Friday, 8 November 2013

A Scandinavian Sojourn

For a variety of favourable logistical reasons, we found ourselves on a flight to Gothenburg the other week, heading for a week of treasure-hunting.

The best time for hunting of course is summer, with the long days and plenty of barn sales (or 'loppis', as the Swedes refer to them) open for business.

From our base near Stenungsund, on the beautiful Bohuslän coast of Sweden, and despite it being the wrong end of summer (i.e. autumn!), we managed to plot a packed agenda of treasure-hunting. We revisited some of our favourite haunts, and found some fantastic new ones.

A rather picturesque lunch stop

The beautiful Bohuslän countryside

An industrial storeroom in Munkedal

The treasure that got away - not one for us!

A Swedish still-life study

Roaming the countryside definitely provided good hunting ground for treasure, but inspiration in the form of colours, design and graphics, also came in from a bit of sightseeing - both in Gothenburg and indeed the local supermarket...

Haga district, Gothenburg

He's SUCH a delightful object! (and sadly NOT for sale)

A bit of 'shabby chic', Gothenburg-style

'Fika' (coffee break) joint in Haga district, Gothenburg

Beautiful architecture in Gothenburg

Celebrating Scandi-cake style

One of many hundreds of 'pick 'n mix' offerings at the local supermarket

Those Swedes love their sweets

Vintage-style graphics

Some beautiful graphics on crispbread packaging

Within the space of five days, we accumulated chandeliers, desks, industrial side tables, rustic dining chairs, filing cabinets, vintage globes, dress mannequins, wooden children's toys, industrial anglepoise desklamps and a variety of vintage hooks and hat-racks.

Frenzied packing and organizing ensued - some of the items are already at LASSCO Ropewalk for sale (a vintage Scandinavian globe, a retro Danish chair), others are being prepared for sale at our Cornish workshop, and some of the larger items will be making their appearance on the shop floor next year.

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Globes, globes, globes (and a rather beautiful tambour-front cabinet)

At our logistics, um, depot/HQ

A giant abacus

A child's rocking horse

Monday, 9 September 2013

A Photographic Mission

After a busy summer, we're now happily settled into our new retail space at LASSCO Ropewalk. Our new newsletter is up and running (sign up here - September's newsletter out soon!), and we're loving the challenge of sourcing impressive, crowd-pulling items of stock to fill the generous window spaces along Maltby Street that we have at our disposal.

Images with Impact
As stock has sold, we've dressed and re-dressed the windows and a further challenge has presented itself. We wanted to get a decent 'window shot' to show off LASSCO Ropewalk at it's best. However, not even Jeffrey the Zebra can battle the reflections of parked cars and general street paraphernalia...


In order to get an 'image with impact' to show off LASSCO's Maltby Street windows, we came to the conclusion that there was only one viable option - the technically-challenging, night-time photoshoot. Lighting the window spaces from inside whilst photographing from a dark street might just provide the photograph we were after. And there was only one steady-handed man for the job - top photographer and all-round Good Egg, Stefan Lorett.

Under the Cover of Darkness
It was a good dry evening and after a sustaining supper courtesy of Mr Lorett, our intrepid team headed up to LASSCO Ropewalk. Armed with his arsenal of top-notch camera equipments, lighting, and a good few miles of cables, Stefan proceeded to (photographically-speaking) 'case the joint'. Lights were positioned, test shots taken, lights repositioned, stock moved to reflect light in beneficial ways, shiny industrial cabinets cursed, lights repositioned again, bright orange security lights cursed, and the services of a ladder requested.






Orange glow courtesy of over-zealous security light

It's Raining Men
The lighting was right, the stock had been subject to a mild reshuffle, the shot was lined up, the exposure time was determined, and just on cue, the rain began falling gently. A bit of lateral thinking, and shelter was duly provided in the form of a delightful parasol (as seen in August's 'Homes and Antiques' magazine).

When only a floral parasol will do

After over two hours of careful preparation, the photograph was taken. Lights cooled, kit was packed, cables were reeled, Stefan regaled us with stories of his youth...

In the following days, Stefan carefully applied his top notch post-production skills to the photograph, balancing the lighting, knocking back certain details and enhancing others. The result is a fabulous, pin-sharp photograph which will be appearing on a LASSCO postcard very soon...

Photo Stefan Lorett

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Jeffrey's Journey: From Donkey to Delightful

It's a typically wet, Cornish, autumnal afternoon. An intrepid treasure hunter (the hero of our tale) scans an industrial unit at a secret location in the Tamar Valley. It's the resting place for stuff that no-one wants anymore. In other words, the perfect hunting ground for our hero.

His eye scans the room. A smoked glass coffee table, a military history fan's collection of VHS videos, an unloved rowing machine, a crate of anonymous metal artefacts of unknown provenance, a careworn mechanical donkey with a faintly striped bottom, a 1980s 'vintage' Argos wardrobe.... hold on, a mechanical donkey with a faintly striped bottom.....

The clue is in the bottom

Introducing Jeffrey the Zebra
So the donkey was delivered back to our hero's home in Liskeard, Cornwall, where he adorned the living room for so long that he was adopted as part of the family, and was christened 'Jeffrey'.

Jeffrey dates from the late '50s/early '60s and is made of fibreglass. He was originally attached to floor-mounted machinery so that he could give gentle rides to children on their seaside holidays. At some point in his career, perhaps when his stripes became a little shabby and tired, some bright spark decided to reinvent him as a donkey (a lot easier than repainting his stripes - 'I can understand why!' our hero exclaims). A simple coat of grey paint, and the transformation was complete.

Then about ten years ago he was retired from service, usurped in children's affections by the likes of Postman Pat and Thomas the Tank Engine. So he made what he thought was his final journey to a local refuse tip here in Cornwall, destined for landfill until he was spotted by a certain someone with a discerning eye...

With a huge window space at LASSCO Ropewalk to fill, the time had clearly come for Jeffrey to be take centre stage.

The Restoration Job
After some preliminary 'zebra stripe patterning' research, and construction of the obligatory mood-board, work began on restoring Jeffrey to his former gloriously striped self. He was removed from his defunct mechanical base, and remounted onto a specially commissioned stand.

Step one: Get rid of boring old donkey grey 'overcoat'
Sanding and gentle scrubbing revealed Jeffrey's true zebra identity.

Step two: 'Stripe remap' and undercoat application
Some confusing layers of stripes meant a rethink and extensive 'stripe remapping' project. This resulted in both white and black stripes requiring several undercoat layers.

Our plucky hero wasn't phased by the challenging working conditions. Neither was Jeffrey.


Step Three: Overcoat
Suitable jet black and creamy white paints selected, Jeffrey was ready for his final furlong. A shiny fire engine red paint was chosen for his saddle.

Step Four: Stand back and admire

And so we are now at the end of Jeffrey's Journey. He is presently adorning the windows at LASSCO Ropewalk and will undoubtedly be the star at the 30th May launch of Marc Kitchen-Smith at LASSCO Ropewalk. 

But how long can the great buying public resist his charms?

'Come and see me some time.'

Marc Kitchen-Smith at LASSCO Ropewalk
41 Maltby Street,  
London SE1 3PA

Twitter: @mkitchensmith