Tuesday, 14 December 2010
That's Not My Age has a tendency to gravitate towards Christmas kitsch - glitzy clothes, tacky accessories, any contraption programmed to say, 'Ho ho ho,' at regular intervals - it's a Blackpool thing. Fortunately a couple of weeks ago I bumped into interiors designer and fellow northener, Michelle Mason (the second time this year I've been re-united with an old friend - in real life, not on Facebook) who offered me some expert advice on how to make this a super-stylish Christmas:
1. What are your tips for decorating the tree/home at Christmas? Oh
and any tips for wrapping presents?
Our tree comes from Columbia Road flower market as we live nearby.
And I like a mix of old and new decorations: I've still got some of my nan's which she must have bought in the 50s and 60s - and some delicate hand-blown glass from Liberty. My new flat has a chimney breast and a little Edwardian fireplace so this year my daughter can hang a stocking off the mantlepiece. I like to wrap things in plain paper - either white or a single colour and always use ribbon.
2. The things you design make really good presents - but what's the
best present you've ever received?
The best and most memorable present was probably for my 30th Birthday. I
was in Honduras, backpacking on the Mosquito Coast and made friends with
a great group of people from all over the world. They organised a local
band, a fisherman caught and barbecued a huge king fish and we partied on
the beach under coconut palms until dawn. It was perfect.
3. And the best you've ever given? Do you give people your own designs? And is it ever OK to give a tea towel for a present?!
I always try to give of something unusual, perhaps a present that the
person wouldn't have chosen for themselves. I'm not sure if this is always
a good thing but I do put a lot of thought into it. I sometimes give Michelle Mason
presents - usually when I'm going to a friends for lunch. I love tea towels, particularly if they have a nice, bright graphic - I gave my dad"s girlfriend one of my own tea towel designs as a stocking filler last year but I'm not sure she realised I'd designed it, and I'm not sure it was the right thing for her!
4. Where should I be shopping for Christmas presents this year?
I live in the East End and there are some great independent shops for individual presents. I like Ella Doran, Keeping House, Treacle, Suck and Chew, Fabrications, Labour and Wait and Caravan in Shoreditch. In west London I like Pedlars for interesting prints and homewares, and Designer's Guild on Marylebone High Street is a lovely space.
The newly re-vamped Museum of London also deserves a mention. The shop is great for presents but the new lower floor exhibition space is fantastic - I had such a great time pouring over the exhibits and London archives.
4. Are there any other independent British designers worth checking out?
For stocking fillers, I buy mugs from People Will Always Need Plates, I like Rob Ryan prints and Donna Wilson's knitted animals. You get to know a lot of other designers by doing the shows, which is good because we often swap stuff!
5. And finally, what will you be doing on Christmas Day?
Putting my feet up, eating and catching up on some sleep! In London.
All photos and products: Michelle Mason