Saturday, 23 May 2009

Time for tea!

London is a great city to go for afternoon tea in, a few of my favourites are Maison Bertaux in Soho, Treacle on the Columbia Road, Hummingbird Bakery in Notting Hill and the now closed down Shipp's Tearoom at Borough Market. I was very saddened to hear about the closure of Shipp's Tearoom (see picture) I enjoyed delicious clotted cream, jam and scones there washed down with refreshing peppermint tea. All the crockery was mis-matched with different cups and saucers and lovely cake stands. It got me thinking about all the amazing tea sets there are in Alfies, which made me want to recreate the whole experience at home!

Here are a selection of my favourites from a range of different dealers in the market, some are full sets and others are single tea cups and saucers.

These are great cups from Geoffrey Robinson designed by A. H. Woodfull.

'Woody' Woodfull is one of the few designers of plastics products who we know by name. He spent over forty years at British Industrial Plastics (B.I.P) Streetly Factory designing and developing a vast range of products and laying down many of the ground rules of professional industrial design.

Woody and his design unit were responsible for most of the designs of melamine tableware so familiar to the 60's generation. Woody had visited the USA in 1948 and seen early examples of domestic melamine tableware. BIP worked to develop tableware sets to compete with ceramics. Woody's team were involved from the mid 50's onwards with the development of the Midwinter Modern range of melamine tableware.

This beautiful teapot comes from Beth Adams, it is made by Crown Ducal,1933 and the pattern is called Orange Tree. The print is so delicate it would be a pleasure having a cup of tea from it!

Pictured below is an Alfred Meakin 'ceylon tea' Tennis set. This is my favourite, what a treat to have a cup of tea and a delicious piece of cake on this lovely set, theres no room for sharing!

Dealer Wesley Payne on the ground floor has got a vast collection of beautiful china, including the picture above. Wesley specialises in collectable ceramics form the early 20th Century. Below is another great example.

This 1950's set is by Royal Dalton with the pattern name 'Spindrift'.

Carlton Ware Teapot, milk jug and sugar bowl

Below are a selection of individual cups and saucers from Beth and Beverly Adams, all of them very eye catching unique pieces!

Shelly Butterfly Wing Mode Royal Doultan 'Lynn' pattern Shelley Blue Geometric mode
c.1930, Trio c.1933-35 shape c.1930

Lastly I couldn't resist these fantastic 1950's Mickey and Minnie Mouse cups and saucers from Ian Broughton. They bring out the child in me! This is part of a full set and would add a bit of kitsch to your tea party!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Emerald - The Birthstone for May

Lucky readers, who celebrate their birthday this month, can make legitimate requests to loved ones for a beautiful emerald gift from Alfies - emerald is the birthstone for May.

The word emerald is derived from the Greek smaragdos via Old French esmeralde. Its meaning is simply green gemstone. It is such a unique jewel that a
special cut was developed just for it: the emerald cut. So if jewellery is a present for you, here are some great emerald ideas:

A 1940's emerald & diamond ring

A mid 19th Century 15ct gold filigree brooch set with citrine and emerald. Circa 1860.
Marie Antiques

A pair of stunning 1940's rose diamond, emerald and ruby chandelier earrings
Pari's Jewellery

There are some world famous emeralds out there - The New York Museum of Natural History displays a cup made of pure emerald, while
the emerald crystal named Patricia is one of the largest (it weighs a hefty 632 carats!) But they may be a little over budget, so as an alternative you could always suggest that an emerald coloured present from Alfies would suffice (and they're not just presents for ladies!):

1920's/30's continental wrought iron magazine holder
Bent Ply

Green glass round Art Deco mirror
Louise Verber Antiques

A 1930's green pressed glass fruit bowl with 3 Art Deco ladies holding up the bowl
Ian Broughton

An industrial light with green shade
Stephen Lazarus

In ancient Rome green represented Venus, the Goddess of Love. We're sure that these emerald gift ideas from Alfies will keep that symbology going a little longer - what is not to love?!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Georgian gems

During the Georgian era (1714-1830) arts, architecture and literature flourished in the UK, with noted names such as Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, John Constable, J.M.V Turner, Robert Adam and John Nash making memorable contributions in their respective fields. The British Museum was established in 1753 and its growing collection of items from abroad brought new influences and decorative developments in the arts and architecture.

Georgian jewellery was inspired by the trends in architecture and interior decoration of the Rococo, Neoclassical and Gothic styles which spanned over the Georgian years. Designs from nature were popular; birds, flowers, leaves, insects, acorns, feathers, as well as intaglios, mosaic, the Greek key, hearts and urns. Cameos became fashionable in 1804 when Napoleon had Roman cameos placed on his coronation crown. Other prominent design forms of the Georgian period are bezels, foilbacked stones, low flat goldwork, cobalt blue and black and white enamelling. In essence, jewellery was elaborate and beautifully designed, such as this set from Marie Antiques.

Amazing Georgian Parure jewellery set in 15ct gold featuring pink topaz and pearls. All pieces present and within original box.

Miniatures containing pictures of loved ones were popular and the dead were remembered with early mourning jewellery, memento mori, which were decorated with skeletons, coffins, skulls and crossbones. Other prominent inventions were glass paste copies of real gems as well as a substitute for gold called "pinchbeck" named after its inventor. The best and most lasting paste jewellery was produced after 1734 by Georges Strass. Diamonds were the favoured gem at the beginning of the Georgian period, with coloured stones coming back in fashion in the 1750's. Emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were worn along with new stones like white-imperial-pink topaz, amethyst, chartreuse chrysoberyl, coral, ivory, pearls, and garnets. In addition, lava, shell, onyx, and carnelian became popular with the introduction of carved classical theme jewellery.

A 15ct gold ring with buckle style shoulders set with a large cabochon cut garnet stone from Peter and Naneen Brooks

Natural materials such as pearl and coral were favoured together with precious stones, seen in these seed pearl earrings from Peter and Naneen Brooks and multi-strand coral necklace with carved coral sections, also from Peter and Naneen Brooks

Fine gold work was celebrated in the Georgian period and items were made to the highest standard, like this beautiful French gold mesh purse in 18ct gold with sapphire and pearls from Marie Antiques.

Bright colours were combined with decorative motifs later on in the Georgian period, for example the strong blue together with a plant in this Bristol blue glass set ring with diamonds, ca 1830 from Peter and Naneen Brooks

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Le Corbusier

This month the Barbican is hosting an exhibition in celebration of one of the world’s most distinguished architect and designer, Le Corbusier.

Le Corbusier focused on harnessing the spirit of the machine age. His idea was to create simple, effective housing with bold linear forms and use new materials such as concrete, glass and metal. He had many plans to reform areas such as the Parisian slums of the time to create a better standard of living for the masses in tall and sometimes sprawling blocks of accommodation.

In 1927 Le Corbusier invited Charlotte Perriand, a young designer to collaborate with him at his studio in Paris. He had previously used ready-made furniture from companies such as Thonet to furnish his constructions. Thonet was best known for its simple bent wood forms, like this magazine rack (below) from Stephen Lazarus at Alfies.

Little known is the story of Perriand and how she was the real master behind the iconic furniture that came out of Le Corbusier’s studio.

When she first asked for a job at the age of 24 she was apparently met with the response; “we don’t embroider cushions here.” Ever the more determined she held a one woman exhibition of her work later in that year and shortly after received an invitation to become head of the ‘furniture equipment’ department for Le Corbusier, her hard work and determination had paid off.

For the rest of her life Perriand continued as an independent and internationally recognised designer and collaborated with many including Fedinand Leger and Erno Goldfinger, the renowned Bauhaus architect.

One of the items on display at the Barbican exhibition is a table designed by Perriand very similar to and from the same place as 'Free Form Table' (below) from Van der Meersch and Weston at Alfies.

Both the tables pictured are by Perriand from the 1940s/50s and 1970s respectively.

Van der Meersch & Weston on the second floor at Alfies have the concept of modern furniture design and indeed the International Style down to perfection. They are well worth a visit to understand the delightfulness clean linear furniture can have on the surrounding space. They have some truly fantastic pieces on display. You can also visit their own website here.

Decoratum in the basement of Alfies have a huge range of design furniture that relates to the concepts Le Corbusier practiced. The stunning pieces below are some that I found in their extensive showroom that reminded me of the furniture and architectural designs by both Le Corbusier and Perriand.

Both these images were taken from Decoratum's own extensive website:

To see more furniture from Alfies click here or why not spend a Saturday afternoon learning about some of these great designers who shaped our view of modern architecture and design as it is today.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Spring Festival

Thanks to all our visitors who attended our first ever Spring Festival, a week long series of special offers and events. It all kicked off on Tuesday when we gave out £10 vouchers to spend in Alfies to the first 100 lucky people who entered the doors.

On Wednesday we had a raffle to win a 1940's Bakelite radio donated by dealer Ian Broughton. The winner was Kelly Taggart! Congratulations! Here is a picture of the fabulous radio.

Thursday was our late night opening where shoppers could stay until 8 in the evening. As well as this we also had a team of professional natural therapists throughout the market treating customers and dealers to much needed free treatments!

Peter Thompson was using his Hypnotherapy skills on the second floor, Cassie Everett who practices Homeopathy was giving taster sessions on the first floor and bodyworker Milo was relaxing customers with his amazing massages on the ground floor.

All therapists can be found at Natureworks,one of London's first complementary health centres.

Ukulele player Katy Carr was also performing in the market with her own style of eclectic folk music, check out more of her stuff at

On Friday we offered complimentary cake and tea/coffee for customers in the Rooftop Restaurant. A perfect way to finish a days shopping whilst enjoying the sunshine on the roof terrace!
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