2011 – Year end review by insiders – Part I

Anne-Charlotte Vermynck –  Chief Editor, Doolitlle Magazine (Paris)

2011 reviewed by insiders Anne-Charlotte Vermynck –  Chief Editor, Doolitlle Magazine (Paris), Jean Polsky, Owner of children’s store Estella – New York, USA, Julia Koorn – Cherry Pick for Kids – Wholesale agency and distributor, UK, Ashlyn Gibson, Owner of London store Olive loves Alfie, Matthew Holroyd / Fashion Editor, Junior Magazine, Samantha Adam, Consultant & Journalist – New York, USA

Anne-Charlotte Vermynck –  Chief Editor, Doolitlle Magazine (Paris)

The names to remember from 2011?

In children’s fashion : “Quenotte” a brand new French label, which offers beautiful products with high quality. It’s a new way of dealing with fashion, like “let’s buy less but let’s buy better ”In design : Kukkia, a brand that we have seen for the first time M&O (Maison & Objets, the lifestyle and furniture fair in Paris) in January 2011. We gave them the “Prix de la decouverte” (discovery prize). They make gorgeous wooden toys.  In  retail : ETSY, to discover young designers from all over the world; I am very found of this site.

Something in the world actuality that you want to comment?

Japan for sure.  We have done a very nice article on “Japan, the aftermath” in the latest issue of Doolittle. It’s a reportage about families in the heart of Tokyo.

The cultural hits of 2011?

The latest albums by Housse de Racket, and by Lana Del Rey.

A trend to remember?

The Bento trend;  everyone cooking Bento, Bento restaurants opening everywhere. It looks like a child’s game and it’s too good.

Jean Polsky, Owner of children’s store Estella – New York, USA

The iconic brands/names to remember from 2011?

In fashion :  With so much economic, political and global volatility out there, people are really becoming more pragmatic and looking for fashionable clothes that are also practical and comfortable.  For me, this means added excitement for American kids’ brands like Aviator Nation—they feel phenomenal and are sporty while still being fashionable. We have also seen a huge increase in demand for our own Estella cotton basics, particularly for baby where we offer comfort and fashion at a fair price. And of course all made here in America. Personally speaking, I’ve renewed my obsession with Japanese brand 45 RPM.  The clothes feel great, are super chic and you never see yourself coming and going.

In design / architecture : I’ve stayed away from mass market design and am loving vintage furniture and decor right now. Every chance I get, I travel to Warren street in Hudson, New York. You never know what you might find there on any given visit and I love the thrill of the chase.  I adore anything mid-century modern: the design and craftsmanship are superior and each piece you find has so much more personality than anything being put out by big box stores.  Plus, I’m all about supporting small business owners.

In retail : Though I do plenty of shopping online and in stores, I am honestly more excited this year about going small and local: farmer’s markets, mom and pop shops, artistic friends.

Something in the world actuality that you want to comment?

This is an exciting time to be alive, a moment in history that will go down in the books.  People all over the world are standing up and fighting for what they want and don’t yet have.  We see it in the Arab Spring and see it even here in America with the Occupy Wall Street protests.  Though it is a difficult and uncertain time, it is amazing to witness the strength and determination of the human spirit.

The cultural hits of 2011?

I can’t get enough of the textiles from British artist Maxine Bristow. Her work is elegant, peaceful, and unique.  I never tire of looking at it.

A trend to remember ?

With the economy sputtering, I’m noticing that more of my customers are interested in things that are made here in the United States.  It’s nice to see people making an effort to support American workers and American products.

Julia Koorn – Cherry Pick for Kids – Wholesale agency and distributor, UK

The iconic brands/names of 2011?

In independent children’s brands : Talc by Therese Yang and Hucklebones by Zoe Goldsmith keep getting better; the way these brands fuse great manufacturing with a classic modern approach is wonderful and when I see their work on a child, I feel uplifted. For epitomising style for the most modernist of parents, Popupshop, Bang Bang Copenhagen, Lucky Boy Sunday and Bo de Bo are favourites. The way these brands take risks and keep pushing design boundaries to please the most demanding parents, yet still retaining the child’s comfort and playfulness at the heart of the work is very inspiring.

In design : A design book that I believe captures the zeitgeist is Emily Chalmers’ book Modern Vintage Style. I opened the book this year and felt so strongly that this truly captures a moment – fusing modernism with vintage is not in itself new, but Emily’s version moves the boundaries between fantasy and reality to a new, positive place to inspire us in these troubled economic times. Visiting Emily’s shop Caravan in East London in its new location when it re-opens next year will be such a pleasure – this talented interiors stylist and retailer really understands the idea of imperfect perfection and loves to share it.

In retail in London, Couverture and Mint create their own beautiful worlds – Olive Loves Alfie and Kidsen successfully meet the practical needs of the contemporary London family with independent style, a love of retail and bring fun to the shopping experience for parents and children. In Brussels, Boucle d’Or, Little Circus and Mercredi are three truly inspired modernist children’s shops that are a quiet joy to visit.

In magazine publishing : Apartamento blows me away – each issue is pure pleasure and it is so wonderful to read an understated magazine that puts interesting creative people, substance and a natural visual style together so beautifully. Anorak and Ploc children’s art magazines are another continued source of visual joy and inspiration that contribute something new yet familiar. French children’s magazines continue to be in a league of their own: Paris Vogue’s children’s supplement this September was exquisite and Milk continues to provide the visual narrative for modern childrenswear at its best. The creatives at French children’s magazines have an artistic approach matched with an unsurpassed understanding of the tone needed for visual story-telling in the children’s world and just when you think they can’t get any better, they raise the bar further.

The cultural hits of 2011?

Culturally, I have been drawn this year to all things Japanese or east-meets-west: the exhibitions on Japanese fashion at the Barbican and the V&A, the movie Norwegian Wood, the novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, the opera Madam Butterfly, the animated movie Arrietty, the cartoons Mouk (based on the book by Marc Boutavant) and Penelope (based on books by Anne Gutman), which have a Japanese visual style.

A trend to remember?

While 2011 has seen consumption speeding up via increased use of technology, I think this and the economic climate is contributing to shifting the boundaries of realism and escapism, fashion and design’s yin and yang. While the trend in consumption has been for more ease and reality (more value, more accessibility, more simplicity), there has been an equally increasing need for ever more fantasy (scarcity, more design details, more dreams, more escapism). Japanese style is a trend that has been strong for a long time in the French children’s design world which I believe will be gaining momentum in the UK. The Japanese concept of wabi-sabi (imperfect perfection) fits with the British love of vintage and I believe the Japanese trend will be one to watch in the UK children’s design world.

Ashlyn Gibson, Owner of London store Olive loves Alfie

The iconic brands/names to remember from 2011?

In fashion & Design :  My highlight of 2011 was being invited to Marimekko’s HQ in Helsinki earlier this year.  To experience their approach to living and to breathe in their environment was an honour and an inspiration.  Faithful to their own vision for the past 60 years, Marimekko’s integrity and passion always thrills me.

The authenticity and gentle spirit of the British knitwear label Waddler and the humour and charm of Danish label Lucky Boy Sunday gave me and my customers a lot of joy this year. Both brands share a nurturing approach to production by fairly supporting Bolivian Women and embracing skilled craftsmanship by choosing traditional techniques and superior raw materials resulting in beautifully made quality products that have ‘hand me down’  potential.

The show of the year for me was Tent, the multifaceted interior design show held during London Design Week.  It was positively buzzing with creativity, energy, inspiration and talent.  www.tentlondon.co.uk

A Girl For All Time, the new brand behind a range of beautifully made historical dolls and novels sparked an interesting and on-going discussion between co-creator Frances Cain and myself.  It wasn’t an instant hit with me but the more I discovered about the concept I saw it as a refreshing and valuable perspective in a market that has become focused on gender neutral design.  Created to be educational and empowering, A Girl For All Time celebrates girls with contemporary, non-clichéd sensibilities. http://blog.olivelovesalfie.co.uk/2011/11/meet-matilda/

Box Park, the world’s first pop up shopping mall in Shoreditch, is a visionary and dynamic concept.  Not quite the affordable independent retailer’s dream it set out to be, there is still much to celebrate.  I think that it will literally encourage people to think outside of the box inspiring a new breed of renegade pop up shopping spaces bringing regeneration to urban areas and new retail opportunities for independent retailers and young designers. www.boxpark.co.uk

Something in the world actuality that you want to comment?

I was shocked when we arrived back in London during the August riots.  Watching the destructive series of events unfold highlighted not just the mindless violence but the rise in consumerism and the unrest of a generation growing up in a ‘must have’ culture that is perpetuated by big brand advertising.

The cultural hits of 2011?

My standing ovation this year was at Hofesh Shechter’s production of ‘Political Mother –The Director’s Cut’.  Shechter, choreographer, composer and musician, fused music and contemporary dance in a dynamic and revolutionary form.  Exploring the plight of oppressed peoples and cultures The Directors Cut is raw and gritty and full of thought provoking emotional complexity.  I am looking forward to the premier of his new work Survivor in collaboration with Antony Gormley in London Spring 2012.

My idyllic wonderland weekend with Olive this year was at The Wilderness Festival.  Wilderness took popular festival culture to new heights mixing it up with added hipster glamour.  I loved the Moro banquet, midnight masked ball, wild deer, woodland spa and lake swimming.

A trend to remember ?

In the home, anaglypta wallpapers, citrus shades, bare plaster ceilings, blackboard walls, giant typography, accents of fluorescents and mirror balls that evoke a crafted bohemian feel with the faded glamour of the vintage circus.

For girls, redefined and empowered femininity mixing vintage glamour with utilitarian style, Dr Martens and boyish haircuts.

For our enjoyment after the kids have gone to bed, there has been a contemporary revival of the classic Gin & Tonic  focusing on small batch, artisanal production.  The Botanist from Bruichladdich in Scotland (voted the no 1 Monaco 2011 Diamond Award) is my personal favourite and a great grown up present fix!  www.bruichladdich.com/the-botanist-islay-dry-gin

A new canvas for illustrators has emerged influenced by Sophie Herxheimer’s recent exhibition at London Printworks where she revived the humble hanky.  Hundreds of submissions were made from around the world answering her plea to “imagine it is your town square to shout about what you like”.  I think we will see more of the hanky as an affordable blank canvas for creative expression.

Cuts in arts funding have instigated a wave of  clever and commercially savvy creative projects from organisations under renewed pressure  to generate their own income. I think that we will see more of these, giving creative charities a brighter future with more control over their own development.   The funding project of the year for me was Counter Feat,  when threatened London printmakers began printing their own money. Art notes created by a distinguished list of designers and artists including Eley Kishimoto, Jonathan Saunders, Bill Woodrow are being sold to raise urgently needed funds for The London Printworks Trust.

Matthew Holroyd / Fashion Editor, Junior Magazine

The iconic brands/names of 2011?

Being a bit of a post-minimalist and now that the Olsen twins have hired most of the Celine design team for their own label, I am officially over minimalism, its all about Versace, Miss Grant, Monnalisa and Miss Blumarine for me.

In fashion Versace, am eager to see how the kids line develops for the future.

In design / architecture  – Yes am really excited about the Palazzo Versace Hotel that is opening in Dubai, looks an experience!

In retail Childrens Salon is what its all about, they are an institution for glamour and glitz!

In other categories Dis magazine has been really influential in magazines, as has Sebastian Magazine, they are thinking out of the box and doing something new in word, photography, fashion and socially

Something in the world actuality that you want to comment?

The London riots really shocked me, I also found it, despite the carnage, a really inspiring time for people to get together and do something about Conservative Britain, our damning class system. It was a very visual protest and whether you agree with what happened or not, it struck a chord with people in Britain, made people think and stand-up and want change.

The cultural hits of 2011?

Since I am such a visual person my inspiration usually comes from photography and art and recently I have been working on a few projects with the art director Jonathan Baron from Studio-Baron (art director of Plastique, Sebastian Magazine, Vague Paper), he continually inspires my vision.

A trend to remember?

Yes its about Italian and British brands, we understand Irony! Although the Swedes are also very talented at this, if you look at the designer Ann-Sofie Back, she designs with irony superbly.

Samantha Adam, Consultant & Journalist – New York, USA

The names to remember from 2011?

In design / architecture, The OEUF bunk bed (simple and beautiful), all the KidO products (toys) I love the Matta rugs available at Pomme (Brooklyn).

In retail I am a huge fan of the store Boucle d’Or in Bruxelles, which is expanding : with a wider selection to chose from! In NYC, I am also totally in love with Crewcuts.

In other categories my heart belongs to Apple technology in all fields.

Something in the world actuality that you want to comment?

Belgium, my country which could be featured in the Guiness book of world records. There hasn’t been anyone to govern it for a long period, but we kind of came out of it well

The cultural hits of 2011?

Film: HUGO put me back in a mood for kids movies. The actors, the sets, the costumes, the music and the story…

Photographer: Stephanie Rausser. A crush on her photographs for Flora et Henri. She just published a book “Kiki and Coco in Paris”.

Music: Lana del Rey “Video Games” is on loop

Theatre: Mary Poppins in Broadway… and especially going behind the scene after the show. Priceless for my daughter Gioia. :-)

A trend to remember?

The main trend of my stomach is the Japanese dessert Mochi. A must!

The major trend in the playgrounds: Bey blade!

Carried by little Americans : Swedish backpacks by Fjallraven

On the feet: clogs number 6 for mothers and Sven for little girls

Clothing: H&M teaming with Unicef, a real success!

Clic here to see last year’s article “Bye bye 2000-2010, hello to a new decade!” and come back on Pirouette for more “Year-End interviews” by industry insiders including Ian Reynolds (Pale Cloud), Tia Cibani (Kicokids), Corina Papadopoulo (Kidsen), Laura Turner (CWB), Hadley Patterson (Tada!Shop).

© 2010 - 2013 Pirouette. All rights reserved. Website by Lemonsquash