Courier Life Design

Talking discarded furniture and Afropop with Yinka Ilori

Courier talks Afropop and hunting for discarded furniture with the artist-designer. Yinka Ilori spends a lot of his spare time wandering around London, looking for abandoned chairs. Two or three finds provide the raw materials for one new creation, which is painted in vivid colours and re-upholstered. The fabrics, sourced from London or Lagos, are inspired by the bold patterns …


Fashion International Workshop

Culture clash: overcoming language barriers with suppliers

Commissioning handmade rug designs from Moroccan weavers who don’t speak English or take measurements has been problematic for The Rug Trade. A year after placing her first order, Ella Jones, founder of The Rug Trade, decided it was time to meet her supplier in person. Jones had been buying vintage rugs and commissioning her own designs from a Moroccan weaver …

Tom Dixon portrait by Timba Smits for Courier Aug/Sep 2016

Design Retail

Tom Dixon’s commercial blueprint

How did a bass player in a funk band become the poster boy for British furniture designers? Tom Dixon’s £600 Melt pendant lights were the best-selling branded items at John Lewis in the run-up to Christmas last year. Middle England followed boutique hotels and upmarket restaurants in falling for Dixon’s products, which have become a shortcut for people looking for …

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Can the UK build a world-beating furniture industry?

The British furniture industry lags behind Europeans despite a wealth of design talent. Why?  It’s perhaps an interesting time to reflect on the fact that Europeans simply do some things better than Britain and in a way that we would do well to learn from. This includes the making and selling of furniture. It’s a sore point for individuals in the …


Design amid destitution in south Beirut

In the Shatila refugee camp in south Beirut, local charity Basmeh and Zeitooneh is transforming the fortunes of residents through the production of hand-embroidered goods, which are eying boutiques around the world. Located a 15-minute drive from upmarket bars selling £10 cocktails in the north of the city lies the Shatila refugee camp. It’s a ramshackle shanty town of breeze-block high rises, packed so tight …


Beirut: ‘This city fuels my creativity’

Lebanon’s chaotic recent history has witnessed a brutal 15-year civil war, conflict with Israel and the destabilising influx of more than a million Syrian refugees. But amid such significant turmoil, capital city Beirut is proving an inspirational home to a thriving group of young designers. Being resourceful and inventive is hardwired into every Beiruti’s psyche; making a living in a city …

Retail Workshop

Following Fab and flatpack

Between 2010 and 2013 Jason Goldberg transformed from a social network for gay men into a flash sale website with 10 million members, selling seven million products in three years. In September last year, Goldberg launched a new business, Hem. Another e-commerce business; this time selling upmarket but affordable, customisable furniture. 1. At Christmas 2012, the top selling products …