Top Drawer is one of if not the best retail trade show, it gets bigger every year and if I had a shop to stock I could do it four times over in a single day at this event. That said the first time I went it was magic, everyone was a new face, the retail displays were inspiring and I left with more brands to research than I could manage. Now 3 years in I am happy to say I am starting to remember the big players and go with a selection of people to see after getting my show preview in the post. Also I was pleasantly surprised to see at least 30 designers I knew personally which meant lots of time having a catch up.
So when I arrived and consult the map in the hopes I wouldn’t get completely turned around inside the Olympia I headed to Spotted & Craft my favourite sections to see some very talented people.
One of the first stands I came across was a live screen printing demonstration that I had heard about from several blogger friends who visited the day before. The talented surface designer Daniel Heath was showing off his Lexington print wallpaper design and the process that creates it. He was representing In the Window a truly interesting .com that is like a pinterest full of designers, products and press releases, which allow’s you to curate your own collection of inspiration windows.
The screen printing trend continued with the discovery of Lara’s textile designs. She runs her own London studio that offers a design & screen printing service as well as creating her own homeware products. Lots of bold but simple repeating patterns with a very high quality finish made for a great eye catching display. Was more than happy to sign up for her newsletter in exchange for a cute lavender pouch and hope to see more from her soon.
Chrysa was a lovely artist to meet, her detailed monochrome illustrations were an easy talking point. With a great variety in terms of content which creates a real urgency to take a closer look her hand screen printed designs. With a good handful of designs including a very trendy gold foil highlight I am tempted to pay the shipping cost from their home in Melbourne.
Now after getting caught up in my subconscious screen printing product hunt, I got distracted again this time by my not so subtle jewellery obsession. With such a great selection of jewellery on offer whatever your style or brand there is always something new to discover.
Rosa just gets better and better at her trade show offering, 4 years in to making her own designs and she has a abundant selection of laser cut, hand finished bobby dazzlers to choose from. Whether you are looking for some large statement necklaces, including her latest prototype designs, or the more simple single pieces engraved bird studs Rosa has something for you. Every time we chat she is working hard at finding a way to give her customers even more: logo charms at the clasps, more unique colour ways etc. Her latest offering for those who love her designs but don’t want to wear them, trinket trays! With reflective acrylic and resin inlays, I hope several find their way on to my dresser soon.
Meeting Kate was like finding a fellow collector, I often go scavenging for little gems in the world around me and Kate it seems makes them in to precious silver and gold jewellery. Her stand was filled with curiosities from crabs pincers to birds wings the later being my favourite, especially coming in a clever adjustable bracelet design.
There is something to be said for the traditional when it comes to jewellery or should I say classic. Many people have charm bracelets that usually have a loving memory or story attached, but it gets harder to find exactly what you are looking for in the ever contemporary market. Lily Charmed seems to be the best of both worlds taking inspiration from tradition and infusing it with contemporary spark. Whether that be in a re-imagined safety pin or a custard cream charm that any biscuit lover would want. Many things from their stall went on my Christmas list so don’t be surprised if they appear again in one of my soon approaching gift guides.
I was drawn in by the very memorable trade show hot pink feather display tree and stayed around to find out how the new ranges where shaping up. With lots of new personalising options in their alphabet range it was hard to not make up my own bespoke order. Kelly knows just what works and adds new collections to the mix to keep her jewellery fresh and desirable.
Two ceramic talents I am always happy to see: Helen from Planet Ceramics with her delicious glazes and Christian from Stolen Form with his newly public voted for mug handles (that was much more exciting than it sounds).
Emma surprised me (a hard thing to do these days) I have never been a fan of decorative glass items but was drawn in by a deep purple floral splash back that deserved some attention. She definitely brings something unique to an interior, her take on the retro-British aesthetic makes for some unique pieces from bespoke commissions to engraved tumblers.
This duo from Scotland (actually Mrs Goode is Irish I think) immediately made me happy with their true to roots screen printed textiles. I know more screen printers!! but that wasn’t the only thing that drew me in, 3 very well constructed huts were the centre pieces of their display, made special for the event with such care you had to admire the effort. Upon looking closer at the designs and chatting away I discovered the connection each had to their Scottish origins. Each design named things like: drookit which in a Scottish dialect describes ‘being soaked through’, the level of thought was inspiring and added to their value in my eyes.
After a way too short lunch break and a quick second look at the map I searched out a few more familiar faces leaving myself only a few precious moments to check out this years new addition, Paperfest.
The lovely Lorna continues to amaze me I have kept a close eye on her journey after meeting her at Cockpit Arts open studio and she doesn’t disappoint. Appearing at Grow London and very recently launching a line of fabrics in John Lewis no less she seems to be never far from my news feed. With a hand on the botanical she manages to infuse just enough carefully chosen colour to keep her designs natural but impactful. With several new pattern designs and products to see them on she is the perfect women to visit for gifting, decorating or even posting (she does stationery).
Victoria seems to be the only person who can bring the Christmas in September out of me whether due to her cheery hello or her luxurious Christmas crackers I am not sure. I have a long history with Victoria’s designs of which there are many: both classic British icons and typographic compilations of worthy words. If you ever find yourself expecting the queen (or at least someone who thinks they are) I would want her British products on my table.
It has always been my mission to get more of the Ark’s products stocked in my area, I don’t get up to Cambridge enough and I want at least one of everything they make. I delight in seeing all their newest goodies at trade shows so here are loads of images! Bold leather goods with lots of cheeky gold embossed details, I mean come on they sell themselves.
It was no easy feat to be stand amongst some big stationery giants, with full on floor to ceiling displays of cards, bows, wrapping and washi tape but Grace managed to resist the temptation to compete and instead stated her luxury with a pink hued minimalist approach. With a feminine approach to letter writing, influenced by her work in fashion Grace creates a multi layered experience. With a sensitive range of envelopes & cards along side some bespoke commissioned customisable wedding stationery there are many strings to her bow.
There is always many more that deserve a mention, trend setters and unique ideas but a blog post can only be so long and the fun truly is in the discovery so put the next Top Drawer dates in your diary and I’ll see you there.
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