Falling for Failing Flora – Rosie Lee

Rosie Lee is a creative agency that’s worked on campaigns for the likes of Nike, Uniqlo and Virgin Media, and in locations around the world, including Shanghai, Los Angeles and Qatar. We also happen to run Infinite Objects.

Back when this store was known as the Rosie Lee Shop – a slightly less original name, we’re happy to admit – we designed a series of homeware products that formed our very first collection. Marked by the colours of autumn, the Failing Flora range aimed to capture the fragility of our home nation’s plant life as it struggles with the harsh and unforgiving weather that defines the British climate.

The mugs, trays and aprons that made up the selection have since come to typify life at Rosie Lee, and are a familiar sight to everyone we’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past few years. Even though we’ve since opened new offices (3 times!), Failing Flora products still sit pride of place in the kitchens of every location.

In reprinting the collection, we’re trying to make reference to the journey we have taken as a business and as a creative entity, and sharing the designs we’re so fond of with an audience who may have missed out first time round. It means we get to replace the mugs that we’ve smashed, stained and lost along the way too.

Shop the products here.

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Rob Flowers – Say Hello to Woah

‘Having an intellectual justification for my compulsion is very handy’
Rob Flowers

You’ve seen the work of East London illustrator and IO collaborator Rob Flowers – even if you’ve never heard of him. His illustrations recently featured on the front cover of Creative Review, and he’s worked for everyone from Nike and Google to Children in Need and Action Aid.

There’s an unavoidably youthful familiarity to Rob’s characters, largely owing to his unique source of inspiration – his formidable toy collection and his love of 1970’s and 80’s McDonalds merchandise. His favourite pieces are frequently referenced in his work, and ensure an innovative and emotive consistency to all that Rob touches.

The soft toy he created for Infinite Objects, the Woahnut, was (fittingly enough) designed around the theme of infinity. He says of the space doughnut: ‘I think of him as being more indifferent than unhappy, like most gods he’s probably pretty bored. He’s definitely pure sugar, whatever flavour those rainbow cakes are that’s what he is. The cloth toys that I’ve made are inspired by some in my collection, I’ve got a awesome Hamburglar cloth toy that was the basis for what I was trying to do with him but I’d quite like to revisit the character and see what else I could make with him, maybe something ceramic would be fun.’.

2017 is already promising to be one of his most successful years in the industry yet, as he fulfils a career ambition in speaking at this May’s Pictoplasma festival in Berlin. Rob’s also just signed a deal to write and illustrate a global encyclopaedia of ritual and costume – there’s a video game in the pipeline too.

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Break Fluid – Fuelling Adventures Everywhere

Break Fluid Coffee Co was born from a need for a non-intimidating speciality coffee – consistent in flavour and easy to brew. Its founders, Chris (a coffee nut and ex-professional photographer) and Ant (a super-talented graphic designer and expert dog wrangler) have a shared passion for the outdoors: in Break Fluid they have created a product that keeps them fuelled on the go, whether that be at their Frome HQ, or running and cycling further afield.

The brand’s association with exploration is evident through their choice of ambassadors. A browse through their website reveals a plethora of inspirational individuals flying the Break Fluid flag across the country, all of whom share a passion for adventure and a staunch commitment to their discipline.

The product itself comes from speciality coffee importers around the world, with bean selection governed by ethics as well as exceptional taste. The Kayon single origin stocked by IO comes from the Guji area of southern Ethiopia, and is the perfect balance of fruity and floral flavours.

A look into the future reveals some exciting moves for the brand. Their Frome HQ will soon house a trade counter and a coffee bar – as well as playing host to a number of summer meetups and rideouts. There are also whispers of a brick and mortar presence, and they’re set to be curing hangovers on the festival circuit this summer – look out for them at the Isle of Wight festival, WOMAD, End of the Road and The Good Life Experience.

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Punkt. Switching On to Switching Off

In an age of relentless notifications and limited attention spans, Punkt. champions the reconsideration of our relationship with technology. The Swiss brand was established by Petter Neby with the idea of refreshing the consumer electronics market with outstanding, timeless products that are designed to do their job without intruding on their owner’s time and attention.

Their flagship mobile phone, the MP01, stands at the helm of this digital detox movement. Created by renowned product designer Jasper Morrison, it is an ode to style, simplicity, and clarity. It makes calls and sends texts. That’s all.

The alternative to the smartphone has previously left a lot to be desired for those who yearn for a life less connected. Punkt. offer a commitment to escapism with no design compromises.

Of course, work and technology are now so co-dependant that it would be unrealistic to assume that the MP01 can exist as everyone’s sole communication tool. Punkt. recommend using it alongside your do-it-all smartphone – their ethos is not anti-computer, but pro-balance, and hope that by switching to MP01s after work we can all learn to adopt good habits for a less distracted life. 

Rosie Lee/Infinite Objects’ collaboration with Punkt. is long-standing, and we stand by their passion for accomplished and user-friendly design. As an agency, our campaign to launch the MP01 was awarded Best Poster Design at the 2016 Design Week Awards.

 

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Hatchet + Bear: Playground of Interests

‘Humans are complicated things and have tendencies to complicate the world around them. A utensil should do it’s job – anything beyond that is in the eye of the beholder.”
– EJ Osborne

Frome based Hatchet + Bear was born of a commitment to two interests that on the surface do not seem obviously compatible —forestry and product design— however in starting H+B EJ Osborne built what he describes as a ‘playground’, a space where he was free to experiment and build on his own terms.

H+B’s ethos centres on simplicity and a connection with the materials and the results speak for themselves; hand-carved from local wood every product is entirely unique and an ode to the land from which it came. Rather than the identity of the source tree being erased it is celebrated with knots, anomalies and dramatic grain swirls on full display, therefore becoming part of the product’s life too. As EJ tells us ‘There’s no point in making something from a beautiful tree, if you can’t experience that tree in the thing I’ve made.’

Amongst the complexity of modern design H+B’s appreciation for function and simplicity has not gone unnoticed as a visit to the website will reveal. Each product is produced in limited numbers according to the resources available, and with no rigid re-stock plan in place re-runs occur only as and when the moment feels right, a holistic design strategy which ensures every single output is given the attention and care it deserves.

 

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Folklore and Fish Socks with Nikkie Wester

“Textile products must induce the user to be touched and therefore to be loved.” – Nikkie Wester

Amsterdam based designer Nikkie Wester draws inspiration from a somewhat unusual source – folklore. Take for example her Fiske Fisk socks, hand knitted in Bulgaria using the finest wool. Whilst researching Dutch folklore alongside the fishing history of Holland Nikkie stumbled across an old photo of her grandfather and his friend as children, taking inspiration from her studies she proceeded to draw Fish socks on the pair, the sketch made her laugh and that was enough for an idea to be born.

A fascination with the antiquity of textiles combined with an interest in innovation and quality dictates Nikkie’s creative process. Initial illustrations are combined with physical prototypes and then layered with relevant reference imagery. Together the elements determine the patterns, textures, atmosphere, colours and shapes which ultimately finalise the designs.

Yet what is most unique about her products is not the cultural heritage behind the designs nor the unusual approach, but the motivation in the process: modern objects designed with the user’s wellbeing in mind, as she tells us “my products are conceptual yes, but are designed to be playful and to create a smile” – in an age of self importance and pretence such consideration is refreshing.

There’s a new collection on the horizon although we’re unable to share much detail, only that the subject is African Voodoo, and if previous work is anything to go by we can’t wait to see how this will materialise.

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Overthrow: the Home of Underground Boxing

“Let us Overthrow the myths, Overthrow the lies, Overthrow the hate, Overthrow what divides”
– Power Malu, Overthrow

A boxing gym like no other, the Overthrow brand is a counterculture community that asks one central question, “What are you fighting for?”. In an age of global disunity 9 Bleeker Street has fostered a judgement free-community where people from all nationalities at any level of athleticism are welcome.

Home to the Youth International Party (Yippies) in the 60s the gym has always been a centre for the arts and revolutionary thinking and this spirit of activism is still alive and well in the basement. The Overthrow Trump Truck (pictured) was designed as a way in which to encourage people to vote. Despite the result not going to plan, Overthrow refuse to be defeated and have dedicated classes specifically for self-defense and empowering those groups of people that have been targeted by the negative narrative of the Trump campaign.

Overthrow combine art and fitness organically by hosting regular arts, photography and music events alongside their regular boxing classes. Their striking and immediately recognisable aesthetic is the result of a collaboration of in-house ideas – rolled out across their range of custom boxing apparel and accessories, curated by Art Director John Gagliano.

With a staunch dedication to fitness and the arts Overthrow have carved out a niche in the global fitness scene. Next time you’re in NYC seek out the basement on Bleeker St. for an authentic experience like no other.

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For Labrum the Edge is in the Detail

The concept behind Labrum is simple; to create modern, practical workwear staples, with a focus on every single detail.

Labrum founder, creative director and designer Foday Dumbuya (aka Fods) started Labrum from his living room as a rebellion against short-term trends and the over commercialisation of menswear. By stepping away from the throwaway fashion of big names Labrum has positioned itself as an individual and innovative brand committed to building relationships through creativity, passion, craftsmanship and quality.

Years spent growing up in Sierra Leone, Cyprus and London and twelve years in the fashion industry has shaped Fods’ creative approach, as he tells us “Labrum is a product of experience and heritage” – the brand has a staunch commitment to considering every possible detail, from the fabrics, the type of stitching used and the buttons, no stone is left unturned.

Labrum’s partnership with British and Japanese textile millers results in unique fabrics for menswear, a commitment to quality that not gone unnoticed. When we caught up with Fods he was fresh off the back of two successful trips to Tokyo and Dubai with a visit to new suppliers in Berlin imminent.

Already hard at work on next years Autumn/Winter collection with an aim to showcase at Paris Men’s Fashion Week Labrum continues to go from strength to strength. Be sure to keep a close eye on this East London brand with a growing global reach.

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An Exercise In Exploration

“I would love to design an autonomous motorbike. Design for the exhilaration of letting go, rather than holding on.”

John Tree’s best looking products are not always born from a strict focus on aesthetic, as he tells us: The best looking things often seem to emerge when I am problem solving rather than when I am trying to make something “look good”. Consistently balancing function with an unapologetic willingness to experiment with new materials is what sets John apart, with his next output, a coloured carbon fibre light, allowing an exploration of size without the penalty of weight.

John wants to pass his unrestricted approach to design onto future designers: ‘students need to understand and explore the boundaries of what all the incredible factories in the far east can do’. In an industry where talent is twofold an appreciation of innovation is vital in ensuring the process of creation is respected across all industries.

A look into John’s future projects shows that he is staying true to his own advice. As well as the Carbon Light he’s developing an office chair that needs no adjustment.

Check out John’s website here, and his Side Slab Table available to buy through Infinite Objects below.

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The Future is Funky for the Fellas

Like many successful brands Funky Fellas was born from personal desire. After returning from travelling and finding himself immersed in a corporate dress code, FF founder Marek wanted to stand out amongst the sea of grey, and socks seemed the only platform for self expression.

There’s more to the brand than colourful, unusual socks. Each design stems from an illustration, each illustration tells a story and each story shares a purpose – as Marek tells us: it’s a trigger to the imagination, we can all relate to the icons on the socks: the sky, the sea, a piece of fruit – yet they all evoke wildly different memories between customers. What’s most striking about the process is the illustrations come before product design, as Marek tells us ‘’I don’t tell the story, I draw it’’.

Despite the lighthearted name there is real consideration behind the brand. The business is committed to quality, shown by their choice of manufacturer in Turkey. The products are handmade and there is a real commitment to ensuring a happy workforce . The company is driven by a desire to create and enjoy, personified in their missions statement: Be small, be good – and do something cool, a somewhat refreshing attitude in the cut-throat world of fashion.

With the brand growing a new collection is on the horizon, Marek has not given much away but you can be assured it’ll be just as Funky as the first. Check out the Spacepa socks below and be sure to follow the brand as it progresses.

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