Saturday, 22 December 2012

Seasons Greetings..

..and a happy and healthy 2013. Thanks for stopping by - please visit again in the new year and be the first to see how the Alabasta brand is developing.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Alabasta Black Flower tray in Metro newspaper

The monochromatic Black Flower pattern was one of the first Alabasta designs to be put into production by Åry Trays and it is still available in limited quantities as trays from two online boutiques: Design My World and It's a black linear design inspired by the orderly structure of pompom dahlias and there's no denying there is a retro feel to it. What isn't obvious from the following photos is a very pale grey mesh-like pattern on the ivory background which adds an extra element to the pattern, a bit like a watermark. It is available in two sizes - the 27x20cm small rectangular as shown in yesterday's Metro newspaper and the 38cm round version, though only while stocks last.

click the image for a more legible view

Alabasta Black Flower 27x20cm tray
Alabasta Black Flower 38cm tray

Design My World

Monday, 22 October 2012

Out of season photography

Interiors magazines work months in advance so despite the fact we haven't even got to Christmas yet my mind has been temporarily concentrating on Easter 2013. I've just spent much of the weekend photographing the Alabasta trays and placemats for potential press coverage and was amazed to find some fragrant out of season narcissi at the flower stall in town to use. I also cunningly tracked down hot cross buns and some chicken eggs in subtle variations of pale blue, though my M&S Halloween chocolate eggs with the foil-turned-inside-out-for-Easter didn't look great so we had to eat them. Shame.

Here are a few of the shots:

Love Birds 27x20cm tray and tablemat

Love Birds 43x33cm tray

Love Birds 49cm tray

If you're a journalist and would like to use these images or any of the numerous others (including simpler cut outs) for any editorials feel free to contact Isabel Saiz at Avenida Isabel.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

New Alabasta Love Birds and Folk Stripe Woven trays are now in stock at Hus and Hem

The brand new Alabasta Love Birds and Folk Stripe Woven trays are now finally available to buy online and in store from Hus and Hem, the Scandinavian home shop in Ledbury. They are stocking both collections in all the different sizes - 49cm round, 43x33cm and 27x20cm rectangular as well as the best selling original Folk Stripe round ones. Owner Louise Little told me yesterday that they couldn't choose between them so they bought them all! It's a very welcoming shop full of interesting gifts and home products - when I went I loved the Danish dipped candles in a whole spectrum of colours (but then I am partial to a bit of colour).

Here are the round Folk Stripe trays in situ at Hus and Hem in the summer:

Hus and Hem in Ledbury

Folk Stripe Woven trays
Love Birds trays

All the trays can be found here.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Alabasta designs for Avenida Home at Tent London 2012

The official launch of the Avenida range of tabletop accessories has happened in the last few days at Tent London and it seems to have gone very well. Tent is part of London Design Festival, an exciting city-wide series of Design events and launches and it takes place in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane in London's East End. Last year my Alabasta trays were there as part of the Åry Trays stand (see this post) and this year their UK agent Isabel Saiz was there launching her own collection of mats, coasters and glass platters with her new separate venture Avenida Home. I was there on the first day and there was a very good response so I will be posting any developments from the show as soon I hear about it.

Here a few quick shots of the stand - lots of eye catching colours and patterns set off against a dark and moody background:

Isabel Saiz (on the left) on her way to chat to some friendly Dutch journalists on the first morning
The Alabasta and Michael Angove corner at the Avenida Home stand at Tent London
Avenida Home's Alabasta presentation at Tent 2012

All the Avenida products are available to buy online from Avenida Home.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Alabasta Blue Fish tray in Woman and Home magazine, August 2012

Press often escapes me and here is one that nearly got away - the Alabasta Blue Fish 43x33cm tray is tucked into a coastal themed interiors shopping page in last month's Woman and Home magazine. This time it's being promoted by Coastal Home who also got another of my trays in the press - see this previous post. They've got the Blue Fish trays in three sizes as well as the 11cm mini tray coaster in stock.

click the image for a more legible view

Alabasta Blue Fish trays

Thanks, Woman and Home magazine and Coastal Home!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

New Alabasta tray designs: introducing Folk Stripe Woven and Love Birds

Alabasta Folk Stripe Woven tray collection made and distributed by Ary Trays in Sweden

Åry Trays have just launched on their website three new designs in the best selling Folk Stripe range of Alabasta birch ply trays called Folk Stripe Woven - they are now available for retailers to order for their Autumn stock so should be in the shops soon. I've designed these to complement the concentric circles of the original Folk Stripe trays but the design is taken in a slightly different direction. These ones feature interwoven multicoloured ribbons of pattern on a subtly patterned background which creates a kind of modern tartan effect. I think that the pale celadon green and teal backgrounds go really well with the vibrant colours of the stripes and work just as well for winter or summer use:

27x20cm tray
43x33cm tray
49cm tray

Also, the Love Birds design recently launched on the Avenida placemats is now available as a tray in three sizes. It depicts a pair of beady eyed exotic birds with flamboyant tails and is a mix of indigo and black on a subtle cream background. I think it would make an original wedding present, especially in the big 49cm round size:

49cm tray
43x33cm tray
27x20cm tray

As with all the other Åry trays they are hand made from steam pressed birch wood with a robust melamine coating and are dishwasher proof (though I'd like to see you get the generous 49cm one in!) If you are a retailer interested in stocking these brand new designs please contact Isabel Saiz at Avenida Isabel Ltd. As soon as I know where these are being sold I will post the details on this blog.

Friday, 7 September 2012

DomesticMATTERS exhibition at Contemporary Applied Arts, London

Although the Alabasta home wares collection is a new venture for me, as a textile designer-maker I've been hand making embroidered scarves and blankets for many years under my 'Asta Barrington' own label. They've sold all over the world from Japan to the USA in prestigious shops such as Barneys New York, Takashimaya and Designers Guild. I make them from start to finish here in Bath, and that involves laboriously stitching cashmere, wool and silk fabric then hand dyeing them so the different textures take on subtle variations. Here's my current website, though it's going to go through a long overdue redesign soon.

I established Alabasta because I wanted to create a more accessible and broad range of home wares with patterns on them that I would never have been able to achieve with my existing textile techniques. The intricate swirling linear and animal forms I design have taken a few years to come together and this change of direction has been a breath of fresh air for me creatively.

The two strands of my work appear unrelated on the surface but they demonstrate that a designer need not be restricted to a single medium. They have the same influences and values: a passion for colour, use of the highest quality materials and a desire for innovation, but are executed in different ways.

Contemporary Applied Arts in central London has been one of the main outlets for my embroidered Asta Barrington products for many years and they always stock a good range of my cashmere and silk scarves. They have a constant programme of interesting exhibitions that showcase the work of their 300 designer maker members and this year I was asked to participate in the DomesticMATTERS exhibition curated by Brian Kennedy and Peter Ting, which is summarised here:
"The basic tenets of Modernism emphasized function and utility; abstract beauty, and sculptural form; honesty in materials and honesty in design; the use of modern materials and technology as well as an emphasis on the use of natural materials, beliefs and ideals that sit comfortably with contemporary craft. DomesticMATTERS explores this common ground and will create the imagined home of a collector of mid century modern furniture and contemporary craft over the gallery and board room spaces at CAA.
 CAA members, working in the furniture area, have designed production pieces for Benchmark, SCP and Heals and it is this body of work that we would like to draw from for this exhibition. By focusing on some of this production work as well as work from a wider range of materials, ceramics, glass, metal, textiles and wood within the exhibition further connections would be made between the concerns and values within modernist design and those of the contemporary designer maker. Placing contemporary craft/design within the broader context of modernist design and focusing on the issues of small and mid scale production for the domestic space during the London Design Festival would open up a timely opportunity to debate these issues." Brian Kennedy 2012
I have the entire Alabasta Folk Stripe collection of Åry trays (including the so-brand-new-I-haven't-had-a-chance-to-mention-them-yet Folk Stripe Woven trays), some Folk Stripe mats from Avenida and one of my hand made wool blankets in a bright cherry red in the show. They hang and sit in happy juxtaposition with products from over 30 other CAA members including some top quality ceramics from the likes of Chris Keenan and Derek Wilson plus some mid century furniture courtesy of the Rocket Gallery:

DomesticMATTERS at CAA, showing my Texture Stripe Target Fringe wool throw in the foreground and Folk Stripe trays on the wall.
Shelves by Tomado from the 1950s with Chris Keenan and Derek Wilson ceramics. Spot the brand new 49cm Folk Stripe Woven tray
Folk Stripe red 38cm tray with Tomado shelves and Derek Wilson ceramics
Andre Cordemeijer desk from 1959 with the new Alabasta Folk Stripe Woven 27x20cm tray and Derek Wilson cup and saucer
Alabasta for Avenida Home Folk Stripe placemats with Lubna Chowdhary storage jars and Jane Cox ceramics
upstairs at the DomesticMatters exhibition at the CAA, London
The new Alabasta Folk Stripe Woven 43x33cm tray cleverly displayed downstairs in the slide viewing area in the CAA Reading Room

The exhibition opened today and is on until Friday 20th October at 2 Percy Street, London W1T 1DD.

Read more about it on the FT How to Spend It website here

Corinne Julius' coverage in the Evening Standard's Homes and Property supplement:

Evening Standard, 12th September 2012

Coverage for this exhibition as part of London Design Festival can also be found in Homes and Antiques magazine's September 2012 issue:

click the image to read at a legible size

Saturday, 1 September 2012

New! Blue Fish placemat and coaster

For a sophisticated colour palette in the kitchen you can't beat the perennial classic of blue and white. After lots of careful design tweaks, the Blue Fish placemat and coaster are now available to order. There is a 28cm round mat with three happy fish swimming in a sea of ultramarine blue waves - when you put your plate on top all you'll see is the subtly patterned border so it's quite good for mixing with blue and white china. There's also a cute 10cm coaster that shows one of the fish jauntily coming up for air. They are in a clearer brighter blue than the Blue Fish trays - it's more ultramarine than navy and goes rather well with the bone china ceramics that we are working on. They aren't quite ready to show yet but I'll show them here first, so keep a look out!

All mats and coasters are available to order from Avenida Home.

Alabasta Blue Fish 28cm placemat and 10cm coaster, available from Avenida Home

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

New! Folk Stripe round coasters, placemats and glass platter

The Alabasta range of tabletop accessories is expanding! I've just designed some new round placemats to complement the rectangular Folk Stripe mats. These ones feature concentric circles like the best selling trays, have a modern glossy finish and come in four tropical colourways. There are four 28cm mats and four 10cm round coasters all made from top quality laminated eucalyptus wood with a heatproof melamine surface. They can be purchased individually so you can choose whichever ones you like most or create a combination, which is what I would do as I like them all mixed up. They are now available to order on Isabel Saiz' newly launched Avenida Home website, as are all the other Alabasta placemats and platters. Find the coasters here and the placemats here.

Alabasta 10cm Folk Stripe coasters
Alabasta 28cm Folk Stripe placemats

In addition to these new mats the 30cm glossy glass platter now has an intensely rich red border with shades of pink, orange, teal and kelly green. It's really vibrant - the photo hardly does it justice. It's great for cakes, bread and cheese but it's also heatproof to 180℃ so ideal for hot pans. Find it here.

Alabasta Folk Stripe Glass Platter

If you're in London and would like to see these and the other Alabasta placemats in real life, they will be on display at Tent London next month where they will be officially launched by Avenida Home on Stand F17. It's at the Truman Brewery in the East End from 20-23rd September and forms part of the jam-packed London Design Festival, a 10 day celebration of London's pivotal role in global design.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Easyjet Traveller inflight magazine, August 2012

Sometimes Alabasta press crops up when I'm least expecting it. Late last night I was settling in to an Easyjet flight from Prague absent mindedly leafing through the inflight magazine whilst eating a soggy sandwich, and out jumped an image of the white Alabasta Folk Stripe tray. It's in a short destination guide to Stockholm and the fine things you can find there... although it would be a good excuse to visit, it's not necessary to get on a plane to buy the Swedish made trays as they are available online and in store at quite a few places now. See the sidebar on the right of this page or check the Ary Trays website for stockists.

click the image to view at a legible size

Easyjet Traveller inflight magazine, August 2012

Friday, 6 July 2012

Schöner Wohnen magazine, July 2012

Schöner Wohnen is Germany's leading interiors magazine and covers the latest trends in design and architecture plus practical design solutions. This month they have featured the Alabasta Blue Fish 'canteen' tray which measures 43x33cm in their shopping news page as it is now available in Germany from the contemporary lifestyle shop Rok. This tray design started out with much simpler shoal of fish in black on ivory - in fact Rok do sell this original incarnation as well as the current navy blue version so you can see the development of the pattern.

Schöner Wohnen Magazine, July 2012
43x33cm Alabasta Blue Fish tray made by Åry Trays

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Standard Magazine

Standard is a free to subscribe American internet magazine published six times a year with a bias towards globally available eco friendly interior design and products. They blog daily round ups and it's great to see that last month they chose to feature a close up of the Alabasta Blue Fish sandwich board and the 49cm Blue Fish tray, both available online from Australian webshop Ella Eco as well as many other stockists (see sidebar):

Standard online eco magazine, June 13th 2012

Alabasta 49cm Blue Fish birch wood tray

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

New Products and Designs: Placemats, Coasters and Glass Platters

I'm really pleased to say that we now have some very lovely placemats to add to the Alabasta range of home accessories, this time in conjunction with Avenida Home. Avenida Home is a new home accessories company set up by Isabel Saiz who is also the UK sales and marketing agent for Åry Traysbut this is her separate venture. It's been worth the wait because they truly are deluxe and the perfect product to show off all the intricate patterns that make up my designs. They are 4.8mm thick and made from eucalyptus wood with a laminated heat resistant melamine surface and a black velour backing. They have been handcrafted in Britain which shows there is still some manufacturing in existence here after all.

The mats are available to buy individually online in various sizes from Avenida Home where you can see the entire range that Isabel has developed. They range in price from £5 for a 10cm square coaster, £12 for A4 size mats and £18 for a larger 38.2 x 29.2cm table mat. Glass platters are £32. They will be launched properly at Tent London in September, and they will also form part of an exhibition at Contemporary Applied Arts this September (more about this nearer the time).

First I'd like to introduce a brand new design called Love Birds which shows a pair of intricately patterned exotic birds with flamboyant tails and beady eyes. The birds are a combination of black and indigo blue and on a cream background. There are two mat sizes as well as a pair of 10cm square coasters, each with one of the birds on. Because this sits well with the Alabasta Blue Fish tray designs we have decided to put both Fish and Bird collections under the umbrella name of 'Filigree'. The Love Birds mats and coasters can now also be bought in store from Liberty in London. The Blue Fish mat is having a slight redesign so I'll show this when it's done...

Love Birds 38.2 x 29.2cm large tablemat

There is also a new design in the mats only called Damask, which complements the style of the other collections but is more tonal and larger scale in design. This comes as a square 24cm mat and 10cm coaster in three modern colourways - red/coral, bright green/aqua and a fashionable iris blue mauve:

Damask 24cm square mat and 10cm coasters

There are also mats in the multicoloured Folk Stripe pattern and the stripes are straight on these as opposed to curved on the current range of trays. Two sizes are available, 29.2 x 21.6cm with an ivory background and larger 38.2 x 29.2cm tablemat with coloured background, plus a 10cm square coaster:

Folk Stripe mats

Last but not least are toughened glass platters designed for protecting worktops, using as chopping boards and generally making your dinner table look special. These are heat resistant to 180 so can take hot pans. The pattern is fired onto the underside of the glass in a process similar to enamelling so they are really resilient and the colours look very rich. There is a smooth glossy 30cm round Folk Stripe platter:

30cm Folk Stripe Glass Platter

...and finally a colourful large rectangular worktop saver with a slight ridged texture on the surface:

40x30cm Folk Stripe worktop saver

To summarise, these brand new tabletop accessories are currently available to order online at Avenida Home only at the moment and delivery will be within 4 weeks, or you can find the Love Birds mats in store at Liberty. I will list any new stockists as soon as I know where they are selling. 

Alabasta trays are available from the stockists on the sidebar to the right of this page. 

All photos copyright Asta Barrington.