Design Essentials Loves To Chat


It’s Giveaway time, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

To celebrate the launch of our new Koble showroom, we are doing a giveaway of the amazing Koble Arc wireless charging lamp!

You won’t want to miss out!


So what will you win…

We picked the Arc Wireless Charging Lamp for our Giveaway, one of the best selling product from our range of smart technology.  The Koble Arc is the new modern wireless charging table lamp, compatible to wirelessly charge any all smartphones.

The Arc’s has super cool modern technology which can help improve your sleep with its sleep mode. Overexposure to white light before bed can dramatically affect your sleep pattern, but with the night function, you can switch to a warmer light temperature at the click of a button.

So why would you not enter! Better sleep, wireless charging, LED technology, and touch-sensitive, the arc has it all.

How to enter…

For a chance to win, follow the instructions below:

1) Like our post on Instagram @design_essentials1

2) Tag 2 friends in the comments below

3) Follow @design_essentials1 and @kobledesigns
For a bonus entry, share this post and tag both @design_essentials1 and @kobledesigns !

Closes at 12pm on Saturday 17th October! Winner announced on Sunday 18th! ? Good luck from all of us at Design Essentials!

Design Essentials, Saffron Walden, Interior Design, Giveaway


Design Essentials Love To Chat – Victoria Gray

Meet Victoria Gray, our newest designer to be collaborating with us:

What inspires your work?

Nature has always been a huge inspiration for my artwork for many years. In each project I try to focus on different aspects of nature and make each project individual, but nature is always the main inspiration behind each piece. I am inspired by shape, texture and patterns within nature that can be merged together to create new and exciting artwork.

What has been the work you are most proud of?

The piece of work I am most proud of is one of my latest lino prints. The Fern Lino Print captures the shape, texture and stylisation that I like to work in.

Original Unique Botanical Fern Lino Print Victoria_Gray Design Essentials

What is your most important artists’ tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

Not so much now but when I was studying at Uni it had to be my screen printing tools, screen printing was a massive part of my degree!

What’s the best and worst thing about being a designer?

Best: Being able to have the creative freedom and a passion to create and design something

Worst: Sometimes it’s knowing where to start and how to create something others will enjoy too

Just to indulge me, your favourite Take That member?

Not a fan….sorry!

Favourite drink?

Daytime: Strawberry lemonade

Evening: Pink Gin!

cheese wine party. Funny birthday card

Design Essentials loves to chat: Gail Grisham

Design Essentials loves to chat: Gail Grisham

men are not house trained. Decorative pillows. Observation comedy card. Partners for life

This week we were so very excited to have the chance to catch up with the newest doll on the block, Gail Grisham. Her dry witty humour is synonymous with her range of greetings cards, all featuring her returning character Gail Grisham, a creepy little doll who’s observations on family life will ring true to anyone. With such funny cards we are so excited for the interview as Gail’s humour really does shine through at all times. Read below to see Gail’s responses to both her work and inspiration along with a couple of personal questions sprinkled in for good measure. Find Gail’s work now live on the website under Gifts-> Cards -> Gail Grisham


What inspires your work?

Although a lot of Gail Grisham’s posts and experiences are made up, or inspired by mothers around me, some of it is true (no I’m not saying which). The start of Gail posting about her husband not putting the suitcase he’d used for a business trip away in the loft was the beginning of it and since then he and the children have inspired countless posts. I guess I should thank them for being so feral.

The doll herself was a creepy gift from a friend who left it on my car one dark evening after a Brownies pick up. Instead of thanking her for the weird present I gave her a name and put her on Facebook. The post I made up got a good reaction so I carried on, mainly because I found it entertaining. The idea of producing cards seemed like a natural follow on.


What has been the work that you are most proud of?

I enjoy all  Gail’s posts on Facebook and Instagram. I think after a Peaky Blinders post getting a like from Cillian Murphy was pretty good as he’s rather handsome!

What is your most important artists’ tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

I absolutely love my mac, probably more than is natural. No one besides me is allowed to use it, I have even threatened to snap fingers that look like they might touch my screen.

I miss you card

What’s the best and worst thing about being a designer?

It’s great when people say they have really laughed either at a card or an online post. One of my priorities in life is to have a laugh. I think it’s vital to chuckle as much as possible, there’s far too much serious stuff to not enjoy a few moments of mirth.

The worst is the frustration of trying to get out there to a wider audience. Sometimes it feels like you might as well be shouting into the wind.

Just to indulge me, your favourite Take That member?

Gary. Gary Barlow I love you Gary. Although saying that, he blanked me at Wembley, not even a cheery wave and I was right in front of him, up a few flights of stairs, slightly over to his right a bit and behind a tall man, but I was there.

Gail Grisham funny lunch card

Favourite drink?

During the day (excluding sunny holidays/ sunny pub trips & not driving/ Newmarket races…) ok, so excluding most day times it’s fizzy water.

Winter evenings – red

Summer evenings – white

Got a bit of PMT and can’t make a decision for the life of me – Rosé

Before you worry about the state of my liver I don’t drink every night, these are my seasonal breakdowns if you like.

We hoped you have enjoyed getting to know Gail a little bit better and love her as much as we do!

Gail Grisham Special Moments Cards like baby milestone cards but for sarcastic adults Gail Grisham What man doesn't fart in bed. Funny Card for her to send on Valentines. Love him really

Tina’s Pretty Pieces: Design Essentials chats to Tina

Here at Design Essentials we are so excited to introduce Tina as one of our new stockists instore and online. Tina specialises in personalised family trees and wedding gifts. Her handmade bespoke creations, can be personalised to match colours, names and designed to match your home to be the perfect gift. I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with Tina and ask her some questions about herself and her art. What really shone through was how passionate Tina is about her work and how much thought goes into each individual piece. Tina is such a bubbly and enchanting woman who’s products reflect her personality perfectly. Her work as you will see fits well with Design Essentials, we can’t wait for you to see her work and we hope that you’re half as excited as we are!

What inspires your work?

My work has been and always will be inspired by my family. My first family tree creation still sits pride of place on my lounge wall with all our names together. I want to create happiness and that for me is seeing the names of the ones I love all together. Creating a piece with the details of the ones we hold in our hearts is my favourite thing.

Is there an element of art that you enjoy the most?

Colour!! I love to bring wood alive with colour, subtle tones or vibrant shocks, I love them all.

4personalised family tree autumnal colours tri colour design design essentials saffron walden personalisations gifts wedding mothers day bespoke handmade framed wood

What has been the work that you are most proud of?

It has to be my family trees. They bring so much joy when received. A tree I had painted gold for a golden wedding anniversary gift. This tree had 25 names on it and was for a nan and grandad who had created such a much loved family who adored them.

personalised family tree yellow names grey design essentials saffron walden personalisations gifts wedding mothers day bespoke handmade framed wood

What is your most important artists’ tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

Music and coffee!!

What’s the best and worst thing about being an artist? 

The best thing is no restrictions in what I can create, I love the freedom to indulge my creativity. The worst is that I am over critical and only my favourite pieces are ever seen.

Just to indulge me, your favourite Take That member?

Robbie!! Can I have Robbie? lol

Favourite drink

Vanilla latte all day long


Thank you so much to Tina for giving up her time to talk us, we are so excited to have her gorgeous products now instore for all our lovely customers to see.

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Design Essentials Chats to OLSA

Coming to Design Essentials later this month is OLSA, a range created by local textiles artist Sara Booth. She makes beautiful, practical products using wonderful fabrics that cannot be used for whole garments or large accessories. The fabrics used come from a huge variety of places: tailors, milliners, dressmakers and direct from fabric mills. We love OLSA’s unique textile pieces, which includes throws, prints and phone cases, and we can’t wait to have them in the shop and online soon.

We posed our usual collection of ‘Design Essentials chats to’ questions to Sara. Read on to find a bit more about her…

What inspires your work?

I am inspired by nature and all the intricate shapes, juxtapositions and colours there are in the natural world around us. I love where we live in North Essex and also the skylines and beaches of North Norfolk. It’s also pretty obvious I love the feel and fold of lovely fabrics. I love old books and libraries and typefaces.  I’m also inspired by personal and family events and memories and of course, by other artists. In summary, everything can be an inspiration.




Is there an element of art that you enjoy the most?

Different things on different days, sometimes it is simply working with colour and texture, or paper or fabric, getting lost in another material world. Then the unexpectedness of how things can turn out, either better than you thought or disappointing you. Printmaking is a bit like cooking, even if you have used the recipe before you can never be certain how a print will come out so the surprise and variety and experimentation are all very stimulating.

What has been the work that you are most proud of?

I am very pleased with the animal prints from the 18th century book, ‘The Cabinet of Beasts.’ With the textiles I love the cashmere and silk and suit-wool cushions (which I design and which are made up by a local skilled seamstress) – in both these cases part of the joy was finding first the book and then the material.


What is your most important artiststool? Is there something you cant live without in your studio?

I don’t have my own studio at the moment but go the Curwen Studio in Linton and Gainsborough’s House Print Studio in Sudbury – but for me silk screens and lino cutting tools are the most important implements for printing and needle and lots of different threads (preferably hand-dyed) for textile work.

Whats the best and worst thing about being an artist? 

I am a late starter and the best thing is learning new things and finding out new ways to use colour and shape all the time.   The worst thing for me is that I feel limited by my energy levels sometimes. I have a disease called SLE which limits my physical capacity at times and screen printing is very physical so I don’t always get as much done as I would like. You can cut lino sitting down which is an advantage!design-essentials-olsa-print-feather


Just to indulge me, your favourite Take That member?

I fail on this one! Can’t name one. My favourite music is classical, favourite composer WA Mozart.

Favourite drink

Tea, tea, tea – green or black, drunk without milk. Maybe tea should be the tool I can’t do without.



Design Essentials Loves to Chat: Lighting Designer Becky Creed

We’re super excited about the newest kid on the Design Essentials block – Becky Creed, who has recently graduated from Falmouth University with a degree in Contemporary Crafts. Since graduating, she’s already been high in demand, and was one of 8 chosen finalists in the Delight in Light 2014 competition in London with her amazing lighting range, ‘Turned Paper Lighting’. She is also soon to be featured in Elle Decoration magazine – exciting stuff! We managed to nab some of Becky’s gorgeous lighting range for ourselves in Saffron Walden, and were even able squeeze our way into her busy schedule to ask her our usual chatty questions! Here’s what Becky came back with…

What inspires your work? 

Mainly colour. I love colour combinations, and I take inspiration from colours in nature such as skies, sunsets, animals and insects. Sometimes I get inspiration from everyday things in front of me, like neon yellow road signs against grey concrete!





Is there an element of art you enjoy working with the most?

I like developing processes from start to finish. It’s often a trial and error approach, but I get so much satisfaction when I achieve the result I was hoping for!

What has been the work that you are most proud of?

My Turned Paper collection. Creating a range of lights from a pile of paper was quite an achievement!




What is your most important artists’ tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

A paintbrush. Whether it’s for painting, designing or generally creating mess – I always need one!

What’s the best and worst thing about being an artist?

Being a perfectionist. it is good because it makes you want to work harder, although sometimes it can be really frustrating.

Just to indulge me, your favourite Take That member?

I’m not sure I even know all their names… Gary!?

And your favourite drink?
Spiced rum and coke. True Cornish pirate style!
Big thank you to Becky for answering our questions! Her ‘Turned Paper Lighting’ range will be available at Design Essentials from this week. To see more of Becky, follow her on Twitter @BeckyCreed1,
Keep updated with what’s happening at Design Essentials! Either click on this link to ‘like’ us on Facebook or follow Wendy on Twitter @WendyHowell1.
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Design Essentials Chats to Anne Cardwell

We are delighted to introduce Anne Cardwell, a mosaic artist who will be exhibiting in Design Essentials throughout October. We’ve asked her our usual set of questions to find out a bit more about her as an artist. Let’s have a look at what she said…

What inspires your work?

The internet is a truly fabulous resource (even though it is also a little soulless…). It allows me to see other artists on art courses or at craft markets and open studios, which is very important to me. There’s generally a lot of pinterest in the world around me… Oops, internet again! Also, visiting junk shops and retails stores gives me lots of inspiration.


Is there an element of art you enjoy working with the most?

I really enjoy my materials – being a mosaic artist is a little bit like being a magpie, attracted to things that gleam!

What has been the work that you are most proud of?

I absolutely loved writing my book, ‘Stylish Mosaics’. I was so lucky to get the opportunity to write it before the internet (‘fabulous resource’ mentioned before!) killed the necessity for as many books.

What is your most important artists’ tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

My iPhone, actually, as I’m always Instagramming my work.


What’s the best and worst thing about being an artist?

The worst is being self critical, and it can be exhausting. The best thing is working with my students in my workshops – we have a laugh and they all seem to love coming.

Just to indulge me, your favourite Take That member?

Peter Frampton (sorry).

And your favourite drink?

Something fizzy on a Friday night.


Thanks so much Anne for answering our questions! We look forward to welcoming your beautiful exhibition into Design Essentials soon!


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Design Essentials chats to Celia Bartlett

We are excited to reveal that photographer Celia Bartlett is our guest exhibitor for September. Based in the Saffron Walden area, Celia works as a freelancer, documenting everything from wildlife to theatre and events.

Celia has been taking part in the August photography challenge, posting a different photograph on her blog every day of the month. A selection of these photographs, plus some of Celia’s wonderful Tour de France images, will be exhibited at Design Essentials until Saturday 27th September.

We chatted to Celia to find out a bit more about her artistic inspirations. Here’s what she had to say….


What inspires your work?

I take my inspiration from many sources, but anything that helps me to tell a story through my images is important.


Is there an element of art you enjoy working with the most?

Great light!

What has been the work that you are most proud of?

I’m most proud when I hand over my commissioned pieces to happy, satisfied clients, so that means there isn’t just one proud piece! If I really have to choose though, then the mother and baby portrait I did for day 25 of my August Challenge last year. I always enjoy going back to look at this image.


What is your most important artists’ tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

Apart from my cameras of course, in this digital age I can’t live without my Mac.

What’s the best and worst thing about being an artist?

Best? I love doing what I do. Sadly I have to say, the worst thing is being undervalued. So many people think that photography is just for fun and expect images to be handed out for free. Actually, I am trying to earn a living just like everyone else!


Just to indulge me, favourite Take That member?


And your favourite drink?

My life revolves around tea, and I’m rather partial to a good G&T too.

Thanks Celia for answering our questions! Celia’s work will be displayed in Design Essentials from 1st September.


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Design Essentials Chats to Rosehill Designs

Rose Hill is a London based designer who was introduced to Wendy by Paul Rutter, a mutual friend in business, who told her there was someone’s work she would like to take a look at.

Safe to say she loved it, and in no time at all she had placed her first order. Rose’s pop art inspired style, with its bright colours and retro feel, makes her work a great fit for Design Essentials, bringing something unique, affordable and quintessentially British to the shop.

In addition, Rose has recently been commissioned by ZSL London Zoo and Harrods to design a range of  products. She is also the creator of ‘Make Your Pet Famous’, where owners can send in photos of their pets to be turned into quirky designs for Rose’s cards and notebooks.

Rose’s work has also appeared in magazines & a book soon to be published, plus will feature in a new film called ‘Kids in Love’ starring Cara Delevingne (a model I am completely obsessed with!).

Sounds like a very busy schedule! Let’s get on with the questions, shall we?

What inspires your works?

everything inspires me! I LOVE pop art, especially artists like Roy Lichenstein, Andy Warhol and Peter Blake. My work is influenced by many different eras, the 50s and 60s in particular. People recognise my work instantly because of its distinct style. I’m a born and bred Londoner, and looking at my designa you can see they’re very British and have a retro, Pop Art feel to them.

Design Essentials Dogs Greetings Card - Pug

Is there an element of art you enjoy working with the most?

I love to combine hand drawn images with digital skills, as it gives extra depth to the illustration. Coming from a textiles background, colour and pattern are very important to me, and so is humour!

What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

I couldn’t do what I do without my Wancom tablet. It’s a pen connected to my computer, and all my illustrations are hand drawn using it. Actually, mine has just broken… I don’t know what I’ll do until I get my new one!!

Design Essentials Portraits Greetings Card - Blondie

Whats the best and worst thing about being an artist?

Being an artist is AMAZING. I love it, because there’s nothing better than letting people see the world through Rose Hill tinted glasses! The best thing is being able to express yourself and do what you love, and actually get paid for it! The worst thing about it is all the email and admin, as it means you don’t get to do as much of the art itself, which is the thing you started the business for in the first place.

To date what’s been the work you are most proud of?

I’ve just completed a very exciting commission with ZSL London Zoo, which is a brand new collection of illustrations using the animals from the zoo! You can go and see the range in a Pop Up shop on 15 Carnaby Street. It’s their first Pop up shop, and I’m very excited about being one of the chosen artists to design a collection for them. It’s definitely my favourite collection at the moment.

Design Essentials Jack Russell Note Book by Rose Hill

And please just to indulge me your favourite Take That member?

Sorry, I don’t like Take That!! I’m really big into my music, though. I love bands like Steppenwolf, Johnny Cash, The Black Keys and the Rolling Stones.

And your favourite drink?

Mojito for sure, but I really like an espresso Martini too. Yum!


Thanks again to Rose for taking the time to answer our questions. Check out her work, which is available now at Design Essentials. Cards start from £2.50 and notebooks from £3.75.

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Design Essentials Chats to Helen Wiseman

Helen Wiseman is a Saffron Walden-based illustrator and artist. After graduating from the. Falmouth College of Arts, she worked illustrating children’s books, and fresh from the British Craft Fair in Harrogate will be bringing some of her beautiful watercolour designs to exhibit at Design Essentials this summer and we will be providing some free creative fun for children. So stay tuned. In the meantime though here is my chat with Helen.  Continue reading

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