We are opening our blog to professionals in our wider architectural, construction and interior design field to share guest posts on our website. Sharing the stories of other professionals and businesses brings an opportunity for us to celebrate excellence in our sector. We envisage the Ecclesall Design blog being a place where you can come to get inspired for what your home can become, and we are pleased to share the first of these exciting posts – a homeware brand based in Royal Tunbridge Wells called A Million Stories.
Jill and Simon May are a husband and wife team behind A Million Stories. Following successful careers as commercial interior designers, they decided during lockdown 2020 to take the plunge and create their homeware brand. Their vibrant designs stood out to us, and we found the values and inspiration behind their collection to be exciting and noteworthy.
Homeware designed and made in the UK
It is rare to find homeware designed and manufactured locally, which is one of the reasons why A Million Stories caught our eye. They are proud to design and manufacture their homeware products in the UK. It is important to them to support local businesses based in Britain and reduce their impact on the environment by not shipping products from the other side of the world and supporting the local economy. All of their products are lovingly hand-finished with care in Kent.
The Vision Behind A Million Stories
The vision behind A Million Stories is to create beautiful homeware products that combine our design values of expression, colour, quality and a joie d’vivre. They wanted their designs to be different, inspired to share stories of hope in an increasingly complex world whilst intending to help and support others. With this vision in mind, A Million Stories was born. To get inspiration for their homeware, they conduct creative storytelling workshops in partnership with refugee and asylum seeker support, mental health and anti-bullying charities, to name a few. Addressing the issues caused by displacement, they conducted a series of creative workshops with Tunbridge Wells Supports Refugees. They listened to the stories of a handful of courageous individuals, those willing to share and eager to get involved. By supporting one another, talking, sharing our thoughts and experiences, they built trust and were offered an insight into the pathway of their lives.
In recent months A Million Stories heard the tales of Yousef, a jewellery maker from Aleppo; LuJain, a student of interior design from Douma; and Ibrahim, an architect from Deir Ezzur. All three left their homes and the conflict in Syria to find safety for themselves and their families. They’re now in the process of laying roots and rebuilding their lives in the UK with support from Tunbridge Wells Welcomes Refugees. The storytellers arrived in the UK legally through the Home Office Syrian Refugee Resettlement Scheme. Primarily, the Memories Collection homeware is a story of hope. Hope through adversity and loss.
The storytellers have all endured hardship over many years: losing their homes, businesses and communities, livelihoods, loved ones, prospects and a basic fundamental sense of safety and security. Despite this, they have shown a real sense of determination to live a good and fulfilling life. Collectively, they demonstrate a spirit and belief that there will be a worthwhile future for all of them and their families. They epitomise hope and show that they can and will create a better future for their people and their country with courage and heart.
The inspiration for the Memories Collection:
The inspiration for the luxury cushions and wall art design includes:
The smell of the delicate jasmine flowers in the city of Damascus.
Roses and the grapes that grew in the shaded courtyards of their homes in Syria.
The lemon and orange trees that line the streets of their home towns.
The simple times spent chatting and laughing with friends over coffee.
The sense of stability brought about by the buildings and architectural sites providing an underlying sense of place, safety, security, permanence, history, belonging, and ownership – a sense of home.
Woven into the design are three Arabic words chosen by the three – love, hope and dignity.
A ring that symbolises Yousef’s time as a jewellery maker, suspended on a branch of wisteria.
An English plant typical of Kent where he now resides – suspended, on hold, like his life.
The bridge of Dier Ezzor, which for so long was a symbol of civic pride, sadly destroyed during the war.
Uplifting collection of designer cushions are imbued with heart and hope – and create wonderful talking points in your home. Lovingly hand made with a full colour printed front panel, oatmeal linen back panel and centrally located button. Cotton linen mix fabric with a duck feather pillow insert. Real-life stories told through design. They are designed and manufactured in the UK.
Wall Art Print
A picture is worth a thousand words. You can reveal something about yourself through the art you have around you. You can let this unique collection of wall art prints represent your outlook, personality and spirit. Their natural vibrancy, colour and form symbolise the life, hope and vision of a better tomorrow. Limited edition wall art print. Giclée full colour print on archival quality 315gsm fine art paper. Individually embossed by hand press. They are designed and manufactured in the UK. You can find out more about A Million Stories here, as well as see interviews with the storytellers behind their Memories Collection. Link