Keepsakes: A truly personal gift

With life moving so fast it can be hard to find time to create a personal keepsake but it can make the greatest gift of all.  We can’t think of  a better way to show someone how much they mean to you and with this in mind we have put together some ideas on how to create a truly unique keepsake.

Our collection of Danta, Kiko and Kariba frames offer an elegant way to pull together meaningful memories in a stylish display. Their simple design means you can create almost any display you want, the more eclectic the pieces the more interesting the keepsake becomes.

Gather together all kinds of personal memorabilia from black and white photographs to tickets from wild and wonderful festivals and concerts; currency from unforgettable travels or fabrics from your wedding day, a christening, or a favourite print.

Display a favourite piece of children’s artwork or frame a map of a particular destination; sheets of music can also look beautiful, or a programme from a favourite play.

Add some poems,  precious letters, a simple drawing, or a favourite flower and create a something unique.

Our teeny tiny Kiko and Danta frames look stunning with a simple pressed flower, a snap from a photo booth or some classic old photographs. Their size means they can be with you wherever you go.

Store treasured finds from shells and pebbles collected from a favourite beach or holiday to more precious stones, feathers, figurines and other small keepsakes in an elegant box. These can be added to through the years and passed on to loved ones.

Start collecting and then create to your hearts content!

 

 

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A sneak peek at spring summer

It’s the start of a new year and we are delighted to share with you a glimpse of what lies in store for spring summer 2015.  The collection champions hand made products from beautiful stoneware pottery to traditional brass pieces including elegant pots and unique bookmarks.  There are stylish leather bags, traditional hand coiled baskets and a stunning new furniture collection. We continue to build strong business relations with a mix of social enterprises, family businesses and co operatives all dedicated to traditional crafts.

We have extended our stylish brass pieces to include these elegant pots, each skilfully decorated using age old etching techniques, creating stunning patterns and adding beautiful decorative detail.

These elegant reclaimed  antique cups were originally designed for lassi’s the delicious natural yoghurt based drink. The decorative detailing is all done by hand. The origins of brass work date back to medieval times and these same skills are still in use today.

The new Uka stripe collection includes a selection of bowls and cups. We have branched out to China to find this producer. China has a rich heritage of arts and crafts, sadly it is now more renowned for mass production and many of its traditional skills have been forgotten or overlooked. Artisan producers may be few and far between but we are delighted to have discovered this producer.  This beautiful stoneware collection is handmade and  decorated by hand in this simple but elegant design inspired by traditional Japanese pottery.

We are very excited about the launch of our new leather bags. We have spent a great deal of time developing designs, deciding over stitching details, pocket sizes and leather finishes. We hope you like the result as much as we do. The collection includes satchels, traditional handbags and shoppers. We have chosen two very different leathers, one supple, tactile leather that is rich with character, the other leather is a thicker beautiful rich brown leather that has more structure to it.

These fantastic reclaimed soda bottles and crate form part of our reclaimed collection. The traditional bottles are made from recycled glass and contain a metal ball designed to stop the liquid from pouring out if the bottles were tipped upside down in transport.

These beautiful tall baskets are handmade in southern India by and NGO established to support rural women. The scheme provides a supplementary income to farming families who face the harsh reality of periods of drought and failed harvests. The collective now supports nearly 400 women.  The baskets are each made from coils of jute and finished with leather handles. The craftsmanship is impressive.

Finally, we have created a new bespoke collection of furniture handmade here in Devon by our resident carpenter. The pieces combine reclaimed boards with locally sourced steel.  The collection ranges from stunning tables to trestles, shelves and wardrobes, definitely worth discovering.

These products will soon be available on our website.

Wishing you a very happy new year!

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The Nkuku bake off results

We have come to the end of what was a thoroughly enjoyable pre-Christmas Nkuku bake off and it’s safe to say that each and every participant has wowed us all. Huge thanks go to Jo for organising the entire event and her hilarious commentary (shared below!) It is with great delight that we can announce the winner of the 2014 Nkuku Bake Off….

“We were amazed as Michelle revealed her tower of patisserie indulgence, beautifully baked choux pastry exploding with crème patisserie and smothered in melted chocolate.  To top it off was a warm chocolate amaretto sauce, pure heaven and a whole load of ‘mmmming” filled the office as words failed us. Congratulations Michelle!  We can’t forget the other delicious treats tirelessly baked over the past few weeks, so here are few highlights.

Sarah combined breakfast, snack and pud all in one with this indulgent tray bake. A genius twist on the classic rice crispy cake – Sarah added a thick layer of caramel topped with a delicious chocolate icing to a base of crispy heavenliness!

We were  overwhelmed by Jess’s delicious sponge layers beautifully put together with fluffy fresh cream accompanied with strawberry jam and heaving with fresh fruit. This also made the perfect birthday cake for me!

Amy really finished off the week with an epic winter treat just perfect as we bake or way into December! She certainly did our US customers proud with her traditional New York cheesecake adorned with a beautifully crafted edible snowflake made by hand. What an excitement! This was a first for our in- house bake off competition and let’s admit it’s a tricky one to execute but Amy did it with perfection!

Elisa melted real chocolate for the icing and filled the middle with a delicious butter-cream.. All elements of this bake came together ingeniously as you took the first bite, the thick layer of chocolate cracked delicately as you met a beautifully fluffy sponge and butter cream, just heavenly!

As we entered the penultimate week, the competition was definitely heating up and Chris presented a peachy lemon cupcake surprise, and yes we were surprised how delicious it tasted!

Walking in a winter wonderland………….this is exactly what we did as Erica revealed her irresistible Christmas scene! There were trees, there were logs, even the pet dog Rudolf and the lean-to for the logs! The Ginger bread was cooked to perfection and oozing with candy fluff snow, the chalet had been stolen straight from the French Alps and tiled with white chocolate buttons”.

This doesn’t even cover the sparkling buns baked by Sally, nor the mince pie biscuit masterfully executed by James but it gives you a clear idea of just how much sweet stuff the Nkuku office has consumed! Never mind an alcohol free January I think the Nkuku office needs a cake free month!

Happy Christmas!

 

 

 

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The Great Nkuku Bake Off Part I

Not to jump on the band wagon…..but we have been busy baking at Nkuku’s HQ thanks to Jo, our customer service gem and all time bake off fan. The outcome has been documented in true bake off fashion by Jo.

“So the Bake Off has begun and setting us off on this delicious journey was Alex with her beautiful Lemon Geranium buns! The attention to detail was exquisite and the icing can only have been described as ‘gooey lemon loveliness’ – certainly no soggy bottoms here…! Setting the bar high with a brilliant overall score, this could be the one to watch!

So week Two has commenced of the Great Nkuku Bake Off and WOW what an exciting Start! The pressure was certainly on after an impressive week One but Kate has definitely stepped up to the mixer with this masterpiece she calls Spiced Choco-Berry Indulgence. An explosion of flavour, texture and creativeness meant that this was no 20 minute bake and we can certainly award 10 out of 10 for originality!

Last week saw an amazing array of bakes and Becca truly finished off the week in style by taking us to Caramel Heaven! This take on the classic Millionaires shortbread was genius, the impressive spider web detailing was right on trend for this Halloween – adding that extra je ne sais quoi to what was an all-round office pleaser! Scoring high in presentation and even higher in taste – this Bake could be leading us through the competition to the final!

Okay so this next bake is what’s technically known as pushing the Boat out……. But for Chris he literally pushed the barbeque out of the shed and up to Nkuku HQ …….. and what an event it was!! This forlorn Monday morning was transformed into pure delight and hysteria as the aroma of Bacon Sandwiches drifted through the office doors! Delightfully fresh baked bread of all sorts and smoked bacon straight from the Barbie – Aussie style!  There is no denying that this wasn’t only a bake…. it was a spectacle and a great one at that! High Five Chris!

Okay so week Three and we really are in the thick of it…….. quite literally with Anna’s devilishly indulgent torte. Who needs light and airy when you have rich, condensed chocoholic heavenliness! This beautiful bake was finished with a golden crust, juicy raspberries and the choice of crème fraiche or double cream, Pure Heaven!

Now this is a memorial bake that will forever be remembered……… the mother of all memorial mementos, a collaboration of father and child, a true masterpiece in its own right! The beautiful poppies decorated with such precision really bought this Battlefield-depiction bake to life! Ali will most certainly be popping this one in the recipe file for next year! A great effort and a great tasting bake all round, 4 days in and it’s still tasting delicious!

Denise surprised us as week four commenced with not only one bake-off but two!…..And so our Monday morning was again transformed into delicious delight as we were treated with biscuits of all origins. Denise had baked herself proud with these beauties, we enjoyed Marshmallow gooeys, Lemon butter kisses, Choco-chip shortbreads and a wonderfully executed Anzac treat. A beautiful array of yumminess all tasting exceptional!

The epitome of Autumn in sponge cake and ganache……… this awesome woodland masterpiece wowed everyone at Nkuku HQ last week! We know this baker loves a welly walk and its clear to see this has inspired her creativity. With difficulty levels souring off the weighing scales Bee is certainly one to watch…….But we wouldn’t have expected anything less from this cake baking extraordinaire!

This bake was right on season, right on brand and right up there on the leader board!!”

Don’t miss part II….the final bake off!

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Christmas décor – festive brights and cool silvers

Create the perfect Christmas setting and decorate your home and Christmas table with beautiful ethical products from recycled glass t lights, fair trade ceramics and handmade decorations.

Bring your Christmas table to life with glittering silver t lights, copper lanterns, atmospheric candle light, beautiful berried holly and richly coloured fruits.

Deck the halls with pretty paper lanterns large and small.

Fill the tree with personalised keepsakes in these pretty tiny kiko frames. Get creative with petals, leaves and paper cut outs.

Don’t save the star for the top of the tree but string these elegant  brass stars across a table or hallway.

Cool things down with silver shades and white fairy lights.

Mix frosted  glass vases etched with pretty snowflake patterns with fern green votives for a Scandinavian feel.

Finally spoil yourself and your home with an exquisite Chintu garland wreath, filled with two hundred recycled glass baubles in a variety of shapes. For more Christmas décor ideas take a look here.

 

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Brighten up your home as the nights draw in

It’s finally happened the clocks have gone back and autumn is officially upon us but don’t be disheartened by the longer evenings. We’ve got some great lighting suggestions to brighten up your home.

Having the right indoor lighting can turn a house into a home. Table lamps are perfect for providing different levels of light.

Most of us have a favourite place to sit and a standing lamp can offer the perfect lighting for reading without flooding a room with light.

A free standing tripod light is ideal for lighting up a gloomy corner and offers versatility.  Choosing a shade for a light is half the challenge. We’ve selected a neutral textured linen lampshade to show off the natural mango wood of the Obasi Tripod light above but a simple filament bulb can offer a more urban look.

Create an ambient mood by hanging a pendant  light low over a dining or kitchen table.

The Deevika wire light offers an industrial feel but to create a more country kitchen take a look at the Shimla pendant  Lighting can make your house appear bigger, fresher and decidedly more chic, as well as add value. A favourite interiors tip is to light up the best features in the room such as an old fire place or inglenook.

Add interest by choosing unique lamps with beautiful detail (such as the Kangri lamp above). The exquisite Pillar lamps definitely tick the unique box, each one is hand made from a reclaimed beautifully carved pillar.

Once you have created the perfect lighting for your home, all you need to do is light a fire and settle in for a cosy winter’s evening. To see our entire lighting collection take a look  here.

 

 

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Exquisite handmade jewellery

Each exquisite piece of our jewellery collection has been designed and handmade with such care. In keeping with Nkuku’s passion for natural materials we have chosen stunning natural stones combining their natural beauty with delicate 22 karat gold borders, chains and fixings.  Jewellery is a universal form of adornment. The art of working metals was first discovered in the ancient world. Over time, metalworking techniques have become more sophisticated and decoration more intricate but the basic principles remain fairly similar. Our latest collection utilises these age old techniques to create timeless and modern pieces that we hope you will love.

The stones that we have selected for their beauty also have meanings. Labradorite, takes its name from the mining town of Labrador in Canada where the mineral was first discovered by Inuit’s in the early 18th century. Since then the stone has been discovered in areas such as Madagascar and India (the latter providing the source for these stones). The stone is famous for its ‘Labradoressence’, the name coined to describe the wonderful variance of colours and mystical quality of the stone.  Labradorite is often called ‘The Temple of The Stars’. It is said to bring strength and success, reduce stress & increase intuition.

Our elegant Prehnite collection is skilfully handmade in Rajasthan. Each natural stone is cut and polished by hand before being placed within the gold plated border. Prehnite, until very recently was considered a rare collector’s gemstone, renowned for its translucency and apple green colour.  Originally discovered in South Africa the stone forms in volcanic rock. Deposits of the beautiful stone have since been discovered in Mumbai. Prehnite is a protective stone and is said to aid in communication, stimulate energy and increase life force.

Agate Druzy is a natural stone usually formed in layers of coloured rings. These stones vary in size and colour, we simply select the most beautiful stones to make into jewellery pieces.  The Druzy stone is said to make a person grounded, protective and strengthen the physical body.

The beautiful birthstone Amethyst is considered the stone of prosperity & peace. It is said to offer protection from negative energies. According to Aristotle ‘Amethyst’ was the name of a beautiful nymph who asked the Goddess Diana to protect her from the God Bacchus, the goddess obliged by turning her into a precious gem. It was said to protect against ‘intoxication through drunkenness’. The pretty violet colours make this a truly stunning piece.

The Pandita Charm necklace and bracelet is a firm favourite. The beauty is in the detail, each bead is hand cut from metal creating these beautiful uneven textures. The charm drop is made from Prehnite, the round disc from Labrodorite & the necklace is made with pieces of crystal quartz.  Crystal Quartz can be used to clear and activate energy centres of your body. It is said to heal negativity and purify the physical, mental and spiritual body.

This is just a taste of our jewellery collection to see more including stunning lockets, beautiful bangles, and elegant earrings take a look here. The entire collection is finished with an anti-tarnish that will age over time, enhancing the vintage look of the piece.  Each piece is gift wrapped in a taupe suede pouch, the jewellery is hypo-allergenic and nickel free.

Featured in this post from top to bottom;
Pandita Charm Necklace £120; Natural Druzy Necklace £69.95; Natural Druzy Bracelet £49.95; Labradorite Pendant Necklace £99.95; Prehnite Pendant Necklace £99.95; Lavani Hammered Locket £69.95; Lavani Earrings £29.95; Feather Necklace £49.95; Green Druzy Necklace £69.95; Labradorite Stud Earrings £39.95; Labradorite Bangle £59.95; Prehnite Bangle £59.95; Green Druzy Bracelet £49.95; Amethyst & Feather Necklace £69.95; Pandita Charm Bracelet £79.95;

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Behind the scenes: autumn/winter photo shoot 2014

The autumn winter photo shoot was always going to be a challenge, with over three hundred new lines to photograph the creative team had their work cut out.

Looking for suitable locations for the shoot took the team far and wide in Devon from beautiful country homes, to ramshackle sheds, warehouses and boatyards and we are all thrilled with the outcome.  The old step ladder (above) was discovered in a boat shed and provided the perfect back drop for our new paper bunting.

The bunting comes in pretty bird silhouettes as well as small flags. It will be in stock from the end of October and we think it will make a great Christmas decoration that you can use again and again throughout the year.

A lot of the hard work for the shoot is getting the products to the location. We have boxes of samples filled to the brim.

The new Savannah Roll Bag is an extension of our beautiful Savannah collection. This stylish piece is hand made by a co operative of forty families in Rajasthan. The leather is untreated which means the finish is often imperfect and blemished but the we believe this adds to the character of the piece and the rustic style of the bag.  The shot we selected is simple but effective and we hope shows the natural characteristics of the leather.

The gooeyness of this delicious home made jam looked gorgeous on these new elegant gold spoons.

We loved this shot the rustic boards beneath contrast with the gold of the spoon.

Photographer Anna, co ordinates perfectly with our Oka Film Light!

We have added more Oka Film lights this season in two new shades, grey and khaki green.  These tripod lights were great to shoot and the stark backdrop of the warehouse added to their industrial look.

We thought a great way to display our collection of rugs was to interweave them to illustrate their colours and textures. Above Jess and Katie spend time laying out a collection of Nkuku rugs.

The resulting image showed a patchwork of the rugs we offer. The new Madisi rug can be seen at the top of the photograph. This beautiful rug is a perfect blend of natural hemp and whitewashed cotton.

This chessboard provided an interesting back drop to our new decorative glass domes.

These decorative glass domes are hand made from recycled glass and the base is made from sustainable mango wood. They offer a unique way to display all kinds of treasures but we loved the drift wood and cone and this animal skull.

The new Indigo Drop ceramic collection is stunning and our new slate collection of boards make stylish kitchen accessories and serve ware. They also provided the perfect toast break to keep up energy levels during the shoot!

Huge thanks to our brilliant creative team!

Please note not all products shown here are in stock at the time of this blog being published – but they are coming very soon!

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Catching up with Nkuku Stockists

In this week’s blog Nkuku Sales Manager, Denise has shared some news from her road trips over the last few months: “We are right in the middle of trade show season and I have literally just returned from Maison et Objet, the most wonderful show and a great opportunity to catch up with some of our international customers.  After a quick turn around we headed straight to London for Top Drawer.

Since joining Nkuku over two years ago, my role in Sales has been to look after all our customers.  I have had the pleasure of meeting them at Trade Shows, talking a lot on the phone and by email but have rarely had the opportunity to visit them in their own premises. This summer, all of that changed and I have travelled around the UK in some the best of weather, to call on some of our amazing customers, see our products in great locations and talk to some of their customers too.

I have learnt a lot, but particularly that our customers share common themes. Each one is committed to their businesses, is amazingly creative and welcoming, love Nkuku, and support local artists and other wonderful companies that sit beautifully alongside the Nkuku brand.  I have had some great feedback on what you love, what you would like from us to help your business and I have taken some fantastic display ideas away with me to share. (Above Closett & Botts create a eclectic effect with baskets filled with spools.)

My travels have taken me to Wells, Brighton, Frome, Oxford, Bath, Chichester, Stroud, Marlborough, Hay on Wye, Lewes, Croyde, Chester, Richmond, Barnes and even London Town to name but a few. (Above a rustic trestle proves the perfect setting for our Mali pottery collection and other Nkuku delights in Elizabeth Lee in Frome.)

As soon as Top Drawer has finished I will be back on the road again (if I haven’t seen you yet I’m on my way!) but please do come and say hello at Top Drawer. We would love to show you our new Autumn Winter 2014 collection and our stunning new exhibition stand. (Above Number 2 in Hay on Wye have created a stunning display on collection boxes and bowls filled with knobs.)

 

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The Beauty of Handmade

We are passionate about handmade products; whilst on our travels throughout Africa and Asia we were inspired and captured by the traditional skills and age-old techniques that we saw being used.

The beauty and quality of our products depends heavily upon the materials used to create them. We spend time selecting colours and textures to ensure that the end product is a beautiful as we intended.

On a recent trip to India we visited rural farming areas and found yet more traditional skills still very much alive; from spinning yarn to create hammocks and bench seats to hand weaving baskets for storage and hand coiling clay pots for carrying water; using the same centuries old traditional skills to create practical products to help with everyday life.

We use these very same skills to create our collections from the stunning fair trade Mali pottery collection fired in this small hand built kiln to our Mango wood letters each cut by hand.

Sometimes it easy to take for granted the handmade nature of our collections but we hope that you can feel as excited and delighted about the handmade process behind our products as we do.

The relationship between an artisan and a beautiful handmade piece creates a story and makes each product not just a mass market item but an individual crafted piece.

Every piece has a story, be it the person who made it, the traditional skilled employed to create it, or the character and texture of the material it is made from.
We find beauty and character in imperfection and quality in the handmade process behind each product.
To find out more about the materials we work with click here.
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  • 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.