For me, the standout line this past weekend at the Home + Housewares show in Chicago was an easy call. I gravitated to the Universal Expert booth from down the aisle and checked out all of the offerings like a true fangirl, liking each as much as the one before. This is simple good design with a clean, warm aesthetic, very Conran, very British, and I'm very happy that it has made its way to the US...
The Universal Expert line is currently available in England at John Lewis and is comprised of cookware, cookshop (tools and storage), electricals (toasters, mixers), tabletop, utilities (wine racks, coat hooks and stands, shelving, etc) and just a little bit of furniture.
The products are designed by a team led by Sebastian Conran who oversees the entire process from concept to design to test. The idea behind the brand name is succinctly explained in their (I've already looked at it cover to cover three times) catalog:
We call this ethos 'Universal Expert': Where 'Universal' reflects flexible use, affordability and aesthetic appeal, and 'Expert' stands for quality and performance.
Standouts for me in person were the metal wall-hung bottle rack (holding Pellegrino in my photo), the small magnetic landing strip accessory with clock and shelf and pretty much all of the kitchen organizers. Oh, and the tabletop and serveware! Yes, I'll cop to the fact that I just liked it all. Here's hoping that it makes a big splash at the show and becomes easily accessible here soon.
(Images: Janel Laban)