Coastal Styling - Going Cliche Light
Living on the coast you see plenty of home and giftware that exploit all the coastal cliches to the max. Everywhere are items resembling beach huts, made from pebbles, driftwood or rope, looking like seahorses, dolphins, seagulls, model boats, to generic nautical themes. The list is extensive.
This is now so all pervasive it creates a feeling of seeing the same stuff, no matter where you are in the UK. Most of it made cheaply in China for the Western market. Cottonwood Home prides itself in making the majority of its own stock and sourcing the rest from UK craft makers. But we also want our stock to be distinctive and unusual. We are, however, a shop in a seaside town, so we've had to embrace coastal associations in a way that fits and enhances our shops design aesthetic, without surrendering completely to the more obvious signifiers and cliches.
Having experimented with lampshades and bags, this year we've been bolder in our choice of fabrics. Stripe patterns in navy, red, white and blue are reminicent of traditional deck chair fabric whatever they are used on, whether its a cushion, a mirror or a picture frame. We have used a cork based fabric on the base of our wash-bags for similar associative reasons. They remind you of the natural world and ambience of the seaside without being too literal in their narrative.
We discovered a gorgeous wave patterned fabric made by Studio G, called Surf which comes in grey, aqua and navy colourways. It has the visual appearance of being derived from an old woodcut. But it also cleverly avoids getting caught in other sea associative imagery by eschewing inhabiting those waves with boats, fish, buoys, lighthouses etc.
Rupert Blamire, our Bristol based potter has explored this area too. He produces a Coastal Range that is a simple azure colour glaze with a simple band of impressed fish shapes around the base. He also utilises a multiple glaze technique for the Sandy Bay and Summer Tide ranges, that successfully evokes a sense of a beach and sea without becoming illustrative.
Sometimes coastal styling can be alluded to in a fragrance combination or descriptive title. The White Candle Company has a tinned candle called Sea Salt & Wood Sage. Likewise Agnes & Cat a soap named Sea Salt & Moss, and The Natural Soap Company based near us in Wells Next The Sea, makes one simply titled Sea Soap. Illustrating that our collective feelings and associations with the coast and seaside, don't have to be restricted to a cliche, there is still room to find expression in fresh imaginative ways.