Archive for May, 2010


The world’s finest designer of storage boxes?

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Born Cesare Colombo in Milan in 1930 ‘Joe’ Colombo as he became known was in my opinion one of the finest industrial designers of domestic storage solutions. He had a real passion for storage & decluttering and I think his design and passion for storage is simply unparalleled. I hope my short biog of Colombo’s design work on storage products might convince you too:

1958 – As an architecture student at Milan Polytechnic, Colombo was already experimenting with product design in the new wonder material, plastic! He’d previously studied fine art then experimented with abstract art, stumbling into design in 1953 when he was asked to design the ceiling and three open-air seating areas of a jazz club.

1963 – Obsessed with storage, Colombo creates the Combi-Centre. This mobile storage unit (see image left) consisted of a series of cylindrical units that slotted into each other and was designed to store books, drinks or even used as a tool storage cabinet.

In the same year he also produced The Mini-Kitchen, a wheeled storage container just 90cm high and 75cm wide with a hob, oven, grill, fridge, work-top and which still had storage for cookbooks, kitchen utensils and foodstuff.

1964 – Colombo designed the famous Man-Woman Storage Container. He saw this as a modern take on the Victorian travel trunk or perhaps the seaman’s chest but for a couple.  The Man-Woman Storage Container had enough shelves, clothes rails, storage drawers and a mirror for two people all inside two storage boxes.

1967 – Colombo’s experiments in the design of modular furniture culminate with his space saving chairs – Additional Living System. He loved product that could be adapted to the users own environment and needs and then perhaps stored away to save space when not required and this was just that.

1968Box 1, Colombo’s “night and day facility” was manufactured. The Box 1 contained all the requirements of a bedroom within a series of interlocking storage boxes which when required divide to become a bed, wardrobe and shelves.

1969VISIONA1, a more luxurious version of Box 1 was designed which Colombo described as his “habitat of the future” and which contained the contents of an entire house within a series of mobile storage units with no dividing walls, (perhaps inspired by Le Corbusier’s Transformable Double-House).

Back with kitchen storage, Colombo designed the Roto-Living Unit in 1969 for his own kitchen which also had a small production run. The unit consisted of a storage cube with a central rotating table which could be adjusted to different heights surrounded and enclosed by kitchen storage units.

‘69 can’t pass without mentioning his CABRIOLET-BED. Whilst this item wasn’t a product designed with storage in mind it’s an absolute design classic of the 60’s. The bed had a hood that closed like a convertible car to provide total privacy for the user(s), and a lighting system that could simulate day or night time lighting alongside a stereo system.

Colombo's Boby Trolley

1970 – Colombo’s design work with storage products culminated in 1970 with the famous Boby Trolley. Made from ABS it had rotating drawers and shelves and 40 years later is still now in production with Bieffeplast.

1972 – MoMA New York exhibits Colombo’s Total Furnishing Unit, a 1971 designed giant storage box that has all the essentials of modern living, a kitchen, bathroom, bed and storage cupboards all contained within a single storage box in classic Colombo colours of white, yellow, red and black.

Sadly Colombo died on his 41st birthday 30 July 1971 so did not get to see his masterpiece of storage design in MoMA.

Colombo’s 1971 Total Furnishing Unit


House & Home Magazine – May 2010

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Our stylish jute laundry hamper bag with chunky rope handles was featured in Ireland’s House & Home Magazine this month alongside three other top laundry hampers, baskets and storage bags from big names like Next, Cath Kidston & Debenhams.  Made for us by our friends Kim and Elli in Denmark we think our Jute bag is a really stylish addition to the bedroom or bathroom.

However, if you’re looking for  a bit more organisation and want to sort your coloured from darks, try our exclusive Triple Laundry Sorter (shown on the left) to keep your washing organised for loading the machine.


Festival Season Storage Solutions

Friday, May 28th, 2010

With festival season shortly upon us and predictions of another scorching hot British summer (!!), the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has launched a campaign called Just Tick It aimed at increasing awareness of fake ticket websites and providing ticket buyers with helpful & practical advice on how to avoid being scammed.

Apparently 1 in 12 of us are scammed by fake websites when purchasing festival tickets. That’s 5,000 people loosing an average of £80 each this year. For detailed information about scam ticket websites and how to protect yourself visit:

The OFT site also has a neat video section too including this amusing bootleg Florence and the Machine video:

If you are off to Glastonbury, V or The Big Chill this summer we’ve plenty of neat ideas storage ideas here at STORE HQ to help organise your trip and keep the tent decluttered. Here’s a few of my favourites:

Weekend Wash Bags – A great little storage box with everything you need for a weekend away including make-up remover, toothpaste, deodorant wipes, cotton buds and pads etc. Choose from a his or hers storage boxes.

Card & Money Wallet – Neat waterproof storage box to hang around your neck and store money, cards and other valuables you wouldn’t want to leave in your tent.

Über Cool cool bag – Trendy yet sensibly priced cool bag to store your cool drinks or how about make-up so it doesn’t melt in the hot tent.

Sun Protection Kit – Another neat little storage box with all those essentials to protect you from the sun including a handy UV Monitor Card, Moisturiser, Sun Cream, Tissues, Plasters, Hair Band, and a Refreshing Wipe.


Fatboy moves into Number 10 with David Cameron?

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Our famous Fatboy Original...but was it a pink Fatboy beanbag being carried into Number 10 under armed guard yesterday?

Our new coalition Prime Minister and Conservative leader David Cameron told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday that the Cameron’s will be moving into Number 10 Downing Street immediately saying “We are moving in today, so we had the last breakfast at home this morning”.

During yesterday’s PM  house move we spotted on the TV coverage of what looked suspiciously like one of our pink Fatboy Original beanbags being removed from the Prime Minister’s home and taken to Number 10.  When quizzed on ITV1 breakfast show GMTV an hour ago by Emma Crosby, the Prime Minister admitted to owning the giant pink bean bag but didn’t let on whether he was a personal fan of our Fatboy bean bags or not. Amusingly the giant pink beanbag was removed from the Cameron’s home under armed guard!


The Original Space Saving House

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

The German Weissenhofsiedlung housing estate was one of the most significant architectural landmarks erected by the Neues Bauen movement. Within the Weissenhof Estate is an amazing semi-detached house designed by the Swiss-born architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris who preferred to be known as Le Corbusier.

Weissenhofmuseum Copyright:DaimlerChryslerApart from it’s striking exterior that was pretty much at the vanguard of modern architecture, La Corbusier’s house is as amazing in its clever use of internal space and storage.

Known as the “Transformable Double-House” (it doesn’t have such a ring to it when translated into English!), Le Corbusier designed the interior with flexibility and efficient use of space in mind. Each internal area was carefully thought-out to allow adaption for different uses of the space at differing times of the day and indeed also offer multifunctional roles at the same time for it’s occupants without the feeling of being surrounded by clutter.

Family space in the Le Corbusier house is axially arranged on a single floor. During the day the space is not delineated by walls, only by columns.  By night, sliding partitions sub-divide the space into “sleeping cells” which can be configured as the resident wishes.  As in a steam train sleeper carriage of the time, the beds fold away during the day into multifunctional storage cupboards. Le Corbusier also planned to add a range of compact bent wood space saving furniture that would equip all areas for both day and night use but was sadly compromised by budget and time.

Le Corbusier’s vision was for a modular house to which more bays could be added as and when additional space was required (sounds rather like our elfa shelving!). The addition of extra space could be easily achieved as the stairs were placed perpendicular to the main body of the building. To save further space this in turn backed onto a shared garden.

This visionary house was flexible both in design and in social relations but at the time Le Corbusier was criticised for his “romantic use of technology” and the “focus on a bourgeois clientele” which I think was a tad unfair.

What I find amazing about the interior of this 1920’s house was the visionary thinking when it came to multifunctional use of space. Today we live in much smaller houses and often have to make our rooms and family space work much harder for us by giving them multifunctional uses, e.g. a modern living room that may also have a small desk providing a quasi home office in the corner. Le Corbusier was way ahead of his time when it came to how we actually use our space rather than what we officially designate it for and lovers of modern architecture & interior design plus storage & decluttering geeks like me would find the Weissenhofsiedlung  estate and the preserved 1927 Le Corbusier house well worth a visit.


What’s in store for storage?

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Last September I wrote an article for Architects DataFile Magazine titled “What’s in store for storage?” Whilst it was primarily a paper aimed at encouraging architects to include more storage space in the homes they design, some really interesting stats. came out from the research and I thought it may be interesting to publish an extract here on STORE’s blog:

In the last 30 years, UK home ownership has doubled. Whilst those in Parliament may be cooing at this statistic, living and functioning in 21st century homes, which are being built 40% smaller than those of 80 years ago, presents one major dilemma for architects: how to use that space – or lack of space – effectively.

Those in Whitehall may have to shoulder some of the responsibility for our cramped living conditions with planning policy insisting on more densely packed housing, but property owners must also take some of the blame.  Consumers are acquiring more and more possessions compared to previous generations, for whom the must-have bargain was secondary to the functional necessities in the home.

Smaller spaces are a real challenge for architects, but the answer may be simpler than it seems.  Consumers are actively seeking flexible, timesaving storage solutions, but, in light of the ongoing credit crunch, at an affordable price.  As a result, there is, in fact, a rare opportunity for architects to easily and cheaply deliver the storage solutions that clients want.  There are a growing number of brands in the home storage and de-cluttering arena, developing interesting products to solve the storage / clutter and space dilemma.

The growth trends in the storage market are no longer in the products aimed at solving a simple issue, such as where to store an umbrella or bunch of keys.  Instead, the demand is for more comprehensive, whole room solutions.

Wardrobes and compact dressing rooms are important to the future of the sector, as is an organised utility room or effective boot room storage – straightforward ideas that few architects are currently incorporating into their designs.

Gone are the days of satisfying a client with a simple clothes rod and shelf inside their wardrobe.  Modern wardrobe storage systems have to be flexible and adapt to the customer’s ever changing needs – for example, the most desirable wardrobes have innovative and efficient storage spaces for shoe storage, clothes rails and accessories, while remaining compact and maintaining the ability to add or change the space whenever this is required.

Increasingly, value buying is at the top of the consumer agenda.  The savvy consumer is now demanding more for their money – everything they buy must have a real use and worth.  Despite, or perhaps because of, the pressures of the current economic climate, the ‘throwaway’ culture for cheap goods is in decline – homeowners are now looking for products that combine good quality with reasonable prices and, in terms of homeware in particular, that will stand the test of time.

Home storage solutions have to work harder, be multifunctional, and be cleverly utilised in all available space, yet they must still look great.  The market leaders in the affordable and attractive home furnishings sector are, as might be expected, the ever innovative Scandinavians, who continue to produce a plethora of good quality, well engineered modular storage ranges such as elfa shelving that satisfy not only this need, but also the requirement for a stylish yet cost effective solution at the same time.

Midway between the ‘cheap and cheerful’ and exclusive high-end design, sit the ‘middle shelf’ brands, which offer quality, simple yet stylish storage solutions at an affordable price – ideal in the current property market, which is forcing architects and developers to make homes look fantastic on a tighter budget than ever, given that price rises are no longer guaranteed, or even expected.  Among these are one or two real gems, offering great modular products that look equally at home dressed-up inside a fitted wardrobe or dressing rooms or in a raw functional state within a utility room, pantry or garage.

However, whatever the state of their finances, it will be difficult for consumers to let go entirely of the aspirational look that has dominated home makeover and property development programmes for so long.  The key ingredients demanded by the current market are flexibility and value, but style will always have a part to play, particularly to get optimum prices when the time comes to sell.  To impress developers and end users alike, effective storage solutions are something to be considered as an integral element of any project  – and not just an afterthought.

This article was first published by Simon Glanville in the Architects DataFile Magazine, September 2009. Simon Glanville is the Managing Director of Förvara Ltd, Elfa® distributor UK. Förvara Ltd is a group company of STORE, specialists in home storage and organisational products.


The STORE Bolthole – Stoer Lodge in the village of STOER

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Hearty congratulations to STORE customers Andy and Ewan on renovation of their 17th century holiday cottage Stoer Lodge in our (almost) namesake village of Stoer  in Sutherland.

Nestling on the edge of a near perfect sandy bay close to Lochinver in Sutherland, Store…sorry Stoer Lodge,  a former school house, enjoys stunning views of Skye, Harris and across the Assynt Peninsula.

Inside the chaps have undertake a fantastically stylish yet ecletic renovation job and included a few little details from STORE to make sure that Stoer Lodge storage is spot on.

Stoer Lodge offers everything anyone would want in a holiday cottage and gets the STORE seal of approval post our recent visit.  Whether you’re after a long weekend away to declutter the mind or wanting great fishing or hill walking, Stoer Lodge has to be worth considering.

Congratulations again Andy and Ewan, just like STORE Stoer Lodge really is A Place For Everything!

Stoer Lodge Holiday Cottage in Stoer near Lochinver is available to book via Wilderness Scottish Holiday Cottages website.


The world’s oldest fitted kitchen

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Back in July 2009 I wrote about the world’s oldest storage solution, a 14th century BC Japanese kitchen storage pot and sitting on my laptop here in the STORE staff kitchen full of natty kitchen storage ideas I started wondering about the origins of the fitted kitchen and just who came up with the idea of built-in storage cupboards etc.

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky

I think the world’s oldest fitted kitchen is probably The Frankfurt Kitchen which was designed by Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky in 1926 as an ergonomic low cost ‘one design fits all’ kitchen for the masses & which sought to provide adequate work and storage space for both cooking and laundry.

It seems to me that Schütte-Lihotzky was way ahead of her time, effectively inventing the modern fitted kitchen in a Eureka moment but her ideas were not just about good design, there was a lot of scientific thought behind the layout.

Perhaps influenced by the American Fredrick Taylor’s turn of the century papers on the scientific management of workflow (the process now commonly referred to as Taylorism), Schütte-Lihotzky careful studied routine kitchen tasks and designed the Frankfurt kitchen around the space and storage required for each chore.

The result IMHO was a masterpiece of decluttering the traditional domestic kitchen and included items such as food storage containers and jars that were always close to hand (near preparation areas) yet neatly tucked out of site.

At only 1.9m wide by 3.4m long, Schütte-Lihotzky had to be very clever with her use of kitchen storage and she incorporated a sliding rather than traditionally opening kitchen door into the design to maximise the space she could then use within the kitchen area.  Shown in the photo (on the left hand wall) there’s also a neat use of vertical storage space with a fold-down ironing board.

The right hand wall housed most of the food storage cupboards and included dedicated labeled storage bins/scoops for rice, flour, sugar etc. Amazingly (and don’t forget we’re talking 1926 here) this unit also container a recycling bin (actually it was a drawer) that food scraps could be brushed into and emptied afterwards.

The narrow galley-style layout, not so unfamiliar to lots of us today was not solely a result of space constraints, it was a conscious design decision on Schütte-Lihotzky’s part to minimise the number of steps needed when working within the kitchen….how very Tayloristic!

Perhaps however, the Tayloristic approach was in the end the downfall of the Frankfurt kitchen. Like Taylor himself who received strong reaction to his scientific management methods from factory workers who found the repetitive processes boring and “requiring little skill”, the Frankfurt kitchen was often described as not flexible enough. In developing a standard method for performing each kitchen or laundry task perhaps Schütte-Lihotzky had forgotten that we human beings are not all the same and operate in different ways. Another issue often cited was that the storage bins were too accessible by small children.

Despite these criticisms, the Frankfurt kitchen became a model for the modern fitted kitchen. Some 10,000 units were installed Frankfurt’s high-rises and as such it was a massive commercial success.

I love the look and design of the Frankfurt kitchen and the idea that way back in 1926 Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky was thinking about efficient use of space, decluttering the kitchen environment and kitchen storage solutions.

Four years ago the Victoria and Albert Museum acquired a Frankfurt kitchen for its traveling exhibition. The same year another sold for nearly £35,000! Sadly at the time of writing the V&A’s Frankfurt kitchen is currently in store but if you search the collections area of the V&A website there’s some great photos of their Frankfurt kitchen although I have to confess I think the V&A may have sourced the wrong kitchen chair as Schütte-Lihotzky original design had a revolving stool on castors for maximum flexibility!


Board Game Storage Boxes

Friday, May 21st, 2010

I came across a great toy storage idea during one of my North American storage pilgrimages recently called The Game Saver. Sadly not available in UK yet (don’t worry I’m on the case) The Game Saver is a board game sized plastic storage box with internal dividers designed to store and protect your 1980’s edition of Monopoly and other family favourites after the dog-eared cardboard storage box has worn out.

If you can bare to watch it, this Stateside video clip from the nice chaps at shows the board game storage box AKA The Game Saver in action:


Your Home Magazine – Home Office Organisation

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

There’s a great article in June’s Your Home magazine with some neat ideas to create and keep a home office organised and clutter-free.  Included in their readers home office make-over were a whole bunch of home office storage solutions from STORE including our mobile storage drawers, cardboard storage boxes and our desktop organisers but we also thought some of their space saving tips for the home office were so useful we’d include them for your reference below:

Creating a Home Office from scratch in June's Your Home Magazine. Spot our storage boxes and desktop organisers

– Good storage is key to an efficient working environment. Before you start, list all items to be sorted to ensure you don’t underestimate your needs then opt for a flexible combination of open and closed storage, to ensure there is a place for everything

– Mobile Storage units allow instant easy access to paperwork and files, but can be neatly tucked away when not in use

– If you’ve got the space knocking through and stealing part of an adjacent room will increase storage space and keep bulky office equipment and filing systems neatly behind closed doors

Inexpensive desktop storage organisers keep the computer area smart, stylish and clutter-free

– Opting for a slim-line vertical radiator frees up valuable wall space for shelving

– Introducing non-office items such as a comfy chair or rug adds a softer personal touch

Paula Woods, Your Home Magazine, June 2010