Thursday, 13 March 2014

A Chat with Alexandra Mann

Alexandra Mann in her London Studio
Simply put, some people were born to work in fashion. Their creative flair is noticeable from their earliest years. Brit Alexandra Mann is one of those people. At a very young age, she insisted friends and strangers dress in an avant garde manner - styling them with props from the fancy dress box. 

Alexandra's love of all-that's-fashion has only thrived since and it's taken her around the world in search of inspiration, fabric and print. We caught up with her to delve more into the story behind her beautiful designs. 

When and why did you decide to be a designer?
It involved a large dressing up box at my grandparents house and dressing up my friends for pretend tea parties. I was quite a bossy child, telling everyone what to wear. I was also really into film and I found Elizabeth Taylor's costumes in Cleopatra mesmerising. Then at about 12 or 13 I discovered Vogue magazine. I have always loved style and clothing more than fashion. I knew from the age of 10 that I wanted to graduate in fashion. I went on to study at Nottingham Trent and adored my time there.

What are you main creative influences?
Like most designers I am sure I am a sponge for culture. I find a walk down Ridley Road Market revs me up as much as a trip to the Tate Modern or Britain. I love living in London; there's so much to absorb, to taste, to smell, to watch. Waddesdon Manor and its grand decadence is a favourite place of mine for inspiration. It's a beautiful backdrop to some exquisitely curated shows - Bruce Munro at Christmas blew my mind. 
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
At the moment its all a bit Origami. 
Who is your favourite designer and which aspect of their work do you most admire?
Vivienne Westwood will always be close to my heart. I worked for her in my early 20s. She doesn't care what anyone else thinks about how she looks and is her own person in every way. I feel very lucky to have worked for such an inspiring institution as her. Her last Gold Label show was immense. I identify with her cut and use of fabrics. A lot of my wardrobe is from her Gold Label. I feel like myself in Vivienne's clothes, in the undoneness of it all. She drapes a lot of her clothes which is how i still cut, drafting patterns in quarter scale first. I still want a vintage YSL tuxedo though...

What aspect of your work gives you the most pleasure?
The creative freedom and getting feedback from people that are happy with their private order or purchase. Satisfied customers in a nutshell. I feel very lucky to have turned a passion into a business. 

Where are you most creative?
At my studio in De Beauvoir, surrounded by colour, pattern, books, records. I feel creatively rooted there.

What is your workspace like? 
It was recently described as organised chaos by a client - I thought that was a pretty accurate summation! People like to hang out here, it's creative, cosy and very personal. There's boxes, trims and fabricseverywhere. Things to play with. There is a lot going on

How do you describe your style?
Pretty juxtaposition, organised chaos, Rabbinic, tomboy.

What was the best advice you received when you first started out?
Work hard and be kind to people and that cheap tights are a false economy.

What advice do you have for fledgling designers?
Practice, practice, practice. It really helps to be able to make your own samples when developing designs. Get an internship with someone you admire and never give up. There is always something new to learn. Think about what you want or need. Then design it.  

How do you achieve a work/life balance?
I am not sure I do! I have a rule not to stay at work past 9pm, but if really get into what I am doing, I go with it.
What are you other passions?
Music. Food. Film. Ibiza. My god children. 

What is your favourite food?
This is really hard! I love food. Right now I am craving oysters with hot tabasco and some real ale please!

What are your greatest weaknesses?
Sage & Wilde, a wine pop-up in Hackney, Comme des Garçon, and blue eyed boys.

For a selection of Alexandra Mann's Washbags click here.
And for our Alexandra Mann for Roost Living's Exclusive cushions click here

Friday, 14 February 2014

Miserable outside? Head for a culture fix

Wet weather isn't all gloom and doom; it’s also the perfect excuse to indulge in a little culture. There's a plethora of wonderful exhibitions showing in London at the moment and plenty more to come, too. Here are a few of our favourites that we’ll be making a beeline to on rainy days. 

Open now

Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary Things @ the Design Museum (until 9th March)
From the iconic London phonebox to everyday road signs, this curious exhibition shares the tales behind some of the most successful - and unique - pieces of modern design.

Paul Klee: Making Visibile @ the Tate Modern (until 9th March)
Paintings, sketches and watercolours from the German-Swiss surrealist-loving artist.

Coming soon

Digital Revolution @ Barbican (opens 3rd July)
What would we do without the internet? Explore how art, design, film, music and video games have evolved in this interactive celebration of technology. 

Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk @ Barbican (opens 9th April)
Get up-close with some of the avante-garde creations that the fashion designer has passionately crafted over the last 35 years. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

Alexandra Mann for Roost Living

An inspirational ‘maker’, Alexandra Mann has forged quite the fabric-focused career; she cut her teeth in cloth assisting the Head of Couture at Vivienne Westwood, before moving into full time costume design.

Over the years, her work and inspiration-seeking travels have led her to uncover wildly beautiful prints and fabrics, so it’s no coincidence that these feature pride of place in her eponymous new collection of cushions and travel accessories.

Brave emblems of grenades and razor blades are appliquéd atop Alexandra’s pieces; quite the contrast to the reclaimed Sanderson cottons beneath them. 

It’s this juxtaposition of old and new that initially drew us to Alexandra's work and to commission her to make a few exclusive-to-Roost Living styles. We hope you love them as much as we do! 

Friday, 31 January 2014

Valentine's Day

As soon as Christmas is over and your New Year's Resolutions (or rather, Personal Pledges) are well under way, Valentine's Day pops up on the horizon. 

To help you prepare for a truly love-filled day here are a few of our favourite things to give. 

For him
Anchor wash bag, designed exclusively for us by Alexandra Mann.

For her
The prettiest Angel plate, handmade by Fliff.

For the animal lover 
Hector Hare, designed by Rory Dobner and hand-finished in England.

For the secret romantic 
Roo Abrook's upcycled butterfly print will make melt even the coolest of hearts.

How will you be celebrating Valentine's Day? We love the idea of a champagne supper for two at home, or baking (perhaps Hummingbird's Red Velvet Cup Cakes?) and sharing your sweet treats with colleagues. 

Friday, 24 January 2014

Designers we love around the globe: Canada

This week, we venture to Canada where many a designer has captured our appreciative eye. Read on to get to know a few of our favourite North American designers.

Keo Phila 
After graduating from Ontario's College of Art and Design in 2008, Keo immersed herself in the textiles she studied. She now divides her time between fabric work, exhibitions, and installations; like this collaborative masterpiece 'Come Up To My Room'.

Rob Southcott 
Toronto-based Rob crafts playfulness into each of his pieces; take one look at his entwined chairs and it's unmistakeable. It's this, plus his instinct for experimentation with pattern, scale and manufacturing techniques - like the casting of prints upon this otherwise ordinary table - that draws us to him time and again.

Philippe Malouin
After intensive international training in Eindhoven (Netherlands), Paris and Montreal, Philippe set up home in London where he initially worked for celebrated British designer Tom Dixon. In 2009 Philippe launched his own studio as an outlet for aesthetically delighting art and covetable homeware; like this chic, understated china.

Dear Human
Though design duo Jasna Sokolovic and Noel O'Connell themselves may not be Canadian, their Vancover-based studio, Dear Human, is. Their work seamlessly melds originality with form and function. Case in point? Their quirky, colourful Bolt Bench which makes a statement as well as being a practical storage solution for eye-catching fabric.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Personal Pledges: our no-nonsense resolutions

Resolutions. They're not about making grand gestures you won't keep beyond a week, they're about making small changes you can realistically embrace into your every day. That’s our opinion when it comes to New Year resolutions - and we're re-branding ours as 'Personal Pledges'.
Instead of “must lose weight”, “must be more organised”, and many other promises that bring with them hurdle after hurdle, we've set ourselves the following easy-to-keep (we hope!) goals.
1. Put shoes and coats away as soon as we’re home.
2. Try new, healthy recipes (we've already made these tasty Indian veggie burgers and Yotam Ottolenghi's divine lentils with preserved lemon).

3. Walk more. We're swapping those occasional could-walk hops-on-the-bus for stretching our legs.

4. Connect with one another - without the internet! So no smart phones at supper or bed time. 

Small stuff, right? Yet so far, so good. What have you promised yourself this year? 

Friday, 3 January 2014

SALE: our favourite picks

Nothing curbs the January blues quite as well as a sale and ours has just begun! Here are a few of our favourite finds... some of which we don't have many of so don't delay if you have your heart set on something. Happy shopping! 

Up to 30% off 
Blanket: Was £230 Now £161, Chopping Boards: Were £28-£40 Now £19.60-£28, Six Napkins: Were £60 Now £42

Up to 50% off  
Table Runner: Was £55 Now £27.50, Figurine: Was £180 Now £90, Tea Cup & Saucer: Was £70 Now £35

Just a few left 
Lampshade: Was £40 Now £28, Bauble: Was £18 Now £12.60, Oven Gloves: Were £28 Now £19.60