I'm a real home girl (Suffolk is the motherland) and whilst I don't get to head up that way too much these days, when I do I like to plunge head first into day trips and exploring my home town of Ipswich-it's always changing.
One of my newest discoveries has also become one of my absolute favourite shops, LoveOne located on St Peter's St. Situated inside a characteristic timber framed building and packed full of homeware, gifts and (yes, you've guessed it) yarn (!!!!) I immediately felt right at home here.
Dubbed the Soho of Ipswich, this small network of shops on just one street are known for their quirky, unique style steeped in history. It's a vibrant area, just a few minutes walk from the buzzing marina and gives you the feeling that you're not in just another cookie cutter town.
Just moments after stepping through the door I'd fallen in love with a 1950s kitchen unit and was really impressed with the selection of pieces by independent designer/makers.
Here's the lovely owner of LoveOne, Cathy, and vintage enthusiast and owner of Betty Blue Hat, Jessica Bradley to tell you more...
Tell us about your little empire.
Jess – I sell vintage and retro homeware, everything from crockery and candlesticks to standard lamps and sideboards. I’m drawn towards many different styles from the 1950s through to the 1970s, I love streamlined and simple as well as kitsch and quirky. Some of the pieces I sell are in their original condition and are perfect as they are, but some items may get a bit of a makeover to pep it up a little.
Cathy- Loveone is an independent shop situated in a quirky and historic part of Ipswich. We champion the local artisan and designer and try to buy British wherever possible. We sell homeware, gifts, jewellery, cards and giftwrap. Betty Blue Hat occupies our first floor and Jenny Wrens Yarns is now part of our team selling all things wool and knitting.
How did it all start?
Jess – It all started about 2 years ago when my love of all things vintage had started to overrun my home! A lot of things I had once loved just had to go. I couldn’t bear to throw them away, so I decided to take a stall at a local vintage market to see whether anyone else liked them enough to give them a new home. It went well on that first day so I decided it could be the start of something bigger.
I have a degree in Art & Design, and have always had an appreciation of mid-century design, even at college my final dissertation was about 1950s interior and product design. My love of vintage and my background in design both play an equal role in my work now. I really enjoy the time I spend creating the patterns and designs I use on the furniture, it’s exciting to give them a new lease of life. I also love the search to find new stock, I still get a kick out of finding something special, when it’s no longer fun it would be time to give up!
It soon became clear I had outgrown just doing market stalls as my workshop was heaving with stock. So I began to look out for more permanent opportunities. I was already stocking Cathy’s shop with the odd piece of furniture when I had the call to say the shop was expanding and gaining a first floor. I was so excited I jumped at the chance to stock a whole room, and the rest is history. We are now approaching the first year anniversary of opening the vintage homeware department, and I’m pleased to say the response from the first 12 months has been fantastic.
Cathy- Loveone started as a market stall and website back in 2005 as a result of my work as an interior designer. Loveone the shop opened in 2007. It started life as a homeware store however when the recession took hold in 2008/9 we changed direction and concentrated our efforts in sourcing quirky and original gifts.
Jess, Your style is clearly influenced by mid-century modern. What is it about this style that speaks to you?
Jess - For the furniture I think it’s the clean lines, the simplicity, emerging in the years following the second world war it was a breath of fresh air, an innovation. Gone were the heavy woods and varnishes, and in their place was a lighter, streamlined more elegant style.
On the flip side another element of the era that I love is the more organic colourful homeware and the fabric design. I love the Italian ceramics, the bright colours and wild shapes. It was fun and less controlled. The same with the fabrics, and all the kitsch bits in between…enough said!
How do you choose the pieces of furniture that you choose to restore/up-cycle?
Jess - With the mid-century pieces it’s mostly decided on the condition. If a piece is really damaged and it’s not cost effective to restore, I get the paint or Formica out. But there are also pieces that might benefit from a facelift simply because they need pepping up, adding a design can often enhance a piece that otherwise looks a little flat. I research the styles from the period, I don’t want my furniture to look modern, I want them to look authentic, as though they are original, I think I manage to achieve that most of the time, or hope so at least!
I also stock a lot of earlier furniture or furniture that has a more chintzy style which is only going to work once it’s been totally repainted in a nice bright teal or orange…this is a whole different style, but it’s a style I like as do a lot of my customers!
Tell us about some of your favourite designers that you stock.
Jess - I don’t really stock any designer pieces. I love mid-century design, but I try to stock affordable pieces. The majority of my furniture isn’t a brand name, but it shows the design ethic of the period. I want my items to be as affordable as possible, I hope to have something for everyone. The branded items I do stock are often GPlan, Schreiber or Ercol. My favourite designers are the usual suspects; Lucienne and Robin Day, Charles and Ray Eames, Robert Heritage and Ernest Race. I love the fabrics produced by David Whitehead Ltd such as Marian Mahler and Jacqueline Groag, while my favourite ceramic designer has to be Stig Lindberg.
Thanks to Jess and Cathy for taking the time to chat to us this morning! I'm going to be featuring some of my favourite independent designers from LoveOne over the coming weeks, but in the meantime if you're local to Ipswich or indeed fancy taking a day to explore it make sure you get yourself down to St.Peter's St for a good old rummage-you're guaranteed to come home with a treasure or two.
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