware brands from around the world. I joined Dalani as Editor in Chief and Creative Director in April 2012 and I currently work closely with buying teams to curate each sale for our customers’ taste and expectations.

2.What products /designers are you looking forward to covering at 100% Design This year?
From the International Country Pavilions I’m looking forward to seeing WOKA from Austria and Lee Kiseung and Manifesto design on the Korean stand. I’m really excited to see Kirath Ghundoo from the emerging brands. Overall key brands include Original BTC, Deadgood, Knoll, Vitra and Kettal.

Continue Reading…

Lydon Neri Answers Despoke’s Questions

Despoke caught up with Lydon Neri from Neri & Hu ahead of his participation in the seminar ‘HOTEL FUTURES AND THE WIDER IMPACT OF TRENDS IN HOSPITALITY DESIGN’ at 100% Design Wednesday 19th September 14:00 – 14:45 .

What made you want to become a designer in the first place? I wanted to be an artist but being born in a Chinese family, it was not even an option.

Where did you study design?
UC Berkeley for my undergraduate studies in architecture and masters in architecture at Harvard.

What was the first thing you designed?
The cover of my notebook in first grade.

How do you define good design?
Things with meaning. As antoine expert once said
Continue Reading…

Tej Chauhan answers Despoke’s Questions

We caught up with Tej Chauhan ahead of his appearance as one of four Emerging Designers ay 100% Seminars this week at 100% Design which starts on Wednesday.

What made you want to become a designer in the first place?
It’s all I wanted to do, since I was a child. I was always drawing and “inventing” things.

Where did you study design?
Central St Martins.

What was the first thing you designed?
Probably a computer joystick when I was 14 or 15 for a magazine competition. I remember that I liked the combination of ergonomic consideration and selecting a nice colours and materials! My friend Peter Symes taught me how to render it with Magic Markers. It won!
Continue Reading…

Chloe Macintosh from Answers Despoke’s Questions

Despoke caught up with Chloe Macintosh from ahead of The London Design Festival and the opening of a new 360 degree showroom from in Notting Hill.

Moving from Foster and Partners to seems like a big leap , what made you do it ?

After 10 years at Foster and Partners, I wanted to take a break from architecture. Although I enjoyed working closely with Norman Foster on a series of projects, I was getting tired with the long process associated with making a project happen (it takes a minimum of four years to complete a project from the initial concept to fit out). I was also missing a more entrepreneurial approach to business. I was frustrated by the industry which did not offer designers visibility to bring their ideas to the market and who often struggled to find work that would be rewarding financially.

The ‘direct to manufacturer’ business model which started to emerge in other European countries appealed to me straight away as I saw it as an opportunity to connect designers with customers and offer a more transparent approach, finally allowing design and price to coexist.

When did you come up with the business model and how ?
In 2007, I joined Brent Hoberman to develop the 3-dimensional design tools for his new home decorating platform mydeco. This led to me leading the mydeco Design Board and collaborating with Philippe Starck, Marc Newson and Terence Conran on design projects. In 2010, I co-founded the savvy business model of, with Ning-Li and Julien Calléde.

The idea for had its first spark in the mind of Ning Li. Ning moved to France in his teens and after graduating, he wanted to buy his first sofa. He immediately faced a dilemma; the sofa he wanted was £3,000 which he could not afford. He therefore had to substitute design and quality for a high street version at more reasonable price. Ning’s home town is one of the largest manufacturing cities in China for furniture so he started talking to factories locally to understand better the process associated with exporting furniture and quickly concluded that cutting out the middle men that each takes their cut was the crux of a new business plan.

After meeting Ning in London and discussing the idea, it was clear to me that there was a perfect opportunity not only to connect customers directly to factories but also to collaborate with designers to bring their ideas to market and create a brand that could revolutionise how the design world currently operates.

Who’s the best designer Philippe Starck, Marc Newson or Terence Conran ?
As a designer, you often get asked which designer is your favourite and really, there is not one person in particular that I can name. I have worked closely with all three and they have very different personalities which translate into their designs and style. I like Marc’s very technical approach bringing engineering into his designs. However, I feel closer to Terence and Philippe’s mission to democratise design. They had an incredible impact on the design world but also on the way the consumer can access and understand design. Designing for the masses is a great mission statement and something that is particularly close to my heart- this is my main focus at Made.
Continue Reading…

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