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31 December, 2017

Now that our 2018 Calendar is sold out, we will be sharing each monthly image on our blog throughout the year.

For this calendar we are comparing domestic items from the Eastern and Western worlds. Whenever we visit Japan, we are fascinated by the way in which our different cultures approach similar tasks, and the way in which generic products have evolved in consequence. Our choice of calendar subjects is unashamedly esoteric, but we hope you will enjoy a very personal appreciation of the singularities of East and West.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, East and West

  • 01 December, 2017
    How long is a piece of string? An essential item, no home can function without at least one ball of string. There is an abundance of different types of string for numerous domestic chores and we love them all! A beautifully wound ball or spool is a sight to behold and who can resist brown paper packages tied up with string?

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 November, 2017
    How can we extol the virtues of the lowly bucket? This basic vessel is found in every culture and is indispensible. The bucket is a perfect form, which has evolved over the centuries and cannot be improved. Early buckets were made from wood or leather. So long as it remains watertight a bucket is the go-to object in many an emergency. We speak from experience!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 October, 2017
    We have always admired the tactile qualities of handmade ceramics despite their ‘socks and sandals’ associations! Today there is a renewed interest in all crafts and pottery is therefore enjoying a revival. The combination of earth, fire and natural minerals can produce objects of great beauty, and display evidence of the maker’s hand.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 September, 2017
    Who can forget going back to school armed with a new set of freshly sharpened pencils? Today surrounded by technology there is still something reassuring about a simple pencil. Even the process of sharpening a pencil and the smell of the wood shavings can be a joy. Pencils come in many guises; it seems there is a pencil available for every task!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 August, 2017
    Utilitarian buttons are an ongoing fascination. Military and workwear buttons are resolutely fit for purpose. Vintage button cards catch our attention with buttons in serried ranks, all ship shape and Bristol fashion. Material, colour and proportion are key to our appreciation. Running your hand through a box of buttons is soothing, but not if you suffer from koumpounophobia!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 July, 2017
    Paper products have always appealed to us, and labels are emblematic of this. The humble brown luggage tag has been used to label our products in the shop from day one. Bold graphic postal labels and stickers with their direct informative statements are particularly pleasing. Traditional gummed labels with handwritten inscriptions remind us of dusty museum cabinets full of catalogued artifacts.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 June, 2017
    A teapot is somehow comforting, reassuring and always a welcome sight. They come in a surprising variety of forms, each seeming to possess its own personality. The basic teapot form is unmistakable: spout, handle and lid, and has remained thus for 300 years or so. A ‘good pourer’ is essential; a dripping teapot is a no - no! At LABOUR AND WAIT it’s always time for tea.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 May, 2017
    This simple square of cloth is imbued with many strong associations, from catching a sneeze to surrendering a battle. Classic spotted handkerchiefs are often featured in traditional gentlemen’s outfitters, but equally they are redolent of Dick Whittington’s bindle. Morris dancers may be seen waving handkerchiefs, not to mention the British affectation of knotting a hanky on your head at the seaside!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 20 April, 2017

     Our first shop on Cheshire Street was fitted out with a set of vintage enamel industrial lampshades, which we had found at an antiques fair. Customers would always ask to buy them, so we decided to put them into production. These iconic factory style shades quickly became one of our best selling lines. That was around fifteen years ago!


    Although there are now numerous industrial type shades available, we feel our high quality enameled steel shades offer amazing value and are still the pick of the crop.

    We also sell a range of twisted fabric covered flex and metal bulb holders which complete the look.


  • See more: 2017, Enamelware

  • 01 April, 2017
    These have been an obsession for many years! We even have a Brush Museum on display in our shop. There seems to have been a brush developed somewhere at sometime for every cleaning opportunity. Often considered a rather humble ‘everyday’ object they display a great degree of craftsmanship. We are always fascinated by the skill of the brush maker.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 29 March, 2017

    Labour and Wait is delighted to collaborate with The Gentle Author to present a Spitalfields Life Bookshop for 10 days at our Bethnal Green Workroom. This will be a rare chance to take a look at all Spitalfields Life Books titles in one place and have a peek behind the scenes at Labour and Wait.

    The bookshop will be open between 11am and 6pm everyday from Wednesday 26th April until Saturday 6th May, except for Sunday 30th April.

    On Tuesday 25th April at 7:00pm, we shall be launching the latest title from Spitalfields Life Books, A HOXTON CHILDHOOD & THE YEARS AFTER by A.S. JASPER and we hope you will join us in a celebration. There will be drinks and readings from the work of A.S. JASPER, as well as some live music entertainment from fiddler Dan Mayfield and singing by Henrietta Keeper.
    Click here for ticket availability.

    A.S. JASPER’S tender memoir of growing up in the East End before the First World War, A HOXTON CHILDHOOD, was immediately acclaimed as a classic in 1969 when it was described by the Observer as ‘Zola without all the trimmings.’

    In this definitive new edition, it is accompanied by the first publication of the sequel detailing the author’s struggles and eventual triumph in the cabinet-making trade, THE YEARS AFTER. Illustrated with line drawings by James Boswell and Joe McLaren.

    Ticket holders will be entitled to a £5 discount on A HOXTON CHILDHOOD & THE YEARS AFTER during the event.

    Labour and Wait Workroom
    30 The Oval, London, E2 9DT

  • See more: 2017, The Gentle Author

  • 01 March, 2017
    In our view packaging can make or break a product. We often remove packaging from our stock, but we leave it in place if we feel it enhances the object. We are drawn to simple graphic treatments. In many cases this is packaging that has remained unchanged over the years. Well-designed packaging is often hard to throw away!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 02 February, 2017

    We are very excited to announce the opening of our Labour and Wait shop in Tokyo. We have enjoyed a longstanding association with Japan over many years, and have several concessions there in different cities. We are always impressed by the level of interest and product knowledge of Japanese customers, who really seem to appreciate the detail, and share our enthusiasm for timeless functional items.


    The opening this week represents an exciting opportunity for us to bring the complete Labour and Wait story to Tokyo. The new shop is situated in an area called Sendagaya, just a short walk from Harajuku station. The area has a definite ‘neighbourhood’ feeling, much like that which we experienced when we first started in Shoreditch seventeen years ago.


    We are indebted to our colleagues in Japan for making our vision a reality, and are looking forward to the next chapter of our story.

    Labour and Wait Tokyo
    1-1-12 Jingumae Shibuyaka,
    Tokyo, Japan
    Opening hours: 12pm - 8pm
    Tel: 03-6804-6448

  • See more: 2017, Labour and Wait Tokyo

  • 01 February, 2017
    A jug is a very handsome object, its function is proudly displayed. Who would think such a simple combination of a lip and handle could produce so many variations. This iconic object appeals to artists and often features in still life artworks. And after all what would a calendar be without jugs!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 January, 2017
    The contents of a toolbox are always intriguing. The distinctive smell conjures up memories of sheds and workshops. A well-loved tool develops a character all of its own, the worn handle taking on the imprint of its owner’s hand. We have come across many curious tools during our travels. We find ourselves attracted by their shape even when we have no idea of their purpose.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons