Friday, 20 October 2017

The World's First Recycling Mall, Up-cycling & the Circular Economy

Recently I saw a post on Facebook about a place called Ã…terbruksgallerian in Eskilstuna (Sweden). Apparently it is the first and only recycled and up-cycled mall in the world.


 Well, that piqued my interest no end. So I decided to visit it and see what it was like for myself...

Anyone that knows me also knows that I'm passionate about the environment and a huge advocate of the circular economy, that is to say, not digging up resources, making stuff, using it then throwing it away. I think it is better to reuse things that already exist, fix them or turn them into other things, than to to just throw all that great stuff away...I mean what a waste!

Firstly I am so impressed by the idea of this place and by the vision of the people that made it happen. But the place itself, well, there are many great things about it but also areas to improve.

The cafe was excellent, cheap and really great food, definitely a recommend...



I was also really impressed with the florists shop. It had a great combination of old plant pots and second hand garden stuff, along with gorgeous flowers and all in a really well decorated space. You didn't feel like you were in a second hand shop at all...
 


The one thing the place lacked was a sense of creative potential. The up-cycled stuff were just old bits of furniture given a fresh lick of white or grey paint. There wasn't an aspirational feeling, not inspiring in the sense that the stuff looks amazing. Only inspiring in the sense that this stuff is getting a fresh lease of life, which is no small thing of course, but I wanted more...

To give you an idea of what I mean by creative potential and what is possible, just check out these amazing up cycled works of art and craft...
plates from Angioletti Designs

But not just pretty china, what about crappy broken china? No problem! Do this...

And the many things you can do with old pallets...



or old oars...

And if you like the industrial look...what about a corrugated iron headboard?


And I haven't even started on all the cool things you can do with old chests of drawers and cupboards....
Want something fun for the kids? How about a dolls house? no problem..
made by Larotska

Or a mini kitchen?

The thing is that most of these projects require a bit of expertise in the crafty department, and that is what I feel was missing at Ã…terbruksgallerian...

I think people need to be inspired by up-cycling, to see the possibilities and actually see things that are desirable. I'm not just talking about 'doing the right thing' by buying a second hand pair of skates instead of going and buying a new pair...I'm talking about newly made things from discarded items. Up-cycled things have more soul and individuality than mass produced store bought stuff and I want to see 'designer up-cycled' stuff alongside the second hand clothing and furniture...

You should go there if you can. Eat some of the great cakes in the cafe then wander around, pick up some bargains and think of our future..

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Jewels, Shopping, Vegan Leather, & Charity

This week has been a very frustrating one on a personal level. I have a problem with my back which has prevented me from running or training for weeks now... plus I've been having technical issues with my internet connectivity since upgrading my OS, you know the kind of thing, normal irritating problems, small, sporadic... but gives a low level background irritation to everything.

So it is very nice when I see positive things and it's not in my nature to dwell on the rubbish that life throws our way, so I wanted to talk about some really great things going on...


Firstly I think everyone should know about a company based in America called Modern Meadow. They are a bio tech firm who have discovered a process to make real organic leather without the use of animals, that is to say, any kind of leather, crocodile, ostrich, cow, whatever, by tweaking some gene soup and putting the resulting gloop through a drying and tanning process without killing a single animal. This is proper futuristic amazing stuff!

They have just opened their exhibition at MoMa and as an animal rights advocate who is partial to a nice leather jacket, this development excites me no end!!




My mate Janice Issitt takes a very nice picture and she recently did a shoot for LuLu's Pearls on Nordic Design Hub. What makes this special is that all sales of this necklace go to Breast Cancer Research. Yep, 100% of the money goes to a very worthy charity. The necklace is called 'Hope is my Anchor' it's gorgeous and every one sold contributes towards fighting the big 'C'


If you are in the shopping mood then I better let you know that this weekend my 33% sale will be finishing, so if you have had a eye on something...it might be in the sale, so check it out. Use discount code TSHIRT33 when you check out to get the discount.





Thursday, 5 October 2017

T-shirt sale,Tooth Removal & Saving the Planet

I've been a bit low key this week. The week started off with having a tooth removed, a difficult extraction, a solid hour of brain rattling drilling, sawing, picking, levering, wrenching and yanking. Unpleasant, but thank the lord for local anaesthetic!! Anyway, the following day I started having really weird dizziness and disorientation and got a bit worried. After doing some snuffling around on the internet I discovered I had Vertigo. Apparently this sometimes happens after tooth extractions or root canals. So for the rest of this week I have been taking it easy, driving as little as possible and doing a whole heap of sitting on the sofa. Whilst sitting on the sofa I saw this amazing thing on Facebook and I just need to share it with you because it illustrates perfectly why despite all the bullshit and pollution out there, I still have hope for us and the planet....

Product design student Ari Jonsson from Iceland has come up with a way to make completely biodegradable 'plastic' bottles from red algae powder. The bottles keep their shape whilst full but once empty, they begin to decompose.

You can read more about it here

That also got me thinking about all the plastic I use. I already use fabric shopper bags for my shopping and have recently bought biodegradable doggie poo bags, but I think I'm going to go through all the plastic things I use in every day life, find environmentally friendly alternatives and post a list of links on how to get them up here in a couple of weeks time, incase you feel inspired to also become part of the solution...


Back to work now.... I'm going to be doing a big end of season sale on our T-shirts and tunics next week, all week from Monday October 9th through to Sunday 15th There will be 33% off the T-shirts and Tunic if you use code TSHIRT33 when you check out.


 Just click our Sale page and take advantage of these fantastic bargains!

Have a wonderful weekend you lovely peeps!






Friday, 29 September 2017

Van Asch Tackles the Giants

I'm going backwards in time... not in a 'Time Travellers Wife' or Benjamin Button' kind of way, but more like starting with what is happening today and going back in time to my trip away in Marbella Spain...

Today (Friday 29th September) is the grand opening of a new branch of Folkhemmet furniture store in Barkarby Stockholm, just next to Ikea. I've been stocking their other branches for years and was super happy to see them open up a new shop.

I delivered a huge bunch of cushions and here I am with Ricard, the owner, on their amazing green velvet sofa! Ricards dog Molly liked the look of it too and up she came! As a fellow dog lover, I was delighted to see that Ricard didn't care about 'dogs on furniture' rules but I did have to help her up and the old girl needed a butt shunt to get her up!

I've only been back from Holiday in Marbella for a week and that is why there were no blogs these last couple of Friday's...Anyway, I'm making up for that with this bumper blog.

Where we were staying in the hills of Porto Banus, there were some totally amazing mansions but this one was like no other...
 It is the closest thing I've seen in real life that looks like how I imaging an alien civilisation would live..ok, I've read a bit too much science fi as a young' but it sure was amazing.

I can't speak for all of Spain, but certainly Marbella is a place of weird contrasts. There are a lot of immaculate, beautifully tended homes and gardens right next to dilapidated houses and half built abandoned construction sites, which flow onto the pavement. Sidewalks in front of nice homes are well kept, but sidewalks in front of abandoned homes are full of garbage and just left to run wild, despite the whole pavement being a public walkway.
There is masses of dog poo everywhere and the recycling system is laughable compared to the Swedish system BUT all the supermarkets I went into had biodegradable 'plastic' bags in their fruit and veg sections and that can not be said about Swedish supermarkets.

I thought, 'well, if Spain can manage that then so can Sweden'.  So why is the title of this blog 'Van Asch tackles the giants'? Because I'm on a mission to get the big Swedish supermarkets to stop using plastic bags and start using biodegradable ones instead.

I contacted Coop supermarket customer services to ask if they had plans to make this change and their response was obscure and confusing but essentially they said that those biodegradable bags don't meet food approved status and that it is the consumers responsibility to dispose of plastic properly.
I replied back that they were not in possession of the facts because the bags are food approved and can be bought from many places including a Norwegian company called Bio Bag World (more about them later) I have't had a further response from them so I've written them letter.

Then I rang ICA supermarket and I was pleased to hear that they are taking this seriously and that there is an internal conversation about it but they were looking at using paper bags possibly, however it would be an opt in thing for individual stores and the best thing to put pressure on is to contact your local stores directly. Not very promising...

But realising that there are biodegradable bags out there means that I've stopped buying plastic bin liners... I found these at my local Willys store and when I wanted to find doogie poo bags, my friend put me on to Bio Bag World who do a whole range of stuff. Yes, it is more expensive but it is a cost I'm more than happy to pay.
















Plastic pollution is not a third world thing
This is the crap I picked up out in the nature on my early morning dog walk, just a quick 10 minute one but 3 plastic bags including one of the fruit and veg bags I want to see the end of.
Mr Boycie and I are not amused!

I could go on to get a bit ranty and preachy, but I won't do that..yet...
Changing over from using plastic shopping bags to using fabric ones is only the start and if you are looking for a chic way to hold your purchases then check out my wide range of cotton shoppers

Friday, 8 September 2017

Too Trendy Teenagers Bedroom Interior Design

Since when were youngins' so interior savvy? Ok, so obviously teens are spending huge amounts of time on the internet and specifically social media, like Instagram and Pinterest, watching you tube videos etc - looking at masses of pictures of beautifully decorated homes. It's given them the inspiration, and I hate to say it, pressure, to have their own rooms decorated just so.

But the thing that baffles me is why 12 year olds opt for Nordic minimalism as the style of choice. I mean when I was a kid I loved bright colours and crazy patterns...oh hang on...that hasn't really changed, but I mean most kids either didn't care about decorating their rooms or just stuck a couple of band posters on the wall, job done!
Not anymore! Jeez these kids are so sophisticated it blows my mind...



Cushions by Van Asch and bedding from Ikea



I think part of the reason that this style is so popular with teens is that it is easy to keep clean and neutral for all the relentless social media pics and selfies they do...

Big thanks to Klara for these pictures.

When I asked my daughter what were the key features of this look she said 'black, white and minimal. The focus is on the details'.
So there we have it... thats what kids seem to like these days ... here are some fancy versions..

One of the things I do really like about this whole monochrome kids room thing is the gender neutral feel of it which is in keeping with the way society seems to be moving, I like that.

and just so you see what a difference it is now from when I was a kid...just check out a typical teens room from days gone by and I think you'll agree, a lot has changed...

That looks like a bedroom someone goes to die in! Ugh!!!



See what I mean!


Friday, 1 September 2017

Formex & the Autumn Trends for 2017

I've just finished doing Formex, Scandinavias biggest interiors and gifts trade show, in Stockholm last weekend. I've been doing it for years now and one of my favourite things about it, apart from seeing my lovely stockists, is seeing the trends emerging.

There was the usual abundance of grey and muted soft pink that has been constant for years but also lots of jewel tone greens and blues. From Marine shades through to deep indigos and light apple green...





There is still massive amounts of parrots and botanical themes everywhere... including on my neighbours stand. Petra Bush is a designer who loves colour and we can respect that!
I love all those kinds of marine colours and used lots in my own new collection...I'll be putting them up on the website as they come into stock.

But the other really strong trend is for  sort of terracotta, salmon, murky earthy colours. These colours don't really have familiar names like pink or blue... this is a world of spicy earthy euphemism...
This pic is from Home and Delicious blog which is full of interiors eye candy...
But Pinterest is full of this colour right now, from salmon to Masala ...sounds more like cooking recipes than interiors colour themes!

I don't personally relate to this colour palette much but I can totally imagine that a colour like this could end up being the Pantone colour of the year 2018.. Is it a bit like Masala, which was there colour of the year a few years ago? yes, but still.... that's where my money is going. Some kind of pinky earthy tone. Maybe I'll even be able to like it by then.  So what do you think? Do you love these strange spicy earthy colours? Do you think they are a trend on the rise or have we seen the peak? Or do we even care?  

Well, Formex really took it out of me and I've got a cold now, so I'm off home to wrap up warm and take care of myself for the weekend... You have a lovely weekend too...








Friday, 18 August 2017

Are You Sweating in Style?

No, I'm not talking about fancy gym clothes....well, not just yet...more about that later. What I want to know is can you pimp your sauna? Is it even possible? I mean it gets really hot and moist in there! so most kinds of decorating are right off the menu. It's natural wood and not much else...

I was staying at  a friends country cottage recently and they had a stand alone sauna. A little building with a terrace, changing room and the sauna proper, not uncommon in the countryside of Sweden. They had decorated it so nicely, in the changing room outside the sauna, with old fashioned sauna accessories and what looks like instruments of torture... surely they would've served some quite innocent and useful purpose once but I can't imagine what!

The decorating vibe here would definitely be called 'Man Cave'... think shot glasses, funky bottle openers, booze cabinet and cozy places to sit and enjoy the pre and post sauna glow.

 There were also plenty of guns around, and not all decorative...Hmmmm VERY man cave.

It got me thinking, has anyone else pimped their sauna? Well there are certainly plenty of amazing saunas out there... check out this amazing multi level floating Saunalautta raft boat!












Gorgeous, but still just wood...
There are plenty of lovely decorated changing rooms... This one from an article in elinfossland.no




But aside form some fancy lighting or curvy wooden business..there is not much scope for pimping your sauna. To be honest though, when your nearly fainting from the heat, I don't think anyone is going to care whether their sauna  is jazzy or not.






So What was I talking about fancy gym clothing earlier? Well, it just so happens that I'm launching a brand new range of fabulous athleisure  clothing at Formex trade show next week. I'm going to show you more  next week but for now I'll leave you with this...