Scandinavian Homewares - Blackthumb

Last October, when I was walking the cobbled streets of Copenhagen and Stockholm I couldn't help but be jealous of all the enviable home stores I saw everywhere around me. For Scandinavians, good design is a way of life and its evident everywhere you look. Nicola Fanstone, an interior designer and now, store owner, had similar thoughts. It was on a visit to Helsinki that it dawned on her she could bring all of these off-the-radar design finds back to her native Canada. The result is her new store Blackthumb. Featuring brands like Ferm Living and Normann Copenhagen along with a handful of independent designers it's a one-stop shop for everything from storage products to kid's accessories. Check out some of my favourite finds.

Nicola also has a great lifestyle section where she shares everything from trends to travel tips. An enjoyable quick read!

Perfect Pairs

The Spring weather definitely has me in the mood for some pretty pastels. Some of my favourite hues include mint green, periwinkle and blush. Whether mixed together or on their own, these colours are so refreshing to see after a long winter.  Do you have any favourite hues or pairs below? - Amy.

Interview - Milton & King

I'm having a bit of a love affair with wallpaper right now. When Bryce Capp, the creative director at Milton & King, an Australian digital wallpaper company, reached out to me say hello I was taken with their huge repertoire of patterns. Bryce and his brother Richard started Milton & King in 2008 with only $250 between them. Somehow they managed to convince their older brother to buy them a printer and the rest is well...history. I sat down with them to find out a bit more about their company and digital wallpaper.

Milton & King seems like a family affair! Did you always think you would work together? What did you do before starting Milton & King?

Richard & I grew up as farmers sons and like most Australian farms the family succession plan was in place. However several tough seasons saw the farm sold and we had to start thinking a little harder about our futures. After school I went to university and studied graphic design and Richard did accounting. It wasn’t till we had both spent a few years travelling the world (in different directions) that the thought of joining forces emerged. We work well together, having such different areas of “expertise” allows us a certain amount of freedom. We understand each others short falls, and know when to give each other a little space. 

What exactly is digital wallpaper and how does it differ from traditional wallpaper?

Since our very beginning Milton & King have always maintained an appreciation for the romance and traditions associated with wallpaper production and marketing. We haven’t tried to reinvent the industry, just find our little niche in it.  Our aim has always been to produce a wallcovering that has the same properties and behaviour as a traditionally made wallpaper. To achieve this we have spent several years perfecting our product to where it is today. Our product is made from a 

• a hard wearing “paste-the-wall” non-woven base paper from a FSC Certified paper mill. 

• Scratch resistant and cleanable. 

• Finished with a precision butted seam for easy installation. 

These days there are a lot of digital wallpapers available, some of which shouldn’t be called wallpaper at all. However when done correctly, printing from a digital file can have amazing results. The ability to print 1000’s of colours from 100’s of different designs in a single print run is what sets digital manufacturing apart. This on demand “social” or “distributed” manufacturing reduces production quantities and lead times whilst increasing individuality. 

What is your best selling wallpaper? 

Currently our best selling wallpaper would be soft white bricks, followed very closely by Camden Factory Bricks, both from the Kemra collection. The best selling wall mural would be New York designed by eBoy from the Wallpaper Republic collection. 

 How do you come up with the designs? Do you work with artists and designers to create the wallpapers?

It depends on the collection. Wallpaper Republic is made entirely in collaboration with an exclusive range of artists and designers from around the world. KemraIngrid & Mika and Erstwhile (a collaboration with Mary Evans Picture Library in the UK) were created in-house. Milton & King also provide contract wallpaper printing services for independent designers, studios and larger brands. Our design and production teams work closely with their creatives to launch collections that are on trend and unique. 

You sell your wallpapers all over the world. How has online shopping changed your business? 

In one word, accessibility. I think you are seeing it not only change our business but an industry. Customers are no longer restricted to the buying trends of their local distributor, stockists or shop. They can now source wallpaper that suits their individual taste or style from a manufacturer on the other side of the world and have it delivered to their door with free shipping. We’re creating wallcoverings that are not only on trend and beautiful (thats a given) but are generating conversation, creating emotion and expressing identity. 

You have a great online contest where you ask homeowners to post a photo of their space with Milton & King wallpapers installed. How do you use social media to sell your product? 

We work hard on developing our social media identities as they work hand in hand with online sales and increasing brand visibility. Social media is challenging but we value the authenticity and personalization it offers. We actively engage in Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+. Of these we find Pinterest and Instagram the most successful in translating into sales.

We are pretty new to Pinterest but we love it. As creators of original imagery we are in a good position to maximize it. In the end though, it comes down to a lot of time spent pinning. We love all social media, but we certainly concentrate our efforts on the social media that loves us in return. The best thing about social media is that it actually talks back to you. And in real time! Its not about telling people about Milton & King, it’s about discovering Milton & King.



Perfect Pairs

Spring is here!  Even though the temps here in Toronto haven't felt quite Spring-like, I have a feeling double-digit highs are just around the corner.  Longer days and more sunshine definitely helps me feel renewed, energized and ready for a little update.  It's time to bring out lighter fabrics and punchy colours in both my home and wardrobe.  I just love the blush pink and cobalt blue combo as well as raspberry and blood orange.  Do you have a favourite pair below? - Amy


1. via Refinery 29.  

2. via Charles de Vaivre

3. via Anthropologie

4. via Amelia, Linda Lomelino

5. via Ro and Co Studio

6. via Refinery 29, Illustrated by Anna Sudit

7. via Design Milk

8. via Jason Craighead