Category Archives: Design

Introducing the Fashion Tech Tribes

Here’s a little collaboration between myself and the very talented Alexis Cuddyre of OMG Im Getting Married blog. We decided to take a satirical look at the way fashionistas are using social media. We hold our hands up and admit to a few of the behaviours ourselves…

The piece was recently published in the Silicon Roundabout newspaper Can’t Understand New Technology , edited by our friend and Miss Internet herself Camilla Grey. Since Can’t is currently a print only affair – it’s more exclusive and post-digital that way, geddit? – here are the tribes in all their digital glory. Watch this space for the second set of tribes, coming soon!

Which one are you??…

FashionTechTribes_LauraTan_AlexisCuddyre-2

 

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Stockholm in Summer

Just spent a wonderful few days in Stockholm, possibly my new favourite city.  The place encompasses pretty much all of my favourite things. It’s calm and quaint, surrounded by soothing water. It is packed full of amazing design shops, and it is completely walkable/cyclable. The only problem is how expensive everything is…didn’t stop me window shopping though.

A few favourites:

1. Svenskt Tenn

The famous design store, filled with the stunning textiles of Josef Franck . Arguably one of Sweden’s most respected designers, Franck was renowned for his brightly coloured, botanically inspired prints and his intelligent musings on interior design.

I particularly like his point of view on living rooms:  “The living room, where one can live and think freely, is neither beautifully harmonious nor homogenous. It has come about through coincidence, will never be complete and can within itself absorb whatever the residents’ varying needs may require.”

Svenskt Tenn Stockholm

2. Whyred

I don’t know how I hadn’t come across this beautiful fashion line before but it’s firmly on my radar now. Clean lines and quirky but subtle prints, Whyred is modernist without being stark. I managed to bag myself a gorgeous blouse in the sale that looks a little like this lovely scarf.

Whyred

3. Bread

Rye bread isn’t usually a food people get excited about, but in Sweden it tastes different. It’s got this delicious nutty yet sweet flavour that is nothing like the dry, slightly sour stuff you get over here. I gobbled down vast quantities of it for breakfast, along with yummy Swedish jams and honey.

Swedish rye bread

Fair fashion

I recently braved the hoards of haribo-fuelled teenage girls ravaging their way through the Topshop jewellery section, and surprised myself by coming across a real gem of a jewellery collection.

It was the bold, unique jewellery from the MADE collection that first caught my eye but upon further reading of the label, I found out that MADE is 100% fairtrade, with a mission that is “about prompting trade not aid in Africa.”

It is refreshing to find a fairtrade jewellery label that isn’t selling the kind of wares which resemble those ubiquitous beaded bracelets so loved by over-privileged kids on their “gap yah”. MADE’s stuff is genuinely stylish and they have jewellery superstars like Pippa Small (admired by the likes of Vogue) on hand to add some serious design credibility.

I particularly like this paperchain gold necklace.

MADE Fairtrade jewellery

Bellevue and Bluebell

Apologies for lack of posts this week but if like me, you’ve been a little preoccupied with our country’s political turmoil, then you won’t have had much time for idle blog browsing. Now that our political fate has been sealed, I think it’s time for a little light relief. So, back to matters of tea and lovely things!

Perhaps nature was giving me a little hint as to our political future last week when it showed off such a wonderful display of bluebells? Regardless of political leaning, this swathe of blue cannot be beaten for its soothing effect.

Surrey bluebells

Speaking of soothing things, I have to share with you my latest tea find. I was introduced to Bellevue tea by the ever-generous duo that is my brother and his girl (see previous posts for further evidence of their impeccable gift buying).

I have no shame in admitting that the gorgeous packaging of Bellevue tea plays a large role in my new-found love for this brand. But before you think Elle Tea has lost all integrity, let me reassure you that it’s not a purely superficial relationship. In addition to looking pretty, and tasting pretty good, Bellevue has serious green credentials. The tea bags are full compostable and even the box, tags and teabag envelopes are biodegradable. Phew! Now I have a proper excuse to love it. Even my tea skeptic colleagues at work approved of the Earl Grey variety.

Bellevue Tea

Flowers everywhere

I’m currently in the throes of flat selling, and in an attempt to woe prospective buyers I’ve been arranging fresh flowers here, there and everywhere around my flat. It’s hardly a chore as I love flowers and get to enjoy them too, but it is proving quite an expensive new habit…

Flowers are having a bit of a moment, and not just at Maison Elle Tea. In the fashion world, I blame Erdem and his beautiful print dresses for a surge in the desire for all things flowery. I’ve always been more of a stripes and block colours kind of girl but even I just found myself buying a very flowery top from Topshop, which has more than a nod to the Erdem digital flower prints.

Topshop Flowers, inspired by Erdem's flower prints

In the world of stationery, again, I blame Mr Erdem for those deliciously desirable notebooks he designed for Smythson last year. That SamCam sure knows a trend when she sees one.

In the outdoors world I thank, rather than blame, the onset of Spring for the recent appearance of beautiful blossom.  Nothing, not even fashion, can beat the natural blossom tree.

Spring blossom on Clapham Common

And just to go completely over-board, here’s a double-flower combo.

Elle Tea goes flowery

p.s. One more lovely flowery thing, just because!

Flowers in a tea pot (from This is Glamorous)

Tea and Pottering

I’m still house-bound with this wretched chest infection but on the positive side, it’s meant I’ve had more time than usual to make endless cups of tea and also to read the whole of the weekend paper,  a rarity for me. I very much enjoyed reading an article in the Observer Food Monthly by the charming Alexander McCall Smith (of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency fame). A fellow tea addict, McCall Smith makes the eloquent observation that “tea is not just a drink. It’s a social and cultural statement, with its own etiquette and sense of ritual; it provides comfort and routine in times of crisis.” He’s preaching to the converted with me but it is true that whatever the situation, or however you are feeling, there is a place for tea. Even when I’ve been unable to taste anything this week, with my senses clouded by the flu, I’ve still taken much enjoyment from sipping on a warm, soothing cup of tea.

In a previous post, I wrote about the healing effect of tea on war-torn Rwanda. Well, McCall Smith reminds us that tea also played an important healing and morale-boosting role in WW2 – the tea ladies during the Blitz were renowned for their resilience and determination to provide tea for the firefighters and wardens no matter how difficult the conditions.  This spirit makes me think of the famous ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster.

That's the spirit

Speaking of war time nostalgia, check out these retro tea and coffee tins I bought from M&S a while back. I only just re-found them but I love the packaging and the fact that the tin displays a price of 1d – bargain!

Old-school M&S packaging

Old-school M&S packaging

I love this photo of McCall Smith watering his plants with tea. Seems a little eccentric but my mother swears by the same method to nurture her orchid collection. I tried this myself with my own £5 Ikea orchid and amazingly, it has just blossomed for the second time (see below). So there you go, plants appreciate the healing power of tea too! Uhoh, I’m sounding more like a crazy old lady by the minute…promise you an edgy fashion post next!

Alexander McCall-Smith waters his plants with tea

My tea-loving orchid

Dreaming of Spring

I’ve been feeling decidedly under the weather these past few days so have been consoling myself with thoughts of Spring – nothing could be embody the incoming season more than these fresh-as-a-daisy looks from the latest Anthropologie catalogue. I can’t wait for warmer weather, longer days and prettier clothes.

anthropologie

Fresh floral prints

anthropologie

Dreamy

Light & airy but still cosy & inviting