Fundraising pub quiz 16th Aug

If you're up for a night of quiz fun please come and join us at the Yorkshire Grey pub close to Holborn or Chancery Lane tube stations (London) on 16th August at 6.30pm (map)

Entry is £5 and all proceeds will go towards our Happy Promotional School project in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya.  

Any questions please get in touch
See you there!

Kenya slum school visit

I've just returned from a great trip to work with the Happy Promotion Centre (HPC) in the Mkuru slum in Nairobi. 

This is our ongoing project. I was delighted to be able to hand over funds raised by the sale of my wall art over the Christmas period and the start of the new year as well as funds donated by many generous people. 
The school is coming along well but it's clear this is definitely a long-term  project and will take some time to realise our dreams. Actually about 5 years to be fully there by the looks of things.

Although the school couldn't be more different from running a small jewellery and art studio, fortunately many of the business skills required are the same. 
I worked on cash flow models with the slum dweller owners, Joseph and Felista, to ensure that we're building a school that will be sustainable in the future and can run successfully without (or with very limited) international funding in the future. 
We met with a charity with whom we are working with to hopefully build a new relationship that in part will enable Joseph to access management training as his responsibilities grow along with the school. 
We met with the local MP who has been aware of our project for some time. He's hosting a fundraising event for us at the beginning of June that we hope will go some way towards finalising the purchase of land next to the current school so we can grow from our current two rooms to the planned 8.
I was also able to take part in a school board meeting. It was great to meet the Chair, parents, an ex-doctor, and local NGO representative, all part of the management and support team behind HPC so we could consider current and future plans. 

As this was my holiday I'm glad to report that I did manage not only do get a lot done but there was lots of fun with friends and colleagues on the ground too (note the friendly giraffe in the pictures below!)

If you'd like to help us raise funds for HPC, these are some of our current requirements (if you'd iike more detailed information on our funding needs please contact Steph)

Our first priority is to purchase the land next to our existing building so we don't lose it to someone else. For this we need £3,000. And then a fence £400. 

Teacher training for Janet and Felista. Both teachers are teaching voluntarily at the school and have previous teaching experience but neither have the formal qualification the government requires. As we grow at least 30% of all teachers must be formally trained and certified. This will take 2 years each (whilst continuing to teach) at a cost of £350 per year each 

We're also planning on starting a small porridge programme so the children can start the day with a full belly, something that's not possible for many due to lack of secure work and therefore income. 

Thanks as always for your interest and support. 

Happy Promotion Centre visit

This has been one of those amazing, eye opening and emotional weeks. 
I returned this morning from Nairobi, Kenya, where you may have already read in previous posts, we have been helping to build a school in one of the informal settlements (slums) with funds raised from the sale of wall art

Around 60% of Nairobi's population live in slums, in shacks of around 10ft sq with little provision for basic services such as water, sanitation, drainage or electricity. Without formal recognition by the city they have few human rights and with lack of secure land tenure so many live in fear of eviction, knowing their home can be at risk of being bulldozed without warning.

Some of the everyday risks of living in this environment:

It was my pleasure to meet with some very wonderful and motivated residents. People like Nancy and Julia who sell food on the streets inside the settlement, or Maxwell who was setting up a business to provide hot showers for public use. They are all part of the local economy and also part of a community federation Muungano Wa Wanavijiji who, supported by a local NGO Slum Dwellers International (SDI) Kenya,  look at ways to mobilise change both by their collective actions and by lobbying local government to recognise them as citizens and provide services for them accordingly.

This was also my first chance to meet Joseph, the head of the Happy Promotion Centre school. He is also lives in one of the informal settlements and is part of the Muungano federation
After 5 years of running a school from a single room of a rented shack (see previous post) that was becoming difficult to afford and manage we purchased land for a new school to be built and they now have a new two roomed structure with toilets. 

Joseph is now in the process of registering the school with the authorities as a recognised informal school which is a great step forward. 
Informal schools are important to these communities for various reasons. Although the government does offer school places for all there are not enough spaces to go round. Those living on such low incomes can often not afford the obligatory school uniform which would prevent them attending. Or, possibly the main issue, the children from the slums will get bullied because of their situation so parents would prefer to school them locally. 

I visited the school for the first time with some friends from SDI Kenya. We were given such a heart warming welcome by the children and teachers accompanied plenty of singing and dancing. 

Above you'll also see one image of an empty piece of land.  I've been asked by the community to help fundraise to buy this so that we can construct a two storey, eight roomed school with daycare centre. This is right next to the current school which would turn into an office space and kitchen.

Joseph has great ideas of also being able to offer vocational training in the long term,  sewing, woodwork etc. We are also really keen to try to work out how to set up a volunteer programme initially to help the children with their English skills as this is one area that sets middle class Kenyans apart from those living in the informal settlements and affects their future prospects.
It's early days but hopes are high. 

We are now putting together a business plan for the school and other costings (the University of Tokyo have said they'll fund the construction which is amazing but we'll still be looking at fences, play equipment, desks, solar panels etc). If you would like to help you can donate or to be kep informed of future developments please email to be added to the mailing list.

Thanks for your interest

Steph, Joseph and the Happy Promotional Centre team

Material Consequences @ London Design Festival

Seven designers | Seven styles | Seven ways of making something extraordinary

As part of the London Design Festival we'll be holding a second Material Consequences show at the Craft Central Gallery, part of the Clerkenwell Design Quarter. 

Material Consequences is an exhibition designed to showcase the beauty, versatility and desirability of our most commonly used resources. While the exquisite creations themselves are the stars of the show, this exhibition will allow visitors a glimpse into the artistic processes involved in their production.  

This is an exciting opportunity to view, purchase and commission handsomely handcrafted hats, homewares, wall art, jewellery, vessels, lights and accessories, and to meet the people who made them.  

We'll be open 12-7pm weekdays (Tuesday 12-9pm) and 11-6pm weekends.  

For more information please see and keep an eye on our Twitter feed for updates on events.

Karen Henriksen: men's and women's hats
Kerry Hastings: ceramics
Kouamo: homewares
Luna Lighting: ceramic lighting
Mind the Cork: homewares
Stephanie Ray: art and jewellery



Great progress is being made at the Happy Promotional Centre in the Mukuru Kwa Ruben informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. This temporary school structure is being built whilst funds are being raised to enable the permanent 8-roomed building, hopefully next year. 

Happy Promotional Centre update

Just a little update on the school's progress. 

Construction has started on a two room temporary structure.  The hope is that we'll be able to raise enough funding to start on the main building next year. 

I'm planning a visit mid-October so I'll be excited to report back with progress, stories and photos

Happy Promotional Centre

We've been delighted to hear that the funds we've donated from the sale of wall pieces have been used to purchase land for a new school in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Happy promotion centre

Some months ago Slum Dwellers International (SDI) introduced me to Joseph Muendo. As a member of the Kenyan Federation of the Urban Poor * Joseph had, for many years, couriered large amounts of money across the slum for community initiatives and never lost a shilling.  He was a very trusted member of the community

In 2009 he rented the small shack shown above and started an informal school in which 7 students were taught.  Over the years pupil numbers have grown and Joseph's wife and one other teacher now voluntarily teach 60 children of different ages. 

Children find themselves on the streets and out of education due to a variety of factors. Education must be paid for in Kenya, so poor families from the informal settlements can often not find school fees, uniforms are also required by these private schools to add an additional cost. Family disputes can lead to single parent families which cause problems of prostitution, HIV/AIDS and child neglect which all contribute to school drop outs.

Joseph offers free schooling to those who cannot afford it, whilst those who are slightly better off (due to the reputation of the school there is an increasing number of children from wealthier families attending) pay a little towards the running costs.

The school also enables single mothers to seek opportunities to get back in the workforce during the day knowing their child is safe.  

Following local surveys and interviews the University of Tokyo kindly stepped in and offered to design and help construct a new school with improved facilities if the current management could find funds to purchase the land. 

The new school will include facilities for a daycare centre and classrooms for teaching pupils up to educational standard 8 (currently teaching is standards 1 to 6)

Joseph is now in the process of officially registering the 'informal school'. We hope construction will start in August. 

* The federations are groups made up of community members who live in the informal settlements/slums. By being part of a group they can work together to instigate initiatives that improve their situation. This could take the form of local saving schemes which can provide loans for healthcare, business start up/improvement, education etc; community mapping/ census reporting which can be used in discussion with local government to improve services; community projects eg building a community toilet block, and many other activities

Design Blockbuster May

What a great way to start spring, May has been packed with great events celebrating the best in design. 
For us it started with Cockpit Open Studios, which was also part of the inaugural London Craft Week.  

Thanks to everyone who came along, we were delighted to see lots of new faces, it made for another great event (next one 27-29 Nov).

Images include cushions by Alice Lodge, canvas bag by Justin Oh, ceramic art by Katherine Morling, leather clutch by Katherine Pogson, headwear by Emma Yeo, bowls by Kerry Hastings, gilded glass by Marion Labbez and jewellery and some of my jewellery and wooden wall pieces too. 

Then came COLLECT at the Saatchi Gallery.
With over 12,000 visitors, this is the place to go as a collector to invest in the very best craft that is on offer. Galleries from all over the world put on an impressive display of affordable and extravagant beautifully crafted pieces. 

Take your pick from elegant and sleek interior objects such as these silver canisters by Chien-Wei Chang, the ebonised white oak vessel by Gareth Neal and Zaha Hadid or white ceramic vase triplet by Andrew Wicks.

Beautiful jewellery by way of these cubed necklaces by Mariko Sumioka with enamel, gold leaf and kimono detail, or a sensitive flower brooch with iron petals and gold stamen sitting on a coral branch by Kimiaki Kageyama.  Delicate steel wings create this stunning necklace by Mirei Takeuchi or thousands of golden filaments in this intricate brooch by Giovanni Corvaja.

There was also some pieces to grab your imagination, 'Lobster' cross-stitch on a metal platter by Serverija Incirauskaite Kriauneviciene or the innovative 'food chain' installation made of dehydrated honey by Katrin Spranger (seen here half eaten!)


Last but by no means least was Clerkenwell Design Week, an annual event with more of a focus on interior/ exterior design. 

It only runs for 3 days so you've go to be quick to catch it but it's full of inspiration for the home....wherever your home may be, for example this amazing canal boat by Bert and May.

Other exhibits showed the very best examples of how to make the most of your space with clever lighting, gorgeous furniture, of course the amazing setting of some of London's best architecture does help!

Gridlock brass pendant light by Philppe Malouin for Roll and Hill, chunky wooden cube stools by Vitamin Design, upholstered birds n bees fabric chair by Timerous Beasties, mix n match lighting by Dyke and Dean with rolls of coloured cable, different ceiling roses, light bulbs and shades to choose from. Marion Labbez was again showing us the best of her verre églomisé (silver/ gold leaf backed) glass, Dezeen brought their watch shop along, Eleanor Pritchard showed us her new line of geometric weaves on powder coated seating and Neri and Hu exhibited their timeless wooden tables and chairs. 

Crafts Council designer maker and Cockpit Opens

Crafts Council Directory

I'm delighted to have been selected for inclusion in the Crafts Council's new designer directory.

This is a great new resource where you'll be able to find all sorts of skilled craftsmen working in a wide variety of disciplines. You can 'like' your favourites, see what they're doing and if you're in the market for a commission or something new from their ranges you can contact them directly. 

You can find my profile at 

Cockpit Open Studios

We've got our open studio event coming up very soon, please come and join us in Holborn, 8-10 May (free entry)
You'll be able to buy directly from over 100 designer-makers showing their work in their native studio setting. Come and tell us what you think of our new pieces and see what offers we've got on samples and previous collections. 

I'm moved (not very far!) to studio W4, just next door to where I was last year. Come and say hi!

Times, maps etc can be found at Cockpit Arts

The spring open studios are a little earlier than usual this year to coincide with the very first London Craft Week 6-10 May. 

A visit to the London Art Fair

The London Art Fair is on 21-25 January 2015 at the Business Design Centre. It's an annual event that brings together over 120 galleries from both the UK and overseas to show some of the best art around and well worth a visit. 

Here are just few of my favourites: Gold leaf on canvas by Pablo Griss; art made from timber found in the Norfolk fens by Wycliffe Stutchbury; a simple painted ring on canvas with great effect; a C-type digital print by Ysabel Le May; amazing colours evoking strong emotion overlooking Jerusalem; and a beautifully painted work 'Rain Stopped' by Lee Jeong Woong.

Thanks for joining us at Open Studios

Thanks to all of you who visited us at the Holborn open studio, we enjoyed another busy and fun weekend with over 3,000 visitors.

I was treated to a lovely surprise when someone showed me the guide to the event. Cockpit Arts had chosen to feature both the 'urban sprawl' wall piece and 'pyramid cube' pendant on the front. Thanks Cockpit!

There was an amazing amount of innovative design and beautiful craftsmanship in a wide range of disciplines. A few of my faves are shown here. Including bags by Justin Oh, cushions by Beatwoven, pots by Kerry Hastings, printmaking by Thornback and Peel, and Sort Design. 
I'm sure there will be some very happy recipients of some great gifts this Christmas!

We had a photographer on site so if you couldn't make it along you can find his great photos here.

We hold two open studio events a year. The next one at Holborn will be held a little earlier than usual 8-10 May, to tie in with London Craft Week, so don't forget to get the date in your diary.

Cockpit Christmas Open Studios, 28-30 November

Please join us for our Open Studio event. Last year we had a great turnout with over 3,000 visitors and a great atmosphere.  

Cockpit Open Studio flyer

The best bit for us as designers is to be able to meet our customers and hear what you think of our new collections. In turn we know that our visitors love coming to join us for a glass of mulled wine and for a fun, relaxed shopping experience.  It's a great chance to find beautiful gifts or to spoil yourself to something really special. 

You'll have a chance to see over 100 deisgner-makers showing a wide range of products to suit all budgets. There will be letterpress, furniture, glassware, millinery, jewellery, bags, ceramics and lots more.

As a registered charity we use this event to help raise funds which provides invaluable business support. Tickets are £5 which gets you entrance into both Holborn and Deptford weekends.

More information can be found at Cockpit Arts 

London Design Festival

It was great to see so many exciting events and amazing design over LDF. 

Here's some of my faves from 'Design Junction'. Lighting and concrete paperweights by Industryplus, Tom Pigeon's great geometric formica jewellery and prints, folded copper vases by Another Studio and great illustration by Vic Lee 

And from 'Tent'. Amazing Stellar screen by Jake Phipps and atmospheric lighting, Igni lamp by Eduard Hermann 

And last but of course not least, if you have a chance to go to the V&A, this installation by Barber Osgerby for BMW is on show until 24th October
You can also see a video of the inspiration behind and making of it: Wallpaper magazine 

Material Consequences- thanks for coming!

Thanks to all of you who made it along to our pop up gallery/shop during London Design Festival.

The Material Consequences website is still live so you can still read more about those of us exhibiting 

It was a great event and pushed me to get a large new wall piece completed, it's amazing what a little pressure can achieve!

Material Consequences

I'm excited to be showing new jewellery and wall pieces at our pop up exhibition as part of the London Design Festival 10-15 September at the Nancy Victor Gallery in Fitzrovia. 

We'd love it if you could join us!
We'll be holding a late night viewing with drinks Thursday 11th September 6-8pm and coffee and cakes 12-6pm Saturday 13th.   

There will be four designers:
Karen Henriksen, Arantza Vilas, Katherine Pogson and me, Stephanie Ray. All of whom met at Cockpit Arts, exploring the different techniques in metal, textiles, leather and wood.

We will be exhibiting a wide variety of products ranging from fashion textiles to jewellery, millinery, interior textiles and art. 

Our new website Material Consequences will explain more

Prize winning Christmas decoration

Every year a competition is launched to coincide with the Cockpit Christmas open studios. All designer makers are invited to submit a decoration in their own style and medium. All visitors to the open studios can submit their name in a draw to win the tree and all decorations. The decorations are also judged each year by a respected design professional and one design from each of the Cockpit venues (Holborn and Deptford) is selected as a winner.

This year journalist Trish Lorenz was in the driving seat. Trish writes on homes and interiors for the Guardian weekend magazine, the Independent and Elle Decoration amongst others so I was really excited when she came to my studio to let me know that this year she had kindly selected my reclaimed wooden 'slum' star with bronze girl as the winner from Holborn.  Thanks Trish!