May We Help You: The Best Specialist Supplies in London

The amazing Herb Lester Associates have produced another mapping triumph in May we help you? The best specialist suppliers in London. Similar to their wonderful You Are Here: The best places to eat and work in London map this folds out into a beautifully-designed compact map with notes on the reverse. The topic this time is specialist businesses like umbrella makers, taxidermists, invisible menders, chandlers and many more. The sort of places that have disappeared from many towns, making the ones that survive even more remarkable.

May We Help You: The Best Specialist Supplies in London

It's useful but also a thing of beauty as the 50s-style design is spot on. It's a steal at £3 (inc P+P) from the Herb Lester Associates website.


These PorTables (get it?) tablemats featuring photos of vintage portable record players rock my world. A collaboration between soft furnishing designer Ella Doran and Kavel Rafferty (who is behind the great Record Envelope blog) there are 6 in the set. They are a little bit too gorgeous to eat off, but still.


Available from Ella Doran's online shop and her real shop in Cheshire St, London.

Gillian Kyle Creamola Foam bag

For readers of a certain age, Creamola Foam Foil Bag from Gillian Kyle on Folksy.

You Are Here by Herb Lester Associates

Ben from Herb Lester Associates sent me You Are Here: The Best Places to Meet and Work in London (thank you Ben). It's a small fold-out guide showing the best places for freelancers or anyone without access to a regular office to get together in central London. There's a map on one side and some funny, accurate reviews on the other. Very useful and beautifully put together. The vintage-style illustrations by Michael Newhouse make it even more special.

You Are Here: Freelancer's Map of London

If you would like one it's a steal at £3 from Herb Lester Associates. More info about them on their website or in this write-up on We Made This.

Day of the Dead skeleton girl figurine by Deadly Pretty Things

Just realised this is the first post of the new year - happy 2010 everyone.

I was thinking about writing some more end of year round-ups, or some new year resolution-type things but changed my mind. Instead here's something that tickled me - Deadly Pretty Things is Bristol skateboarder Jason Hills, who repaints those familiar insipid China figurines as Day of the Dead figures. A great improvement, I'd say.

Rubber stamp necklace by Niche Handmade

I've been admiring these necklaces made from vintage illustrations by Niche Handmade on Folksy. The rubber stamp necklace is a particular favourite, along with the Little City necklace. These paper mache birds are also really cute. Nice work!

Arts Tower stand-up calendar from We Live Here

Loving these Brutalist standee calendars from Sheffield's ever excellent We Live Here.

Get Carter Car Park stand-up calendar from We Live Here

Available in Get Carter Car Park, Trellick Tower, Park Hill and Arts Tower flavours.

Vision On poster

Readers of a certain age will remember the delight that was Vision On. Presented by avuncular art legend Tony Hart who died last year, it ran from 1964-1976 on the BBC and showcased art and animation from artists and kids alike.

Two of the most memorable things about it are The Gallery theme and the great Vision On logo, designed by Tony Hart himself. Happily Trunk Records are selling Vision On prints and t-shirts. Tony Hart's estate get some of the proceeds and they're selling out fast, so get in there. (Thanks Andrew for the tip).

A guide to seasonal vegetables

I'm always a sucker for a natty tea towel, so here's one that's useful and attractive - a guide to seasonal vegetables by Stuart Gardiner. Found on the excellent To Dry For, for all your tea towel needs. They have a good sale on at the moment with Mr PS and People Will Always Need Plates tea towels going cheap. I just bagged me a Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral one - mighty fine.

Wooden spark plug USB stick

I said at the start of the year that at I'd like to do more freelance work, and I've got my wish as I'm now helping out at Folksy as (very) part-time Community Manager.

Folksy has just turned 1 and it's been really interesting to see it develop. I'm a big fan of it, as a buyer and a seller. There's a whole heap of great, original, affordable things on there and it's one of the few easy ways to get your produce out there if you're a budding designer/maker.

The idea is that I'm on board to help James and Rob develop the site so if you've used folksy, or are trying it out for the first time and have comments about what's good/bad do get in touch. I'm at

The picture at the top is my favourite find today, a handmade wooden spark plug USB stick from Tree Gems.

Nice to see you Ink Posters print

Ink Posters is a collaboration between British designers Joff and Ollie and Zoot. They've got some lovely designs - very simple, but stylish and colourful. My favourite is the British comedy-inspired Nice To See You print above. Numbers are limited, so get in quick.

Czech matchbox

Morphy Richards wallpaper

Maraid, of the superb Eastern European matchbox collection, has made some lovely desktop wallpaper featuring designs from old adverts, vintage matchboxes and classic Penguin books. Now you can customise your hi-tech whatnots with beautiful retro designs. Available in different sizes, including iphones.

Mr PS mugs

Mr PS (aka Megan Price from Manchester) takes her inspiration from "vintage signage, eating and drinking, and the great British seaside" - excellent work. She has a lovely line of products like mugs for tea lovers and delightful tea towels.

Cafe culture tea towel

I like this one in particular, with its reference to classic cafes of yore. Available from various stockists and the Mr PS shop.

London Press Bureau fonts

Found in Gair Dunlop's Flickr stream, these photos of old fonts were scanned from hallfplate glass negatives found in an abandoned Post Ofice warehouse, from envelopes marked "London Press Bureau".

Velvet Letter

They're fantastically wiggy and ornate. Worth plundering.


In case you haven't seen this already (suggested by David and blogged by Ben), a Flickr pool has been set up to trace the 1000 copies of Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet. If you've got one please photograph the cover, geotag it and add it to the one thousand covers Flickr pool. It's only right that the internet > print > internet circle becomes complete. [Photo by Ben.]

Jim Jarmusch's golden rules #2

One of Jim Jarmusch's golden rules, as presented by Mark Malazarte. I agree wholeheartedly (via Ace Jet 170).

Boat race by Tom Eckersley

Well, Bookcamp-stroke-Papercamp was a blast. I'll write something up as soon as I can think straight (may be some time). On Sunday, my esteemed colleague Lucy and I went to The Art of the Poster at London Transport Museum. It was small, but very good, with some beautiful work by Abram Games, Tom Eckersley, Edward McKnight Kauffer and many, many more. A lot of these posters are online (and available in their excellent shop) but the exhibition has some nice original artwork, and even better than that, photos of the artists working away in their dickie-bows.

The rest of the museum was pretty good too, although it does look like you can get most of it off their website. Like 100 years of the roundel. Anyway, it's on 'til the end of March if you fancy checking it out. And also in March, it's open day at Acton Depot which looks amazing. Anyone fancy writing this up for Nothing To See Here?

Beardy prints from Beard Revue

Calling all beard lovers. Beard Revue is one year old and to celebrate, Michael Buchino (chief beardy curator) has made a Milton Glaser-inspired print. I have to confess, I am not a regular reader but he sent me such a nice email I had to check it out. Plus I do like men with beards. Some of them, anyway. Not too long, or too well kept, but those in the middle. Oh yes.

For enthusiasts, there's an appreciation of Edward Gorey's beard, and elsewhere the top 10 awesomely-bearded songs (includes serious beardage). Let your freak flag fly!

Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet 2008

I was delighted to get Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet in the post this morning. Ben and Russell have printed off bits of the internet and turned it into a beautiful newspaper. It's such a smart idea. Totally simple but shocking in a way. The web in print.

It's a great read. Even though I've read most of the pieces before (because they're from blogs I like) it felt like reading the most interesting magazine ever. It's got a lovely tone - smart, considered, quirky, intelligent, and it looks beautiful. I'm biased of course because I'm in it, which made me very proud. The Bakelite Museum takes up half the back page.

The Bakelite Museum in print

It gave me a bit of a scare seeing my words in print. Funny how it seems much more permanent. Which is weird because which is more permanent (or less impermanent) now - print or online. They both spread and degrade in different ways. That's what I like about this - it's different. Makes you think. Anyway, Beekr has more detail, Ben has photos of it being made. I'm not going to say any more because you should really see it in the flesh, as it were. If you want one contact Ben at the intriguingly titled Really Interesting Group. There are only 1000 so get in quick.

Envelope angels - reuse envelopes in style

I had a happy moment this morning when I remembered that I'd forgotten to open my Secret Santa present from work. And an even happier moment when I dug it out of its hiding place and opened it to find these Envelope Angels. In case it's not obvious, they're labels you stick over the address on a used envelope to make it shiny enough to use again. They come in two models, original angelic and London Underground issue (above). They're really nicely designed - the box acts as a dispenser which you can refill, and Blue Marmalade, the people who make them are so nice they'll even recycle the plastic stickerbacks for you.

It's only a little thing but it's possibly THEE most appropriate gift as I'd been looking for something like this lately and couldn't find it. And I'm a bit obsessive about recycling, but I've never told anyone at work that. They must have known by the state of my desk or something. So thank you Secret Santa.

I ended up doing a lot of reading about bubble cars and microcars for the piece on the Bubble Car Museum at Byard's Leap. They are an intriguing species, culminating in the Peel P50 from the Isle of Man, the smallest car ever to go into production. The video above shows two Peel collectors trundling about the countryside. I really did expect their feet to be sticking out of the bottom.

And if you want more, Jeremy Clarkson takes a P50 to work. I like this unwritten rule that you can get into a bubble car unless you're over 6 foot.

Paper Obama

Download the tempate and build your own paper Obama. It's Build-O-Bama (via Paper Forest).

I'm going to stop talking about lions real soon, but not quite yet, as I've been given some good pointers.

Caesar the friendly lion

This is Caesar, a friendly lion from Able (via Grain Edit) - thanks Stevie.

Jonathan Adler lion

Here's an elegant ceramic lion by Jonathan Adler. Part of a wonderful menagerie (thanks Emily).

Look out for Hornsea lion mugs designed by John Clappison, who is clearly worthy of further study (here's an incomplete view) recommended by dick and katrina.

And finally, I've posted this before I'm sure but it's so lovely it deserves another look. The Candylion video from Gruff Rhys where he makes a wonderful paper lion while singing a charming lion ditty.


After our visit to Gladstone Court we went to the Gasworks Museum in Biggar. To cut a short story even shorter it isn't one of the world's most fascinating museums, even by my standards, and it smells a bit. However, it more than made up for this by having a superb line of Mr Therm merchandise. That's him in the photo on the door of a gas fridge.

I've had a thing for Mr Therm since seeing him 15 years ago in an exhibition about Eric Fraser in Aberdeen. Fraser was a superb illustrator who did a lot of advertising work particularly for the Radio Times, Shell and Guinness. He created Mr Therm for the Gas, Light and Coke company to symbolise the friendly face of gas in the home. He was a familiar face until the 1960s appearing on hoardings, adverts and even in the GLCC's resident Therm Band, "where "the musicians wore ridiculous bulky cardboard costumes with cut-out holes for their faces, impersonating the ubiquitous mascot" 1. He's one of my all-time favourite advertising mascots along with the Bic Boy (created by Raymond Savignac), L'Omino, the Bialetti coffee man and our dear friend Potato Pete.

Marks and Spencer's ads

Spotted recently in Marks and Spencer's cafe, these lovely displays made from fragments of their old packaging. Obviously this one was best because it's mostly biscuits and buttons.

Carry On Screaming

Out now Carry On and Hammer Horror commemorative stamps from the Royal Mail. Better pictures on The Guardian website. They're miniature versions of the original film posters and look absolutely great, even when they're tiny.

The Billy Liar House

The Billy Liar House, from the 1963 film shot on the outskirts of Bradford is the subject of the latest print from We Live Here. This is a slight departure from their usual brutalist masterpieces but it's just as lovely and a steal at £20.

Modern typeface

davidthedesigner's alphabetical guide to 52 fonts you could use instead of Helvetica is now half way through. It's been very interesting so far. Thanks david!

Ariel Faber catalogue 1970

Publishers Faber and Faber have a fine Flickr stream full of their book covers, catalogues and author photos, old and new. Penguin covers deserve the attention they get but by comparison Faber's covers are hidden treasures. Their Faber 20th Century classics like Ariel (above) are so simple, but so striking. The modern day poetry series with typographic covers continues the text-only tradition (thanks Gareth).

Lovely cow

I wouldn't normally comment on something like this, not being a designer like, but Pentagram's redesign of Dairy Today magazine is fantastic. Look at these cows - they're as glamorous as movie stars (via Acejet170).

Saul Bass - Henri's Walk To Paris

It sometimes feels like the web is saturated with design blogs, all swilling the same links about. Then along comes Grain Edit which is clearly a cut above the rest. Specialising in vintage children's and rare graphic design books it's choc full of beautiful rarities like Saul Bass's only kids' book Henri's Walk to Paris (above, also on Flickr). Even the archives are beautifully laid out. Add a little style to your day (thanks Will).

Flensted Santa Flensted Puffing Troll

Flensted have been making supercool mobiles since 1954. They've got various ranges: kids, Bauhaus and Calder-inspired abstract ones, even some styllsh Christmas decorations (including Santa, above). My favourites are the Danish ones, with vikings, viking ships and the delightfully mournful Puffing Troll (above right) who will take all your troubles away. They're lightweight and pack flat so make great gifts for kids overseas. Buy from Danish Design and shops worldwide.

Dan McPharlin's mini cardboard synthesizers

Quite possibly the cutest things ever, tiny cardboard synthesizers and musical equipment by Dan McPharlin. An electro fanfare to dustysevens for this one.

Keep Calm and Carry On tea towel

The wonderful Keep Calm and Carry On posters that proved such a big hit are now reproduced as a lovely tea towel. I've got one and it seems like a perfect marriage - stoic advice right where you need it. Not that I'd dream of actually drying the dishes with it. It's far too nice for that.

They're available from Lark Designs who also do a whole heap of other great stuff, much of it based on classic children's books. Although based in Australia they ship internationally at no extra cost. They're also available from Pedlars - another mail order company specialising in fine items with vintage styling such as old Routemaster destination boards and Lonodn Underground signs. The posters are still a steal at £3.60 from Barter Books.

Little monster

This is my new favourite package. It's Extra Gentle Melon After Swim from Superdrug. It comes from a kids haircare range which all have these great scratch-and-sniff monsters on the label. They also have a bit of fun with the instructions - "Oh-no! You've been swimming and you pong like a pool!". It stands out a mile from everything else on the shelves, even the kids' stuff which is supposed to be fun and eye-catching. I can't find out who designed them (reminds me a bit of Tim Biskup or Pete Fowler but that's not very likely) but well done whoever it was, and well done Superdrug. It made me buy something I didn't need, so job done.

Little Fork

Found in Pittenweem, this lovely old box, with all its little forks inside. After all this talk about giving things fancy names it's a nice reminder of less complicated times.

Paynes PoppetsPaynes Poppets have had a makeover. It's sort of Icons of England meets I Love the 1970s with spacehoppers, slinkies, furry dice and the like. There are 4 different designs for each flavour ("an industry first" they say), with 4 flavours altogether - raisin, peanut, toffee and orange (coconut and "crunchy" have fallen by the wayside). The packets drive home the nostalgia thing with a message "to help you Remember When?". The one on this packet was about burying someone up to their neck in sand. I like Poppets but I'm not hit by waves of nostalgia every time I bite into one, so this seems like over-egging the pudding a bit. Maybe that's just me. I did find some Tooty Frooties (have they gone away and come back?) and was instantly transported back to the park I used to play in when I was wee. Still, the packets are very nice (they're going into the museum) and stand out a mile in the sweet shop - makes you realise how dull most chocolate wrappers are. For enthusiasts the history of Poppets (from 1937) is on Fox's website.

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