Real retail therapy

Earlier in the year we were approached by our friends Sophie Howarth, entrepreneur and co-founder of The School of Life, and the author, JP Flintoff, to help them crack a particularly intriguing creative challenge: to design a range of beautiful and practical household items with the added purpose of inspiring thoughtfulness.  

The items were destined for the shelves of the Department Store for the Mind, an entire shop dedicated to life-enhancing, mood-improving, thought-inspiring stuff. A pretty interesting concept, and just the sort of thing we've come to expect from this pair. 

This video explains how the project came together from John-Paul's point of view..


Can everyday objects have the power to change our lives? That was the big question when our creative director Dan, and illustrator Rachel Sale, jumped into a workshop with Sophie and J-P.

'In many ways our whole business is built on the particular power of a sensitive, well-judged illustration to make people stop and think,' says Dan. 'You could argue that every time we draw a picture we’re encouraging greater mindfulness of the idea it represents. So when Sophie and John-Paul got in touch and described this project it felt like the perfect fit - or maybe the ultimate test - of our skills.'

Taking as their inspiration the classic Willow pattern, they began to sketch out a few concepts which would be developed and eventually printed on mugs, plates and tea-towels. 

'J-P’s concept encourages people to consciously take more from the everyday, to pause and really appreciate the people and the moments that make up life’s rich tapestry,' explains Dan.

'Funnily enough I can’t think of a better way of describing Rachel’s approach to illustration. She’s got a great ability to spot the behaviours and the details that often pass us by, and uses them to bring an intimate, human quality to all her work.'

Rachel's designs can be found in the Department Store for the Mind's "Mindful Living" collection.