New year, new trends: home and lifestyle

Last year’s design trends were pale, chic and simple, with copper and ‘hygge’ taking over our homes, but 2017 is already looking very different. This year the trends on show at home and gift trade event Spring Fair, from 5-9 February at the NEC, will be decidedly more energetic. We want fun and intensity married with practicality and usefulness for the perfect blend of passion and realism.

Bright colours are on their way in, so the muted greys, beiges, and pastel colours of 2016 can move aside. Although it’s pretty dark and cold outside at the moment, this new trend will see rooms bursting with colour. Paint a wall a popping pink, get a statement blue sofa, or make small but colourful changes. Adding some vibrant throw cushions can rejuvenate your living room, upgrade your appliances to brighten up your kitchen, and make a splash in your bathroom with a rainbow of different coloured towels.

If that’s not enough colour for you, statement wallpapers are making a comeback. Think walls covered in delicate, harlequin butterflies, or thick with bright forest foliage and bold florals. Interior design is making a long desired shift from hotel-esque impersonal pastel colours to more vivid colours and motifs, so we can look forward to our homes being infused with personality and attitude.

We’re also predicting ‘smart’ homes for 2017. The rise of Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, is heralding a new era of voice-activated technology which can simplify automated homes. We’re talking smart lighting, smart heating, smart locks, smart cameras and home security systems. Everything and anything these days can be connected to the internet, so you can turn off your lights without getting out of bed (I am already living this dream!) or lock your front door remotely, even if you went to Spain for two weeks and forgot.

Escapism will also figure hugely in home design this year. With all the technology available now, it can be nice to retreat somewhere tranquil and calming, especially somewhere without a brightly lit screen. Think wide windowsills piled with soft furnishings to curl up in and read a book; cute, cosy cubbyholes with floor cushions or beanbags; or a low loveseat in your bedroom for you to lie down and relax.

Greenery is Pantone’s colour of the year, with Leatrice Eiseman (executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute), saying that “We love that feeling of newness, of realigning yourself and revitalising yourself. A really important aspect is that the colour has vibrancy and a little bit of brightness.”

Pantone Greenery

It offers a gorgeous, vibrant hue, but we’re also taking this trend for ‘greenery’ literally. One of our food trend predictions was for DIY foods, including having herb gardens and hydroponic units in our homes. Alternatively, an easier way to embrace this trend is to grow succulents and cacti instead. They are simple, cute, and practically impossible to accidently kill.

Jungle and tropical patterns and styles are also very on trend now. We’re talking cocktails, woven baskets and beadwork, bird print fabrics, exotically scented candles and lush plants. This trend, out in force at Spring Fair 2017, encompasses practically all the other things I’ve talked about – bright colours, greenery, and escapism from our wet, cold weather without a holiday. However, it’s bolder and very in-your-face; pair a few statement pieces with more neutral colours and simpler furniture to get the right mix of loud and quiet.

floral-wallpaper

Finally, imperfection. Sometimes, not having a fixed style looks the best, and having a jumble of different furnishings showcases your personality. Having mismatching décor can look amazing, so try some period pieces contrasting against and complementing new, modern furniture. Try your hand at upcycling your own bedside table or dresser, and love its blemishes and therefore its originality. Go against the predicted trends, or blend this year’s bright jungle themes with the recent rose gold craze, and make sure your home is perfect for you.

2017 food trends – avocados are out, okra is in

Food trends are obvious in hindsight. Last year, there was avocado everywhere, spiralizers spiralled out of control, and everything we ate was given a rainbow make-over. But predictions for the year ahead are always tricky, and after a turbulent 2016, who knows what will happen in 2017? However, I’m giving it my best shot with a few predicted food trends for this year.

Purple veg at New Covent Garden Market. Credit: Frantzesco Kangaris/PA Wire
Purple veg at New Covent Garden Market. Credit: Frantzesco Kangaris/PA Wire

Food waste is on the out, which is fantastic. Latest estimates claim that around 56% of food and drink waste is avoidable (WRAP), while more than 8 million people in the UK are struggling to put food on the table – so there’s appetite to do even better! Many supermarkets are looking for ways to use their foods which are discarded by consumers. ‘The Warehouse’ near Leeds (opened by the Real Junk Food Project in 2016), sells food which would have otherwise been thrown away, and operates on a pay-as-you-feel basis, meaning that it helps hundreds of struggling families. There is also ‘Too Good To Go’, an app which enables you to buy leftover food from restaurants and cafes for as little as £2. It’s already in London, Leeds and Brighton, and is set to take over the rest of the UK in 2017.

Less alcohol. Mocktails and fancy juices are becoming more popular to drink, with many people choosing non-alcoholic options when they’re out, and restaurants are responding to this new market with a wide variety of virgin drinks. Try the gorgeously designed and tasty Seedlip – the world’s first non-alcoholic botanical spirit. It’s not confined to restaurants or bars either; try making your own lemonade or limeade, a homemade cordial or growing yourself a ginger beer plant.

Seedlip

That brings me nicely onto the next prediction, for DIY foods. More people have their own pots of fresh herbs on their window sills, or a small patch of earth in the back garden for radishes and other easy vegetables. While ‘Dig for Victory’ is a little outdated, you can bring this trend firmly into 2017 with your own hydroponic unit. It also doesn’t have to stop with your own fresh foods; you can pickle vegetables, or make your own kimchi, sauerkraut, and jams.

Free-from foods will become even more popular in 2017. Previously, these have been only enjoyed by people with intolerances or allergies, but recently many people have started choosing to eat foods which are free from gluten, dairy or nuts. They’ve also never been more accessible, with supermarkets and even corner shops adding more and more variety to their free-from range. Keep an eye out for tiger-nut milk making a splash!

Vegetables. We’re set to see an increase in vegetables on our plates, changing the British staple of meat and two veg to just… veg? Veganism is still on the rise, with half a million people in the UK now a vegan. This means we’ll be seeing more vegan and vegetarian dishes, as restaurants open themselves up to the diversity of fruit and vegetables – from okra to tomatillos and loquats. Need some fresh inspiration? Check out New Covent Garden Market’s seasonal Market Report.

Finally, bowls. No, I’m not kidding. There’s already an entire restaurant in Berlin which is seemingly dedicated to serving breakfast in bowls. Some things already make a lot of sense in bowls; soup, for example. But bowls and comfort foods are a match made in heaven, plus bowls are far more Instagram-friendly than a boring, wide plate. It’s not just comfort food either. Healthy, well balanced meals seem more appetising in a bowl, and it’s an easy dieting tip as well; you can trick your brain into thinking there’s more food in a bowl than the same meal on a flat dish.

For even more gazing into the foodie crystal ball, read these expert articles:


Let’s Get Digital

Let's Get Digital

This might need to be renamed Let’s Get Digital (And Other Stories), because, as ever, I get drawn to stories about work, income, creativity and lifestyle. That’s no bad thing.

  • Gemma Hinnett has written about how apps make her morning more efficient – I can definitely relate to this! Thank the traffic gods for Citymapper – it saves my commute every morning.
  • Fun fact time: Facebook Live now has an audio-only mode for all the podcasters (face-shy people) out there. I see this as a fantastic opportunity to connect with screen-free smart devices such as the Amazon Echo.
  • What Homer Simpson’s 100+ jobs tell us about America’s middle class – I love this analysis. Interestingly the top four highest paid jobs are all STEM related, and Homer’s stint as a webmaster comes in at number 20 on the pay-scale.
  • What non design skills helped you develop as a designer (or coder or artist or scientist)?
  •  The State of Social Media in 2016 – a year in review by Callum McCahon. There is some food for thought here – namely with regards to Twitter (no, my beloved, don’t die!) – so worth a read.
  • Some interesting thoughts on 2017 retail trends from appear here: however in my mind they are all key to doing well in any sector this year. Community. Humanity. Integration.
  • Start 2017 right with good tunes – connect your Shazam account to your Spotify and auto-build a playlist of new discoveries. Simply head to your Shazam account settings page and link them up.  [via Michael Moran]
  • TIP: Ban Word bugs from your WordPress posts! Sick of cutting and pasting from Word, only for formatting gremlins to appear? plain-text-copyUse the ‘Paste as text’ button to ensure everything is pasted everything as plain text. Prefer a more permanent solution? Install this plugin.

 

Tampon Club

We need to talk about periods more. At 23 Code Street we have an ongoing joke that its not really a conversation unless we’ve talked about them (in fact we even have a designated emoji for it… Cue the Japanese ogre). However in the everyday its a subject that a lot about it goes unsaid, unless someone is making a snarky comment about that time of month.

I read a post on Medium by 23CS teacher Jenny Brennan describing ‘We have an office problem. Period.’ and it sent me down a rabbit hole of outrage… Why don’t offices that supply their workers with every edible whim supply sanitary products to staff and visitors? It doesn’t cost that much and it would get a positive reaction. I’ve recently visited both Google and Thoughtworks in London, who supply a selection of tampons and pads – and funnily enough the women I were there with can’t help but talk about it – it’s such a delight to see (like when they pop hairspray in the bathroom at a wedding), when it should be a totally normal occurrence.

From Jenny’s post I discovered tampon.club, a resource for people wanting to engage in a little bit of bathroom activism /courtesy.

Tampon ClubIt’s a call to arms – inspiring people to a) get an official looking container b) gather an initial supply of sanitary products c) make them publicly accessible – in your work’s stalls/bathroom cupboards etc. and d) spread the word.

Here are my efforts – not that it took much to pop into Muji for a container and request some snazzy looking stickers via Twitter:

Tampon Club box

I’m looking forward to seeing how people respond at work to this idea, and of course the conversations it may inspire.

Why don’t men* like women in tech?

This morning, I checked LinkedIn as I usually do and amongst the kittens (no seriously, who is putting all these kittens there?) I spotted this:

Zalando

Names have been blurred to protect the douche-y.

Zalando is a huge tech company in Germany where a former colleague of mine, a woman, works as a front end developer. A big well done to them, as they are obviously trying to recruit more diversely and support their employees.

But what is up with the second comment? Here is a clearly talented and interesting woman, representing her employers in a professional capacity. And once again a man is taking the opportunity in a public forum to degrade someone based on their gender/looks.  FYI, an arm tattoo never was, and never will be what the urban dictionary defines as a ‘tramp stamp’. Why don’t some* men like women in tech?

I am new to the development side of digital, having a digital marketing background, but the more time I spend talking to people, the more I realise what a HUGE problem there is in our agencies and our start-ups. Where are the women? Where are the people of colour, different socio-economic backgrounds, and ages? We can’t all be sub-30 white dudes with a potty mouth. Intellectually, I have always known this but I have only recently become witness to the indifference of the technology industry.

I was angry enough to politely ask this chap to think about what he was saying and whether it was the right forum – which for some reason was subsequently deleted. Now I AM VERY ANGRY. If this was a guy holding a dog talking about his love of agile, who happened to have a forearm tattoo, I struggle to think where an insult or ‘assessment’ like the above would come into it.

And from here on in I will make it my mission to champion women/diversity in tech at every opportunity. Starting with my own team, support of 23 Code Street and beyond…!

* Of course not every man is an ass-hat and are very valued allies. It’s a broad generalisation, but yeah, its getting a bit awkward.

PS. Kittens. Perfect for blogs, not so much LinkedIn in my opinion.

For the love of tea

358th anniversary of tea

Cool design. What ho! This week Google celebrated the most loving, long-term relationship on earth, the one between Brits and their tea. “The first advert for tea in England appeared on this date [23 September] in a publication from 1658 describing it simply as a “China Drink.” A couple of years later, English Naval Administrator Samuel Pepys wrote about drinking tea in his diary entry from 1660.”

And on that note check out the Food Timeline, an incredible archive of food and their first recorded mentions in history. Endlessly fascinating – who knew pretzels first popped up in the 5th century?

Let’s Get Digital

Let's Get Digital

Karen Walker of the eponymous brand
Karen Walker of the eponymous brand.

Let’s Get Digital

Let's Get Digital

Pokemon arranged by colour
Gotta catch them all – Pokemon arranged by colour.

India – Delhi

It’s been as hot as heck in London this week, which reminded me I still had some photos left from India, namely New Delhi, to share. My friends have taken to teasing me  – ‘have you heard where Amber went?!’ but whatever. It was THAT good.

Humayun's tombdelhi-tombHumayun’s tomb is one of the inspirations for the Taj Mahal, and will also be known forever as the place where I freaked out my cousin Shell by refusing to move in the 41°C heat… It was Just. Too. Hot. having flown directly in from the London chill.delhi-sky
I went on a street food tour with a great guy called Jeswin, who fed me all sorts of delicious things including fruit beer, gulab jamun and paneer shawarma. By dish number 13 I was flagging, but he cheerfully kept up the team effort. Bonus – he recommended some great Bollywood movies.Delhi Food Tourdelhi-street-fooddelhi-masala-sodaDelhi - Lassi Light

Agrasen ki Baoli is a is a 60-metre long and 15-metre wide step well in the centre of the city. It’s a bit of an architectural wonder, said to be over 1000 years old. Originally used as a water reservoir, now it offers respite from the bustle of Connaught Place and is home to quite a few bats!

delhi-step-well

One of my other favourite places in Delhi was the Jama Masjid. I was impressed with the scale of everything – the courtyard alone can hold 25,000 worshippers.

delhi-mosque

Side note: Next time I go to India I definitely plan to take a graduated filter set for my camera lenses as the brightness of the skies made everything under/overexposed. C’est la vie…

Fancy Hands: virtual assistance of the fanciest kind

Fancy Hands is a team of assistants who can help you do your work. Start knocking things off your to do list by assigning them to your own, living, breathing, Fancy Hands assistant.

Doesn’t it sound like a compelling offer? A digital right hand man or woman, ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

The assistants are all based in the US, but the service is available all over the world – as long as they can use a computer or a phone to achieve it – they can do it. I’ve had no problem being on the other side of the pond; in fact I’ve had help on both local tasks and even a task which require making a phone call to New Zealand.

Here are some of the tasks I’ve had the wonderful assistants help out with:

  • Find interviews/articles on souschef.co.uk
  • Find cool cases for my Nexus 5 phone
  • What are some cocktails with milk?
  • Edit Google Docs spreadsheet
  • Call Private Box and cancel mail holding service
  • Reccomend me three email marketing books
  • Research three savoury pie recipes
  • Look up tide times (for mudlarking!)
  • Research vintage stores in Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Screengrab social media accounts for the following brands

To date I have made 107 requests, had 61 calls made on my behalf and scheduled one event… saving approximately 1.5 days of time. When creating task requests you do have to be a bit prescriptive, but I take it on the chin as practice in the fine art of writing a brief.

Get Fancy, save some of your precious time. This is a referral link, but I would only recommend things I truly love, so trust me on this one. Plus, you’ll get half price on the first month.