Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Paul Smith and Caran d’Ache Pens - Edition Two

The new Edition Two range

Fashion icon Paul Smith has teamed up with Swiss pen and pencil maker Caran d'Ache once again with a follow up to the stunning Edition One range of pens. The first collaboration last year commemorated the company’s 100th anniversary.
The original Edition One range


The new range, simply called Edition Two, features new colours and are available individually or as a special eight pen collector set. The sleek tins feature Paul Smith's iconic Artist Stripe pattern and an embossed relief of the classic pen.


The hexagonal bodied Caran d’Ache 849 pen was first released in 1969.

The eight new colours are available for £35.00 each or £290.00 for the presentation case.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Two wheel exotica from PG and Bugatti


Hungering for the gorgeous Bugatti Chiron but your budget won't stretch quite that far? Why not go for two wheels instead of four.

German bicycle designers PH Bikes have teamed up with the luxury car maker to produce a limited edition urban bike

The bike is made from 95 per cent carbon fibre including the frame, fork, wheels, handlebar, seat, crank and brake along with a reinforced carbon frame. Bugatti owners can specify the carbon in various colours including special paints and different types of leather to match their car.

With a weight of less than 5Kg it's claimed to be one of the lightest urban bikes available.



The cost of all this high-tech engineering and luxurious craftsmanship? The starting price is £39,000 and rises to £69,000 depending on the level of customisation. It's certainly not cheap but if you've got a couple of million pounds for a car, who cares if it looks this good. You'll have to be quick though as they're only building 667.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Return to Havenmill, the sequel to The Wolf Hound and the Raven, is now available


It was just over a year ago when my first novel,  The Wolf Hound and the Raven, came out. Now, just over a year later my second novel is finally finished. What started out as a bit of a hobby has slowly turned into something else, something all-consuming. It's been a long and arduous journey to get to this point. The first novel took over three years to complete and edit. Despite all the obstacles and the difficulties of 'going alone' that I experienced as an independent author, I'd already decided to write a sequel straight away, and I'm proud to say that Return to Havenmill is now out. It's such a relief, and it's something that I'm very proud of. I redesigned the cover of the first book too to celebrate.

People have asked me if it was easier second time around. It was quicker, certainly (taking just over a year to write Return to Havenmill. I knew the characters better, I'd learned more about the artistry of writing and I knew how to edit more thoroughly too. My passion for this book was even stronger than the first, which is perhaps why I felt so emotional and drained when I finally completed it! The novels become almost like children – they take over your life. With good reviews and positive feedback from the first novel there was also a certain amount of pressure attached to the second book. Writing, editing, designing, proofing, publishing, test reads – there's so much to do; and that's while working full time too. Easier? No. More demanding? Yes. Better? Hopefully. I'll let you decide for yourselves.

So what's it about? It's complicated... Return to Havenmill is the sequel to The Wolf Hound and the Raven. It picks up straight after the events in the first novel. It's an action packed Victorian tale of treachery, politics, fantasy and secrets. (SPOILERS follow!)

Alexander and Mary find themselves lost and alone after escaping from the bloodbath of the wedding. Alone, lost, and on the run, they must find the strength to survive and learn the truth about their past before it is too late. Who can help them? How can the House of the Serpent be stopped?

Their friend, Daniel Lindström, discovers a long buried secret that could help to bring down Lord Tannith and end his brutal plans to spread war and tyranny across Europe. Millions of innocent lives hang in the balance as the power of the House of the Serpent spreads and an Empire slowly emerges.

If you do read either novel I'd love to hear your feedback and comments. Indie authors face a massive uphill struggle to get their work out into the big wide world so any kind words are greatly received!

Both novels are available in printed and digital formats from Amazon and available to order from all good book shops.

Will there be a third book? Watch this space...

Friday, 28 October 2016

Star Wars Remote Control Mouse Droid

Anyone who saw the original Star Wars movie (i.e. Epidode IV) as a kid in the Seventies will have always wanted one of these for Christmas: the Mouse Droid. Or to give it its proper name, the MSE-6-Series Repair Droid.

It looked like a futuristic pet, complete with cute noises. Well now you can get a remote control version from Disney so you can re-enact your own three point turn as you flee from a roaring Wookie.

Unfortunately they only seem to be available direct from the Disney Parks for now, from December. I'll be checking my stocking this Christmas...

Monday, 10 October 2016

Vans Toy Story Apparel



Vans have teemed up with Disney-Pixar for a new Toy Story collection.


The collection of trainers and apparel  feature many of the characters from the movies including Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, Hamm, Slinky, Rex and Sid's mutant toys.

The soles are also emblazoned with the name ANDY which is a nice touch.

The range is available in Men's, Women's and Children's sizes.

Looks like they're only available in the US though.

Royal mail launches Mr Men and Little Miss stamps


Now I'm no stamp collector but there are some things that just seem to work in a miniature design format. I've featured stamps on this blog before: iconic British designs, London Olympics 2012 medal winners and classic album covers.

On October 20th Royal Mail launch the Mr Men and Little Miss range to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the characters first created by Roger Hargreaves.

We've all grown up with the Mr Men or Little Miss books. They're timeless. They're such a design classic. Bright, simple, engaging, with so many characters available for you to relate to and engage with.


For some reason, my favourite was Mr Bump. Maybe it had something to do with me wanting to be a stunt man as a small child. I blame Evel Knievel, but that's a different story...

There are a variety of Souvenir editions, smiler stickers and presentation packs to suit all budgets. The First Day cover provides an insight into the history of the characters while the Collectors Sheet features key illustrations from the relevant books.


The standard range of stamps feature Mr Happy, Mr Bump, Mr Tickle, Mr Grumpy, Mr Strong, Mr Messy, Little Miss Naughty, Little Miss Princess, Little Miss Sunshine and Little Miss Christmas.
I particularly like this framed set, a nice simple design.


I'm certainly going to be ordering a set. Happy Birthday Mr Men and Little Miss!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Add some colour to your tech

Have you always loved the design of Apple products but fancied something a little more colourful? Well now you can thanks to Colorware, a bespoke technology and gadget customising company in the US.

They can add a little zing to everything from games consoles and controllers to iMacs and iPhones.

You can spend hours colouring up a variety of products on their site. Check out their gallery for some cool examples or have a look at the Liv Design website to see more.

Monday, 8 February 2016

New look for Budweiser


The self-styled 'King of Beers' has revealed a fresh new look for 2016. In comes a cleaner, simplified design with an updated 2D logo instead of the 3D version (a current trend which we featured on the Liv Design website in Autumn last year).



The new brand identity was designed by JKR in New York. The rebrand also features two bespoke fonts (typefaces) by Canadian lettering designer Ian Brignall: a chunky sans-serif font called Bud Bold and a serif font called Bud Crafted.


Out goes the crown icon and the gold colour. This gives a much more grown up and modern look.

The new colours reflect Budweiser's attempt to become more sophisticated without losing the brand's heritage with a corporate red, silver, white and blue colours. Evolution rather than revolution.

The logo is similar but much simpler, as is the 'bow-tie' shape. The shape is now used on the neck label of the bottle but not on the can.



The intricate detail in the lock-up creates a bespoke, hand-crafted feel without focussing too much on the heritage. It's a much more forward facing approach. Large beer brands now have to compete with the rising growth of craft beers which Budweiser acknowledge in their latest ad which featured in the 2016 Super Bowl (with tongues firmly in their cheeks).


Sesame Street® trainers from Puma


There have been many collaborations and joint ventures from sportswear manufacturers. Special editions and limited issue trainers are something of a lucrative market, with collectors willing to pay substantial amounts for a complete set. Some of the first issue Star Wars trainers from Adidas, launched in 2010, can now fetch over £500.

Trainers are a lifestyle thing. They're fun, and they reflect your persona, your mood, your likes and dislikes. Whether it's trainers featuring your favourite band, such as we've seen from Converse, or your favourite Marvel and DC comic character, there have always been creative and colourful choices (if not a little odd). Some work better than others (Beatles by Vans anyone?)


Focus has steadily shifted to include a younger market. Adidas did a Mr Men range, Vans created a Disney characters range (including Winne the Pooh), and now Puma have just launched their Sesame Street range for children. The range features clothes and shoes for both boys and girls, and judging by the amount of 'Sold Out' notices on their website, they're proving to be very popular.

The range features some of Sesame Street's favourite and well-loved characters: Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, and Elmo.


Perhaps the idea is that if you can get your customers at an early age, children will remain loyal to your brand as they grow into their teenage years and beyond. No-one ever forgets their first pair of cool branded trainers. Or maybe the appeal is to the parents; to capture the sense of nostalgia of their own childhood. Either way, these are great. It's such a shame that they're not available in adult sizes.

I'm still waiting for the Peppa Pig Air Max 90 though...

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Wolf Hound and the Raven – a new novel by Liv Design's Scott Johnson

Writing and illustrating my own book is something that I've always wanted to do. I've always written since I was young. I write lots of articles for websites and blogs, plus I've written about design and branding for magazines and newspapers (and been a guest on Radio Nottingham twice), but this is the first opportunity I've had to write a full novel.

Having a day job as a Creative Director and Freelancer doesn't leave much spare time during the week, so it's taken a couple of years to complete the project. What I wanted to do was make sure that this was done properly and not rushed. I'm really happy with the end result. 'The Wolf Hound and the Raven' has a had a couple of test reads and the book received the thumbs up!

I think if you're a creative person, you're naturally full of ideas. Whether you capture those ideas in words or as images, it's really just a choice of your medium. I've been a designer for 20 years, so I decided it was time to put some ideas into words rather than graphics!

Here's the synopsis:

While out walking his dog one evening during a terrible storm, Robert Harris finds a half-drowned figure lying at the edge of the sea. The strangely dressed man has no recollection of who he is, or how he came to be there.

When Robert’s ward, Mary, takes him to the nearby town, it soon becomes clear that others know of the man’s identity and they will stop at nothing to get to him. 

As the details of the man’s past are slowly discovered, he becomes embroiled in a battle of politics and power as the search for his identity leads him, and those willing to help, on a fast-paced and dangerous journey across Victorian England. 

When the truth about the man’s past is finally unearthed, the shocking discovery has far wider reaching consequences.

'The Wolf Hound and the Raven' is a fictional novel, set in Victorian England, with elements of romance, mystery, adventure and fantasy. I think it will appeal to a wide range of readers.

It's available exclusively from Amazon, in both printed and Kindle versions. You can use the Kindle app to read on other media such as tablets, PCs and Apple computers.

'The Wolf Hound and the Raven' is out now.

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Paul Smith Anglepoise desk lamp


Mixing British fashion design legend, Paul Smith with the classic British Anglepoise table lamp was guaranteed to produce something special.

The latest offering is this beautiful, architectural art piece: the Edition 2.

The Edition 1 was produced earlier in the year and featured a softer, almost pastel summer colour palette. This latest Edition 2 version fears more autumnal colours; blues, purples, dark green and a splash of orange.


The Type 75 Anglepoise table lamp was originally designed by British industrial product designer, Sir Kenneth Grange, and widely regarded as a design classic. It's 80 year old design was recently celebrated as part of Timeless Design retrospective, curated by Harrods, for the London Design Festival 2015.

Both are available to buy now from Anglepoise and Paul Smith priced at £160.00.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

J.W.Anderson Diet Coke Design

Loving my new Limited Edition J.W.Anderson Diet-Coke bottles.

These aluminium bottles feature two great designs from Northern Irish fashion designer J.W.Anderson, based on his 2015 Autumn/Winter knitwear collection; one design in blue and red, one pink and grey design.

They are available exclusively from Harvey Nichols as a set of six, or as a gift set with two bottles and two notebooks.

Liv Design have a bit of a collection of limited Edition Coke bottle designs now, including the Selfridges' 125th Coca-Cola Anniversary set  and bottles designed by Marc Jacobs and Jean Paul Gaultier. We just can't help collecting beautiful and inspirational packaging design...



Friday, 14 August 2015

'Mikado' from Royal Crown Derby


Loving the new Mikado fine bone china range from Royal Crown Derby.

The beautiful Japanese themed range features scenes from the Opera 'Mikado.' The sets are available in 7 colours; Blue, Cantaloupe, Lavender, Lime, Pink and Taupe.


Pieces start from £34.00 for a saucer up to £350.00 for the 750oz storage jar.


A great example of a modern interpretation of a classic theme.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Great vintage style design for Craigellachie


This has to be our favourite packaging design of the week: Craigellachie Whisky by UK and US alcohol packaging designers Stranger and Stranger (designers of the fabulous Kraken Spice Rum bottle).



A mix of embossing and debossing on an uncoated paper gives a tactile feel to the label. The vintage style typography and illustration is beautiful and adds to the historical feel.
A great piece of packaging design.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Vans' latest collaboration with Disney


Skateboard brand Vans launches it's newest range of shoes with a collaboration with Disney. Vans have always mixed up their branding to cater for both the young and the 'youthful'.  In the past they have created some great collaborations featuring Liberty London patterns, The Beatles, Marvel Comics characters, and even a range for heavy metal band Metallica.

The tie-in sees some of Disney's most favourite characters in an all-over print on a range of products from the iconic Slip-On canvas shoes, to bags and clothing.


The range is divided into six sub-brands: Disney Princesses, Mickey Mouse and Pals, Mickey, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh and Minnie Mouse.


The range is available for Men, Women and Kids.


Great range, ideal for kids, but I'm not sure what these would do for your street cred down at the skate park.