Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The new Routemaster bus?

I visited the V & A a while back to see the amazing Heatherwick Studio exhibition.

Thomas Heatherwick is the chap who designed the Olympic torch (and many other things) and is an engineer. As a designer myself it interested me that it was always ladies who told me 'to go', so I was curious that whatever Mr. Heatherwick was up to, his designs must appeal to a much wider audience than your average engineer bridge-builder.It did and I was gob-smacked.

I realized that I'd admired his designs for years, and had enjoyed eating at his incredible Littlehampton East Beach Cafe without knowing who'd designed it.

Thomas Heatherwick has also designed the new London Routemaster bus, and it's a great looking bus  
The design is inspired by the old Routemaster   

But last weekend I was with my 4yr old godson Robert. I doubt he's ever seen the new Routemaster, but he's a skilled engineer with a clever eye for form & function.

I guess the manufacturers of the new Routemaster are now committed, but this is a pity, as I suggest they take a good look at Robert (aged 4) rapid-prototypes :

 The last was my favorite, as I could really see this bombing round the streets of London, cornering wildly....

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Getting cold, but keeping warm

It's getting cold and winter doesn't feel very far away.

Our 300yr old buildings at How Caple Court always look good with their covering of ancient wisteria and virginia creeper, but far from any gas main we've relied on electric to heat our buildings.

However this year, Roger Lee (who owns the estate) has installed an amazing central boiler that's powered by wood chips. The wood must be correctly seasoned, so for the moment these chips are bought-in, but soon surplus timber from the estate's woods will be fuelling this boiler to make locally-produced carbon-neutral heat.

A whole heap of chips who's CO2 will grow a lot more chips in the local woods. 

Saturday, 17 November 2012


I went on a fascinating visit to Yorkshire, Gateshead and Marske last week, and wish I'd taken loads more photos.

I stayed with an old friend in Knaresbourough visiting customers, and the trip was an eye-opener with York being amazing

Each Medieval street or gate is wonderfully enchanting, but amongst all the historical beauty I was pleased to see that even York found room for an ugly 60's building. In days gone by many a tratiors head was implained on the old gates of York. Could the same be done with the Town-planners & assorted jobsworths who've damaged many an English City on the ramparts of this building?
Marske, Redcar and Gateshead were fasininating too, and I loved the long beach, area round the park and Jewish area.
Back in York.... can I suggest a visit to Lottie Inch's gallery?

As well as cleverly displaying D. Hurst and others, she also shows New House's Charlotte Farmer prints and tea towels :

Lottie is someone to watch out for!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Hive

Following Top Drawer and the BBSA Showcase, being at New House has been like visiting a beehive.

Our new Roller Blind and Accessory collection is in greater demand than we hoped, and it's difficult to keep up with orders for the collection books. Fortunately, another big batch of fabric samples is due in tomorrow, with more promised for the week after (and the week after that too).

Our sample department has also been building blind pull displays that'll soon be winging their way to customer showrooms :
Meanwhile our Textile Machinery Dept. has been busy too - as these yarn-breakage detectors are soon to be exported to Germany later this week :  

We haven't found time to add our new roller collection to our website yet.... but we will do so soon! 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Showcase 2012

Showcase is the UK's trade show for the blind industry, and speaking to many in the build-up, a lot of exhibitors were a little nervous.

The blinds industry has taken a bit of a bashing of late, as with few moving home, the redecoration market has fallen loads.

Investing in new products in a downturn is a tricky business as it's guesswork trying to get your timing right. We're no cleverer than anyone else, but at New House we've been slowly planning our new roller collection for the last 2 years, and it felt great to launch our new collection at Showcase 2012.

Making the displays :
Making the sample books :
The stand :

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The next show must go on...

Top Drawer in London was really fun, but it feels barely over before we're plunging into the next, which is the British Blind & Shutter Showcase 2012 at the Ricoh Stadium Coventry, England.

Roller blinds & blind accessories have been important to New House since the 80's. To anyone outside the industry, blinds probably looks like one of those odd little niche industries that no one ever thinks about. Yet in the UK alone, there are said to be 30 million blinds and someone has to design, think about style, colour, innovation, and marketing, and New House contributes a lot to this.

It's true that the industry is internationally dominated by one huge company, Hunter Douglas. They do a great job and own many of the big consumer brands, so it means that in the scheme of things, New House is only a tiny family-run business that my granddad started back in 1921.

Yet we've always been quite influencial in our way, as by employing three brilliant designers, Melanie, Charlotte and Laura (all RCA or CsM trained), our creativity has made a name for ourselves, and despite having our items manufactured in England or Sweden (so we've a price disadvantage), we.export a lot to discerning markets overseas.

In Coventry next week, we'll be launching our latest roller & accessory collection, and it's something we've been working on for 2 years.

Here's the front cover - the print is by Charlotte Farmer (and the photo was styled by her and Melanie too) :

This is the accessory part (pom-pom braid by Laura Fletcher) :

I'd love to reveal more.... but that would spoil the surprise!
In true family-business style Mum and Dad have been helping with the launch and their garage is full of display boxes they've been repainting for the show!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Our favourite show

It's last weeks news I know, but last weekend we very much enjoyed being at Top Drawer Olympia London again.

It's a lovely show, and we first exhibited there about 15 years ago. It was more an interior designer show then, and our designer Nicky Townley, created a gem of a stand in a tiny 2m x 2m space, and we've never looked back.

Top Drawer has changed since then but so has New House as our homewares department is now the fastest growing part of our family business. Because of our long-standing Swedish connections, we offer an interesting mix of vintage Swedish design and modern British.

At Top Drawer we launched new Christmas Swedish tea towels (such as moose) as well as new items from New House's British designers, Charlotte Farmer and Laura Fletcher.

This was our stand :


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

New textile machinery from New House

It's proably little-known, but New House has had a small textile machinery department since the 1950's, has been manufacturing specialist yarn-breakage equipment for export ever since.

In many textile processes there are often 1000's of ends of yarn going into a machine, and if one should break or a bobbin run out, there would be a line down the fabric, due to the missing yarn.

For years, New House have made detectors that spot these missing or broken yarns, and this year we've up-dated our system by minituruising it to handle finer yarns. Yesterday the first of our new system was sent to Germany. It's due to be fitted onto a huge weaving machine and re-exported to Finland.

We've already won a new textile machinery order for october, so hopefully there will be many more to come...

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Lots going on behind the scenes...

For the last two years everyone at New House has been working on our new roller & blind accessory collection.

It's an important project for us, as discerning buyers from all round the world buy fabrics and blind accessories from NHT, and we're often amazed at how far-flung our roller blind sales can be.

I only have a few photos to show what our new collection might be, as it'll be revealed at Showcase 2012 in Coventry, England. The following few pictures might give you a tiny flavour of what we're up to :

'Stitch stripe' looks like someones run a sewing machine over a fabric, but in fact the weave is a cotton/polyester mix that when dyed, cleverly uses the fact that when cotton and polyester take up a dye, they do so differently. The finished effect looks amazing, and everyone at New House is queuing up to have this fabric in our windows.

Bright pink with pompoms... there will be a lot of pompoms in very BRIGHT colours

See-through fabrics are all the vogue, and there will be loads of them too....

For the first time we are redesigning our famous blind accessory collections at the same time as our roller fabrics. This means everything in our collection will coordinate fully, and our ROC or St. Martins designers have a field-day getting everything perfect.

More later......

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Quick trip to Riga

This year everyone at New House has been busy making our new collections. We have loads of new Homeware items from Charlotte Farmer, Laura Fletcher and Marian Westman on our Top Drawer stand at Olympia, London next month .

Meanwhile our 2-year megaproject has been our new roller and blind accessory collection that'll be revelled at the BBSA Showcase show in October.

With such a lot going on, I've only sneaked a week's holiday and went to Riga. The city is choca with amazing Art Deco buildings and these are a few I took pics of :

I loved the parks and public spaces. In one they seemed to be holding the Flintstones Olympics : 

A cute custom is when you get engaged or married, your local locksmith engrave your names onto a padlock that you secure to a bridge, and throw the key into the river. :

Riga has plenty of glitz and this (awful) car took the buscuit

One of the famous symbols is the 'black cat' perched onto of a building. Apparently the architect was so annoyed by criticism from his fellow architects from the Great Guild, he sited the cat so it's bottom directly faced them.

I loved the old Stalinist buildings :
But the most interesting part of the trip for a designer like me, was Latvia's folk museum of old buildings. They built with such economy from the materials they had. It was a lesson to me.:
an old beehive

There are some fantastic paintings in the Riga National Gallery The Russian father & son Roerich family were a revalation to me, and I thought the portraits were amazing. I especially liked this one as it was so fluid :