Making their Stateside debut at the International Home + Housewares Show, London-based Universal Expert had one of our favorite exhibition booths. The simple, open plan felt more like stumbling into a friend's kitchen rather than off the tradeshow floor. Sebastian Conran sat patiently at the end of the long farm table staged with stacking tableware, utensils and snacks, unbeknownst to most passerbys.
Conran, who heads up the eponymous Sebastian Conran Associates design studio, launched Universal Expert this year and has plans to roll out in Australia, South Africa, Europe and America. A play on "Universal Export," the fictional import-export company of James Bond, the simple and functional objects also reference the design ethos of the brand name.
We call this ethos 'Universal Expert': Where 'Universal' reflects flexible use, affordability and aesthetic appeal and 'Expert' stands for quality and performance.
The collection currently has 150 products across categories: kitchenware, cookware, tableware, appliances, organizers and home furniture. The focus at the Home + Housewares Show was clearly on the kitchen.
The nesting, ceramic measuring cups are beautiful enough to be left out on the counter instead of being stashed deep inside a drawer.
As Brits are quite serious about their toast, the suite of bread accessories is thoughtful and functional—the toast rack accommodates slices of both thick and thin slices of toast, the Universal bread bin is quite compact with a fold down door that doubles as a cutting board, ventilated floor for freshness and a woden top that can be used as a cutting board or as a stand for the toaster.
A wall-mounted wine rack is minimal in appearance with a special storage base that holds bottle openers, wine keys or other drinking accoutrements.
My favorite items in the collection are the brushed metal storage jars—the anodised aluminum jars have an air-tight silicone sealed lid with a window so you can see what's inside. The jars come in three sizes: .75L, 1.25L and 1.75L. Expect Universal Expert to hit stores this Fall.