Design, Interiors & Lifestyle Blog
Design, Interiors & Lifestyle Blog

Margate beach Margate on the East Kent coast has been dubbed the new Shoreditch.

Are you curious to see how this old English seaside town is being transformed?

I’ve been wanting to visit Margate for a while, but haven’t had time. I’ve only been there once briefly for a photo shoot, but didn’t get to explore the town properly.

Consequently, one sunny weekend, I decided to take a day trip there with my family.

It was an easy hour and a half journey via Southeastern rail’s high speed train from London’s St Pancras.

The trip was relaxed, pleasant and definitely beat being stuck in car traffic.Margate beach for kidsAs we got out, we could immediately sense that old style English seaside vibe.

I was especially happy, since the beach was a sandy rather than pebbly.

Here is a cute fair for kids on the beach. Margate Dreamland You could try Dreamland opposite the beach too, if you fancy more thrilling rides.The Bus Cafe in MargateBefore exploring Margate further, we decided on breakfast, because a weekend just isn’t a weekend without a hearty start right?

We stumbled upon The Bus cafe, a converted double decker bus restaurant with seating upstairs. I had a Hangover Hash, which was a potato and red onion base rosti with refried baked beans, eggs, peppered mushrooms, bacon lardons and sausage.

It was delicious and definitely fulfilled the brief of something hearty. This was the eggs and mushrooms on sourdough toast that my husband had. After breakfast, my husband and son decided to go onto the beach for some fun and games.

I decided to explore Margate’s Old town. My first stop was Caravan Margate, a pop up store, where 6 creatives from Thanet were showing their works for sale.

It will be opened until the end of August 2018.Margate pop up CaravanThe brands on show were Margo of Margate, Frame and Cover, Ms muffet upholstery, Jane Ellison textile, Kavel Rafferty and Redpen print. I was rather taken by Margo’s original art portraits, hence went on to purchase 4 pieces. Love this upholstered chair by Frame and Cover too.Margate cool shop Little BitThe Old Town was definitely the place to be for cool independent stores and restaurants.

I was also happy to discover Little Bit Margate  and to meet the owner Polly.

Just look at her cute shop bursting with colourful happiness.

Everything was beautifully curated, quirky and cool. I had my eye on that cute llama ceramic money box and those fun disco ball cups. I finally left with a unicorn ring holder. These sweatshirts with colourful tassels are totally adorable don’t you think? If you love art, then you’d be glad to hear that there were many galleries peppered throughout the Old Town area. Don’t you especially love it when you wander around a new city and then discover a hidden gem?

Most of the stores were in the Old Town, however, I found Mar Mar Margate in Cliftonville, a less regenerated part of town.

Mar Mar Margate is a cafe and store selling stationery and plants, owned by Boe Holder and Henry Buckle.

Boe paints the prettiest of pots to sell with her plants.

The vibe in the café was friendly, relaxed and cool, so it was unsurprising that this hidden gem now boasts a list of regulars.  Here’s a little interview I did with Boe and Henry:

Q1: Tell me a little about your backgrounds.

I’ve been working as an artist and homewares designer for the past four years for my brand This Way to The Circus, which I started after leaving university.

Henry has worked in music; writing, producing and engineering for the past decade. He now works in digital arts and installations.

Q2: What made you move to Margate?

We moved to Margate from London over two years ago, and were drawn to the space, light and creative opportunities.

We were able to set up our own business here, something we could never have been able to do in London.

We’d drive out of London every weekend, hoping to find the place for us and eventually we made it to Margate, literally as far as we could go east without driving into the sea.

Something about the town was immediately exciting and intriguing, we started looking for flats that day! Q3: Tell me about Mar Mar Margate?

Mar Mar is a cafe/ shop and bar. Our aim was to make a beautiful, calm space in which to enjoy excellent coffee and produce.

Our small shop section has been carefully curated, stocking only products we love ourselves.

We designed, sourced, built or commissioned every element of the space ourselves, the interiors reflect a meeting of both out design sensibilities.

We wanted to move into the future while being respectful of the past. This was reflected in the choice of our interiors.

There are lots of classic touches like the brass worktop, restored 60’s mirrors, 70’s inspired plant choices, hand brushed original floorboards and original victorian tiling shown off and framed by simple yet modern planters.

We went to great efforts to use a mix of materials and colour choices that will hopefully be timeless.

Plants are obviously very important to us, they make us happy so we wanted to open a space full of them for others to enjoy – the plant sales have taken us by surprise! Q4:How have the locals responded to Mar Mar Margate?

We’ve had a wonderful response from local people.

Northdown Road was once a high class shopping destination, but seems like through the years had fallen from grace, but new energy and additions to the street have, in our experience, been met with enthusiasm.

One of our main aims is to be as open and inclusive as possible, we want everyone to enjoy Mar Mar.

We’ve got a great mix of people coming in and it seems like locals are quite proud of something like this popping up out of nowhere in an area that has received no attention for quite some time.

We do get a few funny looks and double takes as people notice the jungle inside for the first time. Q5: What are your favourite places to visit and eat in Margate?

Hantverk & Found: Proper seafood restaurant with a continually rotating menu.

Cheesy Tiger: French and Italian peasant food, on the harbour, you have to book to avoid disappointment. If you aren’t a fan of cheese and wheat then this is probably not the place for you but if you are it’s amazing.

Cyrils Sandwich shop: everything a classic sandwich takeaway shop should be.

Radio Margate: A local radio station, cafe and bar.

Transmission Records: really cool specialist record shop and soon to be cocktail bar.

Cliffs: Café, record shop, hair salon, yoga, coffee roasters, general community lead hub. Plenty of events going on. There isn’t much that Cliffs doesn’t cover.

Tap Room: exactly what you’d expect from it’s title; a tap room offering great ales on rotation, a great place to hang out.

Tom Thumb Theatre: an amazing and accessible events space offering comedy, theatre and music. It’s got one of the nicest feeling bars in town and has great curation.

Post Office: newly renovated. A real treat for brunch. We recently helped them with their rebrand and installed a huge mount of hanging plants in the space. After much chat, I felt hungry.

You can’t go to a coastal town and not try the seafood right?

So for lunch, I met up with my family again at a nearby seafood restaurant called Angela’s.

Their philosophy is to serve uncomplicated ethically sourced seafood alongside simple seasonal vegetable based dishes.

We were lucky to get a table by booking in advance, as they have a limited number of tables and are open only from 12 to 230pm most days for lunch.

I had the Scallops with garlic and onion purée for starters followed by this Dover sole with an anchovy dressing ( image above).

I can see why all online reviews have given this restaurant 5 stars. The food was absolutely delicious and a treat to the taste buds. My husband had the red snapper which was equally delectable. After lunch, I decided to explore Margate’s famous vintage shops.

I was instantly drawn to the pink facade of Peony Vintage, a vintage clothes store with collections of gorgeous floral dresses, perfect for Summer. Check out the beautiful dresses on sale here. It was so fun to stroll around Margate. There were loads of vintage homewares stores too, so perfect for those who love collecting unique pieces for their homes. How cool are these vintage alphabet signs? If you love Fairground vintage signs or accessories, then a visit to Fort Road yard is a must. There were many objects labelled either ‘Sold’ or ‘reserved’. Makes you wonder how people have room for vintage merry go rounds in their homes. This vintage Chips sign made me smile and especially hungry. Here’s more cool artwork on sale at Fort Road yard. I kind of fancy that pink Fresh Pop sign. I didn’t buy it because my hands were already full of shopping bags. Here’s another cool store I stumbled upon called Mor. You can see Turner Contemporary, one of UK’s leading art galleries from Mor’s shop window. Here’s the Turner Contemporary in its full glory.

I didn’t get to go inside because I was running out of time, but definitely on the list for my next trip. Anyway, after a busy day exploring, we settled for some amazing pizza at GB Pizza followed by some Aperol Spritz on Ziggy’s rooftop bar. Here’s what Ziggy’s rooftop bar looked like. The view of the beach from the rooftop was noteworthy, since it was the perfect spot to see the sun set.  We had a wonderful day out in Margate and I will definitely be returning soon.

Finally, Southeastern is running a promotional offer of an Off-Peak Day Return ticket of only £20 during the Summer to Margate, so it’s the perfect time to go if you fancy a fun day out.

This amazing offer ends on 24th August 2018.

( All are my photography and this was a paid partnership collaboration with Southeastern, while all views are my own).

Keep London Creative and a peek into Morag Myerscough’s work studio.

I love London as it is such a vibrant city, rich in culture and creativity. There is always a fresh buzz of activity in the art, design and fashion scene.

London brings boundless inspiration and opportunities for creatives, and in return, this network of talents help the city grow its economy, and position itself as one of the world’s top cultural destinations.

The scarcity of studio spaces for work, and soaring costs of rent is putting threat to this working relationship.

Greenwich Peninsula in conjunction with Wallpaper magazine have recognised this issue of a lack of creative space in the capital, and have come together to promote a Keep London Creative #KeepLondonCreative campaign.

As part of the Keep London Creative campaign, Greenwich Peninsula has asked me to interview a renowned London creative in his/her work studio. Keep London Creative Introducing you to Morag Myerscough, one of London’s most colourful and prolific designers.

Morag has worked on a wide range of projects both locally and internationally.

You can find her commissioned work at cafés, hospitals and landmark locations such as the Design museum and Tate Modern.

I first came across Morag’s work at the Love festival in the Southbank.

Morag was definitely a busy artist in demand.

She had perfected the skill of multi-tasking and I saw that in action on the day of the interview.

I was impressed by how she coordinated a shipment to Las Vegas, where she would be painting for the Life is Beautiful Festival, whilst designing a ping pong table (image above), and having her interview with me. Here is an aerial view of Morag working in her brightly lit studio.

Morag lives above her studio and loves having this convenient accessibility. Her studio has good natural lighting and a large enough space to work in.

I have summarised my interview with Morag in the post below. I asked Morag if it was important who her neighbours were when she was at work.

Morag said that she tended to work in solitude, as that was when she was at her most creative.

She also liked quietness, but acknowledged that noise was not easy to escape from in London.

She valued the influence of her local community, with its rich mix of cultures and creative vibe. Next, I asked Morag what she thought the benefits of living in London as an artist were.

She felt that there was a lot to be gained, because London was already an established industry hub, so providing the necessary springboard and platform for creative work opportunities.

With benefits, came challenges for creatives in London too. I asked Morag what was most difficult about life in the city.

She told me she used to live and work in Clerkenwell, and although she liked it, she soon noticed the neighbourhood becoming more ‘money’.

The gentrification of Clerkenwell inflated rental charges and limited the access of affordable studio spaces for creatives.

She did balance her view, by saying that creatives do sell out too, a normal human response to a property boom.

When I asked Morag how she thought the government could ensure that London becomes sustainable for creatives, she mentioned the Eindhoven project.

I’ve since read up about the project, and think it’s a fabulous way of keeping London creative.

The Eindhoven project was a redevelopment of an area of that city previously owned by Phillips, into a creative neighbourhood.

Many of the disused factory buildings were converted into light filled studio spaces. Morag mentioned a few other land regeneration schemes that offered studio spaces to creatives.

It seems to me that this should be the way forward for London too.

Here’s one of Morag’s recent project, a bright and colourful bench. The painting is so precise and I love her colour palette. Hope you have enjoyed the colourful tour and the discussion of a problem facing creatives in London.

Please join us in the #KeepLondonCreative campaign on Instagram, by posting a photograph focusing on your workspace or you in your workspace.

Explain why it’s important for you to work and have your studio in London.

Do include the hashtag #KeepLondonCreative and tag @ThePeninsulist and @wallpapermag before 25th September 2017 for a chance to be featured on wallpaper* online.

(All photography are by and Copyright of Geraldine Tan, editor of Little Big Bell. This is a sponsored collaboration with Greenwich Peninsula ( Keep London Creative). All views and opinions if stated, are my own).

I have just returned from an amazing trip to Milan, with the car brand MINI. I was invited to view their MINI LIVING installation called ‘Breathe’ for Salone del Mobile 2017.

Urbanisation combined with a shortage of space for housing is fast becoming a global issue. To help address this issue, the project is exploring different concepts for shared space living, with an eye on also reducing our carbon footprint.

MINI has always had beautifully designed cars with a low carbon footprint, coming from its compact size and efficient engine. The MINI Living project is a testament to their brand value for a more ‘conscious’ way of living, whilst still embracing design. MINI LIVING was launched in 2016 under the creative direction of architect, Oke Hauser (on right).

This year the project commissioned Brooklyn based architect firm SO-IL, to help them showcase this architectural concept for future urban living. Ilias Papageorgiou (on left) represented SO-IL at the event. Here is the BREATHE installation for MINI LIVING. The theme for the build was ‘Air, Light and Water’.

The installation was pre-fabricated after design, then transported to Milan. This home ‘on the move’ could perhaps be a concept solution to the ever increasing global mobility and migration of society.

The structure comprised of a steel frame with a tough, porous white fabric, that filtered light and purified air. There were no bricks and mortar in sight.
The space is designed to be an interactive experience between the three people who would live there and with their surrounding environment.
Here is the simple but perfectly functional kitchen. The basin in the kitchen with its water sourced from the collected rainwater on the roof. The space is for three people to share.  See how the light filters through.
Does this concept challenge your view on material possessions?  Perhaps we should all be thinking of simplifying our lives with a capsule wardrobe? Bedroom number one. Here is the shower area.

This space really makes me think of how the lines between interaction and privacy becomes blurred.  It truly was a beautiful green space indoors. Here is bedroom number two which could also double up as the living room. Looks pretty cosy doesn’t it? At the top of the installation was an oasis of green. It was a communal space filled with oxygen giving plants, and a place for growing vegetables to encourage self sufficiency.

There was also a rain water collection system that channeled water into the home for usage. Alongside the MINI LIVING installation, were three other related commissions.

The first was a live creative project by Assemble, a collective of architects from London with their project called: ‘A factory as it might be’.

Assemble showcased how collaborative working could lead to the production of beautiful clay plates, using natural resources. The plates were then used at the dinner party that I attended.  Pigment dyes used to colour the clay plates. The second commission was the Conscious Café by Laila Gohar, which demonstrated how sustainable living can be a reality.

Wild mushrooms that grew indoors, later made it to our plates for dinner. The leftover fruits from harvest were dried in the sun to make fruit leathers for dessert.

The last commission was an interactive exhibition in a darkened room, playing with the elements of light, water and air by Zaven ( no photo shown here). Here is the installation by night. Doesn’t it look beautiful?

It was so wonderful to tour and experience the MINI LIVING space. It has definitely given me food for thought. Are those questions now swirling in your head too?

I was interested to read about a recent interview by MINI with Ilias Papageorgiou. He was asked whether he thought this collaboration with MINI LIVING brought the idea of sustainable communal space closer to reality.

In his answer, the designer argued that it had been an important exploration of relationships between people and between people and their environments. It was certainly a great platform for researching new ideas and this small beginning can ultimately have a large impact.

Finally, I would love to know what you think. Do you feel that there may be elements here that are a future vision of our homes? If so, what would you like to take with you?

( All photography are by Geraldine Tan, editor of Little Big Bell. This is a sponsored collaborative post with MINI, but all views and opinions are my own).

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