If I tell you I’ve been to the South Bank Winter Festival, I suppose you’ll expect pictures of roundabouts and santas and gluwein and chestnuts roasting on a open fire. And you’ll be right, there will be all that. But, this being the kind of blog it is, there’ll mainly be pictures from the Designer Makers Christmas Market which you can find tucked away under the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and another round of suggestions for Christmas presents with a Japanese flavour.
The Designer Makers Christmas Market has more than fifty designers from across the UK on show, selling jewellery, ceramics, textiles, homewares and prints. I found four Japanese Designers exhibiting, and all of them have some very covetable and reasonably priced potential presents on show.
Let’s kick off with Keiko Uchida, whose collection of accessories in kimono fabric was launched earlier this year. Keiko was previously responsible for Muji Europe’s accessories range and helped to design a number of their bestselling items. She comes from an artistic family; her mother is a well known kimono designer in Tokyo.
I was very taken with her colourful sleep masks,
while a matching kimono and fan might be just the thing if we get a good summer in 2014.
Next comes Shizuka Miruta, whose collection of white tin-glazed terracotta cups and saucers is called The Beauty of Little Things. It brings together a European and Japanese sensibility and reflects her interest in the beauty of homely things.
She also produces witty peanut-styled jewellery and I loved how prettily she wrapped her gifts.
Jewellery designer Aki Mori is originally from Wakayama, not far from Osaka, but she’s been UK based for a good number of years. Her delicate gold and silver jewellery is inspired by floral shapes.
Finally, a designer whose work I admired recently in Clerkenwell; Takae Mizutani with her witty take on breakfast china.
It would be great to see these salt and pepper pots sailing across the Christmas breakfast table.
After visiting the designers I had a stroll through the stalls of the Winter Festival, which stretches along the riverbank to Jubilee Gardens. It has plenty of places to eat, drink and make merry and plenty of people around to enjoy it. There’s a variety of stalls selling decorated dishes, snow globes, Christmas decorations and more, but for me it was all about the food and the fun, with colourful cheeses stacked up like Christmas baubles,
a traditional roast chestnut stall,
Santa looming over a bratwurst and lager stall with the reindeers taking flight behind him
and of course the roundabout at the top of this post, all lights and colour and memories of childhood.
The Designer’s Market continues until 22 December. It’s open 11 am to 8 pm.
The Winter Festival Christmas Market will be there until 24 December. It’s on Queen’s Walk, either side of Hungerford Bridge and it’s open Monday to Thursday 11am – 9pm
Friday, 11am – 10pm Saturday 10am – 10pm Sunday 10am – 9pm.