Sunday, 28 December 2008

Tree Silhouettes without the winter chill



Landsby small birchwood tray £15 and Bird big birchwood tray £25 as featured in Grand Design magazine.

ISAK - Grand Design top website

We are very pleased that Grand Designs Magazine (January 2009) has nominated isak.co.uk as one of its favourite websites for finding the perfect gift.

We are happy to be included with some other of our favourites including; indish.co.uk, hygge-life.co.uk, bodieandfou.com, lifestylebazaar.com and designmuseum.org

We also think Kevin is doing a great job promoting design in architecture!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Beautiful Happy Christmas

Christmas is a time for love, peace and goodwill. However, it can be a time of stress and frustration. Here are our 10 tips for maintaining your sanity over Christmas and coming out of it feeling better, fitter and ready to embrace the New Year 2009.

1. Fresh Air. Take advantage of the kids waking up early. Let them open a present and then get the wellies on and go out for a 30min walk before breakfast. Don't let the weather be an excuse. There is no unsuitable weather, just unsuitable clothes.
2. Call someone. After breakfast, break out an old book of phone numbers and ring one of them. Family, friend, acquaitance, whoever. Don't aim to have a prolonged conversation, just give them a call, wish them Merry Christmas and let them know that you have been thinking of them and hope they are well. Then hang up and enjoy a coffee in the warm glow.
3. Do something constructive. Gather the throng together and tell them to go out and collect litter off your street for 30mins. Put gloves on provide bags and make a difference. You never know, a neighbour or two may join you.
4. Go knocking. Pick an address in your neighbourhood where you don't know the person living there. Pop round, introduce yourself and wish them a Merry Christmas. You could take over a flask of coffee, some chocolates or a card (homemade). Just a quick visit.
5. Turn off the TV. After dinner find a game and play it. Charades or Karioke are always good starters or break out a board game or a pack of cards. Grandparents vs Kids at Twister can always be entertaining!
6. Take some Time. This is the most valuable commodity over Christmas. You must take a 20min break for yourself. But it must be time for yourself. A quiet time. Time to think, consider, dream or if you can, switch off. The best medicine there is, 20 minutes of silence. Go out for a quick walk and find a bench (churches are good), sit in the car or garage. Lock yourself in the bathroom or spare room if you have one.
7. Dance. Put on your favourite music and let yourself go. Don't expect others to join in, but if you are uninhibited you will find they will. Have a bad dancing contest or a Daddy dancing contest. Act out a film or TV moment like Grease, Joseph or a Disney Classic.
8. Discuss/Question. Have a debate. Pick teams, select a subject and by the toss of a coin decide which team will be for and which team against the subject. It is a good idea to have a Chairperson to settle any points and calm any heated debates. Ask the children what they would like to debate. Subjects could be; Should children be allowed to vote? Is junk food ever good for you? Is it possible to be over-educated? Are cars a good thing? Is Father Christmas real?
9. Read. Dig out a pile of old books or get down to the library and take it in turns to read a passage from a book or a couple of verses of poetry. You can use magazines, newspapers or if you want to just talk about a topic you are interested in.

10. Tell all those you are sharing the day with that you love them. Take time during the day to approach everyone and let them know that you love them.

Don't worry if you can't do all 10 tips everyone helps a little bit. If you do manage all 10, then you will feel physically, mentally and emotionally rejuvenated. Have a wonderful Christmas time, we wish you all the Season's cheer from ISAK and an amazing New Year.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Thankyou Everybody!

We would just like to say a great big thankyou to everyone who has supported ISAK over the past year. We love designing and producing the ISAK range, but it wouldn't be possible without the help of so many others.

Thanks to all our suppliers for being so patient with our demands, thanks to all our retailers for believing in our products, thanks to all the customers for recognising our beautiful happy things and thanks to friends, family and all strangers who listened to our problems and offered advise.

Happy Christmas to you all!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Make yourself happy


Everybody loves to sing. Everybody! Some, the brave or talented, do it openly for us all to enjoy. Others do it in secret, mostly in the car. We all have a tune in our heads, we all want to sing. Christmas time gives us a chance to indulge this joint passion.

Carol singing began in the Middle Ages and was performed by groups holding hands and dancing in a circle. It was done for the pure indulgence of enjoyment. Even though St Francis of Assissi (the animal saint) introduced it into formal church services, it was meant to be just the bishops who sang. They got all the fun! So the secular mob took it upon themselves to sing in the streets. The poor would perform door to door in return for a reward.

Oliver Cromwell banned carol singing in the 17th century, demanding that christmas be taken seriously. Hmmm.

So this year, let yourselves go, exploit your freedom to sing. Grab some friends, form a circle, dance and sing! You will feel much better and happier for it. You could even do it for a charity, such as Shelter or The Children's Society. Whatever excuse you find, just do it and be happy. Life is beautiful.

Blossom & Bill festive greeting cards in packs of 8 available from ISAK.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Christmas Dinner Dining Table?

We all like a traditional Christmas Dinner with friends & family, a roaring log fire, merriment & laughter, served up on a grand, old, solid oak table.

However, I'm sure there are many of us who crave a slightly different approach to Christmas Dinner. Well here are our suggestions for alternative Christmas Dinner Tables. Sushi anyone?

The "Silent Whisper" will cut down on the clatter of Christmas, cheering everyone up with a little bit of peace. The high density core absorbs the impacts at the surface, keeps the sound in and releases it ever so quietly when no-one is listening.


Go industrial with Mathew Hilton's Cross Pedastool table or Styx coffee table for Classicon.


If you have to stay with some tradition then "Foxtrot" by Sarah Kay is constructed from interwoven solid oak and strikes a formidable pose for any get together.


Chairs stack, so why not tables? Thomas Heatherwick's Piggyback provides a lovely solution to those unexpected family members turning up on Christmas Day. When stacked they slide seamlessly into one.


A splash of colour is what we all need in the depths of a grey, anglo-winter and that is provided by a burst of Pallas sunshine. Pallas is a slender table to keep diners closer and encourage communication, also makes passing the gravy easier.

The N-7 is a provocative and edgy style monster, eat off it if you dare!



Babel is a table system that comprises stacks of birch disks. Christmas should involve some play.



If mediocre is not in your dictionary then Wendell Castle is for you. We would happily spend Christmas alone with one of these exquisite little beauties to dine off, but could you bring yourself to plop a plate ontop of it. No, we think it would be better to go hungry for a while...

Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

New ISAK Cups








For those of you patiently waiting for the new ISAK Leaf and Lovebird cups with oak lids. We are expecting delivery tomorrow and will be packing and sending as soon as we can thereafter. So they should be with you all by early next week at the latest. Sorry for the delays, the world seems to have slowed down lately!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Hear the Silence

We have all suffered the clattering cacophony of a crowded canteen or the stringent battering that a child can dish out to the dining table. Swedish freelance furniture designer Sigrid Stromgren decided to do something about it and created the Silent Whisper. The table is made from a patent pending high density laminate with a clatter-absorbing core. This surface reduces noise by 10dB (or half in real speak!).
We all struggle to find that inner voice that is constantly calling to us but drowned out by life. Silent Whisper goes a little way towards letting us hear ourselves. Produced in Sweden by Materia.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Mommo's Traegard

At the bottom of Mommo's garden was the little, red, wooden house. That was our house. A house that breathed. A magical house. We would cycle down the path on our little red trikey-bikes and then the adventured would begin!
Trolls, Pirates, Princesses, Fairies and Tomte all lived in the woods behind the little red house, and they played with us in the dazzling winter sun and the heavy summer storms.
Mommo would rescue us with kanel bullar and lemonade.
We always managed to escape.

ISAK Geisha and Kimono dresses available February 2009.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Snö

Snö evokes a tender winter warmth for Blossom & Bill who first met and courted in the romance of a Scandinavian winter.

There is something magical about waking up and finding the world blanketed by snow. It brings out the child in all of us. And we realise that the child in us should be allowed out far more often.



Snowflakes themselves hold a magical complexity that even now cannot be explained. All snowflakes are different, that's alot of different forms! It is not known how they stick together and although clear, snow is white due to the scattering of light caused by those intricate shapes.

Many books have been written about snow or set in a snow wrapped landscape. The latest is a fine edition called "The Snow Tourist" by Charlie English. Charlie explores the planet for the best snow and flows with humour and insight.









Charlie has nominated his Top Ten Snow Books, all of them are worth a read;
  1. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  3. The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
  4. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
  5. Waldon by Henry David Thoreau
  6. The Snowflake by Kenneth Libbrecht and Patricia Rasmussen
  7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  8. Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg
  9. An Account of the Arctic Regions by William Scoresby Jr
  10. Snow by Ruth Kirk
Blossom & Bill's personal favourite is Peter Hoeg's book that settles into the soul like a melting snowflake.




Blossom & Bill Assorted Festive Greeting cards by ISAK £10 for a pack of 8.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Julebryg

In Scandinavia the approaching festive season is marked by the introduction by all local breweries of the annual "Julebryg" or Christmas Brew. This is a darker beer only available during the winter and used as a very reasonable excuse to kick off festive festivities as early as possible. This was also a traditional feature of English christmas when we had local breweries! It is a feature of the British drinking landscape that should be re-introduced as there are many fine Christmas Ales produced to cater for the needy drinker this time of year. Try some of the following;

Vale - Good King Senseless
Hopback - Pickled Santa
Cotleigh - Red Nose Reinbeer
Anchor Steam - Christmas Ale (our favourite!)

Back in Scandinavia the tops are being popped off the festive tipples already and whole communities will turn out to welcome and toast the arrival of the beer.

We do urge you to drink reponsibly but also enjoy it! Chritsmas is a time to break up the long dark winter months that we understand so well in Scandinavia. So you must take time to try something that you enjoy. We feel there is little better than to share a drink and some good food with friends and family and to meet new people to make new friends. Reindeer hats optional!

Blossom & Bill Christmas Gift Cards: Pack of 8 different designs for £10 from ISAK.

Blossom & Bill's Recommendations No.8

8. Rocking Horse: Fura by Leif Design Park. A clothes horse or rocking horse.Well, of course, it can be both. We adore the team at Leif, they can conjure up an interior that has a magical blend of nature, minimalism & extravagance. We believe that children should play with items that fire their imagination. They enjoy it more, become more creative and the "toy" will be used more often as its uses are only defined by the child's imagination. This rocking horse could easily be a fire-breathing dragon, a speeding racer, a supersonic jet or a giant ladybird.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Troll Tale


Moffa sat by his window with his pipe hanging from his mouth. Because he always sat by the window, I remember him framed by a halo of smoke. I can taste that rich tobacco smoke now. Sweet, thick and earthy. This is my most significant memory of my granddad. It brings him to life like no other memory can. He was a tall man, always smartly dressed and oozed kindness and reliability. He was a gentle man.
I remember the adults, talking and doing, whilst I lay on the floor with my workboard. My legs bent upwards in thought, my imagination indulging itself as only a 5 year old boys’ can. My world was magical in every way. When Mommo put me to bed, she would tell me about the trolls who lived in the woods behind the house, and how they had tried to take me away as a baby. Mommo assured me that she had taken great lengths in explaining to the trolls that Babis was not to be taken away and eaten because so many people loved him! I had not been completely at ease with this story at first, much to the consternation of Mamma. Mommo had then explained to me that the trolls were very important for taking care of the woods and lakes, and once they knew that Babis was not to be eaten, they had cared for me like any other Småtroll. She told me how it was the trolls who had found me and brought me home after I had become lost in the forest, how they had built me my magnificent secret den in a tree, and how they collected smultron, blåbär and kantareller from the forest for me, so that I would grow to be strong and mindful of nature. It was pictures of these stories that I would draw whilst lying on the floor with my workboard, listening to the adults being and doing in the background.
The workboard was mine, it was my responsibility. Moffa had made it for me. It was circled in all the letters and numbers, and Moffa made me practice them every day. I can remember Pappa telling me how proud he was of me. I can feel that memory whenever I think of it, I save it for precious times.
I am 40 years old now and I am a Pappa, and it is my children who lye on the floor with their workboards; drawing, writing, scribbling and painting. Their pictures of trolls are much better than mine ever were.

ISAK Abc and 123 Workboards £40 each with solid teak shelf.

The Big Apple


Now that the new ISAK office is nearing completion, the team have been eyeing up some new office furniture. The junior designers are very keen for their own Big Apple design by Michiel Van der Klay. When in the Apple form it can scoot around the office on the base wheels and when unfolded into the desk station, the brakes come on to stop the fun and start the work! It's called Globus by Artiform. We think it makes a great workstation for our teenagers' gaming/homework sessions, but would lead to too many Dodg'em shinanigans in the office; especially after Imogen & Cinnamon's second expresso of the morning.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008













A day in the office for Imogen now entails a few hours spent at the ISAK allotment overseeing our future nutritional requirements. As you can see from the piccies the area is completely overgrown and is a beautiful little dot on our planet that we intend to nourish, to nourish us.
On this, our first day, we uncovered a snakes nest and a nest of field mice. There is more responsibility with cultivating a piece of land than we thought. Now we will have to design snake and mice shelters into the planting area.













Today was a truly gorgeous English autumn day. The sun poured in from the south, never warm and cooling quickly, sparkling off the wetlands below. The golden oak leaves fluttered down lazily from overhead and in the distance a brace of swans beat the air and took flight. At the office we do feel a little blessed to be given such a tranquil spot and it is our job to cultivate and work it.












We are so pleased to have another project for the
ISAK team to use their energy on and reap the rewards. The allotment fits in very well with the ethos of ISAK. We endeavour to run a business that includes nature and beauty and function. These things are so important to living a fulfilling and happy life. A closeness to what we consume in every way, reminds us daily, just who we are.
Life barrages us with demands, questions and challenges and in the ISAK office it is no different. Now all of us must take our turn in sitting under the oak trees, digging into the earth and planting seeds to grow our food. How lucky we are. Now where's that spade? Imogen's got work to do!

Pepperkaker & Mulled Wine

The embers from Bonfire Night have only just died away and Blossom & Bill have already been invited to their first Christmas parties. It's time to take stock and really appreciate friends and family, the things that are important in life.

Blossom & Bill love this time of year. It has a warmth and closeness that is so readily conjured up by all the wonderful aromas and flavours associated with the festive period.

Blossom's first task is to bake two batches of
Pepperkaker, traditional Scandinavian ginger biscuits with secret ingredients. The first batch is to pack into a little box as a gift for the first dinner party and the second is to eat at home with a frothy coffee sprinkled with cinnamon. Meanwhile Bill decants some of his homemade elderflower wine to make bottles of mulled wine to go with the Pepperkaker. Just delicious and really imbue the festive spirit.
You can follow the recipes below but be sure to use freshly ground cardamom pods for the secret ingredient to freshen up the flavours.




We wish you all the best for the season and hope you can avoid all the silly stresses and worries that this time of year can cause.

How to Make Traditional Pepperkaker

Large mixing bowl
Plastic wrap
Large cookie sheets

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teasoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, pepper, cinnamon, salt, cardamom and ginger. Stir in flour 1/2 cup at a time, blending well after each addition. Form dough into a ball; wrap and refrigerate 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll rounded 1/2 teaspoons of dough into 3/4-inch balls. Arrange, 1-inch apart, on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 11-14 minutes or until golden brown on bottom. Cool on wire rack. Cookies may be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for one month.

Makes about 4-6 dozen cookies.

Mulled Wine Ingredients
  • 100g whole blanched almonds
  • 700ml homemade red wine
  • 700ml ruby port
  • 600ml vodka
  • 10 green cardamom pods
  • 2 small cinnamon stick
  • Ground Nutmeg
  • 10 cloves
  • the pared zest of 2 large oranges
  • 100-150g golden caster sugar

Method: How to make spiced scandinavian mulled wine

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Cover 100g whole blanched almonds with boiling water and soak for 10 minutes. Drain and slice lengthways into thin shards, then spread out on a baking tray and roast for 6-7 minutes, until golden. Cool. Meanwhile, put 700ml red wine, 700ml ruby port, 600ml vodka, 10 green cardamom pods, 2 small cinnamon sticks, 10 cloves, nutmeg, the pared zest of 2 large oranges and 100-150g golden caster sugar into a large pan and leave over a low heat for 20 minutes – do not let it boil.

2. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Put a metal teaspoon into each glass – this will absorb the heat so that the glass doesn't crack (or use a mug!).

3. To serve, pour the mulled wine between glasses and sprinkle with the toasted almonds and 2 tablespoons raisins.

4. Repeat 3. until feeling festive and full of love for everyone!

Blossom & Bill festive Greeting Cards available from www.isak.co.uk. £10 for pack of 8 assorted cards.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Free Fresh Organic Food!

Fantastic news for all of us at ISAK HQ. We have been awarded an allotment to grow our own produce. The small plot of land sits an a gently sloping hill overlooking some beautiful wetlands and crowned with a pair of ancient oaks. At the moment it is a mess of Brambles and weeds but we hope to turn it into the office food supply by this time next year.

Unfortunately, none of us have any idea about how to grow anything! Imogen has "volunteered" to be in charge of the allotment, so if anyone has any tips please mail her on; imogen@isak.co.uk.

We will keep you all posted...

ISAK: Accessories for the Modern Home
Beautiful Happy Things

Monday, 3 November 2008

Blossom & Bill's Recommendations No.7



7. Design Company: DBA. At ISAK we strive for our products to be practical and beautiful. They must be environmentally responsible and wherever possible serve more than one function. In May next year there will be a new New York based design company starting up whose products we like because of their desire to wrest innovation from simplicity.
Their products are understated, minimalist and functional. All traits that we admire. Their first products are; the dish rack (every home in the world should have one!), a humidifier, a space heater and a cord spool. Hardly groundbreaking products but ones that we admire and will enjoy, hope you will too. Life is simple but has to work well!