Friday, 21 December 2012

Best wishes from ILFutures

Well, as we are still here, unless the Mayan Calendar is just running a bit late,  Interiors & Lifestyle Futures wishes a happy Christmas/holiday to all our companies.

And, if you are reading this before 24 December, you've still time to go buy some last minute presents from West Midlands designers at the Birmingham Made Me stores in the Mailbox and Centrepiece jewellers in the Symphony Hall.

The Interiors & Lifestyle Futures office reopens on Thursday 3 January. Hope to see some of you at Interiors UK Show at the NEC.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2013.

I know, I know, it's not going to be like this

Monday, 10 December 2012

Sara Page Design signs major licensing deal

Congratulations to Sara Page Design. The company has just signed its first Licencing Agreement – with Coleshill Plastics, in Coventry.

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures is particularly delighted on Sara’s behalf as this was an action identified in the Visioning workshop she attended back in May 2012.

Sara designs distinctive tableware in textiles and ceramics. Her licensing deal means that a huge array of her trays, chopping boards and mugs will be produced. The 'Wild Wine' and 'Hedgerow'  ranges will be launched at next year’s Spring Fair (3-7 February 2013).

Part of Sara Page Design's 'Wild Wine'  range

But, you don’t have to wait until then to buy some of Sara’s lovely products. They are available at one of the Birmingham Made stores at the Mailbox. So, if you are looking for an ideal gift for Christmas make sure you drop in.

And, don’t forget there are other Interiors & Lifestyle Futures companies at the Mailbox too (Angela Burman, Anilocos, Bean2Bed, Coco’s Closet, Cofi Coo, Hannah Fewtrell-Bolton, Made By Ermine, Penelope Jordan, Tahmina Latif and Thorneywork Studio.

From Sara Page's 'Hedgerow' range

You can find out more about Sara here

Checkout the Birmingham Made Me stores Facebook page and for the Mailbox go here

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Lesley Whelan's Rainbow of Colour

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures member Lesley Whelan, a visual artist from Coventry, has produced a major piece of art for the new Marie Curie Hospice in the West Midlands.

The memories and stories of patients and staff are its inspiration. Painted on 16 panels, a Rainbow of Colour, captures the four seasons in flowers, plants and images from the natural world. It is the centrepiece of the reception area in the new hospice in Solihull.

Part of Lesley Whelan's Rainbow of Colour at the Marie Curie hospice, Solihull

“Every plant or flower that is represented is there for a reason,” says Lesley. “They remind patients and staff of people, places or significant occasions in their lives.

“One woman told me about the forget-me-nots she’d place in her hair as a child. Another spoke about picking bluebells in the woods when she was young and the wild flowers she used to see like cowslips and daisies.

“A gentleman also spoke about the poppies that grow on the drive of the hospice. He drew connections between their presence and how they thrive on battlefields where no other flowers will grow. Another woman said how the maple leaf would remind her of her brother in Canada.”

As well as collecting stories, Lesley encouraged patients, visitors and staff to draw plants and flowers that were meaningful to them. The pictures were then traced and projected on to soft boards, before being etched and painted.

Lesley collaborated with patients and staff, their memories & stories inspiring her work

Elizabeth Cottier, hospice manager, says, “It is a fantastic and beautiful work and it reflects patients’ and our staff’s ideas and experiences, which makes this work not only Lesley’s but also one that truly belongs to and is part of the hospice.”

For Lesley, the project has changed the way she works. She’s now planning to experiment with multiple panels and is keen to work more with elderly people, helping them to express their thoughts and feelings through making art.

Rainbow of Colour, captures the four seasons in flowers, plants and images
For more details about Lesley's works, contact her on 07762 139438 or

Thanks to Lesley for the press release. 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Visit to Sir Paul Smith's design HQ, London 29 November

Rachel Richardson-Jones who set up a textile design business through the Interiors & Lifestyle Futures Venture programme, reports on her meeting with fashion designer Sir Paul Smith.

Sir Paul Smith’s HQ at 20 Keane Street is a very impressive building not far from the heart of Covent Garden. I visited him with a group of MA students from Birmingham City University. We were all surprised and delighted when he came to meet us himself in the reception area.

Paul Smith London headquarters

His office on the fourth floor is jam packed with toys, books, objects and paintings, which act as inspiration for his collections. 180 people work in the building and he produces a staggering 26 collections per year. He has a hand in all the collections overseeing his design assistants.

Rachel Richardson Jones (wearing one of her own designs) and Sir Paul Smith

Paul suggested we visit art galleries to get ideas for our work, saying that: “outfits are like a picture in a frame” He also told us not to copy fashion trends because the work already exists, but to try to be inspired, and give it a newness “train your mind to think, and look and see”

The most exciting area for me was the print design studio, where his team of surface designers, produce designs for digital, screen and rotary printing. He told me that his digital printing is produced in Italy by a factory in Como. I also found out that, the fabrics need to be ready eight months before the garments are made and there are four to five strike-offs before each batch of fabric is finally approved for printing.

Paul showed us one of his collections that used several different fabrics within each garment. One shirt in particular, had five different fabrics within the construction. He also gave us tour of one of his five showrooms within the building, which are full of his merchandise and accessories. Astonishingly, he even rode a bicycle around the showroom!

I very much enjoyed my visit as it gave me a valuable insight into the mind and character of a member of fashion’s royalty. I even managed to get a photo with him while I was wearing one of my own button shirts!

Toys, books, objects and paintings inspiring design at Paul Smith

Friday, 23 November 2012

Free expert advice on Intellectual Property

West Midlands businesses needing to get to grips with intellectual property should keep a space in their diary on 4 December. Experts from the Crown’s Intellectual Property Office will be running a free three hour seminar and networking event on the subject.

Free online IP tool also available

At the Get It Right First seminar they will explore the background to IP, its implications for you and how your business can make money from it. They will also covert the issues and requirements of the Companies act 2006.

Before attending you can also get a free confidential IP report using the online IP healthcheck tool

You can sign up for either an afternoon (13.30-16.30) or evening slot (17.30-20.30), which take place at Deveres Venues, Colmore Gate on Colmore Row, Birmingham.

For further details and booking form please click here

Friday, 28 September 2012

Create an iconic chair for Oxford University

Calling all Interiors & Lifestyle Futures’ designers and furniture manufacturers . The Weston chair design competition is a wonderful opportunity to create an iconic reading room chair for Oxford University’s world-renowned Bodleian Libraries.

“Three reading rooms, one of which is an entirely new space, will play host to the winning chair design and will be used daily by readers from across the university’s diverse faculties and from around the world.”

Open to British-based designers working with a British manufacturer, design credentials must be submitted by 7 December. The shortlist will be announced 31 January 2013 with design development starting in February.

For full details of the competition please see here.

Any ILF member interested but needing to find a potential  partner for collaborating on design or manufacture should email

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Let’s innovate our way out of trouble.

Forget austerity or stimulus, innovation is the best solution to the UK’s economic woes. This is the firm claim in a report by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).  The group is calling for a “new conversation” about economic growth and points out that “the UK has experienced a lost decade of innovation, damaging long-term growth.”

NESTA's 12 step plan for an  innovation-led return to economic prosperity

  1. Financial architecture:  A £200m fund for early-stage ventures; freedom to raise money for the Green Investment Bank, and a new business banks to lend to growth sectors including advanced manufacture and life sciences.
  2. Rebalance government spending towards innovation: Invest the proceeds of the forthcoming 4G spectrum auction - estimated at £4bn - in science, technology and innovation.
  3. Government innovation procurement: Establish innovation spending to channel £1bn of government procurement through innovative businesses.
  4. Infrastructure investment: Relax planning restrictions around innovation clusters.
  5. Collective intelligence: Higher education funds for radical inventions around knowledge creation - putting design thinking at the heart of the new Catapult centres.
  6. Incentives for innovation: A £25m 'challenge prize' fund to inspire the nation to tackle big technological challenges.
  7. Measurement, data and standards: Reshape the tax credit system to recognise hidden innovation and R&D.
  8. Boosting innovation across the UK: Supporting innovation clusters where they are already thriving.
  9. Innovation in the labour market: Link procurement to local jobs, training and apprenticeships and encourage innovation around micro-jobs and micro-franchises. Support innovative projects such as Studio Schools/establish norm of one apprenticeship per £1m turnover.
  10. Public and social innovation: Demonstrate the most effective models and approaches to tackle the severest social challenges, with cross-government funding commitment for public service incubators to share the most effective models.
  11. Education: Create the next generation of digital makers, giving all teenagers the chance to make, code, design and program.
  12. Remove barriers to entrepreneurship: Change the immigration cap to welcome skilled foreign graduates and entrepreneurs, and recast regulation to encourage new market entry.

See here for full details of the NESTA report 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Exhibition inspired by 400 years of West Midlands glass genius & graft

Broadfield House Glass Museum, in Kingswinford, was abuzz last night for the launch of the Back to the Future exhibition.  Over two hundred people filled the museum to see new pieces by 23 glass artists, inspired by the Museum’s world-famous collection.

The exhibition celebrates the 400th anniversary of glass making in the Stourbridge area. Charles Hajdamach, glass historian and initiator of much in the Broadfield House collection, officially opened the exhibition. He declared that the artists’ creative response to various pieces in the collection had “made me look at the objects, indeed the museum building itself, afresh. The artists have added an extra layer to my appreciation of the beautiful, rare and unusual glass pieces in the collection.

“But, the new works are significant additions to the glass tradition and I hope many of them find their way into the collection.”
Opening night of Back to the Future at Broadfiield House Glass Museum

The new works and their original inspirations are to be found in Gallery Three of the Museum. With one exception. Charlotte Hughes-Martin, drawn to the chameleons incorporated in the work of Amalric Walter, created her own versions of the devious lizards. Which she’s displayed (or rather camouflaged!) throughout Broadfield House. For those taking up her challenge to find them, there are seven in all.

One of Charlotte Hughes Martin's seven glass chameleons lurking throughout Broadfield House

The exhibition has opened as part of the International Festival of Glass running at various locations throughout Stourbridge and environs from 24 until 27 August. Back to the Future then continues until 27 January 2013.

Back to the Future was co-organised by Broadfield House’s Kari Moodie and glass artist Jaqueline Cooley who came up with the idea. Funders include Dudley Council, Friends of Broadfield House Glass Museum and Interiors & Lifestyle Futures.

Please click here for a full list of the artists.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Commercial art boost in Birmingham City Centre

A major commercial art collaboration launches in September at the Old Joint Stock public house, in Birmingham City Centre.

The ‘Joint Stock’ venture by Elly Clarke, Caitlin Griffiths and Charlie Levine, is part of a mission “to bring art to buyers and collectors.” It will open on 12 September and run until 9 November. Each of the trio is curating their own section of Joint Stock.

Elly Clarke, founder of the Clarke Gallery in Germany, will present “BERLIN/BIRMINGHAM/ BEYOND” – single edition framed works by artists from Berlin, Birmingham, Brussels, Melbourne and Singapore.

Caitlin Griffiths, director of Lamb White Ltd, established through our own ILF Venture scheme, will curate “4:3” – a series of commissioned works by artists scaled for the small screen and also available as digital editions

Charlie Levine founder of TROVE, will be presenting “The Postcard”, highlighting the work of exciting young artists from the Birmingham art scene and beyond.

As Clarke Griffiths Levine say: “In the current economic climate artists – as everyone - need to think of new ways to exist in the world and find innovative ways to produce, present, promote, commission, display and sell art, both online and off.”

L-R: Elly Clarke, Caitlin Griffiths and Charlie Levine.  Photo by: Diane Wiltshire

For opening times and further details of Joint Stock, please click here

Monday, 23 July 2012

Boxing clever: cost effective packaging solutions

Any Interiors & Lifestyle Futures member in need of product packaging might want to contact DK Group Packaging Ltd. The Rugby-based corrugated box manufacturer and packaging supplier will produce boxes in small quantities and at cost effective prices.

DK Group Packaging offers a range of solutions

The company has already worked with ILF member Keramica and DK Group Packaging sales manager Steve McMahon suggests contacting Karen there for feedback on customer service and product quality.

Contact details
Steve McMahon: 01788 811012 ext 273
DK Group Packaging website

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Two major awards for Zoë Hillyard's ceramics

Congratulations to  Zoë  Hillyard who has won two prestigious prizes for  her ceramic patchwork vases.

Zoë scooped the awards at the Bovey Tracy Contemporary Craft Festival. Homes & Antiques presented her with the 'Antique of the Future' accolade.  Her second award - the ‘Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery Purchase Prize’came courtesy of The Friends of Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery who selected a piece of  Zoë 's ceramic patchwork for their contemporary craft collection.

Zoë  uses 'hand-stitched tradition of patchwork as a mending process'       

Zoë who is a lecturer in embroidery at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University. is a very committed member of Interiors & Lifestyle Futures and an alumni of our Visioning workshop programme. 

With a fast growing reputation for the uniqueness of her work, many exhibitions and galleries are vying to display Zoe's ceramics. She  was showing for the first time at Bovey Tracey following a successful collaboration with the British Museum, creating pieces inspired by artefacts within their archives.

Zoë uses the hand-stitched tradition of patchwork as a mending process to revive discarded and broken ceramics. "The original surface decoration is replaced by printed textile design as individual fragments are covered with fabric and re-assembled solely by stitch,"explains Zoë.

"Each piece becomes a highly individual decorative vessel with a flawed beauty that is the result of its material history. The catalyst for the idea was the simple breaking of a bowl in my kitchen."

 The imaginative process led Zoë to consider how it could be patched together and while the bowl went in the bin the idea remained.

"I'm interested in the lifecycle of objects and in building value into the things we own. The ceramics used have already lived a life: originally mass-produced, they are sourced from charity shops or car boot sales. The fabrics, mostly silk, are discarded fashion items similarly sourced. The process of re-making brings a new chapter to the journeys of both elements and in a combined reincarnation they start out on a new adventure."

A vase of  Zoë's at the March Interiors & Lifestyle Futures' exhibition     

Zoë is currently exhibiting in Made in the Middle, a touring exhibition which tri-annually surveys contemporary craft practice in the Midlands. "The work featured was inspired by the legacy of Stoke-on-Trent ceramic manufacturing and uses digitally printed textile designs developed from photography taken in the old Spode factory, adds  Zoë. "The blue and white ceramic patchwork pieces continue the region’s long tradition of producing oriental china."

Two new collections of Zoë's work will be launched this month in the British Museum’s Grenville Shop to coincide with the Shakespeare: Staging the World exhibition. The first collection re-works an exquisite 1592 etching of Queen Elizabeth the First. The second uses a hand-coloured engraving showing the paths of the Spanish and English fleets in 1588 and is part of the series of maps that make up The Armada Plates.

And, if you'd like to own one of Zoë's collectable pieces she accepts commissions and welcomes opportunities to use her sophisticated process of up-cycling to breathe new life into materials. You can contact her through her website: or by email: 

Friday, 8 June 2012

Birmingham Made Me Design Expo 15-22 June

You must make room in your diary sometime between Friday 15 and Friday 22 June. You won't want to miss the  Birmingham Made Me Design Expo - a week-long celebration of the best of Midlands design and innovation. 

The Design Expo takes place at Birmingham’s Mailbox and will include a series of exhibitions, seminars and events. It involves many of the region’s renowned manufacturers, designers and producers (AGA, Jaguar , Land Rover and Pashley Cycles among others) supported by ‘a wealth of new talent showcasing innovations for the future.’

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures is naturally delighted that the design and manufacturing talent of our member companies is well-represented at the Birmingham Made Me Design Expo:
  • Interiors & Lifestyle (Zone 1) – Level 3
  • Interiors & Lifestyle Futures (Zone 2) – Level 5
  • Jewellery & Silversmithing – Level 5
  • Entrepreneurs Store  - Level 3

Birmingham Made Me Design Expo (15-22 June), The Mailbox, 61 Wharfside Street Birmingham B1 1XL

Opening times:
  • Monday - Saturday: 11.00am – 7.00pm
  • Sunday: 11.00am – 4.00pmFor full background to the Design Expo and schedule of events please see here

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Workshop - brush up on your trends prediction

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures is hosting another of its popular trends workshops on 29 May. Please note start time 9.30am, not 11.00am as previously advised.

The workshop has been devised specially for interiors and lifestyle companies and will be delivered by trends expert, Kate Thorley. It is free for registered ILFutures' companies but places are limited so you’ll need to book via by 21 May 2012

What do your customers want and need?

The aim is to help you:
  • identify the trends that are important to you and your business
  • find opportunities for your product development.
  • provide you with methods for tracking trends
  • separate long-term trends from short-term fads

The workshop will include techniques for exploring your customers’ profiles and enable you to answer questions such as: Who are they? What are their needs and desires? Where do they shop? What do they buy?

As well as an increased knowledge of trends you should leave the session with the confidence to support your future product development and understand your customers better

Date and time: 29 May 2012 9.30am to 4pm (refreshments and lunch included) 
Venue: British Jewellers’ Association, 10 Vyse Street, Birmingham B18 6LT

Here's what some delegates at our last Trends workshop had to say:

"To be in business without all the tools to know your customer and market, limits your ability to forge ahead in front of your competitors to new markets" Peter Wright from Strata Orangeries and Conservatories

"Excellent day, a fantastic thought evoking presentation. I've taken away a lot today" Rosie McLaughlin & Wendy Gao from F&L UK Ltd

"Intelligent and thought provoking - it will certainly help me with planning future directions" Russ Bedson from Direct Salon Suppliers Ltd

"Interesting, fun and informative – a great day!" Hannah Bates from Hannah Jewellery Designs


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Store launch for West Midlands' hot talent

Next Tuesday evening marks the opening of Birmingham’s latest retail venture and here's the wonderful thing -  it is all about and run by the great design and entrepreneurial talent, including many from  the Interiors & Lifestyle Futures community, working away in the West Midlands.

Taking up over 2,000 square foot of retail space in The Mailbox, the Birmingham Made Me store is divided into four zones; applied arts, fashion and lifestyle, jewellery, textiles and homewares.

Chris O’Neil, Executive Dean of Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University, will deliver the opening address for this flagship of fresh ideas, hot talent and design-led thinking.

If you’d like to be part of the evening launch (5.00pm-7.30pm 15 May) at the Mailbox,  please email as soon as possible.

Of course, if you can’t make the launch, just call in to the Birmingham Made Me store during normal shopping hours and meet the faces behind the West Midlands' innovative interiors and lifestyle products.

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures is one of the founders of Birmingham Made Me, which is part of the IDEA Birmingham initiative. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Meet contemporary jewellers at work

There’s a wonderful opportunity this month to see Birmingham’s creative and innovative jewellery designers and makers in action.

The collaborative group Centrepiece are opening their workshops to public view on Friday 18 May  (4pm until 7pm) and Saturday 19 May (10am until 4pm). Centrepiece has also invited guest jewellers to take part. Visitors will be able to explore 10 venues and meet around 40 designer-makers in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter (see map below)

See jewellers at work, invest in some original pieces

“It’s the perfect chance to see behind the scenes and glimpse the modern working environment of this historic area of the city,” says designer Alice Gow who took part in ILF's most recent Visioning workshop.

 “It is a terrific opportunity to meet working jewellers and buy original, contemporary work from the hands that made it.”

Ten venues to explore in the Jewellery Quarter

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

ILF trip to Milan furniture fair, 16 – 19 April 2012

Post by Christine Foss
Interiors & Lifestyle Futures took a delegation of companies to the Milan furniture fair last 

At the Salone fair

A recent research trip to Milan Design Week with a group of seven ILF companies went smoothly and exceeded expectations. The visit included a day at the vast Fiera Rho complex, home to the famous Salone furniture fair and showed little sign of austerity with a plethora of high-end design on offer.

This was followed by a call in on MOST, the conception of Tom Dixon at the Museum of Science and Technology and organised by Designers Block. Graham Powell, leader on Birmingham City University’s MA product design course had an international debut with Obsessionistas – a display of products by people obsessed with collecting.

Tom Dixon lighting
Graham Powell at MOST

The remaining time was spent around the various design districts: Tortona, Lambrate and Brera. This included a mass of design installations and exhibits in warehouses, shops and churches. A mix of emerging and existing designers and brands presented their latest concepts to enthusiastic crowds. Collaboration was high on agenda, exploring materials and technology to stimulate the senses.

Chair at one of the design districts
Established and Sons at Tortona

What our companies got out of the trip:
  •         Companies arranged meetings with suppliers
  •         Great chance to check out the competitions
  •         Trends analysis
  •       Discussing ideas and concepts within the group
  •       Focussed networking opportunity

“The trip to view the wide range of offerings relevant to the design and lifestyle markets has been invaluable in future strategic decision making.” Graham Powell, Obsessionistas

“A fantastic opportunity which has inspired new product development and improved connections within the design industry.” Peter Wardleworth, Glassdomain

“A massive thanks, I had an amazing time and it [the trip] will make a big difference to our company.” Mel Spencer, Spencer Swinden

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Funds for SME eco-innovators

Calling all eco-innovator Interiors & Lifestyle Futures companies.

Ed Davey, the Government's Energy and Climate Change Secretary, announced details, Wednesday 25 April, of funding to help SMEs to develop their low carbon ideas.

If you don't have time to read it all here are the key bits. 
  • £35m for an Energy Entrepreneurs Fund
  • £3m for heat storage innovation
  • Online funding navigator launched 26 April
  • Application details available by summer of 2012

“Part of the way that we're going to tackle climate change and get clean energy is through innovation, particularly with SMEs,” said Ed Davey
“We’re allocating a fund of £35 million, which will help innovators and entrepreneurs develop and demonstrate low carbon technologies.  
“The first wave is going to be in energy efficiency in buildings, things like advanced lighting, heat pumps, ventilation technologies and so on.”

Details were revealed at the first of two days of international clean energy talks in London.

Helping innovators and entrepreneurs develop and demonstrate low carbon technologies  

The Energy Entrepreneurs Fund will have a budget of up to £35 million over the next three years and will provide financial support for SMEs to develop and demonstrate their ideas. SMEs will be able to apply for up to £1m funding from government. They can then use that funding to leverage additional funds from private sector investors. 

  • SMEs will also be able to get support from experts on how to bring their products to market.  
  • A panel of investors will provide advice to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on picking the companies to support.  
  • Of the £35 million, £20 million, from DECC’s Buildings Innovation Programme, will initially support energy efficiency technologies
  • Details of the application process will be available by the summer
  •  £15 million will expand the call into power generation at a later stage. 

The DECC will also be launching a £3 million competition, in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board to assess the performance of advanced heat storage technologies suitable for integration with domestic heating systems.  

The aim of this scheme, which is part of DECC’s Buildings Innovation Programme, is to assess the viability and benefits of novel compact heat storage materials which can be installed in homes to even out peak electricity demand from low carbon heat technologies such as heat pumps.  

Energy efficiency in buildings, advanced lighting, heat pumps, ventilation technologies 

Online funding navigator
A new low carbon funding landscape navigator goes live 26 April.

The aim is to help providers of and applicants for low carbon funding link up much more easily. It has been developed by the Energy Generation & Supply Knowledge Transfer Network with support from DECC.  

Users can search for the latest funding opportunities in the low carbon area and get help in finding the right partners to build collaborations for specific calls.  Both public or private funders can add and manage their own funding opportunities.   

A spokesman for the DECC said: “The navigator is a resource for the entire low carbon energy RD&D community, increasing transparency and knowledge sharing throughout the sector.  It will be particularly valuable to smaller technology companies who struggle to keep up to speed with the myriad of support mechanisms in the UK.”

Don't forget, if you have a low carbon idea or product that could benefit from Interiors & Lifestyle Futures' input, you can contact us at or by calling 0121 3331 7925

Follow @adrianilfutures

Friday, 20 April 2012

Reminder: ILF event 25 April, Birmingham

Over the last few weeks, registered members of Interiors & Lifestyle Futures should have received an invitation  to this important event on Wednesday 25 April.

The ILF network of companies has achieved a lot over the last three years as many of you will have seen at the celebration-exhibition (School of Jewellery, 21 March) and reported below.

We are now looking to the future and would like you to join us and collaborations expert Ken Thompson, sharing your thoughts on how you’d like to see ILF move forward.
One of the breakout sessions at last October's ILF event, Aedas

This will also be a great opportunity for you to promote your own business and network with others in the ILF community of companies.

The day-long event will comprise three parts:

  • Show and tell with your product literature and small samples– link-up with old friends and make some new connections – how can you make your current network bigger? 
  • Your experiences of ILF – what has worked for you? 
  • Shape your future – how would you like the ILF community to progress?

We are meeting at the Aedas offices, Colmore Plaza Birmingham B4 6AT and lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Registration and coffee will be from 9.00am for a 9.30am start and finish around 4.00pm.

If you’d like to contribute to the future of West Midlands interiors and lifestyle companies like yours please email us as quickly as possible at

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Successful Interiors & Lifestyle Futures birthday celebration!

A big thank you to all who came along to our celebration exhibition on 21 March and made it such a great afternoon and evening! Birmingham's School of Jewellery exhibition hall had over 80 visitors and the excellent networking buzz lasted well past the official end of the event. It was fantastic to see a broad range of design and manufacturing capabilities represented from the West Midlands in one space.

'A wealth of creative companies'
Glenn Howells provided the keynote speech, championing the wealth of creative companies and designer makers that were exhibiting and are part of Interiors & Lifestyle Futures. The theme of collaboration was highlighted as central to the project’s achievements, including trade fairs, start-up initiatives, bespoke assistance and workshop activities.

'Today is about celebrating West Midlands creativity, I&L Futures achievements and the companies integral to the project.'

Speaking about the event, Graham Southall, managing director of Glassdomain said: “This exhibition by exciting young companies raises awareness of exactly what can be achieved when assistance from government organisations is given to innovative businesses.”

'Innovative businesses'

For more photos from the exhibition please click here
Keep checking the blog for what’s coming up… 

Friday, 30 March 2012

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures' talent win IDEA Birmingham showcase

A very nice piece recently in the always insightful and entertaining Birmingham Post blog by Beverley Nielsen. Beverley is spearheading the IDEA Birmingham initiative. This future showcase at Birmingham’s Mailbox will feature much of the region’s innovative design talent.

And, we are absolutely thrilled to see so many of the alumni (!) of Interiors & Lifestyle Futures’ Discovery, Visioning and Venture programmes have made the grade following a rigorous Dragon’s Den-style grilling.

Congratulations to Alev Dervish (Coco’s Closet), Stephanie Parker (Made of Memories), Jo Hancox (Sit on My Face), Alina and Ammara Masood (Cofi Coo), Sara Page (Sara Page Design), Kate Farley, Hannah Fewtrell –Bolton, Angela Burman (Angela Burman Fine Art), Penelope Jordan and Dorota Grabkowska.

“It is emerging talent like this as well as our established brands that IDEA Birmingham is aiming to showcase at the forthcoming Birmingham Design EXPO 15th-22nd June, at the Mailbox Birmingham,” writes Beverley.
Children's brand Cofi Coo launched through the ILF Venture start up programme 

“For the 20 or so young people that we saw at our Dragon's Den event as part of the IDEA Birmingham project last week we are looking, most of all, to give our aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to 'just do it' and have a go. But we want to ensure that they do this with some focused support helping them to make the most of their prodigious talent ,” adds Beverley

Jo Hancox

Here: to find out more about the individuals and to read Beverley’s Birmingham Post piece in full
Here: for more about IDEA Birmingham


Monday, 26 March 2012

Summer 2012, short courses - technical workshops

Once again, the School of Jewellery in Birmingham is offering a range of its in-demand, short, technical workshops.  Importantly, you don’t have to be working in jewellery to benefit from many of the courses.

As well as  a series of short workshops running between 25 June and  3 August 2012, a number of bespoke courses are available at times to suit  individuals.

“These courses offer the opportunity to anyone involved in the jewellery world or other creative industries to learn highly specialised techniques and approaches in a relatively short time frame. In keeping with our reputation we have once again engaged some of the very best tutors from industry and academia,” says Gay Penfold, Manager of the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre.

School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University

For times and costs of specific courses, please see the schedule and brochure below on Slideshare.

To book or for enquiries, please ring Dawn Meaden-Johnson 0121 248 4584, Mondays, Tuesdays or Thursdays ( 9.30am to 2.30pm).

Thursday, 15 March 2012

I & L Futures birthday celebration/exhibition 21 March

This is just to remind everyone that our third birthday celebration-exhibition takes place on Wednesday 21 March.

All members of the Interiors & Lifestyle Futures community are welcome to join us at Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery.

The timetable for the event is:
2.30 Exhibition opens
2.30-5.00  Afternoon tea
5.30-6.00  Speeches and official opening
6.00-7.30  Exhibition reception with drinks and canapés

Please feel free to join us at any time throughout the day and stay for as long as you wish. 

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures will be celebrating a special occasion soon!
Our guest speaker is Glenn Howells, founding director of the award winning Glenn Howells architects. He is an advisor to Birmingham City Council and a board member of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

To be part of the party, please RSVP to by Friday 16 March 2012.

 The School of Jewellery is on Vittoria Street, The Jewellery Quarter,  Birmingham, B1 3PA


Monday, 5 March 2012

Sue Guthrie's commission for new NHS Centre

Sue Guthrie, member of the Interiors & Lifestyle Futures community, has just completed a large scale commission for a new combined health centre and local government offices in Sparkbrook, Birmingham. 

Sue's paintings  at the new Sparkbrook NHS Centre

The artwork package includes six large paintings, a suspended ‘mobile’ occupying the 11 metre drop in the atrium space and window graphics to provide privacy for the adjacent properties. Sue’s remit was to represent the concepts of - Welcome, Peace, Hope, Faith, Unity, Love, Dignity, and Harmony in a culturally sensitive way. 
'Reproduction of the original paintings  in other formats, in other parts of the building allowed the client to gain far greater value from the commission'

“Andesign in Sutton Coldfield were a fantastic support with the print and installation of the suspended panels and window graphics,” adds Sue who took part in an Interiors & Lifestyle Futures Visioning workshop in 2011.

" And, reproduction of the original paintings for use in other formats, in other parts of the building allowed the client to gain far greater value from the commission.”

Printed etch effect window graphics obscure the view of nearby residents gardens and create a design consistency throughout the building.