I believe that everything I own should be something I consider to be practical or loved – going by the William Morris quote ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful‘. It’s pretty simple.
With this in mind, I also like to add to the idea, if it is also ‘made by someone with love‘, not always an easy task in a mass produced world. If I am buying something for me, I usually buy vintage or seek out something made by a craftsperson or that has been ethically produced. But, of course I have two boys who love Lego! I try…
I recently discovered the beautiful shop ‘Simple Shape‘ I knew I had to share it with you… it is full of wonderful hand crafted wares….
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do?
I’m Helen Osgerby, founder of Simple Shape, an online shop offering a Collection of Things from Great Britain & Ireland.
What is your inspiration behind opening Simple Shape?
It was quite straight forward, working with good people, making good things, made good sense. I like simple design, pieces that function but that function beautifully. I have been interested in the process of making for a long time and it felt that it was the right time for a shop that provided really great products that are made carefully and with consideration. It is also really important to me that the products are made here in Britain and Ireland – we have such incredible expertise, skills and history in making. The makers are critical to the Simple Shape collection – without them the collection simply wouldn’t exist. The beauty and individuality that comes from the lack of regularity in a handmade piece represents real value to me.
How would you describe the feel of your shop and your thinking behind the collection?
The shop was conceived to be rather like the product – I want it to feel clean, calm, simple, straight forward and beautiful. The collection was drawn together to live alongside the things you already own, they are things with integrity that stand the test of time, heirloom pieces that will age gracefully.
There are such a fabulous variety of makers and craftspeople, how did you discover them?
In all sorts of places! I live just up the road from the incredible creative studios Cockpit Arts in Deptford so I have been to a number of the open studios there. That’s where textile design Eleanor Pritchard is based. I have met a couple of the makers at trade fairs, some on Instagram and I met Elliott from Elliott Ceramics by accident…we were meant to be talking about printing! I will be adding to the collection with the work of new makers when I find them…there are some good ones lined up!
What is a typical working day for you?
I suspect that it is very much like the circus experience that most working parents have. I am the Ring Master of three children but most of the time a feel like I’m bear-back riding and I have no idea who’s in charge. Really though, I get up quite early (sometimes for a run) then I take the children to school and work from home – laptop, nice coffee, FIP French radio in the background (I don’t understand a word so I can’t get distracted by it), lunch, emails, package orders, kids, supper, bed. I get up too early and go to bed too late but it’s not exactly coal mining that’s for sure!
What do you love most about what you do?
The freedom. It is an absolutely joy. I decide who, what, when, where, why, how…it’s a complete luxury.
You mention the products in your shop are considered ‘heirloom’ pieces, could you tell us about that?
I really like the idea that a piece has a lasting value, that it is so well made that it will survive for years and can be passed on; things that join your home and become part of the narrative of life. Such a wonderful thought that a blanket, for example, might journey through a family and end up being used by grandchildren to make dens. That’s an heirloom to me.
If you could choose one item from your shop to give as a gift, what would it be and who would you give it to?
Ohhhhh…this is too hard! My sister Rachel is getting married in August so I think it had better be something for her…but what…I guess it would have to be a blanket…but which one…I actually think she would love them all! Rachel…?
What do you think is going to be this seasons must have in interiors?
I’m not very into ‘must-haves’ – I think that buying in this way really encourages a throw-away attitude. It’s so much more satisfying in the end to shop carefully and occasionally and put things together, mix them up, move them round and pass them down. And it’s easy to add the seasonal elements with twigs, dried seed heads, flowers…and the weather! And lighting – good lighting makes a vast difference…pools of light, areas of shadow…and is an easy way to build drama.
If you were stranded in the wilds what item would you want with you to survive?
I hate being by myself but if I had a radio and could listen to Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey in the morning and Eddie Mair in the evening I think I would feel connected to humanity and might be just about ok.
Where do see Simple Shape in the future?
We are still a very young company, only a tiny handful of weeks old, so everything feels fresh and exciting. I hope that Simple Shape will grow into a ‘go-to’, trusted place for excellent hand made, hand crafted British and Irish homewares….with really great personal customer service too.
Thank you Helen, I wholeheartedly agree with your ethos, and changing the home for the seasons. As a big fan of changing the house around and adding flowers, your interview really speaks to me.
Helen is offering one lucky Littlegreenshed reader a chance to win a £50 voucher to spend in her shop! What would you buy? Me, it has to be Serving Bowl – so beautiful! To enter all you need to do is complete the usual rafflecopter widget – winner will be announced on Friday 29th May. Good luck!
Lou Archell, a writer, photographer, stylist and founder of Littlegreenshed. A UK lifestyle & travel blog
Lou is also a busy mum of two amazing boys and the founder of Sisterhood Camp – an annual creative retreat for recharging and empowering brilliant ladies, Lou is passionate about supporting and inspiring others whether through her workshops, writing, photography or lifestyle hacks.