Creative Showcase - Le Train Fantome

If you’re looking for the perfect companion for your little bub, look no further than the gorgeous creations from Le Train Fantome. With quirky faces, curious shapes and gorgeous colour combinations, we adore every character in her curious little family...

Cute little bunnies wearing spotted suits and bowties, to lovely babettes in geometric rompers and coloured collars. This beautiful range will fill up every spot you ever had for the perfect little side kick.

We have long been fans of the amazing Fanja Ralison, the designer and maker of this wonderful brand. You can even check out The Gathered Store to shop our top picks.

We caught up with Fanja recently to find out what inspires her and makes her tick...
What inspired you to start Le Train Fantome?
Making a little companion for my first child was the start of it all. I hadn't made a stuffed character since my childhood and after making the first one I was hooked. It inspired me to broaden my sewing horizons, revisit my childhood, explore my creativity, and later imagine more little companions. Le Train Fantome ended up being that imaginary place where all the characters would live and interact with one another.

Tell us a little something about yourself?
I was born in France from Madagascan parents, I studied English and American literature in Paris before moving to London. Sewing has always been part of my life, my mum used to make our clothes, my grandmother used to make patchwork blankets so I naturally followed in their steps. The arrival of my first child was the catalyst to start making my characters and creating Le Train Fantome.

What do you love most about designing your beautiful characters?
I just love the way they come to life as if by magic. Of course I have to work on many attempts before I am happy with the results but when I am, the fun can begin as I can then focus on colour and fabric choices.

What inspires your designs?
I get inspired by anything that catches my attention really, it could be something I spot while having a walk in the countryside, watching a film, seeing an exhibition, flicking through art books. Colour combinations are also an important part of the design process so my eyes often wander robotically in search of nice colour combos.

Where are your favourite places to shop for kids in Hertfordshire, England?
The Oak Room (http://oakroomshop.co.uk/) is a lovely shop full of little gifts and treasures for kids. Otherwise as we are very close to London, the Tate Modern shop is always a good place to browse around for nice children books.

What was your favourite thing about being a child?
Making things and making up stories. And daydreaming.

If Le Train Fantome were to make the ultimate cupcake, what flavour would it be and what would it look like?
My sister gave me a jar of salted caramel butter lately which i am totally enjoying so it will have to be a salted caramel and chocolate cupcake. The quick drawing doesn't do it justice, it is heaven in a cupcake.

07 Jun 2015
creative showcase
toys

Creative Showcase - Rock & Pebble

We are in awe of the clever designs from children's brand Rock and Pebble. Creating truly unique products that are both fun and beautifully made, there is nothing expected about these ingenious designs...

Rock and Pebble was created by the same masterful mind behind Mr Printables, an extremely popular craft site offering creative and educational free printables for kids. Rock and Pebble aim to create natural, non toxic and sustainable homewares, toys and paper products that are imaginative, playful and artistic.

We asked Olive a few questions about her gorgeous brand...
What inspired you to start Rock & Pebble?
While making many fun projects with paper on Mr Printables, we also wanted to get our hands on wood and other materials and realise some other three dimensional ideas. Rock & Pebble came in part from that sense of playing with a rock and pebble in your hand, a tactile tension between material and form. It's another avenue through which we can imagine.

What do you love most about designing products for kids?
We make things we want to play with ourselves! There are so many wonderful toys in the world but it's also surprising that some things we daydream still do not yet exist! So it's really fun to try to bring those thoughts & musings into reality.

Coming up with ideas and shaping them into real objects are the parts we love. Eventually having the toy you dreamed of realised in your hand is the best part. Production and logistics are the very boring and quite difficult part.

What inspires your designs?
We just imagine what we would like - for example, who doesn't dream of living in a cloud? But we couldn't find anything that offers this imaginary theatre, so we made one. So the process is quite simple. We start with those fun questions and take it from there.

However the actual design process is long, with many prototypes and can be difficult. For those, we're inspired by artists such as Noguchi, Calder and playful designers like Eames of course, among many others. We try to create artistic forms and spend a lot of time refining the shapes and balance.

For example for Cloud House we wanted it to be a beautiful form, a sculptural interpretation rather than a cartoon version.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A pilot! I'm still planning to be one!

What was your favourite thing to do as a child?
Finding small animals and bringing them back home. It wasn't however my parent's favorite thing.

If Rock & Pebble were to create the ultimate cupcake, what flavour would it be?
The ultimate cupcake would be like a fluffy cream cloud, studded with little stars and a moon in it. Each star and the moon have different flowery flavours, like rose and violet. So it's like eating a cloud that tastes like flowers. Not too sweet, with subtle and lingering flavours! Oh and it's so very light that you have room for another or two...

18 May 2015
creative showcase
clouds

A Little Easter Round-Up

1. Little bunny ears party hats from Meri Meri. 2. Bunny rattle ball from Polka Dot Club. 3. Wooden egg cups from Hedgehog. 4. White rabbit head from Fiona Walker. 5. Felt bunny face basket from Pashom. 6. Easter baking set from Hedgehog. 7. Felt Children's Slippers from Pashom. 8. Wood feather wall decals from Zilvi. 9. Wall hook animal coat rack from Leo and Bella. 10. Rabbit saving bank from Hedgehog. 11. Hip Hop Hooray Party Cup from Meri Meri. 12. Bubblegum spotted ozzie from Le Train Fantome.

27 Mar 2015
toys
homewares
easter

Bunnies & Bows

1. 'Big Rabbit' print from Seventy Tree. 2. 'Hello' print from Miniwilla. 3. Dingaring bunny from Kido. 4. Paper bunny kit from Chloe Fleury. 5. Star crossed hair clips from Rock Your Baby. 6. Bucket of praline quail eggs from Hedgehog. 7. Grey bunny hat from Little Goodall. 8. Magnolia the bunny from Walnut Animal Society. 9. Decorate your own wooden stacking eggs from Blank Goods. 10. Riceturnip plush toy from Noodoll. 11. Mini Ozzie surprise box from Le Train Fantome. 12. Mint spot washpaper bag from Beau Monde Babe.

23 Mar 2015
toys
homewares
easter

Delivering Magic

Magic is the power of creating something amazing by using mysterious forces. It often leaves who ever sees it completely spellbound and yearning for more. Much like how we feel after discovering this Finnish company called Almondella, who we truly believe delivers baby magic on a monthly basis...

Almondella offers a subscription service that delivers you and your baby gorgeous packages filled with beautiful things. The business idea is based off a very lovely tradition in Finland where mothers receive a nicely boxed ‘starter pack’ to help them care for their newborn babies.

The company wanted to bring this magical Finnish tradition to other mothers all across Europe. So they rolled up their sleeves and sourced the finest environmentally conscious and creative brands, boxed them up and started to send them out.

As you can see from these gorgeous images (sourced from from UKKONOOA blog), Almondella stands for beautiful and long-lasting products. With an eye for good design, you can be sure that every surprise box dropped on your doorstep is jam packed with quality goods that will make you swoon and squeal.

The boxes include organic care products, natural cosmetics, wooden toys, baby clothes, books and much more, often featuring small local design brands from the Nordic and Baltic regions.

But the most impressive part of this experience is the fact that the products you receive grow with your child, always tailored to their age and developmental stages. Magic!

Head over to the Almondella website for a sneak peak of the process and the products you may receive.

19 Mar 2015
toys

Travel Buddies

Whether you’re driving to the next suburb over, or flying high above the Atlanic, nothing beats traveling with a friend. So true is the fact, that when we discovered these special little fellows called Travel Buddies, we wanted to wind back the clock and begin our adventures all over again...

Mana’o Nani is a young, big-hearted brand for children hailing all the way from Poland. Collaborating with a pediatrician and child psychologist, the team created this cuddly creature from the insight that having a familiar toy on your journey will create a homely feeling and help children adapt to foreign lands.

The secret to the Travel Buddy is its teddy-like shape and a set of hidden magnets inside, which allow him to stick to seatbelts, fridges or even playground equipment. A cunning trick that children usually attribute to magic powers!

Each buddy is small and flat so it can be leaned on or slept on, as well as attached to clothing, prams or bikes. Even better, each comes with it’s own unique name, so he is yours and only yours.

Travel Buddies are available now in Choco Brown and Coco White from The Gathered Store.

06 Mar 2015
toys
bears

Ziggy Stardust

We all hope to influence our children’s music choices a little. You know, steer them away from the Biebers of the world and into the awesome clutches of David Bowie...

What better way to execute such a cunning plan than with a cute little plush Ziggy Stardust doll! One stroke of his magical woollen red hair and your little one will be hooked.

The talented wonderkid behind this special little guy is LELELERELE and you can check out her Etsy Store here.

07 Feb 2015
lightning
toys

Create and Play

Ever received a teddy and thought ‘cute, but something is not quite right’. Well now you and your little one have the power to play artistic director and build your plush toy exactly how you like it!

Mixed Animals are made for people with a sense of imagination and appreciation for design. A beautiful collection of handcrafted plush toys with magnetic and interchangeable accessories, Mixed Animals will challenge your imagination as you decide where to put the ears and eyes.

How many different animals do you think your little one could make? Our favourites are the crazy hybrid creations where a cute little bunny ends up with a long trunk and a set of antennas.

Huzi Design and BCXSY, the design studios behind the popular Forever Pillow and Dream Car (both Kickstarter campaigns), are the innovative minds behind this fun new concept of play.

Check out the original Mixed Animals Kickstart campaign here.

27 Dec 2014
christmas
toys

Pop and Play with Flatout Frankie

Playtime is so much more rewarding for children when they have to build, paint, construct, connect, sew, paste or craft the leading characters in their crazy playroom pantomimes. Flat Out Frankie’s brand new Stack Up Dolls and Stack Up Pirates give you that sense of achievement but without all the hard work… or cleaning up. Just pop out the designs, stack them up and play!

We are very honoured to be the first Australian blog to review these adorable new creations from the talented mob at Flatout Frankie. But it’s really not a hard task, the genius products really do speak for themselves…

Cleverly designed so pieces can be swapped and shared, the Stack Up Dolls love being put together again and again. It’s like living with your best friend and being able to wear all her clothes in different combinations… even her hair, face and legs if you really feel the urge.

You can use the background stencils to make new paper outfits for your new friends too. So any budding little fashion designers can get busy sketching, cutting and sticking themselves a whole new fashion line to showcase on the runway… perhaps in front of a few admiring pirate friends…. garrrrrrrgeous!

Pick from either two delightful Dolls, or two plundering Pirates to construct, colour and play with. Why not get all four and host a marvellous tea party. It would be interesting to see how the burly pirates get along with such leading ladies. Don’t you think?

The Dolls stand at 28cm high and the Pirates 22cm and both retail for $23.00. To purchase head over to the wonderful Flat Out Frankie site now.

12 Nov 2014
toys

Anny Who, That’s Who

For a look that is eccentric enough for Halloween but cool enough to be celebrated every other day of the year, look no further than the sassy designs of Anny Who...

A conceptual lifestyle brand with fresh and unconventional design for all ages, we are particularly fond of the wonderful wares for little people. Each collection has a quirky theme that is brought to life with vibrant colours, exhaustive details and bold graphical prints.

This Halloween we are absolutely smitten with the gorgeous kitten and bear soft toys. Apart from melting our hearts with their cute looks, they also have a playful side....the cute little cat squeaks and the bear rattles!

Anny Who was founded in late 2013 by Anna Wetzel and Anne Wendlandt. The label, which started out as a project between two good friends and has now turned into a world-wide wonder with products available online and in selected retailers through Europe and Australia.

Shop Anny Who at The Gathered Store.

02 Nov 2014
toys
art and design
halloween

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