Autumn in Paris

Autumn kicks off in Paris with the infamous trade show Maison et Objet. It is essentially a trade only event but many Parisians take the opportunity to browse the show for inspiration and ideas. This exhibition takes trade stand design to a whole new level with companies constructing entire buildings to showcase their new collections. We always exhibit at the show, a snap shot of our trade stand is above.

With homewares and interiors on our minds we decided to take some time out from the exhibition to explore Paris and discover some of the more quirky and interesting homeware boutiques. We started with Les Tresorerie, located as you may have guessed in the old treasury of Paris, just up from the Place de Republic. This refreshingly stylish store sells a mix of beautiful brands including Nkuku, no less.

The Old Treasury building itself provides an elegant backdrop with high ceilings and a stunning glass atrium lying at its centre. Just next door is the Les Tresorerie café, offering a selection of delicious pastries and breads. The tall windows allow you to gaze out into the street, across to a typically elegant, Parisian building complete with ornate iron work and pretty floral pots.

Walking around Paris is definitely one of the best ways to explore, but you can also hop on one their Velib bicycles to get about. Unfortunately there were too many tempting products purchased for a bicycle to be a possible mode of transport, so we continued on our homewares trail on foot.

Our next destination was Summer Camp, a wonderful boutique store filled with interesting homewares and gifts, from beautiful pure linen bedding handmade exclusively for Summer Camp to ceramics and decorative pieces. The founders are a husband and wife team who have a passion for design. The manager is a great source for ideas and his passion for the company is contagious.

Our next stop was ethical store Altermundi. This colourful shop has a strong sense of design and fair trade principles. The mix is gift as well as homewares, and their eclectic offering is exciting and refreshing.

Following this ethical trail we headed to Storie, an enchanting boutique store filled with unusual and eclectic items from all around the world. The rich colours, textures and its Aladdin’s cave feel makes this an exciting destination and provides you with the opportunity to pick up something unique.

A trip to Paris would not be complete without visiting the concept store Merci. This fantastic store includes beautiful homewares, fashion, a café and restaurant. It’s easy to while away the hours just ambling around, taking in the atmosphere.  Merci was founded in 2009 by Bernard and Marie France Cohen, founders of the label Bonpoint. The store not only provides a platform for young designers to showcase their work, but there is also a strong ethical background with all proceeds funding an endowment to pay for educational projects and development in south-west Madagascar.

If you can tear yourself away Merci, the Rue De Temple is well worth exploring. This beautiful Parisian street is full of independent boutiques and exciting new brands.  The atmosphere is in some ways reminiscent of Williamsburg, New York, with that magical feeling that you might be about to discover something amazing. Glances down side streets reveal narrow alleyways, elegant houses and cafes. In particular the Florists create exceptionally beautiful displays, the oasis of greenery has quite an impact in the city.

The final homewares destination had to be Fleux.  This impressive store is located on both sides of the street and stretches back across to buildings. The store is filled with well-designed products from the most impractical to the most purposeful.

The store is celebrating its ten year anniversary this year and you can see that years have been put to good use, as the premises is buzzing with shoppers all looking for inspiration and homewares with a difference.

After 16 miles worth of walking (yes we did count!) we took our tired feet to our hotel, tucked in a side street and with a final climb of six flights of stairs, we reached our room overlooking the rooftops of Paris….. heaven.

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Village of Hopes and Dreams: Celebrating 10 Years

We support the charity ‘The Village of Hopes and Dreams’, Manacare Foundation.  We first heard about this charity through a friend, who shared her story of a woman she knew called Joy, who had flown to Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the Tsunami to try and help in any way she could.  
A month after the Tsunami hit Sri Lanka in December 2004, the Manacare foundation identified that there was a direct need for a community development project in the country to secure a future for Tsunami victims. The charity shipped twenty containers filled with aid items, purchased some land, and plans were drawn up to build a village. Ten years on thanks to Joy and her wonderful team this grassroots charity has continued to grow and is celebrating its 10th Birthday.   
There are now five homes, all for special needs children or adults and their families. A young, quadriplegic child has been adopted by the home. The combination of the facilities and the work of the team has had an unmeasurable positive impact on his quality of life. The village now has a Montessori School with 35 children enrolled and a new scheme that provides physiotherapy to 32 children and 14 adults. A local nurse is also employed to help with emergencies, mainly for the elderly in the village.

The charity faces daily challenges but thanks to the pure drive and determination, and the unrelenting efforts and passion of the team, good things continue to happen. The Village of Hopes and Dreams, welcomes visitors and volunteers for further information please visit


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Behind the scenes: Autumn Winter 2015 Photo Shoot

Collection of new glass vases
The new Autumn Winter Collection  was exciting to shoot as it includes a variety of materials and textures and our creative team has been busy bringing these new pieces to life. As usual we have been on the hunt for new and unusual places to set the scenes for our lifestyle photography.  The search took us far and wide across Devon from barns, to warehouses, boat yards and beyond!  In this post we’ve shared a few pics from behind the scenes.

Preparing the scene new vase scene

The opening shot above showcases our stunning new selection of recycled glass vases and t-lights, all handmade and finished with a pretty hammered effect which creates a beautiful texture and look. The reclaimed scaffold board provided an ideal table and the rusty container behind added texture and rich colour.

Our stunning new collection of  beautiful Bamba and Nika rugs are full of texture. They are handmade from hemp and recycled leather fragments. We thought we would get creative and the end shot was achieved by clambering over a rusty corrugated iron roof!

Setting the scene for the Bamba and Nika rugs

Our new Mawia bead bracelets are each handmade from hand 22 Karat gold plated stones, each stone is cut and shaped by hand, strung onto pretty threads.  To create the final image a rolled newspaper provided the perfect jewellery roll. The faded washed wood with marks of paint added an interesting texture to the shot.

Setting the scene - mawia bead

We are always on the look out for interesting back drops and the painted wall below was one that caught our eye. The abstract colour contrasts with the clean lines of these reclaimed military flasks.

Setting the scene - recalimed military flasks

We find that fabrics provide a useful break to a back drop. This dip dyed cloth softens the industrial rust backdrop.

New Sana Vases

The above crop that we use in the final image hides the true scene below!!

Shooting the Sana vases

This is just a snippet of our autumn winter 2015 collection. You will soon be able to view and shop our entire Autumn Winter 2015 collection at

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Against All Odds: The Boat Race

The Nkuku team recently braved the high waters of the river Dart to raise money for local charities and community projects.  The Long bow canoe festival has become an annual event for Nkuku. 

It takes place on the banks of the river Dart, in Totnes. The day involves picnics and paddling, with team members dragging family along to cheer them on as they face the challenge of defeating other local businesses and charity teams. 

The heavens literally opened and the rain poured throughout the day, amazingly this didn’t dampen the spirits of the brave ‘Nkuku Chiefs’.

In fact they relished the extra challenge. Native American style head bands were donned as the crew clambered into their boats and set off to the start (just getting to the starting line is arguably exhausting enough!).

An air horn marks the start of each race, and the crew amidst laughter, torrential rain and adrenaline take on the other boats in a manic frenzy of paddling.  The friendly rivalry definitely took on a more competitive edge!

The gap between each race provides time to mull over team tactics, chat with colleagues and friends and generally enjoy the day (including some local cider).  We’ll be back again next year!


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Summer Dining

Summer Salad Recipes
We’ve been eagerly awaiting the summer months at Nkuku. We’re excited about paddling in the sea, outdoor music festivals, and above all dining outdoors with friends. We think our collection looks perfect in an alfresco dining setting, but we thought we’d consult some experts about how to make the perfect summer salad. Here are the favourite recipes of our friend Sarah Raven and the lovely team at Riverford. Not only are they easy to make, but also delicious!

Fresh French beans, tomatoes on the vine and halloumi by Riverford

350g French beans
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
250g Fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 Handful mint leaves
1 Handful basil leaves
250g Halloumi cheese
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Put the lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil into a large bowl and season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Prepare the beans

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add the beans and cook until they are bright green. Quickly drain and toss the beans in the lemon juice and olive oil. When the beans are cool, add the chopped fresh tomatoes, mint, and basil leaves.

Mix the halloumi with the beans

Cut the Halloumi into 8 slices. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat and fry the halloumi pieces on both sides until golden brown. Mix the halloumi in with the beans and serve.

French beans with tomatoes and halloumi

Fennel and apple salad with toasted pumpkin by Sarah Raven

Extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper
Juice and grated zest of 1 Lemon
1 Teaspoon toasted, crushed fennel seeds
3 Tablespoons crème fraiche, or fromage frais
2 Crunchy eating apples (such as Braeburn of Cox’s)

For the roasted Seeds

2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Good pinch of flaky salt
½ Teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3

Prepare the fennel by throwing away any tough or discoloured outer layers, then slice the bulbs as thinly as possible. A mandolin is a good tool for this if you have one, otherwise a sharp knife will do. Finely chop the ferny tops, reserving a few to decorate.

Prepare the fennel

Arrange the sliced fennel and chopped tops in a deep bowl with a little extra-virgin olive oil, black pepper, lemon juice and zest and the fennel seeds.

Adding ingredients to the fennel

Fold in the crème fraiche or fromage frais.

Fold in the fromage frais

Peel, core and finely slice the apples, then add them to the bowl. Fold gently to combine. Transfer to a shallow bowl or serving place and decorate with the reserved chopped fennel tops.

Put the pumpkin seeds in a roasting tin, add a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of flaky salt and the cayenne. Toss them all together and roast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the seeds begin to brown. Scatter them over the salad and serve.

Serving the fennel salad

 Featured in this article from top to bottom:
Odisha Slate Platter £29.95, Artisan Mango Wood Plates £12.95 – 16.95, Mango Wood Utensils £4.95 – £6.95, Bawana Salad Servers £14.95, Uka Stripe Bowl £12.95, Chunni Square Chopping Board £39.95, Sarisha Mango Wood Bowl £89.95, Mali Ceramic Plate £24.95 – £34.95, Artisan Mini Bowls (Set of 3) £14.95, Chunni Chopping Board £18.95 – £34.95, Mango Wood Ladle £14.95, Abeba Chopping Board £9.95, Indigo Drop Serving Bowl £19.95 – £39.95.

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For the Love of Mango Wood

Mango wood is a natural material that forms a significant part of the collections we produce, from table top items to pieces of furniture. We wanted to share with you some of the reasons why we have such a love for this age old wood.

This beautiful material has many distinctive properties and characteristics; it has a unique colouring and can vary from light to dark, and the colour palette can stretch from brown to orange and even shades of pink.

Mango wood is a hard wood; it is strong and durable which makes it a good material for making furniture, and provides longevity to other items including our stylish bowls, platters and chopping boards. We also believe it is a timeless material that won’t date or go out of fashion.

We finish all our mango wood products  with a gentle sanding ensuring each piece is as tactile as it is beautiful. We strongly believe that natural, simple materials and good craftsmanship can transform everyday items into stylish pieces that bring a great source of pleasure to life.

The handmade nature of our products brings with it an attention to detail that mass market items simply cannot offer. The craftspeople who create our collections have years of  experience and a great understanding of mango wood and its properties. Below a craftsman skilfully cuts out one of our mango wood letters.

The delicious mango is the national fruit of India. Mangoes have been cultivated in South East Asia for thousands of years, there is mention of the fruit in 4th century Sanskrit. The mango tree has been a constant presence in India and provided food and wood for centuries. India now provides 36% of the world’s supply.

Another, and perhaps the most important reason for our love of  this beautiful wood is that it is sustainable.  The mango trees are initially grown for their fruit but once they have stopped producing they can be cut down and used to create wood products. The removal of the old trees makes space for farmers to plant new mango trees. This not only means that none of the wood is wasted but offers a supplementary income to mango wood farmers.

Featured in this blog post from top to bottom: Artisan Mango Wood Plates £12.95 – 16.95, Artisan Mini Bowls (Set of 3) £14.95, Bawana Salad Servers £14.95, Edha Chopping Board £8.95, Mango Wood Pizza Board £19.95 – £49.95, Vintage Gold Bottle Opener £12.95, Vintage Gold Cork Screw £16.95, Vintage Gold Nutcracker £16.95, Sarisha Mango Wood Bowl £89.95, Chunni Chopping Board £18.95 – £34.95, Distressed Letters £6.50.

You can see more of our mango wood products here.

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The Story Behind Our Enamelware

We launched our first enamelware collection four years ago and it has been a great success, with the traditional tiffins being a firm favourite. Our enamelware proves to be the perfect year-round gift, but it does tend to peak in popularity during the sunny season. Some tell us they use the enamelware for picnics because they are so light; others for camping; but mainly people say they love to use them just because they think they are so beautiful! With the summer season upon us we thought you might like to know a bit more about these gorgeous pieces.

We met our enamelware producer on one of our trips to India about five years ago. They are based in Kashmir. It’s a region that has been plagued by conflict and this has had an enormous effect on the indigenous people of the area. It is also a region that is renowned for its elaborate and decorative freehand painting, traditionally working with paper mâché, but in recent years they have started to use more endurable materials to create pieces for today’s market.

Many of the artisans who create our enamelware collections are qualified graduates who are determined to stay in Kashmir but are unable to find work suitable to their qualifications. For some this provides a stopgap whilst they work towards building their careers.

The metal we use is stainless steel and is made using moulds. The item is then hand-painted using age old painting techniques. The painting is done freehand and each artisan is replicating the design, but no two pieces are exactly the same.

When you hold a piece of enamelware in your hand and really look at the work that has gone into the finish, you truly appreciate the beauty of the piece.

This producer group has set up some fantastic community schemes including a football club, for which we provide the shirts.

We are running 10% discount on our enamelware collection on our retail site until the end of May 2015.

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Delectable Cocktails

May is the month of bank holidays; a time for gatherings, bringing together friends and family. It’s a time to relax and enjoy the first signs of summer. What better way to kick things off than with a few delicious cocktails?

Our first libation was apparently a favourite of Ernest Hemmingway, a man synonymous not only with great writing, but a fondness for alcohol. The Mojito is a delicious blend of lime, mint and rum. The cocktail originated in Cuba and has become one of the most popular cocktails enjoyed today. As with everything in life its not just the ingredients but the execution that make this drink so delicious.

Mojito Ingredients:
2 limes, copious amounts of mint, sugar, rum, soda, ice

First, squeeze two halves of lime into the glass, releasing all the juice.

Add a good handful of  fresh mint and soda to the glass; a generous amount of mint really makes this cocktail.

The next step is to add two tablespoons of sugar, then add just a splash more of soda water.

Next you need to mix the contents together, grinding the ingredients down until all the sugar has dissolved.

Squeeze one half of the not yet used lime into the glass then drop the second half into the drink.

Add the ice (fill the glass to the brim)

Finally pour in two ounces of rum (you can use light, dark or seasoned rum) and serve!

For something pink and summery try a Gin Cup.  A great way to decorate this is to add rose petals – all roses are edible and the effect is beautiful.

Gin Cup Ingredients:
Gin, sugar syrup, Campari, sweet vermouth, mint, lemon juice, pink grapefruit juice

Place the mint sprigs and sugar syrup in the bottom of a glass. Stir about to bruise the mint slightly.

Fill the glass with ice.

Add the lemon juice and gin and stir a frost should begin to form.

Finally add a measure of Campari and sweet vermouth, followed by a glug of grapefruit juice and serve!

For a refreshing non alcoholic drink try some homemade lemonade and store in on of our Timah bottles with a stylish bottle stop!

Homemade Lemonade Ingredients:
6 lemons, 150g sugar, water

First scrub the lemons in warm water, then take the zest from 3 of the lemons using a potato peeler or zester.

Remove any white pith with a sharp knife – this is important to prevent the lemonade tasting bitter.

Now put the zest in a large bowl and add the squeezed juice of all the lemons and the sugar.

Pour in in 2½ pints (1.4 litres) of boiling water, stir well, cover and leave overnight in a cool place.

Stir again the following day, and taste to check the sweetness, add more sugar if needed.

Strain with a coarse sieve and pour into bottles using sterilised corks, then chill thoroughly and serve.

For inspiration and ideas for the perfect gathering take our look at some our alfresco suggestions.

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The First Chapter

Our very first Nkuku product was a recycled cotton notebook handmade in Rajasthan. We spent five weeks working closely with the artisans to produce a collection of stationary that we hoped would sell well in the UK. The entire process was as fascinating to us then as it is today.

Each piece of paper is handmade from recycled cotton fabric, waste gathered from the garment industry. The fabric is ground into a pulp using hand turned machinery. The pulp is combined with a binding agent and carefully layered between muslin sheets to set. Once set the muslin is peeled from either side and the sheet is hung on a clothes line to dry in the heat of the Indian sun.  Lines and lines of paper are hung out like laundry on a washing line.

Our first journal had beautiful hand torn edges and was hand bound with cotton thread and then wrapped in a soft leather cover. The textures were gorgeous, the soft leather with the cotton paper made the journal such a tactile piece. We then developed other complimentary collections handmade from recycled saris, beautiful rich fabrics hand embroidered in traditional Indian styles and more simple designs incorporating the famous skeleton Pepal leaf.

The first order was packed into a container and shipped off to Devon where several weeks later we guided a lorry loaded with journals down the bumpy drive to the hay barn we were using as our warehouse. A group of neighbours had come to help varying from the ages of 75 years through to 4 years. We are so incredibly grateful for all the amazing support we received from family and friends, even calling on a local farmer to pull the lorry out of the Devon mud so that he could get home! There were some cold months spent in an unheated barn, picking and packing. Woolly hats and thermals were essential. Our first born baby spent a lot of time in a makeshift cot made from cardboard boxes layered up under blankets.

Our office started out as our bedroom, then we upgraded to a garage (thermals also required!), then a bespoke built office/shed situated in our garden and finally a proper office based at the old mill in Dartington with a new showroom opening soon! The Nkuku team has also grown from the two of us to a vibrant office of thirty.  The journals were soon joined by photograph frames and we are delighted to now include a selection of home wares incorporating some of the beautiful bowls that first captured our imaginations all those years ago on our travels.

Here’s to the next chapter!

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Celebrating Fair Trade Fortnight

Fair Trade Fortnight (23 February – 8th March) provides a great opportunity to raise the profile of fair trade producers. Nkuku supports a number of fair trade projects.  Our Mali pottery collection is handmade in southern India as part of a fair trade scheme.

The scheme was established to provide training and secure employment for men and women both able bodied and disabled, from disadvantaged backgrounds. The scheme now employs forty people and focusses particularly on empowering women in the work place.

All the artisans on the scheme are offered three years training, the first year is dedicated to basic skills with more specialist skills being taught throughout the program. The artisans earn a fixed monthly salary to help ensure stability.

The scheme has had a direct impact on the living standards of the artisans. Many, when they started had limited opportunities and basic living standards. The regular employment means that the artisans have enough funds to make improvements such as installing electricity and running water into their homes as well as making a few small luxury purchases such as televisions and bicycles to help with transport to work.

The Mali collection continues to expand and we look forward to developing new exciting pieces with this fantastic fair trade producer.

To find out more about fair trade visit or

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Eco friendly, Ethical and Environmental, Fair Trade, Fair Trade Fortnight, Nkuku Collection, Nkuku Likes | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
  • Nkuku specialise in eco friendly, fairly traded homeware and gifts. Our products are inspired by the traditional skills of artisans throughout Africa and India. We combine contemporary design with age old traditions, natural materials and sustainable methods of production. We passionately support fair trade and consider the environment in everything we do.