is a range of interiors products designed and produced by
London-based design and branding agency, Absolute Zero
Degrees. It is a print-driven collection including wallpaper,
textiles and home accessories for kids (and kidults!) and
design-conscious families. The print designs are themselves at
once retro, and modern, with influences ranging from textile
designs of the 1950’s to vintage toys and games.
to Keith Stephenson at Mini Moderns about the brand and their
products. Keith's knowledge on retro and pop culture is
extensive and these influences are self-evident in Mini Moderns'
designs. The mix of retro and modern is clearly appealing to a
very wide group of consumers and age ranges both in the UK and
successful Festival design (bottom right) is applied
across a wallpaper,
cushions, bags and porcelain collection
Please tell us a little bit about your background and the
background to Mini Moderns.
Mini Moderns is a collection of wallpaper, homeware and
accessories for design conscious families created by UK
branding and design agency Absolute Zeroº, which was set up
in 2001 by Mark and myself. Our experience ranges from fashion
clients, to Interiors, to Product Branding & Design –
all of which have been a good grounding for launching Mini
were probably one of the first companies to appeal to a
cross-generational market - creating wallpapers and home
accessories which are contemporary but take their design
influences from different eras.
achieve the mix in Mini Moderns designs that brings retro
styles up-to-date by using both colour and scale. Colour plays
a great part in this which is where Mark tends to take the
lead. Also scale plays a great part too - sometimes to stop a
design looking too much like a pastiche of a vintage or retro
design we will shrink it or blow it up bigger to give it a
much more contemporary edge. We also try not to stick to a
particular era for influence - although ‘Whitby’ was
influenced by 1950s linocuts we also wanted a bit of a 60s Op
Art feel to it as well as being influenced by more
contemporary art too. Other designs are influenced from
anything from textile designs of the 50s, travel to vintage
toys and TV shows.
That's a very large and diverse range of products that you
offer. Can you please tell us about them?
Predominantly Mini Moderns is a pattern design brand – with
our core product range being wallpaper, but we have
diversified into a wide collection of home wares from bone
china mugs to hand tufted wool rugs.
season we create a small collection of new patterns with a
theme rather like a fashion collection. This season we launch
our ‘Daytripper’ collection, which includes four new
designs and a re-coloured Mini Moderns classic.
has been a runaway success already from this collection which
features our favourite sights and pavilions from the 1951
Southbank Exhibition. The design is applied across wallpaper,
cushions, bags and a porcelain collection. ‘Whitby’ has
been hot on heels in terms of sales – which is also on
wallpaper, bags, cushions, porcelain ware and a range of wash
bags which will launch early next year.
of the new prints are collaborations – Hold Tight is in
collaboration with the London Transport Museum and launches in
September – and Vanessa is a print inspired by Vanessa Bell
commissioned by the Courtauld Gallery.
What sort of comments and feedback are you getting?
We are getting amazing feedback – initially it was a
challenge as our references may have seemed rather obscure
when we started out seven years ago, but now vintage is such a
major trend that the inspirations are understood a little
was also difficult to explain that we were cross-generational
too – no-one else was really saying this even though we
weren’t the first company to be doing it – we were
possibly the first one to state it.
are really gathering a firm and loyal following – and its
great to meet people who say they love our designs – it
makes it all worthwhile.
It's a big year this year with the 50th anniversary of the Festival
of Britain. Why do you think Retro and Vintage continue to be
such a big thing in so many people's lives?
Coming from a fashion background – it was not unusual for
our prints to have an eclectic look from different periods.
Some designs appeal because of the escapism of looking back to
a more innocent time – especially in times of austerity.
Others are successful because of the mix and match nature of
our patterns. Clashing design influences and mixing up
eclectic vintage styles is something that we think people find
inspiring – they can mix these up to create something of
their own. It has always happened in music and fashion – and
I think we do it with interiors.
Alice print from our ‘Folk Rock’ collection was actually
inspired by a piece of 1940’s fabric we found in an L.A.
thrift shop – but when we did our own spin on it - it sat
nicely with our 1960’s West Coast theme. It was also named
after the heroine in Grace Slick’s ‘White Rabbit’.
include The Festival of Britain
and London Transport iconography
What are your Retro and Vintage passions?
We have a lot of vintage passions – ranging from design to
music, and we are very eclectic in our tastes – for example
we love textile and furniture design from the 1950’s but are
not particularly interested in the music of this period.
are as happy listening to new music, as 70’s bubblegum,
60’s Folk Rock, and psychedelia, 80’s electronica, early
hip hop and new Folk. Everything goes into the mix with us.
are very lucky that we have very similar visual tastes and
understand each other's point of references immediately. As
short hand we will make up phrases that instantly we both
understand – like ‘psychedelic Victoriana’, ‘70’s
art nouveau’ or ‘Mayfair bachelor pad’ – and we get
the visual mood immediately.
What are the best things about running the Mini Moderns
We are a partnership and are in total control of what we do
and how we want to do it. On the whole, it’s great fun –
but it is incredibly hard work. Luckily we have a similar work
ethic – so it’s a lot of late nights working but is very
rewarding. It’s a very liberating feeling not to have that
‘Monday feeling’ of dreading the week ahead.
You place a lot of importance on ethical suppliers. What would
you say is the ethos of the Mini Moderns business?
We have always produced in the UK – it has been our policy
from the word go. We wanted to utilise the amount of great UK
producers and build good relationships with them – that way
we know that our products come from sweat shop-free
environments. Any products that aren’t UK made are our
licenced products - like rugs and our collaboration on
the porcelain ware with Magpie. We have always tried to seek
out manufacturers that are still going strong in the UK. We
get to know these factories very well – and they help us
with production issues or what the best materials are to use.
In return we stick with them even though sometimes it would be
much less expensive to produce outside the UK.
How key is The Internet to what you do and from how far do
your clients come?
We already have distribution in the US, Australia, Germany,
and Sweden for the wallpaper collections. Since we updated our
online Shoppe the response has been incredible and we sell
every day on it.
have visitors from all over the world and everyone is so
supportive of our brand.
have since we started always had a following in the world of
blogs – and we are always happy to chat about Mini Moderns
and do interviews for them – like this one!
also have great support via twitter too – and spend too much
time with our followers on there – but it is really
interesting to share news and experiences there. We can also
do loyalty discounts and let people know about new products
immediately. It’s also good fun.
Where do you see the future for Mini Moderns?
Obviously we want to continue to grow the brand. This year has
been great in terms of what we have achieved – still as a
privately funded, two-person business.
year we would like to be able to do larger collections with
more home accessories. There are lots of things we would like
to do with the brand – lots more collaborations, and new
product areas. We always have more prints than we can afford
to manufacture at the moment – so it would be great to get
all of our prints out there.
Whitby wallpaper (top left,
middle and right)
available in a variety of colours
Operating a predominantly
‘Made in the UK’ policy helps keep our carbon footprint to
a minimum and supports local businesses. As the collection is
produced in factories known to us, we can be confident that
all Mini Moderns products come from sweatshop free
Mini Moderns/Absolute Zero
Tel: +44(0) 20 7737 6767
By Mini Moderns
Price: £45 per roll (52cm by 10m drop)
Available in 4 colourways: Washed Denim, Awning Red,
Stone and Lido
Photo Credit: Josh at Love Vintage Furniture
Whitby Cushion ( Washed Denim)
By Mini Moderns
Festival Cushion (Grey)
By Mini Moderns
Festival Canvas Bag (Blue)
By Mini Moderns
Price: £15 each
Festival of Britain Wallpaper
By Mini Moderns
Price: £50 per roll (52cm x 10m drop)
Available in Concrete & Mustard, Stone &
harvest orange and Bunting blue & red.
Festival Porcelain Tableware
By Mini Moderns for Magpie
Mugs £7.50 each
Plates £18 (set of 4)
Espresso cup and saucer sets £20
Cup and saucer sets £15
Hold Tight Wallpaper
by Mini Moderns
£45 per roll (10m x 52cm)
Printed with water based inks in the UK on paper from
Available in 3 colourways: Harvest Orange, Mustard and
Photo credit (lifestyle images only) : Josh Love at
Love Vintage Furniture
Alice Cushion from The Folk Rock collection
By Mini Moderns