Witshop: This is where I work

Jake and Freya of Witshop, designers and makers of stationery and homeware, invite Ernest into their Brighton home and workshop to discuss Serial addiction, work-life balance and lunchtime dips in the Channel.

Tell us about your workspace?

We  have two workspaces. The desk area is where we plan how to take over the world through stationery! We discuss ideas and envisage what we want to do. With that in mind we have surrounded our desk area with things we like and inspire us, to get in the right mindset. The other area is dedicated to compiling and storage. We built a handy tall, wide desk, which is perfect for keeping all the things we need to put together orders. We spend many an hour at this  ‘station’ packing boxes ready to go out to our lovely customers and stockists.

What's good about working from home?

The biggest advantage is we’re always very close to work  and can work all hours when needed. But this can also be a negative as work-life boundaries get intermingled, which is why a separate studio will be great. We are looking to share with other talented Brighton artists, designers and makers and we look forward to this helping build our network of friendly coastal creatives.

Do you prefer your workspace clean and minimalist or cluttered and haphazard?

Theres two sides to this one. Jake likes clean and minimal while Freya tends towards the cluttered, so the workspace is a mixture of clean, organised and full. Everything is purpose built, which really helps as it means everything we need is close to hand and easy to use. We are very organised and everything has a set place – it has to be that way when working from home!

What do you listen to?

There is always something playing. We usually spend the day with music. Current favourite artists include Agnes Obel, Baxter Dury, Daniel Avery, John Talabot and Plaid. We sometimes put on  Radio 4 (got to love Woman’s Hour) or Radio 6 because we’re ‘alternative’. When we are doing a lot of compiling we also like to listen to audiobooks or podcasts and be drawn into a story. A recent podcast we couldn’t turn off  was Serial.

What do you usually do for lunch?

We have lunch here. Eggs are a WitShop staple as there are so many ways to eat them! We then try to get outside for half an hour. We live 632 steps from the sea so that is always the destination. Seeing that open expanse and the brilliance of nature never fails to clear your mind and help refocus. In the summer months we often take a packed lunch to the beach and have a swim but it can be hard to leave again!

What books are on your shelves?

We have a bookcase for novels, which often consists of crime thrillers like Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo.  Our other book case is a multitude of design books, from Taschen picture books to factual materials and process encyclopaedias to Gestalten greats like Northern Delights. We love to travel and have a collection of Lonely Planets, which we often open to reminisce or plan adventures. We love cooking so there are various cookbooks around, we are particularly enjoying Rick Stein's India book, which takes us back to our travels there.

What's on your walls?

At the moment we have a great A-Z poster by Sara Ball for Beltz & Geldberg, which we picked up in Munich. It has animal drawings for each letter, though they are in German so we learn from it as well! We recently made a big pin board to keep collected inspirational imagery and graphics and ideas we are considering. There is a portrait of Jake, which was done by a unusual Leeds artist by the name of Tony Tomlin.  There is a Pinboard Calendar and a Paper Clock – both our own products. The Paper Clock was a popular item we once produced in a small batch, but it was too labour intensive. Watch this space for mark two! There are a couple more pieces of work including one by Jake’s artist mother and one by the illustrator James Brown called Cloud Classification, which we bought from our favourite Brighton shop Dowse.

If your workspace walls could talk, what would they say?

Design and produce good work!  We surround ourselves with work that is not necessarily in a style we aspire to but the execution of it all is succinct. This inspires us in developing our brand and keeps us aiming high. Freya recently put up a a statement on the wall that speaks to us every day. It says “Don’t be obstructive just be constructive”. Sometimes you just have to go for things without over thinking them and don’t let negative thoughts hold you back.

Discover more about Witshop and their design-led stationery and homeware in our online directory.

This is a sponsored blog post, created in collaboration with Witshop. For more information on partnerships and joining our directory please email advertise@ernestjournal.co.uk.

into the fforest

Enter a world of Welsh wool, heartwood and antler firesteels in this painstakingly curated selection from fforest

Firestriker Steel with antler handle, £16.95 These Swedish firesteels will not let you down even when other lighters and matches fail. Reindeer antler handle with a reindeer leather lanyard.

Firestriker Steel with antler handle, £16.95
These Swedish firesteels will not let you down even when other lighters and matches fail. Reindeer antler handle with a reindeer leather lanyard.

Fforest Welsh Wool Blanket (dark specials), from £130 Woven at an old water mill on the banks of the Teifi. Available in two colours: burnt oak and charcoal. A fforest classic to keep and treasure.

Fforest Welsh Wool Blanket (dark specials), from £130
Woven at an old water mill on the banks of the Teifi. Available in two colours: burnt oak and charcoal. A fforest classic to keep and treasure.

Fforest Heartwood Halo Chandelier made from heartwood of dead oak from Fforest. LED lamps embedded in the branches emit a soft, warm light. Made to order.

Fforest Heartwood Halo
Chandelier made from heartwood of dead oak from Fforest. LED lamps embedded in the branches emit a soft, warm light. Made to order.

Fforest Welsh Wool Plaid Blanket, £190 Berry red plaid blanket woven using traditional methods on a Dobcross loom, on the banks of the River Teifi. Perfect on these chilly nights. 

Fforest Welsh Wool Plaid Blanket, £190
Berry red plaid blanket woven using traditional methods on a Dobcross loom, on the banks of the River Teifi. Perfect on these chilly nights. 

Cymraeg y fforest Prints, £15 Series of prints illustrating Welsh words at the heart of fforest.This little fellow is ‘gwiwer’, or squirrel. Fox (cadno) and deer (ceirw) also available.

Cymraeg y fforest Prints, £15
Series of prints illustrating Welsh words at the heart of fforest.This little fellow is ‘gwiwer’, or squirrel. Fox (cadno) and deer (ceirw) also available.

Fforest Heartwood DSW chair, from £300 If Charles and Ray Eames had lived in a cabin in the woods, this is how their famous chair might have turned out. Made to order. 

Fforest Heartwood DSW chair, from £300
If Charles and Ray Eames had lived in a cabin in the woods, this is how their famous chair might have turned out. Made to order. 

Fforest Blanket Scarf, from £55 Made from Fforest’s Welsh blanket cloth. Available in a range of colours in a choice of narrow or wide width. 20 x 180cm £55, 30 x 180cm £75

Fforest Blanket Scarf, from £55
Made from Fforest’s Welsh blanket cloth. Available in a range of colours in a choice of narrow or wide width. 20 x 180cm £55, 30 x 180cm £75

Fforest Utility Nautical Rucksack, £75 Second World War Swedish Army rucksack with strong canvas on metal frame and adjustable leather straps. Embroidered with beautiful nautical flags.

Fforest Utility Nautical Rucksack, £75
Second World War Swedish Army rucksack with strong canvas on metal frame and adjustable leather straps. Embroidered with beautiful nautical flags.

Discover more about fforest in our online directory.

This is a sponsored blog post, created in collaboration with fforest. For more information on partnerships and joining our directory please email advertise@ernestjournal.co.uk.

Word of the week: stravage

stravage

\strə-'veɪɡ\
 

verb, chiefly Scottish: roam

"Eleanor sees widowed Lindsay and single-mother Paula stravaging along the streets with their respective children." Lucilly Redmond, The Evening Herald (Ireland), January 10, 2009


Did you know..?

A synonym of 'roam', 'wander' and 'ramble', 'stravage' (also spelled 'stravaig') is not a new word; our earliest evidence of it dates to the 18th century, when it likely developed by shortening and alteration from the now archaic word 'extravagate', a synonym for 'stray' and 'roam' that can also mean 'to go beyond proper limits'. Note that if you use it correctly, you won't be extravagating by using 'stravage' – no matter where you call home.
 

This is taken from 365 New Words-A-Year 2015 Page-A-Day Calendar
pageaday.com 

Age of Reinvention

Do you have the inventor's eye? Have you ever looked at a seemingly commonplace item and dreamt up multiple ways to reinvent it? If the answer is yes, then step this way...

Photo: sailhandmade.com

Photo: sailhandmade.com

Over a century ago, Britain was known as “the workshop of the world.” It was a hotbed of invention and industry. After 100 years of decline, we’re seeing a real resurgence of craftsmanship – a return of traditional industries, swathes of makers taking risks to set up businesses based on doing what they love and buyers who value the story behind the products they buy.

To celebrate this new age of innovation, we are launching the Age of Reinvention competition – a chance for amateur inventors to furrow their brows, doodle on graph paper and transform old items into unique and practical products. The competition is brought to you in collaboration with our friends at Pedlars, purveyor of wonderful homewares, gifts and quality vintage, and The Good Life Experience, a festival of music, food, culture and the great outdoors.

Between January and August 2015 we will offer eight items for reinvention. Each month, Ernest Journal and Pedlars will choose their favourite design concept then post the item to the inventor so they can work their magic. Winners will be announced in our newsletter and we will then exhibit the eight completed items at The Good Life Experience (18-20 September 2015) and give each successful inventor two free tickets to the festival and a subscription to Ernest Journal. The first item on offer is a Swiss Army groundsheet – but what would you turn this into?

Item #1: Swiss Army groundsheet (150cm x 150cm)

How to enter 

Simply share a sketch of your proposed design with us on Twitter or Instagram, mentioning @ernestjournal and @PedlarsWorld and using #AgeofReinvention.

The deadline for your first design idea is 8 February 2015. 

If you have any queries, email features@ernestjournal.co.uk

Terms and conditions:

1. The closing time and date is 11.59pm on 8 February 2015. Entries after that date will not be considered. 2. The winning entrant will be posted the item for them to reinvent and display at the Good Life Experience. 3. The prize is two tickets to The Good Life Experience and a subscription to Ernest Journal. 3. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative can be offered. 4. See our full terms and conditions.

 

Surfing the analogue wave

In a buzzing studio in North London, Darrel Sheinman and Adam Sieff of Gearbox Records cut vinyl on vintage equipment, working with the likes of Kate Tempest, Ronnie Scott and Paul Weller. They tell us about the beauty of vinyl... 

Gearbox_Records©VéroniqueDubois_0336.JPG

Tell us about Gearbox Records. What do you guys do?

We are an audiophile vinyl record company with our own analogue vinyl cutting studio at Tileyard Studios near King’s Cross, London. We release high quality, previously unreleased vinyl cuts and new recordings by contemporary artists. Our goal is to support new music and lost treasures on vinyl – our recent releases include records by Kate Tempest, Nucleus With Leon Thomas, Michael Garrick, Max Cooper, Kenny Wheeler, Slowly Rolling Camera, Dexter Gordon, Jazz Jamaica, Ronnie Scott, Mark Murphy and Michael Horowitz with Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Paul Weller.


Tell us about your vinyl cutting.

Although the vinyl cutting studio was originally set up for the label’s own use, so many people wanted to use our vintage equipment with its 100% analogue chain that we now offer a vinyl mastering and cutting as well as a complete consultancy service to help artists and producers though the minefield of vinyl mastering and production. 


What is the joy of listening to vinyl, compared to digital recordings?

Apart from the fact that it just plain sounds better when properly set up, many feel – and we agree – that there’s a stronger emotional connection when listening to vinyl. It’s as if you’re surfing a smooth analogue wave instead of having to digest thousands of slices of digital pie. And there’s the all-important ritual of taking a record out of its sleeve, cleaning and placing it on the turntable before dropping the needle into the groove. Vinyl is for the times when you want to really listen to music, not just hear it. But digital can be very handy, especially when out hiking or cycling! 
 

What vintage equipment do you use?

Our cutting lathe is a 1967 Haeco Scully with Westrex amps, the same set-up Blue Note used – we checked with Rudy van Gelder! We also have extremely rare Studer C37 and H37 valve tape machines, a vintage Philips Pro51 from Decca West Hampstead, and superb sounding Audionote amps and monitors. We have tie lines to Mark Ronson’s Zelig Studio next door and have recorded live sessions from his studio direct to our cutting lathe, notably with Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo for Record Store Day last year.
 

What's important to you?

Carrying on the tradition of keeping to the highest possible standards in all that we do. And making the best records we possibly can.
 

What artists should we listen out for in 2015?

Binker And Moses are two fantastic young musicians from Zara McFarlane’s band, and their album Dem Ones is live saxophone and drums recorded direct to tape. Max Cooper and Kate Tempest will go from strength to strength, Sasha Siem will make a breakthrough and it will be the anniversary year of British jazz legend Tubby Hayes. And there will be others that we haven’t even planned for yet. 

Gearbox Records is one of our Directory members. If you are interested in joining our Directory, email advertise@ernestjournal.co.uk.