THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Inspired by... blog

5 posts from April 2014

29 April 2014

Interview with Hend Krichen - homewares and accessories designer

I met luxury homewares and home accessories designer Hend Krichen at an event in our Business & IP Centre. She was kind enough to give me this interview about her inspirations and challenges as a small creative business owner. 

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Can you tell us more about your inspirations? 

My main inspiration comes from the Yasmin Revolution of 2011, but I also strongly draw on the ties of Tunisia’s history. I look at Phoenician influences, Roman Empire, Ottoman invasion and the French occupation.

I was born in Tunisia and I left at a very young age and was lucky (depending on how you look at it) to have been raised as an expat and lived almost my entire life away from Tunisia, immersed in different cultures.

My project Tunisia Made was built on a lot of passion to help promote Tunisia and its craft industry. My brand is based on little chunks of Tunisian history and culture - it’s like taking a piece of history to your home as well as supporting ethical craft and design.

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How much of your time do you spend on inspiration versus business?

I spent the first eight months working on inspiration. Once I had established my group of manufacturers and my concepts and designs were in place, I then began to focus on the business side.

I work on the marketing, branding, networking and PR. Sales take up a lot of my time. Designing, development and manufacturing takes up about 30% of my time and the rest is 70%.

What did you get out of the 'Selling creatively online' event at our Business & IP Centre? (Shout-out to our partner Patricia at The Design Trust who provides practical tips on how to sell expensive crafts online here!) 

It was insightful to hear the retailers themselves (notonthehighstreet.com and Etsy) speak about how it all works. Being a designer and a creator, the retail side of business can seem alien at first - how to approach them, how to sell yourself to them, how to negotiate with them. This event helped me focus and make decisions about my business.

What’s been the most rewarding and challenging part of running your own business?

The most rewarding part about this journey is building my brand around me, my interests, my work and my life experiences. When I finally built up the courage to share that with people and the response was positive, it was such a great feeling.

It can be daunting to become an entrepreneur right now. I’ve had to push even when all doors were closed. You just have to keep pushing and take risks, that is the biggest challenge.

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Hend is taking part in Clerkenwell Design Week 20 – 22 May 2014 in the Additions show dedicated to small design pieces and interior accessories from international and emerging talent. The Crypt on the Green, St. James Church, EC1R 0EA. Find out more here.  

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17 April 2014

Curator's choice: fine art prints from the British Library's archives

Malini Roy is our Visual Arts Curator and one of my favourite people at the Library. She looks after an exquisite collection of prints and drawings from South and Southeast Asia. She's chosen some of her favourite prints for our latest Curator's choice collection of fine prints (which you can purchase here) and I've chosen my favourites from her collection! We're often cooing over the same prints of fuzzy mammals, intricate patterns and brilliant fish - wishing someone would design a frock, pajamas or a handbag using these images so we could wear them.

We have indeed welcomed designers to our Print Room to view original prints for inspiration. If you're interested in seeing these beauties and more, you can register for a Reader Pass and make a viewing appointment here

Some items from Malini's Curator's Choice are on display in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library right now - pop by, it's free! 


Sloth-bear

Sloth Bear by Haludar. I have seen the original up close and his fine hairs are quite impressive. I also like that he looks as if he's had an electric shock. 

Gibbon

Moloch Gibbon by Halundar. These profiles just make me smile. He looks a little silly but also bored and/or sad.  

Cheetah

Asian Cheeta by Halundar. I do love spots and stripes and this fine feline wears them beautifully. 

Shawl-embroiderer

Shawl embroiderer, anonymous. I love these vibrant colours and the careful placement of the items on the page. The mustache profile is cute too.  

Elephant bearing howdah

An elephant bearing a howdah, anonymous. More spots! 


14 April 2014

Spring Festival highlights - Inspired by... vinyl records

When we hosted a show and tell of our vinyl record collection back in November the feedback was so positive I knew we had to run it again. I love spotlighting our massive vinyl collection (over 240,000!) because it always surprises people who think we're just a very serious library full of books (which is only partly true). So in the spirit of Spring Festival, creativity, discovery and inspiration our curator of pop music Andy Linehan dug deep into our archive and brought out some real gems to illustrate the history of the album to an audience of graphic designers, filmmakers and curious music lovers. 

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Those tubes are wax cylinders - developed by Thomas Edison in the late 1880s. 

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Left: Jeremy Deller’s English Magic EP, the musical soundtrack to a film made by Dellar for the British Pavilion at the 2013 Biennale di Venezia. Limited triple vinyl edition, ours is #78 of 300 hand-signed and numbered by Deller with sleeve artwork designed by Deller including a 10x10” photographic print hand tipped on the front cover.

Right: An LP by Man, a 1970s Welsh rock band, with a fold-out hand-drawn map of Wales with features and places important to the band. (Photographs by Luca Sage)

Andy also showed us these two weird and wonderful albums:

Atom Earth Mother Ancient Faith    Sounds of Silence

Left: Atom Earth Mother’s Ancient Faith, a double LP plus CD and insert housed in a hand-built, fire-branded wooden box. Limited edition of 250 copies. (Via boomkat)

Right: Sounds of Silence, a compilation of “silent” tracks from various artists including Crass, Andy Warhol, John Lennon and Orbital which puns on the title of a Simon & Garfunkel LP and rips off its cover. (Via dummymag)

Yes, you can listen to vinyl at the British Library - simply need to register for a Reader Pass. Find out more about our Listening and Viewing Services and our Sound Archive.

More good stuff:

Watch this video of radio presenter Tom Ravenscroft visiting our basements where we store our vinyl collection. 

 

07 April 2014

Spring Festival highlights - Telling stories on Twitter

We ran an experimental storytelling workshop as part of Spring Festival called History Relived. We wanted to explore a new way of telling stories using digital platforms and archives so we used The British Newspaper Archive and Twitter. The result: eight stories ranging from a murder mystery, a divorce case and one that involves a horse ruining a dinner party. You can view them all here

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Here's Chris Dymond from Crossover Labs explaining the day's activities. 

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Exploring the British Newspaper Archive. Some groups also used the Library's Flickr photostream which includes over 1 million images that are free from copyright restrictions. 

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BBC tech writer Bill Thompson joined us!

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This group had a lot of fun - you could hear them laughing from anywhere in the Conference Centre. (Their story is the one with the horse in it.) Filmmakers, television producers, creative writing students and other creative practitioners took part. 

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Creating new Twitter accounts. This is Heinrich Weichmann @HeiWei93 a cigar-loving German who moves to Kansas with his wife Birgit Weichmann @BirgWeich. A whirlwind affair unfolds involving #schnitzel, #RailroadCommencementGala and complications with a family inheritance. Inspired by a newspaper article from 1893.

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In the end every group presented and we looked at their story's Twitter feed. Lots of laughter again.

Whether you're working in film, television, documentary, writing fiction or non-fiction, The British Newspaper Archive is a fantastic resource for exploring histories and getting inspiration for new work. I could see a lot of BNA articles translated into Downton Abbey episodes, e.g. or a period feature film like Sherlock Holmes. The archive is massive - over 240 titles and 7 million pages - so it can be overwhelming. I recommend checking out the BNA's blog to get  a flavour of what's available. Enjoy!

Many thanks to our partners Sheffield Doc/Fest and Crossover Labs and the British Newspaper Archive for giving us free access to the service. 

 All photos by Luca Sage

03 April 2014

Spring Festival highlights and all that jazz

Spring Festival 2014 is officially finished and we had a fabulous time! Here are some photos from the most popular event Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age which began with a talk by the ever so stylish Amber Jane Butchart and Christopher Laverty and ended with roaring cocktail party. 

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Amber referring to the Library's vintage magazine collection. I don't know anyone who looks as good as her in a turban. 

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Chris is obsessed with the costumes in HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Here he's detailing the show's exquisite suit tailoring - see how the pattern on Nucky Thompson/Steve Buscemi's jacket is perfectly lined up? Nice. I think Chris himself looks like a character from the show! 

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'Always well-dressed, not always well-behaved' - our fabulous cocktail party hosts - The Vintage Mafia.  

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Alex Mendham & His Orchestra provided the jazzy tunes. They were wearing authentic suits from the 1920s. 

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Darling, of course we danced The Charleston! 

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Ladies getting their hair and make-up done by Pretty Me Vintage.

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A lovely couple in Hanson Leatherby's studio. 

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Lots of ladies in pretty hairpieces.

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Dancing shoes! That's me in ASOS gold brogues and my colleague Pam in Vivienne Westwood getting silly in The Mighty Booth. 

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A handsome couple. I think men should always wear a flower in their jackets...

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... and women should always wear flowers in their hair. Isn't she gorgeous?  

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The Vintage News interviewing Amber. They use cameras from the 1920s/30s that really work!

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And why not put a vintage car on the piazza?

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Ain't this guy cool? 

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What we drank: French 75, Mary Pickford, Manhattan

Short film coming soon - follow me at @BL_Creative.

All photos by Luca Sage