Published on: December 13, 2016
When we created our first Designer Island Loves List in 2013, it was filled with Caribbean makers, Designers and Artists — We even mentioned favourite art exhibits and stores we loved.
In 2013 we had the likes of artists such as Brianna Mc Carthy and discovered contemporary Caribbean knitwear designer, Aisling Camps. In our 2014 List, Iconic Caribbean Fashion Designers, Meiling and Robert Young, as well phenomenal Trinidadian chocolatier, Cocobel and jewellery designers Jade Drakes and Janice Derrick graced our list.
Our 2015 list featured exquisite ceramic home ware by Jamaican designers, By Burni and Baughaus, award winning Smaks Chai Rum, mixed with the new-classic charm of Cocoa Vintage’s Caribbean-esque, ceramic jewellery.
As we refined our purpose and message, we’ve grown. We’ve edited and sharpened our focus and ethos, and our annual loves list has evolved from just another Christmas shopping list among the many, to a trusted, curated list that searches and finds some of the best Caribbean design and designer products to come to life in the last year and present those special finds to you. From beauty products to handbags, books and accessories, made, written and curated, by Caribbean creators.
This year’s list features everything. From local and regional pop up shops, to Caribbean creatives in New York inspired by their St. Lucian roots and botanicals to create beauty products and Trinidad chocolate stories and discoveries by a young German poet and musician, simultaneously discovering his Trinidadian roots in Moruga.
Throughout the year we make notes and edit our list until the very last day. Paying close attention to the detail and craftsmanship inspired by the Caribbean and made at some of the highest standards, changing the way the world views, ‘Made in the Caribbean’.
We take great pleasure in curating our 2016 list of exquisitely created items by Caribbean makers and hope you not only invest in us, but also share the work of the designers and makers on our list.
Seasons Greetings and Happy 2017 from all of us at Designer Island.
Here’s our list!
Country: St Lucia
Sometimes friends are the ones that open your eyes to wider horizons. We first got Choiselle products as a gift from a friend and we absolutely fell in love! From the perfectly designed packaging to the local St Lucian products names like Ylang Ylang, and their brilliant marketing strategy we love this line. Inspired by the natural botanical ingredients of the island and a grandmother’s garden chemistry.
De. Sign Books
Country: Barbados+ Trinidad and Tobago
Everyone loves a good sketchbook or journal. Sometimes their purposes intersect. These De Sign Books (see what they did there?) are the result of collaboration between Barbadian Design Strategist, Debbie Estwick and street sign painter, Bruce Cayonne. Cayonne ’s hand painted fete street signs have been upcycled and given new life as the cover of these very cool sketchbooks and journals.
We Dream In colour
We Dream is Colour is no stranger to our list. Her jewellery line copped a spot in our very first list 4 years ago. This year though she takes the ‘colour’ to new heights with her adult colouring book! It already has taken up residence at our CD and founder’s bedside with some coloured pencils. Thicker than we expected, the book is filled with layered fine illustrations to get your creative juices flowing and we suggest a nice tall glass of Apothic Red to accompany your foray into a relaxing mind clearing night of distressing.
We want to suggest hosting your own sip and colour party at home that you can theme based on the illustrations in the book. There is ‘Rainforest Escape’, ‘Island Escape’ and ‘Carnival Escape’ as well.
Instagram: @wedreamincolour + @jadegedeon
ULRIC + ARLY
We’ve been fans of the art and design work of Barbadian Mark King for some time now. We creatively stalk his beautiful photos on Instagram for teasers of projects and when we saw bit of his screen printing work for his textile studio Ulric + Arly earlier in the year, followed by the product launch of his hand stitched cotton fabrics we got really excited!
These bespoke placemats, tea towels, and napkins are a collectors item and will blow away you’re your Santa Claus placemats, lasting long after the Christmas Season is over. We love the graphic appeal of the design, the timeless aesthetic and the elegant packaging that lets the product breathe without distraction.
Twig & Pearl
How could we not love that name! Twig & Pearl! The artisan from Belize creates handcrafted genuine leather bags. The pineapple pack with adjustable straps is hands down our fave. Whether the dark chocolate or lighter sand shade, we are obsessed with the simple style of the elegant stitching and the lightly embossed logotype that might sound busy but does not distract from the beauty of the bag itself. We would probably utilize this piece as a tote thus making the versatility of the bag timeless. However, we are sure that the younger market would love to stroll the streets, markets and malls with it as a backpack on their shoulders.
Where: Order via direct messge to the creator on Instagram: @twigandpearl
The aesthetic of this Grenadian swimwear brand we love! The splattered print that give the impression of speckled stone and the light wash of colour that looks like a modern take on tiedye is absolutely refreshing. We really can’t decide if we love the style, colours, tones or graphic more.
Country: Trinidad and Tobago
Who doesn’t want to kiss the cook? We sure do, but we are so happy that there are chef aprons on the market with lovely clean designs made from quality fabric. A beautiful apron to make a cook feel stylish might increase the input of love in the food too! Every home cook should have one, especially those aspiring to be the best when it comes to throwing down in the kitchen!
Where: Exhibit A, Trinidad & Tobago
Olive Senior – The Pain Tree
We love Olive Senior and have read quite a few of her books. The Pain Tree is yet another offering from the writer that endorse our love for her. She actually said herself in a reading event held by the Bocas Lit Fest and Paperbased Bookshop at Medulla Art Gallery recently that everybody should have a copy of The Pain Tree. Even if you are not a fan of short stories we still recommend this book as a must have.
Derek Walcott & Peter Doig – Morning, Paramin.
Country: St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago & England
We can barely contain ourselves to write this. This collaborative artists book is perfect for everyone. If you love to look at the pictures books, especially those by a world-renowned artist, this is the book for you. If you love to read poetry by a Nobel Prize winning poet, this is the book for you. If you love reading poetry with accompanying artwork, this is the book for you. This is the book for everyone and we recommend that you hurry up and get your copy before it flies off the shelves in physical and online bookstores!
Country: Germany x Trinidad and Tobago
We first discovered Beni Tonka via his beautifully curated Instagram story as we followed him discovering and falling in love with his Moruga, Trinidad roots and then his discovery of Trinitario chocolate. This Germany born Trini only discovered his Caribbean roots 5 years ago and shared his story with us on Designer Island. We learnt about the cook, the poet, the musician and the chocolate and we fell in love with the Beni Tonka story.
Sharing Trinidadian , chocolate, pepper sauces and recipes to a global consumer. Beni Tonka is not just food but stories, Caribbeaness and Caribbean Identity in food.
The Designer Island Loves List is thoughtfully curated by Founding Creative Director, Tanya Marie with the valuable input, editing and animation of the list by a few of our Creative Collaborators. Co-written and edited by: Indra Ramcharan-Jack.
All photos of the products listed above are credited to the makers of each and the sources attached