Posted on Leave a comment

Drawing of the week: Flamingo Head

Flamingo (c) Ella Johnston

This week’s drawing of the week is of a bright pink flamingo head.

I must admit it has taken me a little while to warm to the flamingo bird, although really fun to paint and draw (you can really go to town with pink watercolour here), it was a bird that never really got under my skin like a puffin, lapwing or curlew. I suppose I was put off because they have been so popular as a motif in homewares and stationery design.

Perhaps I also thought they were show-offs of the avian world – to me they were just a bit too lairy with their pink plumage. Maybe I was jealous – no one could accuse me of being leggy and it’s rare that I splash out with colour in a sartorial sense (I leave that for my illustration).

Of course I was wrong. I mean these birds are magnificent creatures and when you find our about these birds they really are fascinating. Here are some fun flamingo facts…

Special bills
Flamingos beaks  are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they eat. The bills are uniquely used upside-down. Don’t know what I mean? Take a look here…

In the pink
Their distinctive pigment comes from carotenoids they eat in animal and plant plankton which are broken down into pigments by liver enzymes.

Flam Fam
Flamingos are very social birds. Their colonies can be thousands strong. This protects them from predators and enables them to nest more efficiently.

What a pair
The birds perform synchronised ritual displays in colonies. The members of a group stand together and display to each other by stretching their necks upwards, making calls while head-flagging, then flapping their wings. Flamingos form strong partnerships although in larger colonies flamingos sometimes change mates (well we’re all allowed to change our minds). Both the male and the female play a part in building and defending the nest. Occasional same-sex pairs have been reported, which makes me happy.

Don’t you just love flamingos a bit more now?

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Monday Moodboard: Henna designs

MOnday Moodboard Henna patterns After a busy fortnight with holidays, workshops and Christmas prep, I’m back with some insights from the outside world – a Monday Moodboard dedicated to henna designs and patterns.

I get trend reports and press previews all the time but every now and then a trend comes along that I don’t know about that really excites me. While I obviously know about these beautiful, ancient designs, and have even had these exquisite patterns  painted on myself in the past,  I didn’t know they were capturing peoples’ imaginations right now.

How wrong was I?

Every teenage girl that came to my Posca pen workshops in Manchester and Birmingham wanted to recreate mandala and henna designs.  They were really very adept at creating these patterns and told me that they wanted to place these designs on their clothes and homewares. It’s good to get out there and talk to people – you can always learn something.

Posted on Leave a comment

Monday Moodboard: Paint strokes

Ella Johnston Monday Moodboard Paint Strokes Visceral and expressive, paint strokes look so cool. Expect to see a lot of these on homewares and fashion next year as they are set to be a key design trend for 2017, hence this week’s Monday Moodboard. You can go for simple lines or big painterly blocks, either way you’ve got a stark, contemporary look made a little warmer with the suggestion of the human hand.

Est: Collected reports from East Anglia, Dunlin Press. Illustration and design by Ella Johnston. dunlinpress.com
Est: Collected reports from East Anglia, Dunlin Press. Illustration and design by me!

These simple marks are very effective and are a real short-cut to a stylish, minimal look. They also say so much, I used them as an illustration device in the Dunlin Press book Est, Collected Reports of Easy Anglia  to suggest landscape and horizons.
est1

Est: Collected reports from East Anglia, Dunlin Press. Illustration and design by Ella Johnston. dunlinpress.com
Est: Collected reports from East Anglia, Dunlin Press. Illustration and design by me.

est2

Posted on Leave a comment

New Thornback & Peel Collection; Blackbird and Bramble

Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble Last week Thornback & Peel launched its Blackbird and Bramble collection and I have to say it’s rather lovely.
Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble As regular visitors to this blog will know I am a fan of Thornback & Peel – anything that celebrates illustrated motifs in fashion and homewares is always a big winner for me.
Thornback & Peel Blackbird and BrambleThis collection is great for the end of the year. The beautiful dark purples and warm pink tones would look great on a rustic country kitchen table. However, combined with the delicate nature-inspired illustration, this collection would also warm up a modern, sleek space too.
Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble


Thornback & Peel’s trademark is its delicate line and beautiful vintage-style illustration. I do admire the way these motifs can translate onto a wide range of products and shapes.

Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble

You can see more of the collection at the Thornback & Peel website.
Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble
Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble

Posted on Leave a comment

5 New Trends for Bedrooms

AW15/16 Bedroom Trends (c) ellasplace.co.ukWe’ve been in our Wivenhoe home for four years now and we still haven’t got round to doing up our bedroom properly. So it is my mission to get it revamped for the end of 2015 – or at least the beginning of 2016 (watch this space). I’ve scoured my look-books and magazine moodboards for inspiration and we (it’s a joint decision afterall) have shortlisted five current bedroom trends that would look fab in our little space. From traditional country classics to bright and contemporary, we’re still debating which style to go for – I personally like them all. I promise we’ll make up our minds soon.

Country Classics
I don’t normally go completely traditional in regards to interior design – I’m favour more of what you might call a mash-up look, or should that be eclectic? However, when it comes to bedrooms,  there’s something I can’t resist about wicker chairs, white wooden accents, artisan looking quilts and pretty florals. It just screams class and loveliness as well as making me feel grown up – I mean take a look at this lot, I’d feel like a French princess every morning if I woke up to this.

From B&Q
From B&Q
From Homebase
From Homebase
From House of Bath
From House of Bath
From Dotcomgiftshop
From Dotcomgiftshop
From Amara
From Amara

Bright and Beautiful
Accent notes in bold colours and vivid patterns are definitely my go-to when I’m usually looking for homewares. So I’m very taken with the trend for retro motifs, geometric weaves and bright painterly effects, plus the current palette of rich buttercup yellows, mint greens and warm berry shades. This look really suits my preference for mixing and matching styles as you can go to town with it or tone it down when teamed with greys and other more sober shades and organic, rustic materials such as wood or leather.

From Wallpaper Direct
From Wallpaper Direct
From Oliver Bonas
From Oliver Bonas
From HomeSense
From HomeSense
From Heals
From Heal’s
Occa Home
From Bluebellgray

Calming and Relaxing
A bedroom is a sanctuary and I’m very attracted to the idea of creating a space that is truly calm and restrained. We’re both so busy and I’d like to make a soothing, restful place for us to really wind down in. I’ve recently seen some lovely collections that fit the bill perfectly, combining soft hues, neutral tones and natural textures with elegant, subtle motifs – just gorgeous. 

From Sainsburys
From Sainsbury’s
From Next
From Next
From Aroma Works
From Aroma Works
From Debenhams
From Debenhams
From Rose & Grey
From Rose & Grey
From Mylands paints
From Mylands Paints

Modern Graphic
As you’ll know from my stamped stationery and fabric collections, I’m often drawn to strong pattern in a contemporary blue/grey colourway. Inspired by Shibori dying and Scandi design, this style seems to combine my love of bold graphics with my desire to create a tranquil space. Worth exploring.

From George at Asda
From Ville & Campagne
From Ville & Campagne
From inspaces
From In-Spaces
From Dunelm
From Dunelm

Fun and Quirky
Because the boudoir is a private space (behave!), I think you can afford to be a bit playful too. Even if it’s not massively full on, whatever general look I go for, I’ll be sure to inject a fun quirky element to my bedroom scheme – after all we all know how I love a little animal in every room

From Debenhams
From Debenhams
From the French Bedroom Company
From the French Bedroom Company
Posted on Leave a comment

5 Scandi-Style Homewares

5 Scandi Homewares ellasplace.co.uk

Scandi buys

Scandinavian inspired design never seems to go out of fashion. I think it’s the fact that this style lends itself to contemporary, grown up and super cool looks while it can also be stylishly whimsical too. My stamped pattern designs have been influenced by the former using simple shapes and a cool colour palette. Here’s five of my favourite homeware buys that reflect this look.

1: Dala Horse in natural concrete, at Cranmore Home: cranmorehome.com.au 
2: ‘Green Curve II’ Screenprint by Emma Lawrenson at Etsy: etsy.com
3: Samaki cushion coverat Andshine: andshine.co.uk
4: Jangneus Green Herbs dishcloth, at Berry Red: berryred.co.uk
5: IM015 Swiss Linen in yellow and grey at Milton and King: shop.miltonandking.com 

Posted on Leave a comment

Eight Rainy Day Homewares

8 rainy day homewares ellasplace.co.uk
It’s an August Bank Holiday Monday in Britain – and tradition has it that it’s normally a bit grey and rainy!

As someone with Celtic heritage who is married to a Cumbrian, I actually quite like a drizzly day. I’d have to: family holidays in Ireland, annual visits to the Lake District and much-loved trips to my favourite cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh are often rain-filled affairs. Also, although our part of Essex is generally quite dry, the big, Constablesque skies we have mean that when the weather isn’t so sunny you are often treated to panoramic views of stunning slate grey.

So, let’s celebrate the rain and embrace those cosy grey days with my pick of shower-themed homewares…

Eight rainy day homewares ellasplace.co.uk

1: If Storms Should Come… Print, £35 at Iapetus: iapetus.co.uk
2: Rainy Day Blanket by Donna Wilson, £195 at Rumerume.co.uk
3: Cloud Felt Coaster Set, £14.50 for four at Etsy:  etsy.com 
4: Handmade Ceramic Soap Dish, £21.37 at Etsy: .etsy.com
5: Cloud Cushion $199 at Cumulus Living: cumulusliving.com.au
6: Mid Wedgwood No113 Paint, from £20 a litre, Myland Paints: mylands.co.uk
7: Cloud Pencil & Eraser Set, £10 at Red Candy:  www.redcandy.co.uk
8: Cloud Kids’ Rug, €135 at KSL Living:  ksl-living.fr