Microsoft Mixer: Interactive Fireworks Show

Check out the entire experience and go behind-the-scenes in Mixer's First-Ever Two-Way Hyper-Interactive Fireworks Show. #mixer #mixerworks — Mixer (@WatchMixer) June 9, 2017 Meet Microsoft’s “Twitch” Competitor. Called Mixer. In a very cool live stunt to introduce its “Mixer” game streaming platform, Microsoft put on a fireworks display that viewers could control themselves, with […]

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Plastic fantastic – new acquisitions on show

What does Disney’s ‘Elsa’ fancy dress costume and an orange toadstool desk have in common?  Apart from an awful lot of plastic, they are two of the new acquisitions NOW on display at the V&A Museum of Childhood. Made from bright, durable, synthetic materials, these diverse items reflect the broad range of mass produced items which are marketed at and designed for children.[1]

The ‘Elsa’ dress with its colourful, shiny, layers, glittery cameo and flowing cape, is the latest fairy tale costume in the 300-year history of children’s fancy dress in Britain. [2] The dress, inspired by the Disney character, ‘Elsa’, the Snow Queen from the animated film ‘Frozen’, has been incredibly popular with children. Since its launch in 2013, Disney and its licensees have sold millions of ‘Elsa’ costumes worldwide and they are a now ubiquitous sight on supermarket shelves, at Halloween parties and in children’s playgrounds.[3] At Christmas in 2014 the limited supply versus high demand instigated bidding wars on online auctions sites with dresses being sold for almost 10 times their retail price.[4] More recently the dress has sparked debate about the gendered clothing[5], as well as the fire safety of children’s fancy dress costumes.[6]

The ‘Alfie Funghi’ children’s desk and stool set is bright, light, easy to clean and was designed specifically for children. Formed from a single piece of moulded, hallow, plastic, it has an organic shape, which as its name suggests is a fun interpretation of fungi. Like the ‘Elsa’ dress it’s made by ‘low-cost mass production’[7] methods, but buyers have the option to customise it, to create a totally bespoke piece. The set was developed in collaboration with the award-winning designer Philippe Starck and furniture maker, TOG™, whose remit is to provide “high quality and service – with the best of human craftsmanship that grants the uniqueness”.[8] Despite its modern materials and manufacture, direct parallels can be drawn between the design of this contemporary children’s desk and stool set and ones made over 100 years ago.[9]

Despite their different appearance, both can be seen as conduits for children’s creative play from dressing-up to imaginative writing and drawing.

‘Alfie Funghi’ Children’s Desk and Stool Set, designed by Philippe Starck for furniture brand, TOG - ALLCREATORSTOGETHER, 2014. Museum No. B.49-2015. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum. Child's desk and seat of stained and varnished woodings, on a wooden stand; made in the United Kingdom, ca. 1900-15. Museum No. MISC.537-1986 Dress, inspired by the Disney character, ‘Elsa’, the Snow Queen from the animated film ‘Frozen’, 2015. Museum No. B.50-2015.

[1] Martin, D. ‘The commodification of childhood: The children’s clothing industry and the rise of the child consumer’, (Durham : Duke University Press: 2004) pp. 1-5

[2] It can be argued that the history of fancy dress costume in Britain begins in 1711 with the introduction of masquerade balls inspired by Venetian carnivals by John James Heidegger at the King’s Theatre, London, V&A Search the Collections website:, accessed on 1 December 2015

[3] Brooks, Barnes. New York Times website:, accessed 1 December 2015

[4] Fenwick Elliott, Annabel. Daily Mail website:, accessed on 2 December 2015

[5] Pitman, Taylor. Huffington Post website:, accessed 2 December 2015

[6] Anon, Charted Trading Standard Institute website:, accessed 3 December 2015

[7] Anon, Dezeen website: on 1 December 2015

[8] Anon, TOG™ website:, accessed on 1 December 2015

[9] Desk Unit, Museum No. MISC.537-1986, on V&A Search the Collections website: accessed on 1 December 2015.


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The Indian Wedding Show

Last Sunday (25th January) the Fabric of India team went to the Aashni + Co Wedding Show, held at The Dorchester, London. It showcased the work of some of India’s leading designers including two already selected for our forthcoming exhibition. It was the first time that any of us had been to such an event and it turned out to be a great way of seeing the work by a diverse set of designers in one space and for meeting some interesting people.

The entrance was impressively decorated in gold tones with an outfit from each of the designers. This led to a room full of young glamorous Indian women and their mothers, aunts, sisters and friends, all looking for the perfect wedding outfit. The designer’s stalls were full of bright colours, printed and patterned fabrics, but above all there was a profuse amount of gold embroidery.


Entrance to the show ©Divia Patel

The Indian wedding outfit has become one of the primary means of popularising traditional textile techniques and fine fabrics. Many of the designers used zardosi, gota work, sequins and beading on silk, velvet and lace to create an opulent aesthetic evoking the grandeur of the Maharajahs. Here’s a quick guide to  what these techniques are:

Zardosi: gold-thread embroidery, using metallic elements and thread, sometimes includes mirrors, or precious/semi-precious stones.


Detail of Zardosi, Museum number 0762 (IS), ©V&A

Gota: a metallic ribbon in which flattened gold or silver wire forms the weft, and silk or cotton forms the warp.


Detail from dress showing gota work, Museum no:0644 (IS) ©V&A

Of the designers attending the event, Sabysachi Mukherjee is one of the most sought after for wedding attire and he is also particularly vocal about preserving India’s textile heritage: I had spent a day with him in his workshops in Kolkata in March 2014 where I was able to understand more about his passion for textiles and see where some of the processes for his outfits take place. It was lovely to see him in London again and I was reminded of the first time I met him, many years ago when he came to the V&A to look through the archives. He told me that it was seeing the collections in the museum that inspired him to explore the history of Indian textiles through his own designs. Here are some details from his collections which I saw during my visit to his studios last March.

India March 2014 437 a

Detail from Sabysachi outfit © Divia Patel

India March 2014 296a

Detail from Sabyaschi outfit © Divia Patel

India March 2014 459a

Detail from Sabyaschi outfit © Divia Patel

Interviewing the designer has been an important element of the research for this exhibition. However, this Wedding Show gave me a valuable opportunity to speak to some of Sabyasachi’s potential customers. His stall was extremely popular with the British Asian crowd and there was rarely a moment when it wasn’t filled with brides marvelling at his elegant gowns and the combination of subtle colours and incredible craftsmanship.


Sabyasachi stall ©Avalon Fotherington

So what was it about his designs that appealed to the many women who tried on his outfits?

Nina Hunjan loved the craftsmanship and the understated colours. Not wanting the bright reds, pinks and oranges of the typical Indian wedding aesthetic, these pale hues and fitted silhouette suited her perfectly. Her mother feared that it might be a little too understated . In our email exchange afterwards she said ‘The quality and detailing of his work is just beautiful and stands out among the other designers, it’s the difference between a paper rose and a real one!’


Nina Hunjan in Sabysachi ©Avalon Fotherington

Gold floral embellishments on a simple cream blouse, teamed with a pale sari, appealed to this young woman. She liked the blouse first and wanted a light weight sari to go with it. This sari has gold gota work on khadi fabric.


Ramman in Sabysachi ©Avalon Fotherington

We met many interesting people that day and amongst them was the talented Liam, who styled the women trying on gowns and saris with great skill and ease of manner.


Liam holding Sabysachi outfit ©Avalon Fotherington

We left the Wedding show somewhat overwhelmed by the range of work we had seen, the number of people attending and the many individuals we had met.

For the The Fabric of India exhibition we are excited to be showing a specially designed male and female wedding ensemble by Sabyasachi Mukherjee.




Show 505 – Build a Brand That Reflects You

Do you find yourself working on or in a business without feeling the true passion for it? Do you struggle to understand how to build a business and build a brand that reflects the true you rather than your skill set?

Today I am joined by Andy Hayes founded PlumDeluxe, a website that helps you create moments that matter. Founded in 2007 as an online community to foster a national conversation about mindfulness and self-care, it reflects who Andy truly is and his desire to keep encouraging individuals to create moments that matter with friends and family.

Andy’s story is inspiring as he has learned to build a brand that truly reflects what is important to him, rather than a business that he felt that he should be doing because of his past skills

The listener of the week is Karen Burnham, chosen from all the people who have shared this post or left a review on iTunes.

  • Mistakes entrepreneurs make when they start their first business.podcast
  • How to build a brand that reflects you.
  • How to keep developing a brand to build a brand that excites you and the market.
  • How making mistakes is natural and part of the evolution of a brand.
  • Creating moments that matter for customers. Download this worksheet to help your business.
  • How he surrenders control to give control to customers to foster the community.
  • How to create a newsletter that engages people and helps build a brand rather than just “communicate stuff!”
  • How the intention of the newsletter is critical – even before the content.
  • How a newsletter can be the equivalent of physical retail space for an online business.
  • How to use Pinterest to build a brand.

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What It Takes To Write For The Daily Show

*Following responses are not verbatim*

unnamedI recently had the privilege to sit down with Delaney Yeager, a writer from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Delaney told me about her experience on the show and the hard work it takes to be ready to air at 11pm Monday through Friday. The Daily Show’s focus is political satire covering current news stories through comedy. 2.5 Million viewers tune in every night to hear Jon Stewart report on the daily news.

Christian Roberts: Where did you go to school?

Delaney Yeager: I attended Pace University and had a major in Theater and minors in Creative Writing and Fine Art. As a kid, I wanted to be an actor. But after about two years in the BFA Acting program, I realized I felt more like a writer and director, so I changed my major and got myself a couple minors. I still love theater and have put up a couple shows at small theaters in Manhattan. My senior year in college I got an internship at The Daily Show in production. I met a lot of great people while interning and ended up starting a sketch group with a few former TDS interns. Skootch Comedy – look us up!

Roberts: What’s an average writing day like on TDS?

Yeager: It’s long. The day starts at 9:15 every morning. I normally get there earlier than that to give myself a little bit more time to get prepared. At around 9:15 we meet with the producers, Jon, and the entire writing staff. At this point everyone is up to date on the current events. A big part of the job is watching the news. So Jon will lay out the agenda, we are given our assignments, and then we’re off. We toss around ideas, write the jokes, and write more jokes. It’s the kind of job where you have to always be prepared. You could have a script ready to turn in, then something happens over night, and you would have to toss it and write another. That’s just how it goes!

Roberts: What’s it like working with Jon Stewart?

Yeager: It’s great. I still get star-struck sometimes. He’s crazy nice and the same guy in the office as he is on-camera, which is always refreshing. I mean, he’s Jon Stewart. Enough said.

Roberts: What are important attributes a writer must have for TDS?

Yeager: Definitely being able to work well under pressure. You have to be open to ideas and be able to speak them clearly. It’s a collaborative effort and if a joke doesn’t work you move on to the next one. You should also have a unique point of view, while being able to write in Jon’s voice.

Roberts: What kind of career advice can you give to someone pursuing a career in writing for TV?

Yeager: You must write all the time, even if it isn’t good. It’s a muscle that needs to be worked. Create stuff with your friends to keep the juices flowing, hang out with comedians and writers. Take constructive criticism from your peers, write some more, and have fun. And then write even more.

Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career

Show 504 – How to Sell Yourself and Your Expertise

Do you get embarrassed about selling? I know that I can be… on this weeks Engaging Brand podcast is a talk with Catherine Sandland (Presenting Queen on Twitter) someone I met when we both presented at the WIRE national conference.

Catherine helps entrepreneurs to share and teach their expertise and today we talk about how to find our self confidence to sell yourself to other people

    • What are the key elements of talking to groups of people?The Engaging Brand podcast
    • What are the gender differences on dealing with public speaking?
    • Should you “fake it till you make it” or do you need to work on your confidence ahead of time.
    • How to decide whether your issue is physical or emotional problem?
    • The importance of the first 30 seconds of talking to a group of people.
    • Three things to do before you present ideas to people to sell yourself well.
    • How to learn to love your own style to sell yourself the best.
    • How speaking with a group of people should never be a lecture.
    • Can people learn to sell their expertise?

Also listener of the week is Heather Gorringe – a winner for the second time!

Finally if you want to take the 30 Day challenge then try…


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The Engaging Brand

Show 503 – Maximising E-learning for Marketing

Laura Wall Klieves is the VP Academy & Marketing and

Nancy Duarte is one of my favourite business thinkers. She has a life’s mission of removing boring presentations and helping business leaders tell their stories in an engaging way. Recently she launched an e-learning course on how to make awesome presentations and of course I signed up…..and I asked Laura for her to share her learning on how to develop an e-learning package that delivers great content and acts as a lead generator for their business.

Listener of the week is Candice Collier – thank you for sharing about the show! And for your chance to win just share this blog post!

  • How e-learning is growing as both a marketing and training tool.engaging brand podcast
  • The challenges of taking an offline process, online.
  • How to add personality to the e-learning experience.
  • Development of an e-learning experience
  • How do you add energy to an e-learning experience
  • How e-learning can be used for lead generation.
  • How external e-learning offers are a valuable employee training tool.
  • How to create a story to tell for your e-learning course.
  • The balance of time investment between concept and testing.
  • What are the lessons that Duarte have learned for next time.

Also here is the link to the free resources for presentations offered by Duarte at Diagrammer.

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