Shane Jordan is more than just modern-day Britain's most innovative chef by definition.
By Hanna-Amanda PantRead More
Shane Jordan is more than just modern-day Britain's most innovative chef by definition.
By Hanna-Amanda PantRead More
"For many, the art centre represents the manifestation of a contemporary city that balances both its historical roots and a greater ambition for modernity and cultural expression."
By Mariam SheikhRead More
"Excuse my Parisian English", he laughs, when we sit down for an interview to discuss his latest collaboration with this exclusive brand with a heritage. He tells me how he managed to merge the timeless Lalique designs with what fits today's contemporary interiors, and the beauty of seeking inspiration everywhere, especially his dreams.Read More
Bag-laden Oxford Street shoppers can rejoice this summer, for finally a rooftop retreat has opened that doesn’t involve navigating the perfume section of John Lewis. A security man, an un-marked door and four flights of stairs are the only things lying between you and your next summer drinking hole, but is it worth the climb?
Words: Kyra Hanson @kyra_sian
Sisu describes itself as a 'utilitarian nature reserve' with a 'greenhouse' restaurant offering 'organic vibes' and 'Scandinavian surrounds'. After reading the press release I was all but ready to grab some binoculars and settle in for a bird watching session. However, rather than the 'smörgåsbord of leafy green plants' promised, the spider plants were dry as a bone and the poor potted plants on our table were dead beyond recognition. The shrivelled leaves flaked off in my hand as I sipped a very strong Old Fashioned from the coin-operated cocktail tap – the most expensive drinks vending machine you’ll encounter at £8 a token. So, nil pois for green fingered bar staff.
If it’s cocktails you’re after opt for the Swizzle, a fizzy mix of Appleton Estate Signature blend, pineapple juice and Velvet Falernum (a spiced-citrusy-sweet liqueur). It’s a little on the sweet side but doesn’t arrive in a jam jar, so you get more booze for your buck. There’s also a drinks selection from Camden Town Brewery. Food was perfect for a light bite but I wouldn’t recommend turning up here ravenous. Before ordering, I searched the food and drinks menu for those 'organic vibes' to no avail. The aubergine taco with chili and fried onions would have benefitted from some sauce. The cauliflower cheese arancini was tasty but titchy, at least the chicken waffle was free range.
We were informed via email “the whole menu is not entirely organic, however the food mainly uses organic ingredients, and the drinks also strive to use organic produce whenever possible.” If this is the case why not make mention of it on the menu? Surely it’s a selling point for the health conscious, eco-consumers of today?
This rooftop is surrounded by taller buildings, which hogged the sun on our visit, however the RetrEAT (design by DENLDN) was a welcome addition. More shed than greenhouse (it being constructed of wood not glass), the thick blankets, chilled playlist and use of natural materials did manage to meet the relaxed, Scandi-cool brief. Heated concrete seating was a nice surprise though not exactly ethical. And there are two tiny toilets in which no matter where you stand you will set off the hair dryer.
So, does Sisu get any sustainability points at all? Well, we were told the plates are biodegradable and the furniture has been upcycled by the Sisu team. This is a well-located urban hideaway, which you’d be pleased to stumble across after navigating the snap-happy tourists and queues of Primark shoppers below, just don’t turn up for the organic vibes.
Sisu serves food and drink between noon and 10pm every day, from now until late September.
Celebrating the contemporary makers of today, The Maker Journal supports slower fashion production and craftsmanship, and focuses on the skilled designers and creatives who dedicate their lives to making this change.
I had a friendly chat about conscious living and the importance of artisanal crafts with Jennie Barck, Founder of The Maker Journal, confirming that slow fashion is the new fashion model to be appreciated for years to come. This may make you rethink, too.
Who are the most important makers in the UK now?
The UK has a variety of local, emerging makers at the moment, producing their collections at their studios with a small team, or at local factories, producing textiles with fabric mills. I have been the most impressed by young, emerging designers, such as Amy Revier and Skelton John, who tell a story through their poetic and well thought out designs that are radically sustainable: naturally dyed, handmade in small batches, using local raw materials, or handwoven. It is always lovely to see designers succeeding in their niche markets this way. On the other hand, it is also inspiring to see larger, globally successful brands, such as Phoebe English, still making everything locally in England, with a focus on hand-making and resurrecting traditional craft.
The Maker Issue I
What does 'Made in England's heritage actually mean in 2017? Are we slowly starting to forget about its importance and value?
It means different things to different people, but most designers I have spoken to are very passionate about the topic. 'Made in England's heritage means using the resources we have available here, while we still have them, it means adding a layer of value to the garments, being able to control the entire manufacturing process and therefore being able to guarantee quality to a larger extent. It also means exploring traditional crafts that could lend way to new approaches to the garments we are currently wearing. All of these things tend to slip off our minds if we are not reminded about it in our daily lives, like most people working in the fashion industry are. Consumers don’t think these factors are as important when buying items that are cheap; it has become more important to keep up with the latest trends and have them easily accessible, so ‘Made in England’ has become a thing that very few care about today.
Why should artisanal approach still be appreciated in today's era of mass production and mass consumption?
I think an artisanal approach is important from the perspective of the story of the brand; it is important there are still people out there who appreciate these crafts, knowing where their products are made - from yarn to an actual garment. When a brand becomes more transparent about their entire product chain and makes it a pillar of their ethos, it adds value to the garment. People are willing to pay for it, as long as they know their garments are made with respect to local communities and workers. If there is no one employing people at mills in England, for example, their craft is going to be forgotten and there won't be anyone to resurrect it after that. It is too precious of a thing to lose, as it is such an integral part of culture in many parts of the world.
What is The Maker Journal's manifesto? What makes it stand out from other publications also appreciating unique, hand-made fashions and a slower approach to life?
The Maker Journal stands for celebrating the people who are passionate about creating our clothes. It is, first and foremost, about bringing them to the spotlight instead of the people who wear the clothes; it focuses on their processes, thoughts and lives. What makes it stand out from other publications - The Maker has an unfailing ethos that all designers we support must match our criteria of conscious fashion, as well as having a focus on smaller scale, emerging and young designers instead of big brands. The Maker hopes to bring to attention to designers who are not in the public eye as much as they deserve to be, and have more intimate conversations with them that you don’t see in most mass media.
What have been the most difficult moments in making The Maker Journal happen? Share a few tips on how to make dreams happen.
There are always bumps along the way when you are trying to reach a dream, and when it is something you are utterly passionate about, it can be even more devastating. Along the road, when I was doing research and saw people doing similar things, I sometimes felt like there is so much I still have to do to achieve that level of success. You will get the feeling that people are not going to find you or you have less followers than the next person. These are all things that will fall into place. The most important thing that I learned throughout the process and from my conversations with other creatives is that, when you are doing something you believe in, in due course people will flock to you, if you are putting your heart and soul into it.
How do you personally approach slow living? Are there any practices you follow on a daily basis?
Slow living has become a very important aspect of my life through working on The Maker, but it has always played a crucial part. To me the main pillars of it are only buying things that I have considered and truly need, purchasing magazines and enjoying timeless features and think-pieces, taking time off social media and reducing its usage, appreciating crafts and the process of making, doing yoga and eating well from local farmer’s markets. These are all things I will do on a daily basis, when the pace of life gets a little overwhelming, and I feel that I just need to get back in touch with myself and reconnect. Life can sweep you up and push information at you constantly, but there is a decision to be made about not letting it get to you.
What are the key elements defining your daily routine? 3 habits you cannot live without.
I have always and will probably eat a lot of fruits; it is the cornerstone of my eating habits and a day without fruits just wouldn’t feel the same. I will have kiwis, clementines, nectarines, plums, oranges, bananas, apples, grapes. It makes me feel rejuvenated and fresh. I will try to go to the gym most days and if I do manage, after a good session of sweating, I love to take a cold shower and go into the sauna and just disconnect for 15 minutes. Another obsessive habit I (along with millions of others) have is listening to music on public transport. I like to use city bikes whenever possible, but when I’m on a bus or tube, I absolutely have to listen to my favourite tunes.
In your opinion, what are the key fields that should be slowed down concerning the making or production process?
Out of all fields, what strikes me the most on a daily basis are food and fashion, but I have recently started thinking about interior design, too. It is so frustrating to see how fast fashion has to be pumped up, and how much of it is wasted as a consequence of that. To see people participating in this cycle makes me think of how much needs to be done to make any kind of minor change. These are critical fields that are not working sustainably at the moment, but there are things being changed, for example, in France, they banned throwing away leftover food, which I think is a wonderful solution. The best solution, however, would be to change the minds of the consumers, and make them realise the detrimental outcomes of this kind of consumption, that would bring us closer to a change.
What's the worst effect of today's consumer society you have personally witnessed?
What I witness on a daily basis is our need to get things now, without appreciating all the hard work that goes into making things happen. We all want the easy, quick fix that doesn’t satisfy us for long, but gets rid of that desire in a split second. When everything is given to us as ‘same day delivery’, we fail to stop and appreciate the people who have made that happen. When things take longer, you automatically go into a mindset, where you appreciate a certain process; you think about the tools being used, the hours that go into it, the different skill sets, the people working on it. This appreciation is a key part of the success of the slow fashion movement, and it is an antidote to mass production and throwaway culture, which has affected today’s consumer society in major ways.
One must-have summer product du jour we should all desire now... Something trendy, yet ethically-made?
I’ve been looking for the perfect summer sandals and the LRNCE bobo sandals come very close to that. Handmade to order in Morocco, with influences from handcraft traditions, each pair is as unique as its maker and they are completely contemporary, too. They have a leather strip with cotton raffia ruffles, and come in different colour combinations. The brand takes influences from local tribes and the colours of Marrakech, giving them a unique twist.
Cuddle Workshops offer attendees a space to explore the importance of touch in a non-sexual environment. They are designed to “which explores affection, intimacy, boundaries and verbal/non-verbal communication” and are open to all. I attended a ‘Cuddling for Beginners’ class, to better understand how these events helped a group of strangers to literally embrace one another.
I arrived fifteen minutes early to the workshop, but hesitated before I enter the door labeled 'Room 1'. I have to admit, I was feeling nervous. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I knew I was about to engage in four hours of intimacy with absolute strangers.
When I finally plucked up the courage and entered the room, I found a trio of smiling women. One sat behind a table laden with biscuits, hot drinks and a large jar of mints, and offered me my name tag (punctuated with a little heart). Another gave me a laminated piece of paper with an ice breaker question. I dutifully went and asked the next person who entered the room "when was the last time you had a really amazing meal?" After a chat about the merits of London-based fish and chips, we discussed our reasons for attending a cuddle workshop.
For my part, I was intrigued by the idea of a space to explore platonic touch. As a teenager, I had been quite tactile, but became increasingly less so in recent years. I wanted to explore the idea of physical connection without worrying that my hugs would be misinterpreted. My companion told me she loves cuddling, and signed up to the workshop just this morning. She too had no idea what to expect.
What followed was an afternoon of sharing. We were asked to share our names, and how we were feeling. We asked one another if we could "share a hug". We shared the emotions stirred up by the exercises. Throughout the session, there was a real emphasis on being generous with ourselves, and one another.
The workshop was made up of a series of exercises. The nature of these was varied: one exercise involved lying with your head in a partner's lap, while he or she stroked your head, arm, shoulders and back. Another played with the idea of presence, asking us to feel the difference between touching someone when distracted, touching someone when he or she is distracted, and touching someone when both of you are focused on the moment. There was an exercise involving an embrace known as a "melting hug". There was another where we practiced saying "no" to a proffered cuddle, and explored what it felt like to both reject and be rejected. This focus on consent, and accepting one another’s boundaries, was key: our leaders, Anna and Andrew, created an environment of communal respect. People were able to opt out of exercises, and we were told to ask our partner's permission before we reached out and touched them. We were also told to thank everyone we shared a physical connection with, and to thank those who didn't want to be touched. At the end of the workshop, many of the attendees told the group that they felt "grateful", and no wonder: we were constantly encouraged to engage with this warm emotion.
The experience of a cuddle workshop is subjective. Some participants would cry after an exercise, as the intimacy of the moment allowed for a great emotional release. Two men both explained how stroking another man's arms reminded them of their fathers, and how this memory helped reconfigure their preconception about male-male touch. One attendee announced at the end of the session that he felt energised; many others that they felt calm. Some, no doubt, left that afternoon feeling that they would stay on their oxytocin high for a while yet. Some, no doubt, felt their initial anxiety completely subside shortly into the session. Others may have felt the occasional stirring of nerves, but were able to accept this, and still engage with others.
I entered the workshop intrigued, but sceptical. I left with an appreciation of how open people can be, and an acute awareness of how quickly two individuals can connect. I feel that every embrace I shared today told me so much about the person I shared with, and I wonder how much they now know of me.
I also left having experienced some jolly lovely hugs indeed.
Tucked into spray-canned corner of a Hackney Wick carpark is Grow, a venue, bar and popup restaurant which also doubles up as ‘an experiment in ethical and sustainable business’.
Words: Kyra Hanson @kyra_sian
Photography: Martin Ruffin - martinruffin.co.uk
On arrival, I ordered a bottle of the Organic Roots Bordeaux Blanc. One glass. Though I was offered a straw by the bemused barman. (Thrifty winos settling in for the night know a bottle makes more financial sense than ordering by the glass). Feeling only slightly sorry for my liver, I returned to the stage to survey my surroundings. There’s something about being by the water that is instantly relaxing and totally moreish – maybe it’s the pace of life offered by the main mode of transport; people in boats always seem to be happy and waving; people in cars always seem to be angry and swearing. At any rate, Grow’s staff and regulars are certainly of the happy and waving variety – an amicable, dressed down sort had gathered under the main space’s luminescent green hue for ‘Have Love Will Travel’, an evening of ‘60's soul, trashy rock 'n' roll, glam gems & cult pop’. Grow doesn’t have the self-important, you’re-not-cool-enough-to-be-here vibes, which sometimes emanate from Crate (further up the river) and on paper, it certainly contains all the buzz words for a green-fingered, guilt-free night out.
At resident restaurant ‘Slow Fire London’ you can chow down on shoulder of pork or leg of Spring lamb, safe in the knowledge that both pig and sheep were roaming around a field somewhere nearby before they ended up on the canal-side smoker. All dishes are available as veggie options, at lower prices, a nice touch. However, I was left waiting an hour for a lentil and kidney bean wrap with a couple of limp lettuce leaves in tow, either they were growing the lentils in a back room to order, or they’ve taken the concept of ‘slow cooking’ to a whole new level. Two plastic forks arrived with my food, suggesting they haven’t quite figured out how to make cutlery sustainable, yet. (Oops! I later discovered, it's Vegware, not plastic, so all good). But what of the drinks? Although limited, the drinks menu is pleasant enough, there are just three wine options (red, white or rose), but all are organic, as is the prosecco and cider. Coffee is fair trade. Grow’s business model is centred around ‘the sharing economy’, this means the chalked-up walls were probably doodled by a local artist, the cute terrace planting involved community gardeners and, importantly, they like to keep events free.
I even managed a self-conscious twirl beneath the spider plant-lined dancefloor and I don’t know if it was the lentils lining my stomach or the organic booze, but I certainly didn’t have the usual pounding-head-sick-bucket scenario on Saturday morning. Sort out the slow service and this could be one experiment that takes off in a big way.