Image found here
Ok, so to the untrained eye these bags look really cute and kitsch and pretty, and yes, anything that is stopping people using plastic bags is a good thing, but I was really disheartened to hear that Cath Kidston had been ensnared by Tesco to design these bags. Hot off the tails of Anya Hindmarch’s “I am not a plastic bag” for Sainsbury’s, CK has fallen into the old mass marketing trap. Alright, so perhaps as a money-raking business decision it’s a savvy one, but when it comes to integrity, Cath Kidston, purveyor of all things chitzy and responsible for single-handedly making kitsch, dare I say, a bit chavvy (I know, it makes me cry too) has sold out.
I know that people get up in arms about this – and yes I do like her fabrics, but what I protest to is the obscene diversification that her brand has undergone. You may have read a previous rant on this topic before but a recent weekend trip to Bath cruelly ripped open the barely- healed wound.
My sister is a fan of the incredibly over-priced hand cream (I roll my eyes and wonder why oh why can’t she buy some delicious L’Occitane or some good old Body Shop hand butter or even ‘old faithful’ aka Nivea?) and insisted we went into the shop: cue instant migraine. I balked at the price of her products – even the cheapy wooden doorstops you can buy in a hardware shop for 30p cost £2.50 plus VAT all because they have been slapped with a bit of paint that I daresay will chip off and the mere slamming of a door. But to add insult to injury, she is now selling old bits of tat that look to the world as though they were pulled from a junk shop as Cath Kidston goodies – I suppose I have to get her points for bare cheek!
My point, dear readers, is this. Clearly ethics and integrity play second fiddle to the pursuit of money and while Cath Kidston and her marketing people are rolling about in filthy lucre, I remain disappointed by the obvious sell-out – Kidston doesn’t need to increase awareness of her brand, it’s already saturated the highstreet, middle england, and is now taking up residence in chavs-ville.
Since creating this guide…
I have received emails from a number of people who have expressed relief that, finally, some sensible blogger (moi!) thought to create a comprehensive guide to stylish wall coverings. This got me thinking: mini guides are the way forward.
To this end, I have already dreamed up the next mini guide which looks at a sub-category of wallpaper and that is… wall stickers! They are so cool they deserve their own post, anyway, enough of that, are you ready for the next instalment of paper madness? Brace yourselves!
To kick off, we are moving up a category to what I consider to be the more expensive papers that are harder to find (unless you know where to look that is.) They don’t usually come up on any Google searches, at least nowhere near the top.
First of all is probably my favourite wallpaper designer: Alberto Fornasetti who creates classic, rich, jaw-droppingly beautiful designs. My favourite is his Mediterranea and the exquisite Riflesso:
His designs can all be found at Cole and Son as can my other favourite prints, Cow Parsley which can be found in the New Contemporary collection section – not sure who designs it, could by C & S themselves. No prices are given which means they are expensive – I have seen Mediterannia on Wallpaper Direct for around £200 a roll (ouch!)
Over at 95% Danish, you can access Ferm Living’s uber funky wallpapers – my particular faves are Bindweed and Silhouette and they range from £39.00 to £45 a roll.
For a great all-round site that can source papers from all over, at any price, check out Wallpaper Direct but I warn you, it can be really time consuming and rather overwhelming but you can save your favourites (and order 2 free samples) as well as being able to see how the papers will look in different flash rooms which is handy – however, despite ordering samples over two weeks ago, I’m STILL waiting! Not a good show!
Seen enough? Well, hold your horses my pretties because I haven’t even begun! What kind of purveyor of fine papers would I be if I neglected to mention the Designers’ Guild? Oh my, some of the papers are almost good enough to eat, like a Popsicle on a hot summer’s day; the vibrant colours will bring a room to life.
And I know you are not meant to covet such things, but sod the kids, I want to have this delish paper all for myself! Cuter than cute!
Now, I haven’t really covered them in detail, but Marks and Spencers,
Laura Ashley and my old mate Cath Kidston all sell a rather limited assortment of papers – although they tend to be mid range prices. But to be honest, nothing is exceptionally exciting. I do think Cath K’s clown paper is great for kiddies’ bedrooms and the rose print is fresh and chintzy…
But if you are a hardcore Vintage lover and want real bonefidee vintage paper, look no further then Rosie’s Vintage Papers.
This site is a gem and if you are after something authentic, you’ll feel like you have struck gold. Below are just a few samples of the great timeless prints you can get your hands on – and not too expensive either – only drawback is, yep, you guessed it, they are US based! Pants!
Similarly, Secondhand Rose (another US company) offer all kinds of vintage prints – they totally remind me of Granny Gough’s back bedroom – I can almost smell the carmine soap and beeswax floor polish. Ahh!
And how about an original 1920s Sarah Bernhardt design below – magic! The irony is, we would have stripped this sort of paper out of our homes a few years ago and now we are willing to pay through the nose for a little authenticity – nowt as strange as folk as my old mum would say.
But, if you are not into fusty old designs, however authentic, you might want to have a look at Deborah Bowness’s creations.
I have been lauding this lady for a while now since spotting her hand-printed papers in a design mag and, heavens above, they are beautiful – shame about the price tag. Still one can dream…
Finally, I may have mentioned her in my last post but she certainly deserves another mention – the first lady of wallpaper, Suzy Hoodless. Her divine prints are just the right side of edgy and will doubtless adorn many an achingly cool Manhattan loft apartment (and hopefully a quirky little Victorian mid terrace in Bristol, ehem!)
So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed your trip through the wallpaper world – remember to come back for the wallstickers saga…
Ciao for now…x
I may have touched on this subject briefly in an earlier post but having just received the latest Cath Kidson catalogue through the post, I was amazed at the amount of products they now offer. Initially I was OK with the pretty fabrics and made-up bits n bobs such as the peg bags, laundry bags, and sofa coverings as they are the natural progression for a fabric designer (after all that is what she is, is it not?)
However, then along came the crockery. Cotton candy sweet knives and forks, gazebos, kitsch camping gear for festival luvvies who wouldn’t be seen dead in anything from Millets, God forbid! Then came the seasonal goods (I always worry when seasonal goods come along – it smells of saturation).
And now, she has gone and committed (in my opinion) the cardinal sin: her own range of toiletries.
So imagine, a day-in-the-life of a die-hard Cath Kidson fiend:
She showers using her Cath Kidson shower gel before stepping out wrapping herself in her Cath Kidson towel, before slathering on her Cath Kidson body lotion and slipping on her Cath Kidson bathrobe. Of course, she selects a pretty floral Cath Kidson tea dress and slips on her Cath Kidson cutie-pie pumps (I don’t think she does underwear – yet).
She then proceeds to prepare a yummy lunch using a range of Cath Kidson crockery and glass ware, which sits atop her Cath Kidson oilcloth tablecloth, along side matching napkins and chair coverings. Before the guests arrive, she gives the dog his dinner, and he curls up in his rather flowery Cath Kidson dog basket. The guests arrive into a flurry of roses and dots, cowboys, stripes and stars. When everyone has gone home, she can put everything in the washing machine to be washed with the new range of Cath Kidson laundry products. Phew.
Ok, so maybe you wouldn’t have EVERYTHING Cath Kidson, but you could if you wanted, and that’s the point. I compare this to Ikea overkill: you know when you visit someone and you notice that flat-pack aura that radiates from every piece of furniture, the lighting, the rugs, the kitchen, the bedroom, even the plant pots have that ‘cloned’ look.
Ikea used to be a good place for getting really cheap and simple looking furniture – great for those kitting out a new home on a budget, but it’s not about being individual. How can it be when you can walk into a million homes across Europe and see the same print hanging on the wall, the same saucepans boiling away on the same cookers. It’s just not what good interior design is about.
I take the pick n mix ethos: if there is something you see that you like, sure, go ahead and buy it. But stop there. Put down the vase. Replace the storage box thingy on its shelf and walk away. Ask yourself if you really need it. You probably don’t.
Now I’m not critising the spirit of enterprise, but I can’t help feel a little dismayed. I picture the creative team at Cath Kidson sitting around the meeting room table. Someone has noticed that there is a new niche in the market for Cath Kidson wine. Yes, imagine it, says the product design manager, it would go really well with the gazebo – it matches and what’s more, it completes the picture of a rural ‘vintage’ idyll.
Well, thankfully this hasn’t happened yet, but I’m betting my bottom dollar that it has probably popped up in the design meetings at some point. So where do you stop? I fear Ms Kidson is saturating the market with sickly sweet ‘pseudo vintage’ loveliness and in doing so, the charm of the original fabrics disipates, and with it goes style, credibility and, my favourite, individuality. No one wants to have the same as everybody else.
So I have one last question: when’s the fragrance out?