Onwards and Upwards: Design Essentials is Moving!

What an amazing couple of years it’s been for Design Essentials! From pop-up shops in Saffron Walden to getting a short-term lease on a shop at 13 Market Hill in December 2013, we’ve been completely overwhelmed by the interest, support and commitment our customers have shown us over the years.

However, the time has come for us to move from Market Hill onto bigger and better things. We can’t say exactly where we’ll be moving to yet (as it’s still all being finalised with our new shop!) but we WILL say that we will be located more centrally in Saffron Walden, and excitingly will have our very own front door to the shop this time!

The Design Essentials Journey…

Design Essentials’ journey started back in 2013 with Wendy hosting viewing evenings and setting up various pop-up exhibitions all over town, spreading the Design Essentials name and showcasing the amazing collection of interior products and lighting Wendy had imported all the way from Bali.

Here’s a photo from one of our very first collections, including sculptures and home accessories, that we showcased during a day pop-up event at Goddard’s Interiors for a day in March 2013! We still love that heart sculpture now.


Popping up all over the place!

We also lit up the windows of many other independent stores in Saffron Walden, including The Sweet Shop and  Beauty Bump and Baby, with our best selling colour therapy lamps. Design Essentials was quickly becoming known as the name of the shop that provided ‘something a little bit different’.


While Wendy was looking for pop-up spaces to showcase the Design Essentials pieces, she turned to Twitter… and actually got a reply from Mary Portas, the queen of retail herself! Pretty cool, we reckon.


From Johnny + Jenny…

But temporary pop-ups in the town weren’t enough for Wendy, and out customers seemed to want something more permanent that they could buy Design Essentials pieces at. We were lucky enough to land ourselves a spot upstairs in Johnny and Jenny for a month which was extended for another 4 months. We even helped them win the Saffron Walden Maze Festival competition for best window!


… to 13 Market Hill

To Wendy’s delight, we managed to get our very own pop-up shop for Design Essentials, which opened in December 2013 –  just in time for Saffron Walden late-night shopping and the all-important Christmas period. Wendy filled her new shop to the brim with her new and unique interior pieces, including lighting, home accessories and work by local artists and designers. Who remembers our very first shop window display?


Having our own shop has allowed us to collaborate with so many people – from local artists, photographers, lighting designers, mosaic artists… we’ve literally had it all here at Design Essentials. Every few weeks, we change the walls and shelves of the shop to display new exhibitions of local creatives’ work.

Over the past year Design Essentials has been home to Michelle Thompson, Helen Wiseman’s illustrations, Celia Bartlett’s photography, Oliver Boyd’s lighting creations, Anne Cardwell’s mosaics, Tony White’s prints and so, so much more. We love our unique ability to give local artists a platform to show their amazing creative work that may otherwise not get seen by local people or visitors to Saffron Walden.


clockwise from left: pendant light by Oliver Boyd, print by Michelle Thompson, glass coasters by Katie Lynn at molten wonky, mosaics by Anne Cardwell

The Tour de France

Our collaboration with Gareth Wild from Apropos in celebration of the Tour de France 2014 coming through Saffron Walden is definitely a Design Essentials highlight.

Customers came streaming into the shop wanting to buy TDF themed prints, mugs and tea towels designed by Gareth, which featured the names of all parts of Essex that were a part of the Tour route as well as the surrounding areas.


Wendy got her 5 minutes of fame on the local news when she went on BBC Look East talking about the range of products we had to celebrate the Tour coming through Saffron Walden. The legacy of the tour lives on with these pieces still proving popular now. Take a look at all our TDF products on our website here.


Here’s our favourite picture from the day of the Tour de France. From left to right: Charlotte, Wendy and Lauren with the Tour mugs, t-shirts (also designed by Gareth Wild) and a table of Tour tea towels set up outside the Design Essentials shop throughout the day.

National recognition for Design Essentials

More recently, we’ve been enjoying some national recognition. We know our customers absolutely love our bean bags, and so we decided to do something a little bit different with our window display. Extreme Lounging chose Design Essentials as the winner of their national competition for best window display, which has had some coverage in the Saffron Walden local papers! Click here to read the Saffron Walden Reporter’s take on it, or check out my blog post about our fantastic win here.



Also very exciting was the news that Design Essentials was going to be mentioned in Your Home, a national interiors magazine.

A customer, who bought one of our beautiful glass pendant lights for her kitchen, was getting featured in the magazine’s May issue – and they wanted to know where she got it from.

Not only did our pendant light get photographed, but our name was mentioned in their directory at the back of the magazine!

Here’s a picture of a very happy Wendy with our copy of Your Home.

To read more about this story and for other exclusive photos of our Your Home feature, see my blog post here.

So there it is: the Design Essentials journey right from the very beginning! By no means is this the end for us though – just a new beginning. Wendy and I are both very excited about the shop move, and I for one cannot believe I’ve been working in the shop and writing my little blogs on the website for over a year now – wow!

More details will be revealed about the new shop and its location very soon, but in the meantime make sure you keep up-to-date with Design Essentials via our Facebook page, Twitter @WendyHowell1 and Wendy is now on Instagram as @designessentials_ so make sure you give her a follow.

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