Birmingham Made Me

Furniture & lighting by Plant & Moss

As promised, today I've put together a round up of some of my favourite things from the Birmingham Made Me Design expo which is on until Friday at the Mailbox in Birmingham and where Graham and I are exhibiting our design archives project.

The expo was conceived in order to celebrate the Midlands region's best creative design talent and innovation - from cutting edge concept cars to work by students and recent graduates. It features well known heritage brands including, amongst others, Jaguar, Brintons, Aga and Pashley (all of whom kindly agreed to be involved in our design archives project) and aims to promote a greater awareness of the unique design and manufacturing heritage of the region. The launch party last Friday was great fun and, whilst I took my camera and was full of good intentions of recording the event, after the opening speeches I was tempted away to the Cos sale by some girlfriends and somehow ended up in the Selfridges champagne bar instead. Fortunately I made it back just in time for the talk Graham was giving about our project later that evening, or else I might have been in big trouble.

We popped back on Sunday and this time I did manage to take some snaps.

I loved this chandelier made out of whistles by Acme who are the world's largest and most famous manufacturer of whistles (and who also feature in our archives project). It was put together by curator Claire Farrell, and must have taken hours to create but looked amazing.

There was another opportunity to be tempted by the Modern Windsor chairs from Sitting Firm, that I first came across at Interiors UK. The textile art in the background is by Penelope Jordan.

Above right: Biycle and clothing by Stratford-upon-Avon based Pashley.

Below: Textiles and wallpaper by students from the BA (Hons) Textile Design course at Birmingham City University.

If you follow me on Twitter you might remember that a few weeks ago I declared Design Hunter to be a union jack free zone, but I'm making an exception, and here's why. I really want to tell you how brilliant I think Brintons are.

Back in April Graham and I met with the Global Design Director and Company Archivist of Brintons Carpets at their factory in Kidderminster to discuss our archives project and had the privilege (and it really was a privilege) of being shown around the company's archive room. Although few people realise it, Brintons has one of the largest textile archives in the world. It includes original design papers from William Morris's company, Morris & Co., original hand painted designs from Voysey and Lewis F. Day and work from Robin Day. You can view just a tiny taster of this historic and fascinating archive here.

For the expo Brintons produced this union jack rug along with the two designs below. (Apologies for the reflection in the photographs.) You probably won't be able to tell from looking at these image that they are actually carpets, but trust me they are. The level of detail they achieve using the latest multi colour looms is so amazing that many of the visitors to the expo didn't at first realise that the designs were actually carpets - mistaking them for printed posters instead!

The history of this company is incredible and it's just one British brand that I think we should all be very proud of.

And finally, something fun to end with. Rainbow Reef is a community craft project initiated by Sheila Arthurs, who for the past few years has been inspired to knit, crochet and craft a coral reef.

Here's Birmingham Made Me organiser, Beverley, getting involved.

Birmingham Made Me is at The Mailbox in Birmingham from 15-22 June. There's also a full programme of fringe events and guest speakers. Details here.


Images: Design Hunter